The Emberá people, also known in the historical literature as the Chocó or Katío Indians are an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. There are approximately 33,000 people living in Panama and 50,000 in Colombia who identify as Emberá. The government of Panamá recognizes the 7 unique Indigenous tribes who live here and they each have been given what is called a Comarca. A Comarca is roughly equivalent to a reservation in North America with several notable differences. The tribes in Panamá were never forced off of their home territories, the comarca borders are drawn around their original homelands. The other big difference is that in Panamá the indigenous people were never forced into boarding schools nor punished for speaking their language or practicing their cultural traditions. In fact, the tribes were ignored and not even counted in the census of Panama and not recognized as citizens nor given the right and access to education until 1975! There is one benefit that resulted from the Emberá being ignored for so long, and that is that their language, culture, traditions, villages and lifestyle are still intact.

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Emberá PurúDown by the River