Ngobe Bugle Indians in Panama

Ngobe Bugle Indians in Panama

The Ngöbe Buglé Indians (formerly known as Guaymi) live at Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui and dry plains of Veraguas. They have dark skin, thick lips, wide backs and flat noses. Women wear gowns of bright colors and geometric shapes. However, during their ceremonies the men they will dress themselves with exotic bird feathers and paint their faces with geometric shapes, usually black, white and red.

The Ngöbe Buglé live in huts near rivers or at valleys. The Ngöbe Buglé fish, hunt, raise dogs, cattle, chickens and pigs. The 2000 Panamanian census cites 110,080 Ngöbe Buglé Indians in Panama, forming 63.6% of the national Indian population. The Comarca Ngöbe Buglé was created on March 7, 1997.

Ngobe indians are the largest indigenous group in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. They live in several communities in the islands of Colon, Bastimentos, Solarte, Cristobal, Popa and Water Cay. The other indigenous indians with a project in the Bocas del Toro Province, are the nasos or teribes, a small group that live in the mountains and jungle that separate Bocas del Toro from Chiriqui Province, in the La Amistad International Park. There are several ecotourism projects, built with international funds, to help the indigenous groups.

They retain many of their aboriginal customs and practices. The Ngobe-Bugle's chaquira (They are lovely necklaces constructed with colorful beads.) was first mentioned by European historians the 17th Century. The original necklaces were dull and made of pebbles, pieces of bone, seeds, and sea shells which the Indians colored with homemade dyes. The brightly colored beads and designs of the modern chaquiras have come about because the indians can now buy beads of a shape, size, or colour to suit.

The easiest access to Ngobe indians is in the town on Tole, close to the Pan-American Highway. There you can find chaquira woven with strings of colourful beads. The "Nahua", the native dress of the Ngobe women, can also be seen there.

The Bokotas, are an Amerindian ethnic group living in Bocas del Toro and north of Veraguas. They still use weapons like bows and arrows and spears or fish nets. Men wear shirts of manta-sucia, women have the same dresses as the Ngobe. They wear necklaces, facial paint of black and red, and shiny hair combs. Their houses are round and built on stilts. Bokotas have mixed with the Ngobe Bugles, but there are still "pure" families. There are many traditional ceremonies. There is a population in Panama of 3,784 Bokota Indians.

Ngobe-Bugle Schools Project


Indigenous Indians in Panama