Suriname celebrates Indigenous People’s Day on 9 August. The date was chosen to match that of the UN observance that goes by a similar name.
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Indigenous People’s Day was made a public holiday in Suriname in 2007 in order to draw attention to the contributions made to the nation’s culture by its Amerindian population. The day is also meant to promote correction of any abuses of the rights of Suriname’s indigenous people’s that still occur.
For thousands of years before Europeans discovered what is now Suriname, Amerindian peoples already inhabited it. At the time of colonisation, the Arawak and Carib were the largest Indian tribes living in the area. There were, however, many smaller tribes there as well.
When the Netherlands colonised Suriname, not only Dutch settlers but also African slaves took up residence in the colony. Then, indentured servants from India and other lands came as well. But the original indigenous population never disappeared either. The result is that, today, Suriname is a highly diverse country ethnically.
On Indigenous People’s Day, the people of Suriname take part in numerous cultural events put on by its indigenous population. It is a time to learn of the ways of the first known inhabitants of their country and to learn to appreciate the nation’s cultural diversity.