My Experience Visiting the Embera Tribe of Panama

The Embera people are an indigenous group of people native to Panama. They live in small villages located in the Darien jungle and have mostly resisted modern life.

My sister and I had the privilege of being allowed to visit one of these villages on one of my trips to Panama.

We took a long boat ride to get to the village.

The Embera people are a joyful people! They celebrate life and their culture. They are also very hospitable and welcoming. We were warmly welcomed into the village and was allowed to participate in some of their activities. It was a truly unforgettable experience. If you ever have the chance to visit an Embera village, I highly recommend it!

Here is my video of our welcoming arrival to the village:

Who are the Embera?

The Embera people are a Native American tribe of hunter-gatherers from the Choco rainforest of western Panama.

The Embera make up a significant portion of the population in Panama and they have a rich and vibrant culture. They are also well-known for their hospitality and warmth.

More to love:  Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the World that Will Take Your Breath Away

Their type of dress

The Embera are renowned for their vibrant traditional clothing and colorful adornments such as beadwork. Some of the women and children do not wear covering on their upper body. They wear many strands of long decorative necklaces. I found their long hair to be just beautiful!

embera children of panama

The Embera Language

The Embera language is called Epena, and it is estimated that there are over 70,000 total speakers.

While the Embera language is still spoken in many parts of Panama, the language is slowly dying out due to the influence of Spanish and other languages.

The Embera way of life

The Embera people traditionally live in small, tight-knit villages in the rainforest. Each village typically consists of a few dozen members that rely on each other for sustenance and support.

The Embera live a subsistence lifestyle and practice traditional hunting and gathering. They hunt for wild game such as peccary and tapir and collect fruits and vegetables such as plantains and yucca.

The Embera also see themselves as part of the natural world and have a deep respect for the environment they live in. They have a spiritual relationship with nature, and they practice a form of animism.

The Embera also have a strong belief in the power of the supernatural and regularly consult shamans for guidance and healing.

The importance of family to the Embera

Family is of paramount importance to the Embera. They believe that family ties should not be broken, and that family should not interfere with each other’s lives.

As such, parents often rely on their children for help and support, and vice-versa. In Embera culture, it is common for extended family members to live together in the same home, and for the elderly to be cared for by their children and grandchildren.

More to love:  African Wildlife Sanctuaries: Why November is the Perfect Safari Season

A picture containing tree, outdoor, grass, person Description automatically generated

The Embera also strongly believe in the importance of reciprocity. If you help someone, they must help you back in return. This helps to ensure that everyone in the community has their needs met and that no one is taken advantage of.

Embera customs and traditions

The Embera have many unique customs and traditions that they still observe today.

One such custom is the celebration of ‘Dance of the Deer’. During this dance, men and women of the village dance around a fire, wearing traditional clothing and making music on drums and maracas. This dance is performed in order to strengthen the bonds of family and community.

The Embera also celebrate the ‘Ceremony of the Corn’, in which farmers bring their newly harvested corn to the village plaza. The corn is then shared with the entire community, and everyone has a chance to thank the gods for the harvest.

The Embera concept of time

The Embera recognize the importance of time, but they don’t understand it the same way that Western cultures do. To the Embera, time is seen as a cycle rather than a linear measurement.

The Embera believe that life is an endless cycle, and that the present moment is all that matters. Therefore, they don’t see any point in planning for or worrying about the future.

How the Embera view work and play

The Embera understand the importance of work, but they also value leisure and play.

More to love:  3 Reasons to Fall in Love with Bilbao, Spain

Work is seen as necessary, but it is not seen as an end in itself.

Instead, the Embera believe that work should bring enjoyment and satisfaction. As such, tasks such as gathering food and making crafts are done with joy and a sense of community.

Play is also seen as an important part of life. The Embera enjoy playing music, dancing, and participating in spontaneous games such as soccer.

They are also avid storytellers and enjoy sharing stories of their culture and history.

The Embera idea of happiness

The Embera believe that true happiness comes from living in harmony with nature and with their fellow community members.

To the Embera, happiness is about living life as harmoniously and as joyfully as possible. They also believe that happiness comes from sharing and working together.

The Embera understand the importance of close community ties and are always willing to lend a helping hand when needed. The village plaza is the centre of activity and the hub of social gatherings, which helps to bring the community together and foster a sense of shared joy and happiness.

What can we learn from the Embera people?

The Embera have much to teach us about living joyfully and connected to one another and to nature. They remind us to appreciate the simple things in life and to savour each moment.

They also show us the importance of strong family ties and community spirit.

Ultimately, the Embera showed me that our greatest source of joy is found in connecting to each other and living in harmony with nature.

By embracing the Embera philosophy, we can learn to be more present, less stressed, and more connected to the world around us. What a wonderful way to live!

Did you enjoy this blog post?

If you enjoyed this blog post, be sure to subscribe to Michelle Valentine’s email list to get weekly travel tips and learn more about fascinating people around the world!