P ROPOSAL

BY J ENNIFER

FOR INTERCO NTINENTAL

CRY

A N EXCLUSIVE SERIES ABOUT THE N ASO P EOPLES IN P ANAMA
K ENNEDY

1 - Language Revitalization Naso culture, language and traditions have been disappearing ever since the Nasos’ first contact with colonists. Their language, with only 500 speakers left, is now endangered. In 2011 Natalia Bermudez from the New York based Endangered Language Alliance worked with the Naso on a collaborative program to preserve their language. This article will focus on how language is integral to cultural survival whilst considering the program’s influence upon the community and the continuing efforts of the Naso in ensuring the preservation of their language. 2 – Traditional Culture Despite external pressures, the Naso are working hard to preserve their culture. For example, a community group, ASOMETRAN, is dedicated to maintaining botanical gardens. They run a four year study plan teaching young Naso about the traditional uses of over 2000 plants. Another group, Damas Unidas Naso, is dedicated to promoting the preservation of dance, woodwork and traditional cooking. This article will consider the importance of traditional knowledge and how this relates to the Nasos’ cosomovision and their relationship with nature. 3- Damning Effects The Bonyic dam on the River Bonyic is due to be completed in 2013 and the effects of the project are clearly visible. It has opened up the land to colonists, caused divisions within the community and is having a negative impact on the environment. The majority of the Naso, feeling that the completion of dam is inevitable, have entered into negotiations with the government hoping that this will strengthen their case for a semi-autonomous comarca. However, there are a minority of Naso who remain resistant. This article will look at the effects of the dam upon the lives of the Naso and it will consider the two sides - those who have now entered into agreements and those that are still in opposition to the Bonyic dam. 4. Fight for Autonomy The Naso are one of the last remaining indigenous groups in Panama who have not been granted a semi-autonomous comarca. However, they continue to fight for 130,000 legally titled

hectares. A comarca would give the Naso more protection against further mega-projects which are being proposed by the government, and which the majority of the Naso are staunchly against. Some people say a Naso Comarca seems increasingly unlikely under the current administration, but they are determined to fight on. This article will look at the Nasos’ struggle for autonomy.

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