The Bribri People of Costa Rica

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Costa Rica, meaning “rich coast” in Spanish, was given its name for the wealth of gold found when it was first discovered in 1502 (Costa Rica, 1892). What the Spaniards may not have realized, is that indigenous communities even richer in culture had been occupying the land for thousands of years. To this day, Costa Rica is the home of eight separate indigenous groups, whose people make up 1,7 % of the country's population (Sévenier, 2003). The Bribri, the second largest tribe and the focus of this paper, have a reserve population of about 11,500. However, due to often isolated villages which make calculations difficult, some estimate their true numbers are closer to 35,000 (Bribri, n.d.). This paper will begin by exploring the traditional beliefs, food systems and way of life of the Bribri people. Next, it will focus on the ancestral lands of the Bribri and how they have been impacted by land appropriation, exploitation and deforestation. Following, we will examine ways to address these issues. Perhaps, in considering projects from the past, we can find promising solutions for the future. The authenticity of Bribri culture has been maintained thanks to their isolation in the Costa Rican jungle and the reserves, where they are largely uninfluenced by modern society (Sévenier, 2003). Though some of their beliefs and traditions have been lost, others remain, passed down orally from generation to generation. The Bribri believe that the universe resides in the house of the creator named Sibo/Sibú. According to them, “the roof is pierced by millions of little holes, through which the light goes and forms constellations...when dawn comes, the sun falls off the earth to turn around and come behind the roof, giving light to the stars” (... ... middle of paper ... ... November 19, 2013, from rica/paradox-tourism-costa-rica La Amistad/Talamanca Highlands. (2012, October 26). The Nature Conservatory. Retrieved November 11, 2013 from centralamerica/costarica/placesweprotect/amistad.xml O'Grady, C. (2007, October 5). An interview with Bribri leader Don Timoteo Jackson. Peace & Conflict Monitor. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Sévenier, G. (2003). Hidden faces of Costa Rica. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Skinner, A. (1920). Notes on the Bribri of Costa Rica. New York, NY: Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Talamanca. (n.d.). Corredor Biologico. Retrieved November 11, 2013 from

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