The Ogigidiuala, also called Koskun diuar and Amukua diuar, currently located in the Republic of Colombia, in the Department of Choco with the name of Atrato River, is the region where our oral history locates the beginning of the strengthening of the Kunas as a people, as a society in constant construction, thanks to the presence of elders, who were educated and instructed, first by Inanadili, then by Ibeorgun and Gikadiryai, in a variety of knowledge. This knowledge was later developed in their respective communities. Likewise, this knowledge acquired by the elders served in the guidance, education and intellectual development of the great Nelegan, born in the tributaries of the Duileuala.


However, the Kuna people began their social structuring through small family formations and elemental cultural expressions, which gradually cemented the face of the Kuna traditions, until they reached more organized community formations. This family structure lacked complex knowledge of community management and did not build adequate housing. However, they were knowledgeable of the language emitted by birds, animals and nature itself, they worked in agriculture, responding to their basic needs and the demands of their environment. Therefore, whether they were organized or not, the Kunas led by the elders: Dad Mague, Dad Igua, Dad Naki, Dad Yoli, among others, began to improve this situation thanks to the preparation given to them by Ibeorgun and Kikadiryai.


Subsequently, the great Nelegan, by deepening in different knowledge, gave strength to the organization and order that was gradually taking place, from the family to an organized community society. All this in the midst of the obstacles that the Kuna have faced as a people since before and after the European presence. As Masardummi and Ologanagunkiler pointed out, there were other very different peoples that existed on Mother Earth. Some were noble and friendly, other groups were men of war, they did not know nobility with respect to others. Against them the Kuna had to face in order to survive, to protect their children. Thanks to the presence of individuals who were born with wisdom and fighting strategies, such as Olonigikinyaler, who taught the art of fighting and defense to the Kuna people.


These social transformations experienced by the Kuna people began with Olotualigiber and Gabayai, Ibeler’s parents, who began the search for the identity of their parents and the primary construction of the Kuna culture.


The Kunas, after living for several hundred years on the banks of the tributaries of Ogigidiuala, moved to live near the various tributaries of Duileuala, today known as the Tuira River in Darien, mainly as a result of conflicts with neighboring villages and epidemics that struck the region.


Thus Duileuala became the new home of the Kunas, from there they began to develop under the leadership of the elders, how to run an organization within a community. Before, they were not organized in communities, they only lived in family groups, for their subsistence, working the fields, hunting and fishing in the tributaries of Duileuala.


And in the tributaries of this river, the great nelegan were born, as Ibeorgun had foreseen:


“Ibeorgun neg owisos nade, namaignai gude yo an sorbali, igua ualagan daniye, naki ualagan daniye, sommas ualagan daniye, irsu ualagan daniye, suar nuegan, suar gandikimalad, suar niganikamalad, we sualamala an sorbali nonimaloye.” That is, Ibeorgun, said: after me will come men and women endowed with much wisdom and strength of spirit (nelegan), and they will be born in the different tributaries of the Duileuala. In this way, the elders who were prepared for the event of the arrival of nelegan, waited and at the opportune moment went in the company of their wives, to the tributaries of the Duileuala to receive the birth of the nelegan.

Affluents of Duileuala

Being, Duileuala/Tuira River, a mighty river has countless tributaries, which have abundant water flow, which is why the Kuna lived near them, to get away from the attacks of their adversaries. These tributaries of the Duileuala, served each elder to work and build, the home where they would receive the nelegan, who are born separately in different branches of the Duileuala.


Thus we have:

Gunwa diuar, in which, the nele Diegun was born, and Dad Mague was the one who received him in the company of his wife, who took care of him in his childhood, preparing him the medicinal baths, which Diegun required for his condition of Nele (high intellect) This river fed and served as a source of food to the community that near it was established. It received the name of Gunwa because of the great quantity of fireflies, which were present at night. In the vicinity of this river, there was a large tree called “Dieb”, hence the name Diegun. This river is also known as Yeye Diula, for being where the great Gandur Diegun taught this treatise to the others, because the Gandugan shout in the ceremonies, yee,yee,yeee. Near the river was settled the community of Ukup Nega.


Agsibgandi Diuar, a fast-flowing tributary of Duileuala, surrounded by thick vegetation where the elders cultivated their crops. The river was so called because when the seas dried up after the great flood (deluge), a large amount of white stones appeared, hence the name Agsibgandi, in it was born the nele Gubiler, Dad Yoli received him, along with his wife, who were responsible for caring and preparing the medicine that the nele Gubiler, required to develop the special intellectual capacity he possessed. The name of Gubiler arises because, in the middle of it there was a great Kupu tree.


Bailagandi Diuar, a tributary of the Duileuala, so called because of the abundance of Baila trees. This river sheltered the community of Abyogandi that was in the vicinity of the river, where the oldest villagers, waited for the announcements of nature that spoke of the arrival of a nele, to their village as it had announced years ago, Ibeorgun. And so it came, the day the Bailibe nele was born, he was welcomed by Dad Baila and his wife. It was up to them to prepare the medicine that the nele needed because of his highly developed intellect. Bailebe was named after the Baila tree. Dad Baila with his wife took care of Nele Bailibe in his childhood.


Basurgandi Diuar, a tributary of the river Duile, on its bank there was a large amount of the basuruala tree, there comes the name of the river. In it was born a girl, the nelegua Olonaguegiryai, received it Dad Diuar, in collaboration with his wife. The girl was endowed with great faculties, which required special attention from the old man. Therefore, Dad Diuar, cultivated in the vicinity of the river basil, cocoa, nibar, nahuar and all kinds of medicines, which would be used in the baths nelegua Olonaguegiryai.


Ulubirdi Diuar, another tributary of the Duile River, where nele Ologana Kunkilele was born, was under the care of Dad Yala with his wife, they were from the community of Ukubnega, at the end of this community ran the Ulubirdi River. There was a lot of gold there. There stood lush trees of “Igua”, “Naki” which were used in the manufacture of canoes, hence the name of that river.


Bardi Diuar, a tributary of the Duile river, where the Balipiler nele was born, received the Dada Igua. There was a large Palu’uala tree, hence the name of that river, where the Bardi community was settled. Dad Igua, was in the farthest part of the river for 9 months waiting for the source of the Nele Balipiler.


Gabdi Diuar, a tributary of the Duile River, where ner Sibu was born, was received by the Dada Duke. It was the region where the “Owa” palms abounded, near it the Dad Duke, waited for the birth of Ner Sibu.


Masargandi Diuar, a tributary of the Duileuala, where a great variety of masar flourished, the place was known as masargana, that is to say, where a variety of masargan (reed and other species of that family) always abounded, hence the name of the river Masar-gana-di. There the nele Masardummi was born, he was received by Dad Masar in the company of his mistress. There they waited for nine months for the birth of the Masardummi nele. In that river grandfather Masar grew a lot of cocoa, he watered it around the riverbank. Likewise, he cultivated in abundance biseb (basil), koke and all kinds of fragrant and medicinal shrubs, which would be used in the bath of the Masardummi nele.


Guilubgandi Diuar,  a tributary of the Duileuala, where the Waguibler nele was born, was received by the Dad Naki. Before the nele arrived, the elder cultivated a large variety of cocoa, which would be used in the nele’s care. At nine months old, the Waguibler nele was born on the banks of the Guilubgandi diuar. There the guilub was abundant, that is why the name of that river is guilub-gana-di. Near the river the guilub tree, used in mortuary ceremonies when preparing the body of the dead on its way to the afterlife, to Baba nega, was abundant and flourished. It was a very distant region, only the Kuna grandparents took care of the place, the Spaniards had not yet come, in the thicket of that place the nele Waguibler deepened his knowledge about the behavior of the birds.


Thus, Duileuala, was the home of the Kunas between the fourteenth to sixteenth century, then the elders returned to migrate to other lands, first produced by an epidemic that struck the region due to the presence of a beautiful maiden, Guanigad, who upon reaching the age of maturity married. She lived only a short time with her partner, her husband fell ill and died. Months later, she married again, they lived only one year, the husband got sick and also died.


As the girl was very pretty, all the men in the community wanted to marry her. But when her last husband died, the elders reacted and forbade the young man to marry again, as their husbands had died repeatedly. But a young man did not pay attention to the prohibition that weighed on the girl, he married saying, if one day I have to die, here nobody remains infinitely, we will all die one day. He did not pay attention to the prohibitions of his parents, he married the woman.


The marriage did not last long, the young man died as did others. After the boy’s death, the elders took the young woman prisoner, took her to the river and drowned her.


After a month, an epidemic struck Ukup Nega. From Alto Tuira, the communities suffered the ravages of the epidemic, the whole community became sick, some communities were totally decimated. The Nelegan diagnosed that the epidemic was the result of the death of the girl, who was drowned in the river by the elders. A nele said that the girl’s blood spread through all the rivers and contaminated everything.


This epidemic started by Duileuala, one of the migratory waves of the Kuna history, towards the Atlantic coast, today Kuna Yala.


Another epidemic that hit and decimated the Kuna population was chickenpox, a disease introduced during the European invasion, many conquerors who came had bad hygiene habits. The Kunas went to Mordi, Wala, Sogubdii and Nura. From there they came down the rivers to Armila, Sasardii and others.


Territory – Yala

The banks of the Atrato River (Ogigidiuala, Koskun Diuala or Amukua diuar) in Colombia to the tributaries of the Tuira River (Duileuala) in Darien, have been the traditional home of the Kuna. Being the region where the first Kuna communities initially settled and established the foundations of the cultural formation of the Kuna people.  It is there, where the first communities that will be the cultural heritage of the Kuna people are built and where the great characters of our history are formed, from elders, nelegan and great leaders who have guided the Kuna society through the years.


As the Kuna population grew, it expanded to other areas and formed new communities. Over the years they began to reach their development with the guidance of their leaders who left for posterity the name of several communities, especially what represents the great Nelegan. These communities were engraved in the memory of the elders, who passed them down to us to this day, even today there are two communities in this region, Paya and Púcuro.