Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean: Amerindian Survival and Revival. Edited by Maximilian C. Forte. Published by Peter Lang, New York, 2006

Contributor: Arif Bulkan has practiced as an Attorney-at-Law, specializing in Criminal Law as well as Human Rights and Environmental Law. At present, he is a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. In the past, he has worked with the Government of Guyana as the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, and was on contract with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in Guyana as the lead Legal Consultant on the revision of the 1951 Amerindian Act. Arif Bulkan has also been on staff at the University of Guyana as a part-time lecturer, where he lectured on Human Rights Law. He has published on Amerindian land rights in Guyana in the Guyana Law Review.

Contributor: Janette Bulkan is a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is an anthropologist by training and has work experience in social forestry, participatory community development, teaching and diplomacy. Her most recent full-time job was as Senior Social Scientist with the Iwokrama International Program for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana (March 20002003) where she coordinated various projects in participatory resource management, sustainable livelihoods, Makushi linguistics, environmental education, monitoring and evaluation, and cultural diversity awareness and protection. She has published on forest peoples and broader forest issues in Guyana, including in publications and reports issued by Social and Economic Studies (1990), UNDP Program for Forests, PROFOR (2001), Tropenbos (1998, 1999) and New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (1999). She is also a member of the editorial board of Kacike: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology (

Chapter Seven. “These Forests Have Always Been Ours”: Official and Amerindian Discourses on Guyana’s Forest Estate
This chapter shows how forest policy was one of the projects of State building in British Guiana destined, over time, to become a legitimating instrument that constituted, dispersed and influenced the shaping of norms and responses by State and Amerindians. The documented and oral records of resistances to this colonial project are also presented. The discussion then moves to the Structural Adjustment initiatives from the mid 1980s, funded principally by multilateral agencies like the World Bank and IMF, that included reform of the national forest policy as part of a suite of reforms imposed as loan conditionalities. The relationships between new state authorities (e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency), regulations and actors vis-à-vis the entrenched practices of the State regulatory agencies (Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Lands and Surveys Commission, etc.) over forests and forest resources are examined. The fundamental issues of resource allocation that lie behind these discursive strategies are also discussed. The chapter presents the forms taken by the responses (including resistance) of local forest peoples, including non-Amerindians, the wider national society, and international indigenous rights’ organizations to the new tools, methodologies and forest classificatory systems. The chapter also includes a discussion of international standards regarding indigenous rights re forests, as contained in the draft UN Declaration, the ILO Convention No. 169, and the draft OAS Declaration, and traces the ways in which indigenous (self) identification has been strategic, instrumental and positional in the same periods.

Websites on the Amerindians of Guyana:

The Indigenous Peoples of Guyana: Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink