Kuna Yala People: Children of The Moon

Children of The Moon


2-years-old Pilar, Kuna Yala

Some nights are darker than black, when the Dragon of Death swallows the Moon. And extinguishes the murky silver light from the surface of the sleeping sea.

The world stands still. Time suspended.

These are the nights when the pale children emerge in the dark to defend the Moon.

Their skin- the sad glow of the Moon, their hair- the sad glow of the Moon.

Their eyes- the sad glow of the Moon.

These are the Moon Children.

Albinos are people (and animals) who have a genetically inherited disorder -their skin lacks melanin and they appear white, with yellow hair and light-blue eyes. They are more susceptible to skin cancer and sunlight bothers their eyes, so they need to protect themselves from the sun at all times.

There are a few places in the world with very high instances of albinism, where albinos hold a special place in society. Most of the time, they are victims of superstition, persecuted and segregated, seen as “diseased” or “ghosts”, “punished by god”. In East Africa’s popular culture, particularly in Tanzania, albinos are seen as bad omen, persecuted and even dismembered and killed for body parts, used by witchdoctors to make potions for rituals. Potions and amulets containing albino limbs and hair, especially from albino babies and children, are considered magical and believed to bring prosperity to those who consume or own them.

Kuna Yala (Panama) where the Kuna Indians live in small isolated island communities, has the world’s highest rate of albinism. Here 1 in approximately every 160 Kunas is albino.

2-years-old Pilar with her family

Pilar with her family

But the pale Kuna islanders called “sipus” are not being persecuted and segregated. On the contrary, they are regarded as superior, more beautiful people, as “reyes” (kings), and are very much estimated by all.




According to local beliefs, they have the duty of defending the Moon from the moon-eating dragon, and during lunar eclipse are the only ones allowed to go outside of their homes and shoot down the dragon with special bows and arrows. Only they can kill the dragon.

Albino cat, in Kuna Yala

Albino cat, in Kuna Yala


Find previous stories about Kuna Yala: Paradise at The End of The Sea and Slums of Paradise.


About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page:




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One Response to Kuna Yala People: Children of The Moon

  1. Thank you for publishing this information about the Children of the Moon. I feel they are Special, as well, and had already made mention of them in the books that I’m writing. I just posted your info on Facebook because this Sunday (9/27/15) has a Special Lunar Eclipse, one including a “Blood Moon” and a “Super Moon”. I wish someone could observe the Kuna Yala at this Special time.

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