“The Jaguar in Paramakatoi culture” – Indigenous Lecture Series continues

DPI, Guyana, Monday, September 18, 2017

“The spiritual connection between man and nature” was the theme for Monday’s evening’s Indigenous Education Lecture series. The hall of the Moray House, at Camp and Quamina Street, was transformed as Guyanese turned out in their numbers to listen to the journeys to Paramakatoi in Region 8 by Archaeologist, and Anthropologist Tarryl Janik.

‘Luring the Jaguar’ through the music, dance, story-telling and art’ of the Patamona was the highlight of the event.

Close up of art work by the Patamona.

Janik, a Cultural Anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, spoke on the Jaguar as a symbol of meaning, “making and changing perceptions of protection and graffiti in the Yawong Valley”.

According to Janik, “Jaguar imagery in art” sparked the initial phase of his research, then later led him to the Villages of Paramakatoi, where he studied and participated in the practices of Indigenous Art.

The Cultural Anthropologist said with a personal history in Jujitsu, and association with Dr. Neil Whitehead, his research began on the vibrant and rather interesting culture of the Patamona tribe. Dr. Whitehead is a renowned Anthropologist who researched the Patamona people and wrote of his encounter with the violent Shamans that call themselves Kanaima. Patamona, with training, can obtain three shamanistic qualifications, of which is the Kanaima. “I thought this was interesting, this changed my perception of protection, I had to research this”, Janik said.

“Most Patamonas conceptualize the Jaguar as a pest, a dangerous beast to conquer…it seems like most times when they encounter a Jaguar they kill it, or as one person told me they harm it so it remembers not to return to the village”, Janik added.

Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Dr. George Norton.

Anthropology refers to the study of human societies and cultures and their development, which according to Janik, the Patamona tribe have quite an interesting one and ought to be preserved for years to come.

Andrew Campbell, Field Assistant for Archaeologist George Simon, detailed the journey up the Siparuni River, a tributary of the Essequibo River located in the Potaro-Siparuni Region of Guyana. Despite the journey being as an arduous one, it was the ‘experience of a lifetime’.

He spoke of his admiration for the Patamona and explained that traditional farms are a ‘MUST’ for the tribe; of the variety of foods made available by the tribe, and their willingness to always feed you from tuma pot to pasta.  Fishing is also an integral tradition of the tribe.

Also present at the event was recently appointed Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Dr. George Norton, who spoke of his childhood experiences growing up in Riverview, a small indigenous community also known as Goshen. He recalled the tales told by elders of the ‘Kanaima’, and expressed gratitude to the presenters for capturing the true essence and history of the Patamona people.


By: Zanneel Williams

Andrew Campbell, Field Assistant for George Simon recalling the journey up the Siparuni River.

Tarryl Janik, Cultural Anthropologist, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee displaying art work of the Patamona tribe.


A Section of the gathering at the Indigenous Education lecture series at Moray House.



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