Employment; Sustainable livelihood

In our discussions with the Wayana population three livelihood possibilities stood out: Eco-tourism Eco- Tourism has become an important option for economic development and the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples. Although the sustainable livelihood framework does not clearly address the cultural part of life, the approach requires that activities, such as tourism, are placed in a broader context so that they can be examined from an indigenous perspective on sustainability. Vision development exercise in Kawemhakan Every Wayana village in Suriname has the potential of having an Ecoresort. But for every village there is a different perspective. Apetina In Apetina a new Eco-tourism resort is now under construction. Apetina has many years of experience with community-based tourism with different tour operators and visitors from around the world (but mainly from the Netherlands). Due to lack of hospitality knowledge of the Wayana and the high costs of getting there, it has never been a great success. Even though the guests that went to Apetina always were very surprised and satisfied with the service and hospitality they got. The whole experience with the 7 big rapids nearby, the tropical rainforest and climbing the “Tepu top” is one of the best in Suriname. Palumeu For more than 20 years there has been a tourist eco-lodge in Palumeu owned by METS. METS is a subsidiary of Surinam Airways, and has in 3 villages in the interior of Suriname jungle-lodges where tourists can stay. But last year not many tourists came to Palumeu due to mismanagement of METS. The Wayana (and Trio) indigenous that live in Palumeu are working as guides, cooks or housekeepers. But there are no local people in the management of METS. Relations with the Trio Even though the Wayana and Trio know a history of warfare, in modern days the groups have developed harmonious relations. In the mixed village of Palumeu, the two ethnic groups live peacefully together. Also intermarriage and mixed Trio-Wayana children are not uncommon in South Suriname. In recent years collaboration between the Trio and Wayana has intensified. Relations with coastal Indigenous groups Relations between the coastal and the Southern Indigenous groups are ambivalent. On the one hand, they have a special bond as the original inhabitants of the continent. The groups share the struggle for rights to land and natural resources, for political representation, and for the provision of basic services such as electricity, clean water, and education. There also are cultural similarities, among others in the language. Yet the comparison stops about here. Coastal Indigenous groups are more likely than the Trio and Wayana to speak Sranantongo and/or Dutch, to have enjoyed formal education, to be formally employed, and 14 The people from Palumeu are dissatisfied with the way METS are treating them, that’s why they want to build and run their own resort. They have enough experience to offer the tourists great jungle survival trips. For instance to the Tumucumaque mountain. Kawemhakan In Kawemhakan there are some tourist activities but only on the French site of the Lawa river. Although there are a lot of mining activities, we think that we can offer a great experience to tourists, especially by incorporating the mining activities in the trips. We can create an awareness for the tourists about the consequences of these activities on the environment, (like e.g. mercury pollution of the rivers, deforestation) There is a beautiful trip to a 12 meter high waterfall and some spectacular rapids, so also Kawemhakan has a lot to offer. We already started with opening up an area for the tourist lodge. Fish farming [Projectplan is already written] The homeland of the Wayana is widely known for its gold deposits and gold prospectors have been active in the area for over 100 years. The Wayana themselves are not involved in gold mining and most of the miners originate from the capital city of Paramaribo and Brazil. In general, these miners operate activities that are labelled as smallscale; nonetheless, despite this classification their operations have turned out to be very harmful. While miners dig pits in areas that contain larger gold deposits; a large number of gold miners use floating rafts, so-called skalians. These rafts suck sand and mud from the river bottom, in the hopes that it contains small gold particles. Herein lies the inherent problem; most of these gold particles are miniscule and difficult to separate from the rest of the sediment. A widely applied solution for this is to use mercury, which amalgamates (binds) with small gold particles, thereby forming larger particles that are easier to collect. During the gold purifying process this amalgamate is heated and mercury is released as vapor into the air, when condensed it ends up in the sediment of waterways like rivers and creeks. These large volumes of condensed mercury are converted by bacteria into the even more poisonous methylmercury, which then slowly makes its way up the food chain. From filter feeders like shrimps and mussels, to fish, and eventually accumulating to dangerous levels in fish and in our people that depend on these fish for their survival. As mercury accumulates in species along the food chain, carnivorous fish, which are the most caught and eaten in our Wayana communities, are the most poisonous. Once this mercury or methylmercury enters the human body, it is very difficult and nearly impossible to remove, and it will continue to accumulate over time. Since we are fervent fish eaters and have intimate knowledge of the fish living in the rivers, we strongly believe that besides continuing our to have integrated into the national economy. As a result, foundations and organizations representing the Indigenous peoples of Suriname tend to be dominated by the coastal groups and their interests. The Wayana and Trio have fewer opportunities to attend general meetings because of the high travel costs and if they do attend, often remain in the background. Relations with the Maroons As run-away slaves traveled south, the Maroons thanked their survival in part to their contacts with various Indigenous groups, from whom they learned about subsistence strategies in their new natural environment. The Southern Indigenous groups, in turn, used their contacts with the Maroons to acquire coastal assets such as ironware, tools, guns, fish hooks, and many other items that facilitated their productive lives. The Wayana established trade relations with the Ndyuka and Aluku Maroons since their first encounters with these groups. In addition to serving their own economic interests, the Wayana also were 15 struggle against these mining operations, an alternative source of fish protein through sustainable small-scale fish farming is a key solution to our most urgent problems. Fish farming will enable the community to have access to healthy fish and will at the same time reduce pressure on the wild fish stocks. One of our favorite fish is Pacu. These vegetarian relatives of piranhas occur naturally throughout the amazon region. Due to overfishing by both miners and indigenous people, the population numbers of this fish (and others) has dwindled severely. By providing an alternative source of fish protein through sustainable small-scale aquaculture, food sovereignty and the livelihood of the Wayana community will be improved.