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Naso Tjerdi – a brief explanation of the Naso people

The River Teribe and its tropical rainforests have been the homeland of the indigenous tribe of the „Naso“ (Teribes). The river marks the central element of the Naso community spiritually and by means of transportation. The name Teribe is derived from the Naso word „Tjerdi“ which is translated as river of the grandmother. The indigenous tribe counts a population of about 3525 people and is the last monarchy of the Americas. The Naso currently live in 12 small villages, Santa Rosa (pop. 200), So Di (pop. 200), Bon Llik (pop. 500), Solon (pop. 400), Dwluy Llik (pop. 150), Kuy Kin (pop. 100), Shey Llik (pop. 500), Shey King (pop. 500), Loma Bandera (pop. 75), San Dluy (pop. 500) and San San (pop. 200). The Naso capital Siellik and the largest settlement Sieyik are positioned across from each other along the river Teribe from each. They mark the entry into old, abandoned settlements of their ancestors upstream and primary rainforest habitat. During the last centuries the Naso had moved their settlements further downstream closer to the province capital Changuinola. The ancient and traditional settlements further upstream such as Shublollik can be identified by river banks planted with banana and other agricultural plants. These areas today are frequently visited on foot and by boat for purposes of harvesting and limited fishing and hunting. The lack of roads to the heart of the Naso homeland has saved the Naso culture from diminishing into „latino“ culture and saved the rainforest habitat from logging, cattle farming, extensive tourism, industrial or residential development. Nevertheless their homeland is under pressure from cattle ranches, hydroelectric dams and the neighboring, expanding Ngobe Bugle tribe. The Nasos unlike other tribes in Panama do not have a Comarca (semi-autonomous territory). They have been seeking recognition of their homeland and have been applying for a Comarca over the past 40 years. Sieykin and 8 other Naso villages can only be reached by boat or walking rainforest trails.