Being Emberá

Indigenous culture needed to protect forests

Panamá

Duration: 6:06


Available in 4 languages


Released: December 2016

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Reclaiming and strengthening indigenous culture is vital to maintaining ancestral connections to nature. This must be passed onto future generations by celebrating indigenous traditions. Embera youth are spearheading a cultural revival, after decades of assimilation, through traditional body painting and storytelling. Meanwhile sustainable community forestry initiatives are creating low impact income for communities that rely on healthy forests for their survival.

  • Interesting facts & key figures

    • Originally the Embera lived in one large territory. However, after many years of colonisation and wars, it has become separated into three territories:

      – The Comarca Embera Wounaan

      – Tierras Colectivas Embera y Wounaan

      – Tierras Colectivas Emberã de Alto Bayano

    • The Bayano Hydroelectric Dam was constructed between 1972 and 1976, one of the major projects of the military regime of General Torrijos. The dam was financed with loans from international development agencies (principally the World Bank) and private commercial banks. The construction flooded approximately 300 sq kilometres and displaced 4,500 people, among them 500 Embera, 1,500 Guna and 2,500 colonists. The Embera were relocated to the villages of Piriati and Ipeti.

Who's Involved?

Produced by

Recognition to Land, Territories and Resources

Communities need ownership over their ancestral land in order to protect forests. With no formal land title traditional communities often face serious conflict when trying to evict illegal loggers, poachers and land grabbers. Who will believe their claims without precise maps and legal title deeds?

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