Aishara Toon

History:

 Before the arrival of the Europeans to the Rupununi Savannahs, more especially to the South Rupununi Savannah, the Wapichan people existed and lived in scattered little settlements along the forest edge and over the vast savannah from the foothills of the Majestic Shiizizi (Shiriri), the Mighty ‘Kanookwan’- the Kanuku Mountains, stretching south of the Kanookwan in and near to their farmlands, hunting, fishing and gathering grounds. 

During this period on the eve of the arrival of the European missionaries the Wapichan people lived among two other tribes – the Dauwuzai people and the Atoradi people. The Dauwuzai people lived at Ziiwara Toon, North East of the present Aishar Toon; and the Atoradi people lived at Bai Dan Nao and Borishao Nao in the south. Towards the dawn of the Christian era the Dauwuzai people declined in numbers and the Atoradi people slowly intermixed with the Wapichan people. The present Wapichan people of Aishar Toon lived and continue to live at Tamaruwu Wao, Iizai Tao, Chorin Dana, Kubai Wao Tawud, Maroo Toon, Wao Taunu, Shiikorin Nao, Kidikpuzu Dana, Kodoi Dana, Atoruzu Dana, Ziizi Toon, Wuzamunar Wao. These places are the present farming, hunting and fishing, and gathering grounds. Aishara Toon is also home to the petroglyphs sites at the Makatao mountains, which are dated to thousands of years ago. Many of these place are still occupied and used by the present generation of Aishara Toon.

When the missionaries arrived during the 1920’s the Wapichan people of the aforementioned places/settlements were gathered together and established the present and permanent village of Aishara Toon. A church and a school were established by the Roman Catholic missionaries in the village. There were five other village establishments in the Deep South Rupununi Savannah. The first missionaries traversed the vast distances between each of the other Wapichan Villages by a pack Bullock and guide(s).

Population:

 Today the Aishar Toon settlement is the largest Wapichan village with a population of over one thousand people.

Aishara Toon has several special sites of cultural heritage on our land, such as petroglyphs  - pictured [Photo: SRDC 2015]


Governance: 

The Village and outlying settlements are governed by a Village Council with an elected Toshao and twelve Councillors responsible for education, youth, sports and culture, health, infrastructure, farming, women and social affairs.

Repairing dwellings with new thatch. Aishara Toon Village


Land Rights: 

The Village has a land title over a part of our land covering 166 square miles, but large parts are not covered by a land title up until today. The title demarcation was completed in 1998. All of our lands both titled and untitled were long used and occupied by our ancestors and our present generation. Our fore father’s names like Tookoro lived in places such as Marai Wa’o, while Natan lived in Café Wa’o. Lord Thomas lived at Podo Wa’o. Our grandfather Marcello lived at Komata’ak. The Village has applied for an extension of our title boundary in accordance with the 2006 Amerindian Act. The outcome of our application for extension remains pending in 2017.

Aishalton Villagers and women's group on a forest trekking trip to Toto Wa'o to collect Brazil nuts (2015)


Services and facilities:

Nursery school

Primary school

Secondary School

Hospital

Police station

Administrative office

Airstrip

Five church buildings

Two guest houses (one public, one private)

Ten shops

Two night clubs

One butcher shop

Two mechanic workshops

Agriculture extension office

Digicel mobile network.

Community based groups and organisations:

Eagles sports club and Titans football club

Aishalton Traditional Dance Group

Rice farmers’ committee

Aishalton youth group

Women’s sewing group

WWG Women’s Group

WWA Women’s Group

Aishalton Developers Group

Water and Sanitation Committee

Malaria Control Committee

Community Projects:

HEYS Project

Cattle herd improvement (corral shoot etc)

Furniture industrial centre

Hot meals programme

Snack programme

Wildlife and cultural heritage: 

The area is rich in wildlife, including river otters and howler monkeys that regularly enter right into the heart of our village. There are numerous cultural heritage sites around our Village that we value dearly, including numerous rock carvings, caves and old settlement sites.

How we care for our land and resources: 

Aishalton Village has environmental regulations as part of our Village Rules and we are and active player in the efforts of the SRDC to implement a sustainable use plan for all of our territory in Guyana. Our forest in the eastern extension area of the Village forms part of the Wapichan Community Conserved Forest that we agreed to establish in 2012 (SRDC Territorial Management Plan - see documents page), but still lacks legal title and awaits formal recognition by the government and international agencies. At the same time, our people are involved closely in the SRDC land and forest monitoring project, which aims to protect our land and forest from illegal resource use and land encroachment by outsiders. We are working tirelessly to try and protect our waters, creeks and forests from destruction by mining and are especially concerned to protect our sacred sites such as Blue Mountain. We do not accept industrial mining and logging on our lands and challenge the imposition of mining block on our customary lands within the extension area requested by our Village.

© South Rupununi District Council - SRDC