First Published: 20th of June, 2015 by Patrick Carpen.
St. Cuthbert’s Mission, also called Pakuri Village, is a titled indigenous village located in the Demerara-Mahaica Region (Region 4), of Guyana, South America.
Take a drive about 30 miles up the Linden-Soesdyke Highway from the East Bank Junction, then take a detour into a sandy trail through the savannahs for about 30 miles and you will reach the remote village of Pakuri on the left bank of the Mahaica River – which is a tributary of the Essequibo River. Once there, you can do bird watching, swim in the creeks, enjoy delicious food among hospitable people, or relax in a refreshingly tranquil environment that will sooth your mind.
According to historical documentation, Pakuri Village was settled in the early 1800s by the Arawak (Lokono) Nation of Indigenous peoples of Guyana, South America. It was named Pakuri by the founder and first village chief. Pakuri is the Arawak word for the Platonia tree which grew abundantly in the village at that time.
St. Cuthbert’s Mission or Pakuri Village?
St. Cuthbert’s Mission was originally named Pakuri Village by the founders, and most indigenous people who live there prefer to identify as residents of Pakuri Village. However, the official name of the village is still St. Cuthbert’s Mission.
The village was renamed St. Cuthbert’s Mission in honor of the Scottish Saint Cuthbert by a group of Anglican Missionaries who founded a mission there around the year 1889. The missionaries arrived there on St. Cuthbert’s Day and decided to rename the village in honor of that Scottish Saint.
More than a century later, around the year 2017, the residents petitioned to revert to the indigenous name Pakuri. The petition was made by then Toshao, Lenox Shuman, and was given the green light by the David Granger led APNU/AFC coalition government which governed Guyana from 2015 to 2020.
Nevertheless, due to inconveniences and complications that would arise from the change of name (such as changes on all legal documents etc), the residents decided not to go ahead with changing the name back to Pakuri village, and the village is still officially named St. Cuthbert’s Mission.
At the same time, the names “Pakuri Village” and “St. Cuthbert’s Mission” are used interchangeably when referring to this remote nature paradise.
Region 4, or Region 5?
St. Cuthbert’s Mission is located mostly in Region 4, but a part of the village extends into Region 5 since it is located at the boundary of the two regions. Nevertheless, the village is administered by the Regional Democratic Council of Region 4.
St. Cuthbert’s Mission is a Piece of Nature Preserved
The village of Pakuri is free of the noises, pollution, and complexities of the industrial world. It is reminiscent of a natural paradise which takes you back in time as you observe the beauty of an environment as nature intended it, listen to the sounds of birds and other animals, observe the natural vegetation and plant life, and so many things that cannot be replicated by the hand of man.
Education in Pakuri Village
Pakuri Village sports a nursery school, primary school, and a secondary school. Most children of Pukuri Village complete their education at the St. Cuthbert’s Secondary School, but those who perform exceptionally well may be transferred to the city through government funded scholarship programs or on their own accord. After high school, students of the St. Cuthbert’s Secondary School may attend the University of Guyana or other tertiary institutions.
Economic Activities in Pakuri Village
Pakuri Village is known as a logging community, and the men are skilled loggers. Consequently, the men may take up occupation as loggers in Pakuri or in other remote areas across the country. The women of Pakuri village sometimes employ themselves in small-scale farming, arts and crafts, and small businesses. Women also work at the three schools and health center of the village.
Hunting is also a common economic activity for the men of St. Cuthbert’s Mission. Wild meat is hunted and consumed as well as sold in the village.
One resident of St. Cuthbert’s Mission related to this publication that, despite its reputation for being a nature resort, recent moves in modernization have led to some amount of noise and air pollution.
The village is modernizing; sadly there is a negative side. There is often loud music, trees regularly heard being cut down by chainsaws, grass cutters, vehicles, and a new diesel generator has been installed. It’s not as environmentally friendly as it was in the past.
Despite these recent developments, St. Cuthbert’s Mission is still spacious and peaceful enough to provide an escape into a peaceful nature setting.
To learn more about St. Cuthbert’s Mission, and see more beautiful photos and videos, visit Indigenous Guyana Blog.