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Panama - Native Peoples

Last modified: 2010-01-30 by dov gutterman
Keywords: panama | swastika | cuna | tule |
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Kuna Indians


Around the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th Century the Kuna Indians (in Panama) revolted and set up the Republic of Tule or the Republic of the Men (Tule in their language means "Men" and is the name they use for themselves). The swastica is an ancient symbol of the culture of the Kuna (Tule) people.
Jaume Ollé, 29 July 1996

Current Flag

image by Dave Martucci and Antonio Martins, 4 April 2000

There are now also three indigenous districts, including the "Comarca de San Blas", a.k.a. "Kuna Yala" inhabited by the Kunas Indians
According a representativa of the Kuna natives in Spain, the old flag of Kunas is currently in use; the swastika has not any circular adorn, and the red colour is in fact dark organge  (information provided by vexillologist -and latin american native peoples expert , Juanjo Gonzalez)
Jaume Olle', 1 January 2000

This currently used flag is then:
- without ring
- dark orange instead of red
- with yellow central stripe
- ratio: 2:3
- with central stripe higher than the others (1:4:1)
Antonio Martins and Jaume Olle', 19 March 2000

Two precisions:
the flag is now manufactured at 2:3 but as far as I know many first peoples in Latin America prefer square (or close square) pattern. I doubt that "official" regulation exist.
The central stripe is wider than the upper and lower ones, but Juanjo (that didn't saw any original flag) is not sure if was 1:2:1, 1:3:1 or 1:4:1.
Jaume Olle', 12 April 2000

I was in contact with the provinicial autorities of Panama in 2003. The flag of Kuna Yala is now for the province of San Blas and kuna ethnic flag. The central stripe is white instead of yellow in the official flag of the Comarca, adopted by Kuna National Congress (as the original flag of the nation adopted 1924) but used generally in yellow as ethnic flag  (because yellow was introduced in the flag at about 1940). Stripes have a proportion of 1:2.1. In the original flag the white mean peace and purity, then when it was introduced the yellow, this mean the KINKILELE (Olodule: gold people), this is the Kuna or Tule. In the original flag, the cross represented the perversion of the christian that opresed kunas in their own land. At about 1940 the cross meaning was changed to a north-south-east-west.
Jaume Ollé, 15 September 2009

Reported and Historical Flags

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Dave Martucci and Antonio Martins, 4 April 2000

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Dave Martucci and Antonio Martins, 4 April 2000

The first of these flags is from a Flag Bulletin [tfb] article which indicated it was dimensions 4:5 with stripes (1:3:1) of red-yellow-red and a black "reversed" swastika displayed on one arm (not on a point as in the Nazi flag).
The second flag is from the "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" chart, and is basically the same except a 2:3 ratio and with the addition of a red ring hanging on the junction of the swastika.
I had occasion to ask Whitney Smith about the second flag and he said it was modified in 1942 because of Nazi associations with the swastika by the addition of a "nose ring." The change was made by the Kunas "because everyone knows Germans do not wear nose rings."
Dave Martucci
, 12 November 1996

The second flag is listed under number 197 at the chart "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" [asp] as :
"Tule Republic (Kuna Indians, 1925) - San Blas Islands, Panama."
Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Kjell Roll Elgsaas, 15 December 1997

In your page about Panama you include the flag of the Kuna indians and say that it was the flag they used when they proclaimed independence from Panama "around the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th Century the Kuna Indians", as a panamanian I know a more accurate date... it was on february 1925
Jose Ramos , 28 August 1999

I do remember that I  saw once a picture of the Kuna flag in a book (IIRC, It was called: "Wonders of the world in German) dating back to the 1920's. It was in B/W and next to the swatiska, on the left was a indian head and on the right the word Kuna...
Pascal Prince, 5 April 2000


[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Jaume Olle', 25 August 2004

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Jaume Olle', 25 August 2004

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by Jaume Olle', 25 August 2004

The images of the Kuna Yala flag above is quite a bit different from the flag I just received from Gilberto Almancia, a Kuna Indian when I visited Panama this July 2004. The flag can be seen at <>.
Professor John J. Couture, 12 August 2004

According the article in the newspaper "El Universal" of  Panamá, by Anelio Merry: Besidee that the Kuna nation flag of red, white (not yellow) and red, with swastica in center, today exists also another flag that is only recognized by the Aligandi community. This flag is not shown but described: as follow: "It has within two crossed hands, an arrow, a  bow and nine stars. The upper stripe is green, the central one is white (with the hands) and the lower one is red". Theres no doubt that Merry refers to a flag that was reported by Professor John J. Couture, describing it with reversed upper and lower stripe and quoting the central one as white instead of yellow.  I dont know if the differences are dues to a change, a  manufactured variant, or a mistake. Merry added: The Congreso General Kuna, main authority of the nation, in one of their sesions adopted the agreement that the Kuna red, white, red flag created by Maria Colman will be hoisted in all the communities of the region of Kuna Yala.   Maria Colman, that created the flag, was born precisely in the Aligandi Community and was the daugther of  Olo Kiankipe and her great pather was the chief  Olokindipilele (Simral Colman) that adopted the flag in 1924 and established its meaning   Notee that near the sea, the white color is yellowized faster, and sometimes can seems that the central stripe is yellow, but official color is now white. Also theres mention that the flag with central white stripe was in use in 1924-25, but later  was changed to a yellow until the agreement of the Congreso General Kuna in late 90s. The chief Simral Colman established the meaning of the colors: red (blood); white (peace and purity), black (symbol of Kunas opressed in their own land). Then white was changed to yellow and this color was attribued to the "gold people" (The Kunas or Tule) and the symbol mean North, South, East and West. The swaistica is an ancestral Kuna symbol called Naa Ukuryaa.
Jaume Olle', 25 August 2004

[Flag of Cuna Indians]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 29 November 2005

Valentin Poposki located photo at <>. This seems to be the Aligandi flag.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 29 November 2005

I was in contact with the provinicial autorities of Panama in 2003. Ailigandi, unrecognized comunity that is oppose San Blas province and don't recongize its flag.
Ailigandi flag is red, yellow, green horizontal and in center two crossed arms, bearing arc and arrow, surrounded by 9 blue stars.
Jaume Ollé, 15 September 2009