Immersed in Guyana

cuccinelli airplane

Artifacts from the indigenous Amazonian people known as the Waiwai surround Anthropology Professor Laura Mentore as she pores over her latest research—cultural perceptions of water in light of climate change—in her office at the University of Mary Washington. Each artifact from the villagers in the tiny South American country of Guyana has a story. The shaman’s basket contains a deer bone flute and other instruments used to heal community members; the 7-foot longbow attests to the Waiwai’s claim of making the longest bows of all the indigenous groups of Guyana; then there is the matapi, a long woven instrument that looks like a giant Chinese finger trap, which is used by women to process cassava—the main staple crop of most indigenous peoples of Amazonia. Mentore’s roots run deep in Guyana. Her husband, George, a professor at the University of Virginia, is originally from a coastal town in the South American country and her two children, Kamina, 6, and Elka, 2, have traditional … [Read more...]