4 poets from the Cultural Gathering of Native Women

“Yomoram jyayappapä’is jäyätzame”

Selection © Paul Worley and Carolina Bloem

If you prefer to read this selection as PDF, please CLICK HERE



[Published in Denver Quarterly]

The language in me/ is old/ though I feel new to it/ my palate warping/ a metal over flame/ I practice the sounds of animals/ their names/ almost ancestral/ like they know I am trying/ yona (1) / the first word I ever knew/ bear/ some kind of witness/ to a sloppy rebirth/ I have told a lover/ I will name a child/ tsisdu (2) / because it is good/ to be quick & small/ & aware of your surroundings/ I will ink the animal’s likeness/ on the inside of my wrist/ a reminder/ my body cannot be trusted/ to reproduce/ anything/ but words 

  1. yo-na: bear [Cherokee, eastern dialect]
  2. g-stdu: rabbit [Cherokee, eastern dialect]



[Published in Puerto del Sol]

I split/ my tongue/ down the middle/ not like a snake/ but like two rods divining/ taste top 

& bottom lip/ in unison/ find the water there/ the ore/ curse a lover/ & love him to death/ 

I want a little of everything/ heads & tails/ sides & sides/ of two languages/ my mother’s 

tongue/ colonized/ & the tongue of her mother/ chased to mountain side & frozen stream/ 

really my tongue is the ouroboros/ marrying in a wet mouth/ trying to find some infinity/ 

where no words/ nestle under burial mounds 


In Which I Am a Sum of Parts
[Published in Southern Humanities Review]

2 corn seed necklaces 
hang on the back of my door

along with 2 medicine bags
made of tiny glass seed beads

sterling silver & turquoise 
bolo ties

	(nothing crafted
	by my own hands)


Another lesson

my ancestors hid in mountain
caves & confederate uniforms

my many-greats grandfather
was given the English name Nimrod
b/c aren’t we all mighty hunters

& it is likely my blood is altered 
or diluted somewhere in Oklahoma 
b/c not all ancestors were so lucky 
        (if that is the term we’re using
	& the fact cannot be ignored—

	I am diluted down to the card 
        in my wallet which states 
        my blood as a percentage)


While I was cleaning 

my grandmother’s house

I found a box of tears


I was barely a teenager

the first time I remember

visiting the reservation

my grandmother left

decades prior

her brother & brother’s 

wife tried to educate me

commented on my lack—

how that was the first time

I tried & gave up beading—

disillusioned when

the belt I made broke


My first lesson     was corn seeds

their grey hard form      imperfectly round

how they were     solid manifestations

of every Cherokee tear     rained

along the trail


The scientific name for corn seed

is many syllables but here

we’ll call it Cherokee Tear

it is easy to string onto necklaces

but should not be confused

with seed beads which come

in varying degrees of tiny

plastic & glass 


The last time I was on the rez
it was not for an introduction
but a burial

& I bought beads in colors 
I found comforting

along with needles

thin strips of leather

waxy manmade sinew


Tears do not equate mourning 

but I take the pad of my finger 

press against a duct & hope 

to find some hard blockage

induce a kind of birth





On my way to you 
I pass a field full of sun,  
gold on gold,
and remember your saying
you are descended
from Mayans

Sun/sun dance

I grasp at happiness 
as if for bright coin
from a well for wishing
You tell me instead to hope 
and say to follow the sun
like these flowers in lambent light



I am far from 
mound and mountain
              On these Northern Plains
the wind never ceases,
susurration like the ocean
Astonishment at pelicans
white, not the brown ones last seen 
               over Atlantic waves
Dissonance of familiarity
in strange place 
               Light insinuates late, aubades early
Wait til winter, you warn me
I learn new language 
for this landscape: coulee and kettles
badlands buttes and bluffs
              An eagle dives for prey
grander than ever imagined
Bison trundle over earth
A lone horse stands backlit on a rise
My mouth tries to form the word
for horse in your language: xaawaarúxti’
              but I still face East to sing 
my morning song in Cherokee
On dusty road framed by primrose
I find three yellow stones
tiny jewels of sun I pass on to my son
before his flight Northeast
               Pelican in pond extends enormous wings 
as if to put on coat or cast off cape,
or rather, as if measuring span 
between its existence 	and my insistence
               on not entirely imagined kinship
both of us between homes
and on the way 
                                 to somewhere else



This wind whittles down to essential form
Riderless horses returned from Little Big Horn 

Always we are pulled towards the idea of home
Water and wind form cannonballs of stone

We trade words of greeting: NAheesa atistit/osd sunalei
Wind loosens our hair, growing out after grief

Shame burns like flares on the Bakken 
Wind tosses flames like horses’ manes

In Germany, sirocco from Spain a soft caress
Distances deceive in this vast space 

Palms almost touching, energy palpable 
To track Aurora, I download an app,

imagine us lying magnetized under neon skies
You say the Missouri is called the Great Mystery

I introduce myself as I would to any person
You point out strong current’s direction

under what I perceived as only swirling surface 
We remember flooding of ancestral 

homelands, dams built to harness force
while river and wind keep adjusting course



a man once slammed a fruit bowl against the kitchen wall & abuela learned how glass can give birth to small daggers. she replaced her husband for knives. holds a blade like a loaded gun. enjoys the chop of cilantro-bundles for caldo & people swear she got lawnmowers for fingers. in the backyard the trees shed fruit-baskets but abuela dislikes the rind. can scalp a pear’s skin in seconds. clean. you can see the sugar bleed off the slice. each hand a steady butcher. never once nicked a thumb. & for thirty years pierced meat. sliced basil. stripped salmon of its glittered-gills. then dr. gonzalez found her memory had carved itself pieces. she was handed plastic flatware. all her metal went dull. the good utensils for steak hidden. the house keys now chained to her apron & sometimes her mouth switchblades when the keys go missing. today at the grocery store i tell her stories about the palms she owns. how they once tricked a carrot to dance like bright confetti & abuela picks a fresh pear. the heavy end cleansed by the fog of her breath. she swears she’s always loved the fruit’s pale flesh. & her teeth a wooden drawer of machetes.




Butterflies inebriated, sloshed

spiraling upward from pools of water

holding fermented foliage we

passed by while canoeing on the Neuse.

Orange, white, yellow, blue, black, brown

speckled, swallow-tailed, patterned,

mottled, webbed flash and quiver,

fluttering fine, fly, pit painted lady mating ritual. 

Wrapping shyness with wing, undercover, under

folding blanket over lover. 

Liquid courage emboldens beginnings, above

happenstance provision, easy prey for

prowling bird, turtle, fish, crawdad, frog. 

The beauty of it all

in sunlightened wing shining, falling forward and 

back, up and down. Frenzy fantastic

color gentle, feathered wing too delicate to touch

without removing glide barb. Metamorphosed

just for this day

a metaphor, relational, 

for all that is good and will be. 

Butterfly girl wraps her hair into braided wing

flaps for future. Turns herself 

into  the softest touch, lifting and rising

everything around her, all that is good—

this is good— 

something they do so much

better than Human Beings

in natural accordance with traditional way

of the butterfly creation racing, 

occurring in this way, for her and for those following her.

Kama, kamama. Catch her

in the morning and

again at night, at midday she just floats by breezing.



It wasn’t socks missing from his feet, 

not elbow cloth unraveled unilaterally, 

not equal displacement of chin and brow, 

nor the eye that sat a bit lower on the right, it was his knuckle that made me weep, 

clove corners gone wayside, like miniscule meat  hooks clawed away bits of him each shift he made, invisible a timeliness unfurled. It was his muscle torn through, festering, the prosthetic hand, finger width dismay all across his attempted grin, left  there just like that, for anyone to see—it was his mercy. In the end we’re rarely beautiful, mostly placed  away from compromising situations into poses offsetting what has become of us in some gawker’s  unnerving eyes. Yet, he was, is, still here in mine, and I’m human because of it. Maybe only. Maybe.



The Trembling Giant Aspen / Bolivian massacre site 

Trembling giant  
 bulging under siege 

waving I spread 
 banned from streets 
perpendicular to leaf blade 
 havoc, natural gas 
petiole flattened 
 opposition pushing right autonomy 
rush, lift, breaking cover, tremble 
 on the fourth day of 

 hunger strike, assailants 
 lobbed a green grenade 
 forced to knees shirtless 
aspen man spreads uprising 
flowering, flower, 
spreading root sprout 
 where Morales has stayed 
biomass clone cross giant uprising  deeply rooted Indigenous 
growth  prevent Bolivia from splintering apart Pando/Pando 

 visiting Santa Cruz 
one hundred acres 
 dynamite blasts 
fourteen million pounds 
 public humiliation 

rooted eighty thousand years 
 fifty Indigenous mayors rooted  thirty Andeans killed this 
week  paralyzed borders  
 Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay 
clonal colony 
 colonial massacre 
singular genetic individual 
 Morales, an Aymara Indian, Pando/Pando 
 organized opposition, university  student conservatives, forced 
terrified   Indigenous people, to their knees  forced refugee people 
 apologize for coming to Sucre  forced chanted insults to their hero 
Evo  then conservatives set fire 
 to blue, black, white Aymara flag  seized hand-woven Aymara 
ponchos  Aymara people 

rhizome, basal shoot 
 shot, seven dead 
 peasant farmers 

organism overtaking 
 not supported by current evidence 
Fishlake quaking  
aspen life in largest 
 singular germination 
 Pando/Pando Pando/Pando


We were in a world, in a world. Sure we had our glyphs, but we were providential. Once, some alphabet believ ers, glass purveyors, Ursus Arctos killers, sent all bailiwick on cursed  course far faster gyration backspin, birling intrinsic angular momen tum—boson melts. Spinning, it careened away iceberg, iceberg, ice berg; glacier braced time traced yesterday unshakable base—all below  flushed alluvion torrent, Niagara pour, special spate, flux, flow, until  their coastal citadels moldered from cyclone, tsunami, hurricane gale.  Tornadoes tossed turf wherever they pleased. Eruptions molded Her  back into something She deemed worthy. Not to mention quakes. And  the people, the people, the People, pushed into cataclysm, a few generations from alphabet book imposed catechism, soon were calamity  tragedy storm splinters, fragmented particles of real past, in a world  gone away from oratory, song, oraliteratures, orations into gyrations  reeling. Soon hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. Hot, dying  mangroves, disappearing Waimea Bay, dengue fever, butterfly range  shift, meadow gone forest, desert sprung savannah, caribou, black  guillemots, bats, frogs, snails—gone. What will sandhill cranes crave?  Winged lay early. Reefs bleach. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain,  snow, snow, snow, fires flaming fiercely, fascinated in their own re flecting glare. Marmots rise early. Mosquitoes endure longer, lasting  biting spreading West Nile. Polar bears quit bearing. Robins, swal lows, enter Inuit life. Thunder finds Iñupiat. Here, it is said, glyphs  left rock wall, stone plates, bark, branch, leapt animated into being,  shook shoulders, straightened story, lifted world upon their wing  bone, soared into Night, to place World back into socket eased sky— stilled us. Some say the soup leftover was worded with decolonized  language. Some say the taste lingers even now.

More about the poets in this selection 

More about the translators

Carolina Bloem teaches Latin American Studies and Spanish at Salt Lake Community College. Her research focuses on present-day Wayuu oraliture and its impact both in local and international communities. Past research interests include travel writing in 19th-Century Colombia and Venezuela, and conduct manuals and their biopolitical role in society.

Paul M. Worley is a settler scholar from Charleston, SC. He is Professor of Spanish at Appalachian State University, where he serves as Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Co-written with Rita M. Palacios, his most recent book, Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019), was given an honorable mention for Best Book in the Humanities by LASA’s Mexico Section. He is also the author of Telling and Being Told: Storytelling and Cultural Control in Contemporary Yucatec Maya Literatures (2013; oral performances recorded as part of this book project are available at tsikbalichmaya.org), and a Fulbright Scholar. Together with Melissa D. Birkhofer, he is co-translator of Miguel Rocha Vivas’s Word Mingas (2021), whose Spanish edition won Cuba’s Casa de las Américas Prize in 2016. He has also translated selected works by Indigenous authors such as Hubert Matiúwàa (Mè’phàà), Celerina SánchezManuel Tzoc (K’iche’), and Ruperta Bautista (Tsotsil).

4 poets from the Cultural Gathering of Native Women “Yomoram jyayappapä’is jäyätzame” © Paul Worley and Carolina Bloem ~ Siwar Mayu, September 2022

A Selection of Contemporary Gunadule Literature

Photograph of a mola from Sue Patricia Haglund’s mola collection

Introduction, selection and translation from Spanish © Sue Patricia Haglund

Texts by Gunadule authors © Dad Neba Nelson De León Kantule, 

© Taira Edilma Stanley Icaza,

 © Cebaldo Inawinapi De León, 

© Atencio López, 

© Kinyapiler Johnson González, and 

© Maninaindi R. Roldan. G

If you prefer to read the PDF, please CLICK HERE

To be Gunadule is to be Gunayala and to be Abiayala/Abya Yala

Baba and Nana are supreme beings, our creators.
Abiayala/Abya Yala, known as saved territory and land of blood, is also as our brother, Dad Neba Nelson de León Kantule says, Abiayala/Abya Yala represents spaces “of fullness."
Abia - blood
It comes from the dulegaya language, dule language or also known as guna or Gunadule
Abe/Ablis is blood – and the word, Yala-land, mountain, continent, territory.
blood land; spilled blood and life blood.
Abiayala/Abya Yala is solidarity and collective, with collective solidarity we are similar to the earth, a land of fullness and life,
To understand the depth of Abiayala/Abya Yala, it is more than the four stages of the evolution of our worlds, it is the memories of our stories of Babigala, of Baba and Nana, of Ibeler and his siblings, they are stories of chaos and unification, of Biler and Ibeler, therefore, for us Dules, it is about relational positionalities.
Abiayala/Abya Yala exists.
It is not about ‘the Americas’. It is more.
Abiayala/Abya Yala, has always been alive and present.
Abiayala/Abya Yala is the evolution of development with collective solidarity, not the chaos of destruction, because as in the words of our brother, Marden Paniza, Gunadule musician and composer, it is to remind us that mer burgwega anmar namagge “we sing to not die” and in these we sing.
Anmar di, we are water
Anmar yala, we are land and mountains
Anmar ari, we are iguana
Anmar achu, we are jaguar
Anmar yaug, we are turtle
Anmar bansus, we are hummingbird
Anmar Abiayala
We are land of blood
Land of spilled blood, blood of life
We are a land of fullness
And we don't lack anything


Dad Neba Nelson De León Kantule*

Napguana Asociation

Indigenous peoples, development and Environment

After the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992, it was a historic event for indigenous peoples and their rights in relation to the environment, where it recognized the indigenous peoples and their communities to the care of mother earth that they have been doing and the use of the environment. The importance of traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples was recognized and the international community (states) committed to promote, strengthen and protect the rights, knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples and their communities.

Indigenous peoples continue to be targeted by those who promote alleged developments with globalizing plans, which in the long run further harm our precarious living conditions. All this happens in a convulsed world, where internal wars or wars between states are becoming a habit. In the same way, wars between the powerful (transnational companies) are reasons for the displacement of indigenous peoples in subhuman conditions, when they discover minerals, when they want to build hydroelectric plants and others, in our territories. (There are plenty of examples in Abya Yala (Abiyala), (America), the case of the Kuna of Mudungandi, in Panama, the Bayano hydroelectric plant, and the construction of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric plant.
Talking about development for the Indigenous Peoples does not only mean talking about investments and cooperation brought from abroad, it means, first of all, the recognition of their culture and traditions, which also involves respect for the ancestral technology with which our Peoples have survived.

Faced with this reality of the great changes mentioned, we indigenous peoples face these challenges and we have to prepare for those to come, without renouncing our roots or the principles that our ancestors bequeathed to us. Taking up the teachings of the great sages of our history, our identity, adapting them to the reality of the present, to project into the future.

It is time for the indigenous peoples to plant their own model, based on our organizational dynamics, with political, socioeconomic, cultural, religious, territorial and autonomy approaches, in short, the claim of our specific and collective rights, based on solidarity, equity, historically underestimated by the Uagas (non-indigenous).

We are not against development, we want development and remain indigenous. What we do not share and we do not agree with are the impositions of the Western development model, which have proven to be inoperative, outdated, which have caused ruptures and considerable damage to our political and social structures of our peoples. These models imposed on our peoples, migrations, changes weaken our cultural identity. The Uagas (non-indigenous) will always see the indigenous peoples as an obstacle, a barrier to development.

The indigenous peoples, in general, have a long experience in the management of natural resources, since we have lived since time immemorial in direct contact with nature, obtaining from it the necessary benefactors to satisfy our needs. Even though they have not defined the concept of sustainable development, they have been putting it into practice for many years.

Indigenous peoples have lost much of their territories in the name of development, and are at risk of further losing ancestral lands and sacred places, many of which contain the richest biodiversity in the world. Governments that have joined the Convention on Biological Diversity have an obligation to enact domestic laws or amend their constitutions to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the conservation and sustainable use of their environment.

I wonder what forests, what biodiversity do our countries sell or negotiate to redeem their foreign debt? We have rich forests, minerals, fresh water, seas, if we sell everything today, tomorrow we will also be poor and we will not have them to bequeath to our future generations, therefore we cannot say whether to make any investment thinking about today's hunger.

We indigenous people are going to accept investments in our region without any problem, as long as the investors are honest people and want to share the profits with us, those who do not make our brothers work so as not to pay them later... those who do not hide behind the politicians in power to insult an indigenous culture, those who have the patience of the indigenous authorities in the negotiations. We are aware of the wealth we possess, but the world does not end tomorrow and there will come other relatives of ours who will thank us for not having exhausted everything at once of what our Napguana (Mother Earth) bequeathed to us, mother of all development if we love and preserve it, or simply from human misfortunes, if as their children we do not know how to respect them.

All the demands of our peoples are fair and legal in light of international and national laws, agreements, treaties and other instruments that speak about the rights of indigenous peoples. We can mention a concrete example with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, art. 32. Paragraph 2. The States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent before approving any project that affects their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, use or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

But the full recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples is not given clearly in all countries. For this reason, true recognition and not only on paper or laws, is the essential starting point to change along the path towards full development. Which means that we indigenous peoples have the full capacity to carry out our own development and that we are given this opportunity.

We only ask for the opportunity to at least be given to chart and choose our own destiny, based on our principles and cultural values, which have so far proven to be valid in our communities.

The main characteristic of indigenous peoples, unlike Western society, is that social systems are based on help, mutual protection, brotherhood and solidarity. That they do not need to be written in voluminous codes that in the end are not fulfilled, it is in daily practice that our people make it a reality, it is our way of life. Both the social, political, economic and spiritual aspects of life are vitally linked forming a unity.

For all that has been said above, I continue to maintain the principle of my Kuna teachers, for our parents, naskued (development) means producing the land and learning traditional knowledge for the benefit of all and not of a few, not to be rich individually, but to share it with everyone.

This value has kept us going despite the many changes that are happening in indigenous society. The Kuna cultural identity is still alive, will continue to be alive, as long as our peoples live together. The strength of our culture has persisted throughout history; the entry of some imposed models in the region has changed some things in our communities, and even so, it has not been able to change our being, we will continue to be Kuna.

This path is essential, considering the active participation of indigenous peoples, such as the Ngäbe, Kunas, Emberás, Nasos, Wounaan, Buglé, Bri-bris people.

Thus the participation of women, youth, the elderly and others. Whose contribution will allow the construction of a more solid, harmonious, and representative legal basis, the result of which will be a fairer and more balanced society, in the same way, the political will and tolerance of all the actors, to understand and accept the existence of this diversity of peoples. indigenous in Panama.

For peaceful coexistence and the construction of a true democratic society, it is essential to recognize and give value to the existence of indigenous peoples with their different values and interests, as well as to respect and tolerate those historical values and interests that distinguish us from others. Logically, a mere moral recognition is not enough; in a country like Panama, where different cultures coexist, it must be reflected in its legislation, in the constitution. There should not be a group that imposes its own norms and values of conduct and behavior on others.
* Dad Neba: In the Kuna indigenous language, it means, "Grandfather of the Plain", with that name identifies Nelson De León Kantule, Kuna indigenous communicator / Director of the Napguana Association. E-mail: duleigar@gmail.com and  napguanakuna@gmail.com


Photograph of a mola from Sue Patricia Haglund’s mola collection

Taira Edilma Stanley Icaza


I want to talk about the strokes
of my body
From the traces where I come from
From the source that drives
my starting point

Of my first spiral line
of my heritage as an indigenous woman
of my rebellion, my nahua and my mola
of the courage that runs in my veins
from Grandma Carmen and Mom

Let the strokes penetrate
my body
talk about heritage and our
From sisters Bertha and Marielle
let me scream and love

I want to trace my body again
and again
drink from the inna*
feel the holy river
get tangled up again in my strokes
plot and plot
until starting with the end point,
like spiral

*inna: corn juice, drink

El Luna 1925 and Wewe

Another night, one of those nights
Of love
where cries are whispered
sadness, tears and more tears
They shake and shake the sweat

Wewe*, try to flap the humidity
And with basil in their mouth
gives peace of mind
stop so cruel
action, outrage
and rape.

Their wings flap
And they calm the pulse
ears try to hear
forget, that one
Crescent moon

Their eyes when sinking give the message
the voice that comes from their wings
soothe the soul,
brother moon,
whisper to Wewe
Let's sing

*wewe: variety of small cricket that abounds along the coasts; sand flea.

Photograph of a mola from Sue Patricia Haglund’s mola collection

Cebaldo Inawinapi De León


An Di! 
An Di!
Water we are. Water we will be!
In a Kuna village a girl is born, and the midwife sings, the grandmother sings, they sing: We come from the water and with the water. Born from the fertile liquid of the placenta, which will later be fertilizer and will be sown (placenta and umbilical cord) in generous land, blessed by rain.
The girl grows up. One day, her body tells her that life is fruitful and for several days, the women of the village will bathe her daily in a surba –a sacred house made of leaves, words and a lot of love-, water and her and the words of the accomplices. and her desires and her dreams traveling through this sacred territory: her body!
Water and Word, tattooing puberty!
The woman goes to the final journey, the poet sings to her of her days and nights, and she receives the perfumed bath of flowers and plants and the last journey will be in the river of her youthful loves and planted in the generous forest... and she begins to navigate the sacred river that will guide her to the final Matria.
Water we are! The Greater Poet sings
Water we will be! The village sings.
A fruitful liquid brings us - in loving waters we love and create - and in a generous liquid we travel to the Final House!

Our Great Poets sing that a fine and magical thread unites, sews the waters of the rivers, the seas, the trees, the forest, the earth and its inhabitants, building a great network, balancing and harmonizing the sounds, colors and the fruits of the earth.

We are all One!

Song and art that our greatest creators, the Kuna women, have understood in a wonderful way, when they sew their dresses, their molas with colored fabrics where they tattoo their dreams, their desires, their stories and charms that come out of the left side of their chest and glide to the tips of the fingers.

And they continue it today, in these urgent times, their children, their grandchildren…harmonizing sounds, colors and dissonant things.

It is part of the larger network, of the universal fabric, balancing sounds, colors and flavors, and if one day part of the network breaks, we must quickly fix it, sew it, so that we can continue walking and rocking in this Universal Hammock, our Great House, Earth.

who orders the time? It is not the clock, it is the Word, it is the Language (I know I read it in some enchanted page of a beautiful book or in a song in some marine village) and it takes me on this urgent flight, to my days in the Big House, in the marine village, when the Great Poet, the Sagla sings and counts the days of the village, of the tribe, of the Earth,

because what inhabits and tattoos us is the time of speech, of words, of enjoyment, of the verb...reinventing worlds, word by word, creating magic...!



Photograph of a mola from Sue Patricia Haglund’s mola collection

Atencio López


I try to look
clouds and birds
at sunset,
but I couldn't.

my eyes blinded
delve further into
childhood memories
they won't come back

happy existence
in their laps
my future was formed
my hope.

of my life defoliate
flowers, dreams,
to accompany me

From the beach, sea,
I feel that something
turns off
I go around the world
carrying love,
and about them
I have to sleep

I feel love
but it overwhelms me
deep sadness
I hope the tears
wash away that bitterness
and may dawn
by your side
making love…


Nothing to celebrate
October 12th
start date
to genocide ever
in the history of mankind.

One hundred million human beings
led to the stakes
slaughtered and killed
in the name of god and the bible.

Kings of Spain
believing saviors of the world
inundated with human scum
our continent
human garbage
that wanted to delete
indigenous history.

From graves, forests,
rivers, seas and lakes
the slaughtered face
of grandmothers and grandfathers
they emerged to sully
Western pride, European pride
Abya Yala writes her own
history with an indigenous face
to the sound of the cry of


With music from ancient times
to the sound of flutes and maracas
I come drunk among fish
ocean smell
I bring before your altar
algae and flowers
that I pulled out
from the bottom of the sea,
I want to cry in your arms
And take your aromas and tenderness
to other worlds where I can
tell love stories
born on islands and beaches
under the raging sea
and a harsh sun.
Love of tanned faces
by saltpeter and starry nights,
memories and legacies
of our warrior ancestors.


From Sue Patricia Haglund’s mola collection, this mola is made by Rosa Lidia Gallardo, Sue Patricia Haglund’s cousin. The crab and fish mola is made by Gunadule mola-maker, Rosa Lidia Gallardo (granddaughter to Juan Gallardo, who is the brother of Sue Patricia Haglund’s grandfather, Ricardo Walker.)

Kinyapiler Johnson González


Suddenly the rhythms of troupes are heard,
the tunas**,  going up the street and down the street;
slippery ones come out on any street,
signal that the carnivals have arrived in Bannaba (1).
While, in the spirited and seductive Caribbean,
on the islands of the Tule Republic,
with pride the flags of the revolution are hoisted;
is the month of Morginnid e iba (2) is arinii. 
I have my red cotton shirt,
the urigan (3) are painted “enraged achiote”;
the fangs and hearts of jaguars, 
the claws and beaks of eagles came together.
The uprooted molas were stained with blood that day,
rings and winis (4) prohibited 
and scattered throughout the archipelago.
Forbidden to forget that date, tattooed on our hearts.
The jars of gabir (5) kicked and broken,
the braziers extinguished by boots,
the forbidden rituals,
split hammocks…
Never forget us companions,
that this country cost us blood
and it was not a gift from any government.
Alert, alert brothers,
Gabidamalargeee... (6)
Today the jars of the revolution
are fermented on each island,
to toast peace
to the heat of the totumas de gabir.
Today like yesterday we share that joy
together with our people,
because our eternal young warriors of 1925
planted their old hunting shotguns with a single shot,
but accurate as Igwaoginyabbiler's arrows,
the archer of the best marksmanship, brother Venus;
so that today his children and grandchildren can enjoy
and enjoy what we have...
¡Noggasdde, iddomalando, sioggooooo…nagase! (7)
Let's shout and toast with our grandmothers and mothers.
* arinii = iguana moon (month of February)
** the tunas = groups of people with song and music who dance in the streets with a drum ; dance and other instruments during the Panamanian carnival.
1. Morginnid e iba = Red Shirt Month
2. kuna warriors
3. beads
4. strong fermented drink
5. do not sleep
6. Kuna Toast: We have the gourd, let’s try, cheers…bottom’s up!

DIIANAI  (dulegaya)

“Iawala ganaggwa agdededi yalabali, 

Dada Nagibelele bega ulusumba sie nasaye, 

nue daggedi yalabali yee…” 

(Inicio del verso de Aggwanusa adaptado por mí, en el original dice “Pato Diolele”, donde digo: “Dada Nagibelele”

y en parte me inspiro en ese tratado de Aggwanusa, 

está dedicada a alguien muy especial).

Iawala gwenaddiye, bedi an idusad
nega sagla unni; andi bese gormaggenai,
be gammu ganse be ulusumba billinganba.

Inaulu dagge yobi bedi maigudeye,
gwena benunis nalleguemaisuli;
nii ulu obaggemaid ilaba nega duubali.

Nana Olonubdiigili, be ordiidina 
aryomegisa, ber gungidagge yobi; 
agddarmaggemai be ana gandi.

Nana Maninubdiigili, be maninisdii
suurmaggemai, ber maniale 
ber manidaggeyobi.

Nana Inanubdiigili, be inadii
wawadiggi ber inabisebdili yobi;
goggedili, nunabdili bunnogemainie. 

Nana Igwanubdiigili; be ganngued,
be sabed anga ugge;
bargaegala be nunis maniga sademalad.

Be inaulu wawanmaggemai nie;
suemola bedi yoemai,
be burba, Nan burba mogir inbaba.

Oloeaidiili be suggedi dinnaguemai,
anmar nuggi, gwenad an be daggsuli;
anai dii emi be ibagi, an bega soge Anna Diianai.


Big brother river, you who are before me
since the beginning of time; I invoke you,
to your tributaries to your subterranean origins.

You who cross like a great medicinal canoe,
giving away your milk to everyone
in each trip of the moon in its canoe through the sky.

Mother Olonubdiigili, your golden liquids
they travel, and fall radiant as gold on their way;
in your shining tributaries.

Mother Maninubdiigili, your silver liquids
They run and shine like silver
like argentas on the road.

Mother Inanubdiigili, your fragrant
medicinal waters such as essences of basil;
breaths of goggedili, nunabdili.

Mother Igwanubdiigili; give me your strength
and your love; to stop the merchants
who profit from your milk.

Your trembling medicinal canoe is;
with a rainbow mola outfit,
your strength, spirit of the Mother among the clouds.

Oloeaidiili your stream is drying up,
because of us, I no longer see you as a sister;
My friend water today, I tell you Anna Diianai (hello friend water).

Poetry 01


is the full moon

on your moon,

it’s your smile 

in my sadness,

it’s dawn

in my sunset,

poetry is the blossoming

of the dilla at dawnby dillanii… *

* dilla [dil´la] in Kuna (language) is palo santo plant, and dillani [dil´lanii] is the palo santo moon or the month of March.

Poetry 02

Poetry is the delicate

Kuna woman’s hands

that transform the threads and fabrics

in multicolored verses in their molas

at sunset in Kuna Yala.

And in her early mornings

her calloused hands lift the hot pans

to prepare breakfast

to the future slingshot rebels,

heirs of February 25.


Maninaindi R. Roldan. G


The universe and
their hugs manifest
in designs
in black symbols
in alchemical forms.

There are hidden truths
in its geometry / lines that join us

The recipient skin of legacies
serves as a fragile canvas
where they rest from their long journeys.

It is in it that they live/migrate/mutate
               	they return to being simple cosmic lines.

Next to my memory you are

You are the force that sustains my struggles
The hug that protects me from strangers

Your old war is today my shield
/ My award
Your flag ⎯symbol of rebellion and courage⎯ is my spear
That's why I thank you dear grandfather who inhabits my memory
That's why I thank you dear grandmother for your sacrifice

Today as children of February we fight to deserve your name
To rock the Matria that so many of us love

I wave the flag of rebellion
                              of the sacrifice
                                                  and life


We have the season of the hummingbird.

A season of sighs.

A season of echoes and nostalgia.
Of jar and song.

And in that space where time sings
you are the point of this hour

the minute in the cloud.

About the Gunadule Authors

Dad Neba Nelson De León Kantule is a Gunadule essayist, scholar,  and activist. His name, Dad Neba, in the Kuna indigenous language, means, “Grandfather of the Plain”, with that name identifies Nelson De León Kantule, great grandson of Nele Kantule, Kuna indigenous communicator / Director of the Napguana Association. E-mail: duleigar@gmail.com and napguanakuna@gmail.com

Taira Edilma Stanley Icaza is a Gunadule activist, poet and scholar. Taira graduated from the Bachelor of Science in Education with a Post-graduate degree in Higher Teaching. She is a member and activist of the Kuna Youth Movement (MJK) and other international indigenous organizations. She went to Bolivia to study for her master’s degree at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés and works at the Office of Indigenous Peoples at the University of Panama.

Cebaldo Inawinapi De León is an author, artist, poet, and Gunadule anthropologist born on the Island of Usdub, Autonomous Region of Gunayala, Panama. Inawinapi lives between Portugal and Panama and is the author of the book My First Tree: An Sabbi Iduged (2019). He is also the protagonist in the film, Panquiaco, and is part of the documentary, LucíaMor: La Mola de Lucía. Learn more about Inawinapi here.

Atencio López is Gunadule from the Autonomous Region of Gunayala, Panama. He is an author, poet, and attorney for Indigenous, Commercial, Criminal, and Civil Law. He studied at the Faculty of Law and Politics at the University of Panama and obtained his Master’s Degree in Commercial Law at the Universidad Interamericana de Panamá. For several years, Atencio has held various positions in Panamanian and international indigenous organizations. Learn more about Atencio here

Kinyapiler Johnson González is a Gunadule poet, artist, and cultural activist. He was born on the island of Usdub, Autonomous Region of  Gunayala, Panama. He studied at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Panama. In addition, Kinyapiler served as administrator of the Guna General Congress on a few occasions, is a member and activist of the Kuna Youth Movement (MJK), and a founding member of the Ibeler Wagan Theater Collective.
Maninaindi R. Roldan. G. is a Gunadule poet, artist, and psychologist born on the island of Usdub, Gunayala, Panama. He studied at the University of Panama and has a degree in psychology. As an artist, he participated together with the Igar Yala Collective in the making of the film Burwa Dii Ebo (The wind and the water), an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival 2008. He is the author of the book, Demonios en mi desierto (2019).

For more about Gunadule art and literature

More about Sue Patricia Haglund

She is a Gunadule poet and scholar from Panama and the U.S., and holds a PhD in Indigenous Politics from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She researches the works of contemporary Gunadule poets whose poetry reflect the cultural metamorphosis of the actualized transformation of Gunadule oral tradition and poetry that speak against colonialism and empire. Her poem, “Conversaciones con mi abuelo,” was published in the first anthology of Gunadule poetry, Antología de Poetas Kunas (Panama City, 2015), and she has published several book chapters in edited volumes, including Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America (2019).

A selection of contemporary Gunadule literature © Sue Patricia Haglund ~ Siwar Mayu, May 2022

css.phpHosted by UNC Asheville and the Diversity Action Council