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Acting Chief of the First People Eric Lewis performs the last rights for Grand Chief Paul Navarro at the Moruga Grand Hall, Moruga, yesterday.

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A memorial will be built soon in honour of the late Amerindian Chief Paul Navarro, who died earlier this week at the age of 102.

Under stormy skies yesterday, Navarro’s funeral took place at the Grand Hall of the Moruga cocoa museum.

Dressed in full Amerindian regalia, Navarro looked regal as he lay in the casket, his lined face adorned with a feathered headdress and a smile.

The funeral was attended by guests from the First People’s Community and was recognised as the first fully indigenous Amerindian ceremony to take place in Moruga in over 150 years.

As the body was wheeled into the Grand Hall, Navarro’s brother Izadore Navarro, 99 and Izadore’s daughter Cherisse Ramlogan broke down in tears.

Prince Eric Lewis, who is now acting Chief, blew a conch while the sound of the maraca and bongo drums echoed through the halls.

Lewis performed all the rites.

Mourners wore traditional wear while a wood-carved Amerindian statue representing the zemis of the ancestors looked over the casket.

Lewis said Chief Navarro was supposed to be honoured in a few weeks as the oldest chief of the region.

Navarro was born April 28, 1919 to Juan Navarro and Maria Trilla, who lived to be 112 and 103 years respectively. Navarro was a former sailor who travelled the globe but never married.

Known as the oldest Amerindian chief in the Western Hemisphere, Navarro was honoured at an award ceremony in 2020, having held the title of Grand Chief of Moruga and the surrounding region.

Lewis told Guardian Media that Chief Navarro’s dying wish was for the First People to be recognised in T&T for their valuable contribution.

“He wanted us to have recognition. We would like to have our holiday permanently. Our chief asked for that,” he added.

Lewis said the First People of Moruga were now united and had brought together other indigenous people across the country.

Chief of the Santa Rosa First People Ricardo Bharat-Hernandez, who attended the funeral, said recognition was important to the indigenous people.

“We are here to support his family and the people of Moruga who he spent most of his time with. We have lost another elder. Most of our elders have crossed this 100-year-old mark. He wanted recognition and we have come a long way but we still feel as if we are not being taken seriously,” Bharat-Hernandez said.

Christo Adonish also extended condolences to the relatives and friends of Chief Navarro.

Chief Navarro’s first headpiece, a dream catcher ornament, a deer horn, a wooden flute, a crystal stone for communication, as well as other ancient artefacts, were buried with Navarro’s body.

Following the viewing at the hall, there was a procession to the Gran Chemin cemetery where the late Chief was buried.