The Panama Project
In June 2019, I traveled to western Panama with Dr. Jessica Black of Heritage University in Yakima, Wa., and Celestino Mariano Gallardo, the commissioner of international affairs for the general congress within the Comarca Ngöbe Buglé. The comarca is the home to remaining members of the Ngöbe and Buglé indigenous groups who are working to make a living from the land while preserving traditional values.
This exploratory trip allowed me to gain a better understanding of life in the comarca
for on-going projects that I will be engaged in over the coming months and years, particularly around environmental issues, health issues, and efforts to document traditional knowledge and cultural memory for future generations. You can find collections from this project updated on this page.
This project was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faces of the Comarca
Members of the congreso, the traditional and regional government of the Comarca Ngöbe Buglé, and prominent citizens met for the Comarca Research Alliance Symposium in San Felix, Panama, from June 7 - 9, 2019. It was the first meeting of its kind to bring together representatives of the comarca and members of organizations that provide services or resources for work within the comarca. Representatives from organizations like Engineers Without Borders and universities from Panama, the U.S. and Canada networked and shared goals for future collaborations.
Listen to Heritage University students Miguel Palma and Orlando Pelcastre, both from Yakima, Washington, describe the Comarca Ngöbe Buglé in their own words accompanied by photographs of the Arguirra family and home. Miguel and Orlando visited the comarca in June 2019.
Sept. 11, 2019 - Miguel Palma and Orlando Pelcastre, both about to enter their sophomore years at Heritage University in Toppenish, Wa., have never had a passport or traveled much outside of their hometown in the Yakima Nation. The chance to visit Panama with one of their instructors opens their eyes to possibilities for the future.