Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 33: The Mulatas Archipelago: Land of Kuna and Moon Children
Léo-Paul Dana Introduction Oﬀ of the Caribbean coast of Panama, lies the Mulatas Archipelago, locally known as the Archipiélago de las Mulatas, and popularly referred to as the San Blas Islands (see Figure 33.1). The Indigenous people here call themselves the Tule; slowly moving away from the term ‘San Blas Indians’, outsiders now refer to them as Kuna, which is actually the name of their native language. The Kuna are one of the last two Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean region to have successfully resisted assimilation; the others are the Carib, on the island of Dominica. As observed by Billard, ‘Since the Spanish conquest, the Cuna1 Indians have clung to isolation’ (1970, p. 433). Breslin and Chapin conﬁrmed, ‘The Kuna are one of the few groups native to the Americas to survive intact the impact of whites’ (1984b, p. 41). Feeney reported her observations thus: ‘They are satisﬁed that they are a superior race; they call themselves a “golden people” and feel that their mode of existence is far superior to the modes adopted by vain and foolish strangers’ (1941, p. 202). Cobb explained, ‘Relative isolation on the islands and a strong internal cohesiveness have protected the Cunas’ (1986, p. 479).2 To this day, these people have kept their beliefs and traditions. The length of one’s nose is a standard of beauty, and is therefore accentuated (see Figure 33.2). Nose rings are common (see Figure 33.3). Historical overview Panama links North America to the west,...
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