The Kuna are an Indian tribe in Panama. The Kuna number approximately about 35,000 the majority living in the San Blas Islands, and on the mailand in the Madungandi reservation, while a small percentage like in the capital city, Panama.
The Kuna speak their own language called "Tule". While on the San Blas islands, many Kuna speak Spanish and even some English, in the Madungandi reservation there is little Spanish proficiency. They live traditionally in thatched roof huts made from materials readily found in the jungle.
The Kuna women wear wrap around skirts and beautifully hand-made blouses known as "molas". The Mola is a intricately sewn picture made from layers of cloth in a reverse appliqué technique. The men wear a traditional Kuna shirt and then less traditional pants, jeans, or shorts. Kuna women also paint their faces with a homemade rouge made from achiote seeds. They also usually wear a nose ring and paint a line down their nose.
The Kuna have plots of land in the jungle where they grow plantain, bananas, and avocados, among other fruits. They also grow corn and some tuber plants like manioc and ñame.
They eat a variety of wild game hunted from the jungle, but their staples are fish (Tilapia) and plantain. They also drink a variety of chichas (any drink made by boiling or mixing water and something else), but principally drink a boiled corn chicha.
The Kuna are animists: They believe in a creator God who now is far away from them and that the poni, groups of malevolent spirits roam the earth entering peoples bodies causing sickness and disease. The use the nuchus, small dolls carved out of balsa wood, to protect them from the poni. The saila, or Kuna chief, speaks for God much like a prophet, telling the people what they need to do so God will be pleased with them. They believe they must work to please God so that he doesn't send an earthquake or other terrible things against them. The vast majority of the Indians in Madungandi have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel message.
The Kuna have the most advanced political system of any tribal group in Latin America, and possible the world. They have three chiefs who manage village politics and a series of meetings called congresos; they conduct elections throughout the reservation and nationally as well.