A Guna Indian offshore island home, circa 1967. Ned Butler will talk about the Guna tribe in Panama when he visits the Jesup Memorial Library on April 7. PHOTO COURTESY OF NED BUTLER

Former volunteer talks about changes in Panamanian tribe.



BAR HARBOR — Ned Butler will present a talk and slide show about the Guna (Kuna) tribe of the San Blas Islands in Panama when he visits the Jesup Memorial Library on Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m.

When Butler was a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s, he spent time working on tribal development projects with members of the tribe. His talk will explore the history and development of the Guna tribe over the past 50 years.

Butler will cover the history of the tribe as well as why the tribe decided to invite the Peace Corps to the region to help with tribal community development. He also will highlight three of the projects that the Peace Corps has worked on and the role that they have played in the region.

Finally, he will touch on how the Guna tribe has changed since the 1960s. Now that the Guna tribal lands have become an ecotourism destination, Butler will talk briefly about the recent changes and challenges to the tribe in the 21st century as they work to direct their own destiny. Unlike many Indian tribes in the United States, the Guna had a unique opportunity to manage their own lands and maintain their culture and language. However, an increasing rate of change and pressures from outside (including money, standard of living, medicine, climate change and drugs) and within the tribal culture (such as governance and the leadership style, managing fishing and natural resources, tourism, waste disposal and education) offer challenges and choices that will determine the future of a rich, unusual Native American culture.

Contact the Jesup at 288-4245 or kchagnon@jesuplibrary.org.

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