My Grandmother’s River is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
This is the home of the My Grandmother’s River Project. To donate to this important effort please visit Open Hand Studios’ website at www.openhandstudios.org and specify MGR in the notes section of your tax-deductible online donation. Don’t forget to include your address so that OHS can send you a receipt. To learn more about what the My Grandmother’s River Project is all about, please view the River of the Grandmother page on this blog.
This site is dedicated to the Naso people of the Bocas del Toro province in the north-western corner of Panama. It is also for English-speakers who wish to learn more about the beautiful and fascinating culture, language and homeland of the smallest of the eight indigenous groups remaining in Panama today. Like most indigenous communities the Naso are fighting to maintain their cultural identity while addressing issues of land encroachment and wide-spread poverty.
With a population of only 3,800, the lack of a comarca or reservation, a hydro-electric project which threatens their water, food and transportation source and a cattle company attempting to take their traditional lands for grazing, the dangers faced by the Naso are very real. If you are concerned with human rights and the environment you have a unique opportunity to make a positive and lasting change in the world.
People of all ages including His Majesty, King Valentin Santana, made the long trip from the Naso territory to Panama City in April of 2009 to protest the injustices they have experienced at the hands of a government that refuses to allow for the creation of a Comarca Tjer-Di. While stalling the legal processes to protect the land and people it has allowed a powerful cattle-ranching company to come to the communities and destroy Naso homes and the newly built Naso Cultural Center.
I first met members of the Naso community in April of 2009. While visiting Panama City I happened upon the protest pictured here. Community members and I began to talk and while we chatted the children in the group borrowed my camera. They took some wonderful photos! I left with email addresses from Naso leaders and promised to stay in touch. In December of 2009 I was asked to write a proposal to the United Nations Democracy Fund. Although it was too late to submit a grant proposal for that year I promised the Naso leadership that I would find a way to do it the following year. In addition to writing this proposal, the effort to save the Naso homeland and culture has taken on a life of its own and is now the My Grandmother’s River Project. My Grandmother’s River works directly with the Naso people. Welcome to the site and please email or comment if you have questions.