February 25, 2017

Night of the Kuna

The Panamanian government passed a law commanding "the settlement into civilized life of all existing barbarous, semi-barbarous and savage tribes in the country."

Its spokesman announced:  "The Kuna Indians will never again paint their noses, only their cheeks, and they will no longer put rings in their noses, only in their ears.  And they will no longer dress in molas, rather in civilized attire."

The religious ceremonies of Kuna women and men, which offended God, were outlawed, as was their mania for governing themselves in their own traditional way.

In 1925, on the night of the twenty-fifth day of the month of iguana, the Kunas used their knives on all the policemen who forbade them from living their lives.

Ever since, Kuna women wear rings in their painted noses and dress in their molas, a splendid art form done by needle and thread instead of paintbrushes.  And Kuna women and men continue holding their ceremonies and assemblies on the two thousand islands where they defend, by hook or by crook, their shared kingdom.

-- Eduardo Galeano

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