CLAUDIO GROSSMAN: For another wife, would that be the result of the weight of the grandmother, or it would be proceeded by some type of collective decision-making procedure.
Somebody in need of assistance
RICHARD Rate: A grandmother would not say that, such a decision would come out of a collective process, a public meeting of a number of people, who would discuss often over many days, the proper distribution, and its quite possible, that a particular wife, who was a more recent wife, might receive less of a particular amount for distribution, than a wife who had been married and who had been working with these relatives over many years. That’s the kind of thing that’s completely within the competence with the Saramaka customary law of this kinship group to decide.
CLAUDIO GROSSMAN: Why wouldn’t you? Let me ask you another thing. Maybe you don’t know this, but I will inform you about this. We requested that a special trust fund be created for children, for example. This is something, and there would see a difference. What do you think about that? Would be admissible, acceptable within the Saramaka culture? Would that be equivalent to raping their conviction, setting aside a trust fund for children, for example?
RICHARD Price: I think it makes a great deal of sense, for the following reason. The men who died, who were killed, were providers for certain children. The way they would provide for them, would be, by going out and working, bringing back goods, and distributing those goods to those children, over time. So, that, if those children were to be given lump sum payments, what happens with lump sum payments in Saramaka, is that goats are bought at once, money that is cash isn’t saved, it’s spent for the kinds of goods that I’ve mentioned a number of times. Therefore, what you would want to do, to simulate as much as possible what the deceased would have provided over those children’s lives, as minors, the way to simulate that, would be to establish a mechanism by which goods could be given to those children, not all at once, but over the whole period of time, during which they’re growing up. And it seems to me, that some kind of trust mechanism, would provide that. And that, on the other hand, it’s quite appropriate for lump sums to be given to adults, with which they’re going to buy goods, because that’s very much what they would have done, had these people been alive.
RICHARD Rates: I’ve spent a good deal of time talking to the Grandman about this. If I may, let me just tell a brief story. I was walking along the street, in Arlington, Virginia, the other night with the Grandman, near the hotel The Smithsonian Porter’s Inn, and a homeless woman came up to us and said to me, could you spare a quarter, and the Grandman said to me, what did she say? And I said she’s asking for money, and he immediately reached into his shirt pocket and took out a bill, a dollar, I believe, and put it in her cup, and he explained to me that the Grandman is responsible, one of his titles, this has been Grandman, is Kundemasa, Master of the Round. He is responsible for everyone in the world. Anyone who is suffering. He has to give people duets. The rule of his office, his responsibility, and what he stated with me about how much Saramaka people have suffered during the last 5 or 6 years. And I have been corroborating testimony from missionaries whom I’ve met in the last couple of weeks in Washington, who have been in Saramaka. Old people are very thin now, many children and old people have died, because of the fact that the Government cut off medical aid to the interior, because they’ve cut for many months and years, they cut off the road, so the Saramakas were not able to go and work, and therefore they weren’t able to buy goods that they needed. There’s been a tremendous amount of suffering, and the Grandman who speaks Dutch, a new Grandman, the old Grandman had been there since 1951, he died in 1989, and Grandman Sungo was installed as Grandman last year, given his stool of office. And Grandman Sungo said that he has to provide such a security, in effect, for his people. Anyone who is in need and comes to him, he gives to, he gives bags of rice, he gives food, so that whatever money were given to the Saramaka people, as a whole, it seems to me, if I may make a suggestion, should in some way, be put in a trust, which would be run by the Grandman, and he, in fact, I now realize I may have, I wasn’t thinking of him when you were asking about Saramaka’s who had bank accounts and so on. The Grandman has a bank account in Paramaribo. I don’t know that he has credit cards. I doubt that. But he does read Dutch and write, and he is fully competent as well as all of his traditional responsibilities. He is fully competent to deal with the Court, or with other western authorities, in terms of handling such a responsibility.