The Embera Pura is a semi-nomadic indigenous people in Panama, living in the province of Darien at the shores of the Chucunaque, Sambu,Tuira and Charges Rivers and its water ways. The Embera Dura were formerly and widely known by the name Chocó, and they speak the Embera and Wounaan languages, part of the Chocoan language family.
The name “Embera” means “People.” Collectively they are known as the Chocó and belong to two major groups: the Embera Pura, of upper Atrato and San Juan Rivers, and the Wuanana of the lower San Juan River. The Ebera Dura are also known as the Atrato, Bedea, Cholo, Darién, Dariena, Eberá, Emberá, Emberak, Emperia, and Panama Emberá people. The Waunana are also known as the Chanco, Chocama, Noanama, Noenama, Nonama, Wounaan, or Wound Meu people. A third group of Chocó are called the Catío, who are also called the Embena, Epera, Eyabida, or Katio people. thats a hole lot of Indian names.
The Chocó, or Embera people live in small villages of 5 to 20 houses along the banks of the rivers throughout the Chucunaque/Tuira/Balsas and Charges Rivers watersheds in the Darien Province of Panama and 30 inutesd outside of Panama City . There are generally three villages on each tributary that branches off from the main river system. Each village is about a half day’s walk apart. The villages are built on a small rise, set approximately 100 feet in from the river. The houses of the village are set about 20– 50 feet apart atop the rise on posts, with no walls, but tall thatched roofs. Around each village, the jungle is partly cleared and replaced by banana and plantain plantations, a commercial crop for the Embera, who sell them to get cash for their outboard motors, mosquito nets, and the like. The hills leading down to the river from the villages is usually hard packed reddish clay. There are sometimes large boulders being played on by naked children. Dugout canoes are usually seen pulled up on the riverbanks.
Most Embera women to not wear anything to cover their breasts and run arouund topless or half naked. So if you take a tour to an Embera Indian Village, do not be supprised.
Their houses are raised off the ground about eight feet. The houses stand on large posts set in the ground, and have thatched roof made from palm fronds. All the joinery is with bejuco vines. There are no walls. Hanging from the supporting posts and beams are hammocks, baskets, pots, bows and arrows, mosquito nets, clothing and other items. The floor is made of split black palm trunks or cana blanca (white cane), and have a kitchen built on a clay platform about three feet square; on top of this base they build a fire, supporting cooking pots over the fire with a tripod of sturdy sticks. The houses are accessed from the ground via a sloped log with deep notches for a ladder. They sometimes turn the notches face down at night if some animal is trying to climb into the house while they sleep. hammocks
The Chocó people use matrilineal descent, practice polygamy and live in family units. The cacique, or chief, of the Chocó lived in the largest village and capitol of the Chocó Nation, named Unión Chocó. The city is on the banks of the Rio Tuira.
The Chocó have their own form of government and live by their own set of unwritten rules. They avoid relying on the Panamanian Police (Guardia Nacional) or any other branch of the Panamanian or Colombian government. Not assimilated into Panamanian or Colombian society, the Embera people do not hold any civic positions and have no members who have become part of the Guardia Nacional in Panama. Health care is primarily provided by trained Shamans.
The Chocó are not known for intermarrying with Panamanians and Colombians.
The land is community owned and community farmed. Everyone in the village pitches in to work at harvest time. If one hunter gets a larger animal such as a (peccary) or a tapir (macho de monte), everybody in the village shares the meat, República de Panamá