Cuna - Orientation

Identification. The Cuna call themselves "Tule" (real people), but they regard the name "Cuna" as reflecting their origin from the cultural hero Ibeorkuna. "Tule" is used in opposition to "Waga" (Whites) or to the name for any other Indian group.

Location. The Cuna are localized on about thirty islands in the archipelago of San Blas in the Panamanian Caribbean Sea; in the upper courses of the Bayano, Chucunaque, and Tuira rivers; and in small communities around the Gulf of Urabá in Colombia. The majority inhabit the San Blas Islands. Originally, they occupied the mainland—the Gulf of Urabá and the Darién region—but since 1850 have moved to the islands. The climate is tropical, with high temperatures, intensive humidity, and heavy rains. Vast areas of wild vegetation surround the communities.

Demography. The Cuna population is approximately 35,000. Only 500 live in Colombia.

linguistic Affiliation. The Cuna language belongs to the Chibcha Family. There is a ceremonial dialect that is spoken by political leaders and shamans in special contexts such as congresses and medicine sessions.

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