SURINAME-Saramanaker

Right now it’s the rainy season in the South American country of Suriname. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Working together with the government of Suriname, Conservation International helped create The Central Suriname Nature Reserve, some four million acres of pristine tropical forest. Russ Mittermeier is President of Conservation International. His efforts to save this land have introduced him to some of the many cultures that inhabit this region.

“We’ve worked a lot with the Saramakaner people which is the oldest tribe which lives in the upper reaches of the Suriname river and there are about 20,000 of these people remaining. These are people who ran away from the plantations in the 1600s and the 1700s because they were very badly treated. The Dutch went after them, tried to subdue them, and the runaways fought the Dutch to a standstill and actually the first group of runaways, the people who are today known as the Saramakaners, were the first people in the new world to fight a foreign power for their independence and be granted it. And they have a very, very rich cultural tradition, a lot of west African elements and place names from west Africa that are still maintained in their language. And they have a wonderful musical tradition which includes a special kind of clapping dance which they call Sekati where the women will bend over and clap their hands and sing. The only kind of musical instruments they use in this are their hands, and yet it sounds just fantastic.”

Through projects like ecotourism and the harvesting of medicinal plants from the rainforest, Conservation International hopes to make the new nature reserve an economically viable enterprise for the Saramakaners and other local peoples.

Additional funding for this Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

SURINAME-Saramanaker

The music and dance of the Saramakaner people of Suriname reflect their west African heritage.
Air Date:02/22/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

Right now it's the rainy season in the South American country of Suriname. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Working together with the government of Suriname, Conservation International helped create The Central Suriname Nature Reserve, some four million acres of pristine tropical forest. Russ Mittermeier is President of Conservation International. His efforts to save this land have introduced him to some of the many cultures that inhabit this region.

"We've worked a lot with the Saramakaner people which is the oldest tribe which lives in the upper reaches of the Suriname river and there are about 20,000 of these people remaining. These are people who ran away from the plantations in the 1600s and the 1700s because they were very badly treated. The Dutch went after them, tried to subdue them, and the runaways fought the Dutch to a standstill and actually the first group of runaways, the people who are today known as the Saramakaners, were the first people in the new world to fight a foreign power for their independence and be granted it. And they have a very, very rich cultural tradition, a lot of west African elements and place names from west Africa that are still maintained in their language. And they have a wonderful musical tradition which includes a special kind of clapping dance which they call Sekati where the women will bend over and clap their hands and sing. The only kind of musical instruments they use in this are their hands, and yet it sounds just fantastic."

Through projects like ecotourism and the harvesting of medicinal plants from the rainforest, Conservation International hopes to make the new nature reserve an economically viable enterprise for the Saramakaners and other local peoples.

Additional funding for this Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.