Cultural Overview

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Kuna, then a riverine and forest population in the Darién region of eastern Panama, engaged in intermittent conflict with Spanish colonial authorities while cooperating with Northern European pirates and traders. During a century of peace beginning in the late 18th century, most of the Kuna moved to the northern Caribbean coast of San Blas, and between the middle 19 th and early 20th centuries they continued out onto nearby islands.

Today the coastal Kuna inhabit some 50 communities—six on the shore, two upriver, and the rest on coral islets. They grow plantains and bananas, corn, rice, and root crops on the mainland, raise coconuts for sale on the shore and uninhabited islands, and meet their protein needs mostly from the sea. Since 1938 the coast has been a legally recognized indigenous reserve, now called the Comarca de Kuna Yala. It has been governed since 1945 by three "big chiefs" (sagla dummagan) or caciques and the semiannual Kuna General Congress. As of the year 2000, there were 31,000 Kuna in Kuna Yala or San Blas, and 24,000 in urban Panama (Dirección de Estadística y Censo, 2001).1

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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