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Panamanian History Essay

1397 words - 6 pages

Panama HistoryBorgmeyer 1Running Head: History of PanamaPanama HistoryTraci BorgmeyerJanuary 17, 2004INS323Professor PoskoPanama HistoryBorgmeyer 2PanamaPanama historically has had closer ties with the United States than any country in Latin America other than Mexico. The country is known best for the Panama Canal, which the United States built for both military and trade purposes at the start of the 20th century. The United States maintained sovereignty over parts of Panama until 1999. However, the earlier historical issues of Panama will be addressed here. As the Spanish explorers arrived in Panama, some researchers have estimated that there was an approximate population of 750,000 Cuna Indians, though there are varying estimates of the number of the total amount of Indians that inhabited the area. Two additional groups of Indians called the Guaymí and the Chocó, were identified by ethnologists. The Guaymí from the highlands close to the Costa Rican border are believed to be related to the Nahuatlan and Mayan nations from Mexico and Central America. The Chocó appear to be related to the Chibcha of Colombia. Although the Cuna, now found mostly in the Comarca de San Blas, (which is an indigenous territory and considered part of the Colón Province for some official purposes) have been categorized as belonging to the Caribbean culture. Apparently their origin continues to be a subject of speculation. Numerous amounts of ethnologists have pointed towards the possibility of a linguistic connection between the name Cuna and certain Arawak and Carib tribal names. The possibility of cultural links with the Andean Indians has been hypothesized, and in addition some scholars have noted linguistic affinities with the Chibcha. The suggestion is that the great valleys of Colombia, which trend toward the isthmus, led migration in that direction. Lines of relationship have been traced to the Cueva and Coiba tribes as well, although some anthropologists believe that the Cuna might belong to a largely extinct linguistic group. Some Cuna believe they come from Carib stock, while others trace their origin of origin to the god Olokkuppilele at Mount Tacarcuna, west of the mouth of the Río Atrato in Colombia. Among the Cuna, Guaymí, and Chocó, land was equally owned and farmed. In addition to hunting and fishing, the Indians raised corn, cotton, cacao, various root crops and other vegetables, and fruits. In the past, these Indian groups lived in circular thatched huts and slept in hammocks. Many still do to this day. Their villages focused on producing goods, and traders moved among them by using the rivers and coastal waters in dugout canoes. The Indians were skillful potters, stonecutters, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. The ornaments they wore, including breastplates and earrings of beaten gold, reinforced the Spanish myth of El Dorado, the city of gold. Rodrigo de Bastidas was a wealthy notary public from...

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