National Geographic : 1912 Jul
cunaque and Bayano territo ries, gathering rubber as he went along with his party. At the headwaters of the Cafiaza River he and his companions were held up by the "bravos," who contented themselves with taking away the rubber and part of the equipment, and then let their prisoners go with the warning not to come again. The narrative of that expe dition was supplemented by the reflection of an old man among the hearers that 20 years ago none of the party would have come out alive. Among the San Bias In dians, who are at a far higher level of civilization, the exclu sion of aliens is the result of well-founded political reasons. Their respected traditions are a long record of proud inde pendence; they have main tained the purity of their race and enjoyed freely for hun dreds of years every inch of their territory. They feel that the day the negro or the white man acquires a foothold in their midst these privileges will become a thing of the past. This is why, without undue hostility to strangers, they dis courage their incursions. Their means of persuasion are ad justed to the importance of the intruder. They do not hesitate to shoot at any ne gro of the near-by settlements poaching on their cocoanuts or other products; the trader or any occasional visitor is very seldom allowed to stay ashore at night; the adventurers who try to go prospecting into Indian territory are in variably caught and shipped back to the next Panamanian port. To the war vessel anchoring close to their coast they send a polite request to leave, and when a high official of the Isthmian Canal Commission asked to buy the sand of Caledonia Bay, to be used in the building of the Gatun locks, he was courteously refused, with the following reply from the old chief: Photo by H. Pittier SAN BLAS WOMAN IN DAILY ATTIRE "He who made this sand made it for the Cuna-Cuna who live no longer, for those who are here today, and also for the ones to come. So it is not ours only and we could not sell it." To judge by the density of the popu lation in the few villages visited by the writer, the San Bias Cunas, who also call themselves Tule, aggregate eight to ten thousand on the stretch of coast between Punta Escribanos and Cape Tiburon. Excepting Bocas del Toro, no other part of the Panamanian littoral is so densely populated, and there is no more orderly community in the whole Republic. It is a great mistake to consider these Indians as mere savages. At least one man in every ten has traveled exten sively as a sailor and has seen more of the world than the average Panamanian.