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Latin America Resource
and Training Center

Ministry to Panama's Kuna Indians
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

Kuna woman sewing a molaThe Kuna Indians are one of a few indigenous (Indian) groups that make up Panama's population.  Most of the 61,707 Kuna (according to the 2000 census) live in the San Blas Island region, which the Kuna themselves call Kuna Yala (Kuna Land).  There are 48 villages in the region, about two-thirds of which are populated islands.  There are also two other concentrations of Kuna located near Lake Bayano in the Darien jungle region of southeast Panama.  In addition, many Kuna have moved to Panama City.

The Kuna are famous for the colorful dress of the women, which includes the "mola"--a reverse appliqué made using various layers of colorful fabric stitched to reveal the various colors (see photo to right).  These mola are incorporated as a front and back panel on the blouse worn by the Kuna women.

Our primary ministry with the Kuna is to provide encouragement to the three congregations located on the islands of Nargana, Rio Tigre and Playon Chico--working more closely with the pastors of these churches.  A Bible school extension was opened on the island of Playon Chico in San Blas in 1997.  Five Kuna graduated from this school in 2000.

Please take a few minutes to read the articles and reports about the Kuna by clicking on the Kuna menu to the left.