Virtual event: USAID & Indigenous Peoples: Co-creation Efforts and Lessons Learned

Sara Omi, Coordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, will speak about the FSC Indigenous Foundation and our Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program

To commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. ET, USAID’s Inclusive Development Hub will host the virtual event, “USAID & Indigenous Peoples: Co-creation Efforts and Lessons Learned.” This event will showcase the impact of co-creation efforts that support Indigenous Peoples issues in Latin America. 

You will hear from Agency partners and USAID staff working on the ground with Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, Panama & Colombia. Speakers will include:

  • Aj’bee Jimenez, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Peoples Issues, USAID/Guatemala 
  • Sara OmiCoordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, FSC Indigenous Foundation
  • Karina Ballén, Senior Manager in Mental Health and Psychosocial Care, International Organization for Migration 
  • Diana Aguas, Differential Approach Specialist, International Organization for Migration 

USAID Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen and Senior Advisor on Indigenous Peoples Issues Stephanie Conduff will provide opening remarks. 

If you require a reasonable accommodation, please contact

For questions on this event, please contact


The General Council of the Comarca Naso Tjër Di of Panama validates the draft of its Organic Charter

After eight months of work, the Naso Comarca has created an Organic Charter that reflects its cultural values and the protection of Mother Earth.

The cultural values of the Naso people of Panama are embodied in their Organic Charter. The Charter contains the methods that the Naso people use to preserve the cultural and biological biodiversity of their territory, methods to elect or dismiss their authorities and representatives, divide their lands by family and communities, and how they administer justice related to land and the development of the community economy.

The process to draft the Organic Charter of the Naso Tjër Di Comarca began when the Naso General Council approved the project to Strengthen the Indigenous Agenda of Panama (FAIP) in August 2022. Since then, three training workshops to draft and reach a consensus on the Organic Charter. The first workshop was held in October 2022 in the community of Sieyik, the capital of the comarca, a second workshop was held in the community of Drudi in February 2023, and a third in the community of Bonyik in May 2023.

In each of these workshops over 50 traditional authorities such as the Pjoshwega (traditional justice administrators) and Dboriaga (community representatives before the King) participated and explained to the technical commission of the comarca how the final document should be written.

 Second Training Workshop, collection and consensus of information to elaborate the Organic Charter of the Naso Tjër Di  Comarca, Drudi community.


The elaboration of a Charter is an open, participatory, and extensive process where authorities and community members must express their experiences, opinions, and suggestions so that The Charter reflects a democratic representation of the principles and ideals of the people who create it.

For this purpose, the Naso King, Reynaldo Santana, summoned the technical commission of the Organic Charter, the Naso General Council, and representatives of the 16 communities of the comarca to the workshops to draft  the Organic Charter. The representatives agreed upon the organization chart, the administrative and political body of the territory, and designated  functions to each organizational group.

 The Naso palace, home of King Renaldo Santana, where his royal throne is located. Sieyik community.

Although the Organic Charter had not been written until now, its procedures, methods, and structures have been in place for centuries through the way the Naso people live in harmony with their land.


The technician of the Organic Charter Commission, Adolfo Villagra, clarified that, although there should be a close relationship between local authorities, the No Daga (community police) must comply with the requests of the Pjoshwega, meaning the No Daga  is subordinate to the Pjoshwega and they do not have the same powers to administer justice.

Currently, even though Panamanian law recognizes the right of Indigenous traditional authorities to apply justice, the Naso people still use Western justice to resolve community cases, which takes power away from the Pjoshwega and gives those responsibilities to the State.

 Technician Adolfo Villagra addresses the audience during the second workshop in the community of Drudi.


The Organic Charter also opened new political spaces for women, youth, and the elderly, such as the Women’s Council, the Youth Council, and the Council of Elders. These institutions proposed by the community and the authorities will ensure the representation of these populations in the General Council, which is the comarca’s body for consultation, consensus, coordination, and administration.

Some of the women who supported the creation of the Women’s Council belong to the United Women’s Organization of Bonyik (OMUB), including Rosibel Quintero, entrepreneur of the Posada Media Luna, and teachers Yeraldin Villagra and Gerardina Hooker.

(From left to right) Leaders Rosibel Quintero, Yeraldin Villagra, Omayra Casamá, president of AMARIE, and Gerardina Hooker during the validation of the draft Organic Charter of the Naso Tjër Di Comarca in the community of Bonyik.


From the beginning, King Reynaldo Santana has always defended the conservation efforts of the Naso Tjër Di Comarca. The Organic Charter establishes various mechanisms and projects to protect the environment, such as recycling projects, reforestation, and the creation of nurseries, herbariums, and sanctuaries for different native species.

In addition, he says the Charter also creates a “double shield” of protection for the goddess Tjër, sovereign of the Naso territory who gives her name to the region, because the Naso people are the true guardians of nature.

 For the Naso people, the river is a goddess called Tjër, which also gives the name to the comarca.

One mechanism that strengthens the Organic Charter is the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent of the Naso people before projects that national or international institutions wish to execute within the comarca. This returns decision-making power back to the traditional authorities.


The approval of the draft Charter of the Comarca Naso Tjër Di by the General Council was celebrated in the community of Bonyik on May 2, 2023, in the presence of the King, the technical commission of the Charter, the Pjoshwega and Dboriaga and special guests such as the presidential advisor Andrés Wong and the advisor of the Vice-Ministry of Indigenous Affairs Emir Miranda.

King Reynaldo Santana addresses the public at the closing of the act of validation of the draft of the Organic Charter.

During the last eight months, the authorities, technical commission and residents of different communities worked on 180 articles of the Organic Charter.

According to the president of the General Council, Ignacio Bonilla, the effort to generate the Organic Charter has gone through several setbacks related to the economic capacity of the region to support visitors and supply their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, in addition to convincing its population of the historical importance of the project.

Ignacio Bonilla, president of the General Council of the Comarca Naso Tjër Di, gives instructions on how the methodology for the validation of the draft Organic Charter will be developed.

Partners were also invited to the validation ceremony including the director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, Francisco Souza, the coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Levi Sucre, the president of the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders (CMLT), Sara Omi, and the president of the Association of Emberá Women Artisans (AMARIE), Omayra Casamá.

On the value of this process, Francisco Souza of the FSC Indigenous Foundation commented, “Recognizing governance is a recognition of the ancestry of the Naso people. Our commitment to share is to start with the Organic Charter as a first step, the second step is the development of Naso culture and self-determination.”

Francisco Souza, director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation addresses the General Council of the Comarca Naso Tjër Di, to his left are Levi Sucre, Coordinator of AMPB, Omayra Casamá, President of AMARIE, King Reynaldo Santana and second King Ardinteo Santana.

Omayra Casamá, President of AMARIE shared, “The Organic Charter is a guide, it is a method of legality, of security, of telling the government that we Indigenous Peoples are organized, we just had to write it down.”

Omayra Casamá, President of AMARIE, addresses the General Council.


In addition to the Naso Tjër Di Comarca, FAIP covers three additional Indigenous territories and aims to strengthen their political structures by  drafting and publication of their organic charters or internal regulations.

The Kuna Comarca of Madungandi drafted the Internal Regulations of the General Congress and in this process, spaces were created for women and youth to share  their opinions on the decisions made by the General Congress, which is mostly composed of men.

The drafting of the Internal Regulations of the Tuira Region of the Emberá and Wounaan Collective Lands of Darién has demonstrated, among other things, that there is another Indigenous People in Panama, the Eyabida people who migrated from Colombia due to the armed conflict between guerrillas and drug trafficking. This process also proved that coordination between transboundary communities is possible and necessary for democratic territorial governance.

As for the Organic Charter of the National Congress of the Wounaan People, the only political structure that uses the term “nation” and therefore encompasses all Wounaan communities in the Panamanian territory and the only one led by a woman, Cacica Aulina Ismare Opua, has demonstrated the importance of women participating in these political processes.

FAIP is funded by USAID and FSC, implemented by FSC Indigenous Foundation and framed within the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) program, executed in coordination with AMPB, CMLT and AMARIE.


Launching the FSC Indigenous Foundation Global Strategy 2023-2027

Our Strategy was developed by, with, and for Indigenous Peoples to promote and support Indigenous-led actions and solutions.

We are Indigenous Peoples; our strategies and our future actions are shaped by ancestral knowledge, practices, cosmovision, values, and respect for Mother Earth and our past. 

We are Indigenous Peoples; we are ancestral guardians of Indigenous-based solutions to global challenges. We are part of the 500 million brothers and sisters who live, populate, and safeguard Mother Earth.

The FSC Indigenous Foundation is the global vehicle to design, manage, facilitate, and scale up Indigenous-led solutions through multi-sectoral partnerships.

The FSC Indigenous Foundation presents its Global Strategy 2023-2027, designed to reflect the aspirations of Indigenous Peoples as drivers of our organization.

The Strategy envisions to contribute to a future where Indigenous Peoples are recognized as providers, agents, guardians, and partners in solutions to global challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, natural ecosystem degradation, desertification, and deforestation.

It was developed following an Indigenous perspective driven by Indigenous values, vision, principles, ancestral knowledge, and traditional practices connected to Mother Earth. It was shaped to respond to key challenges and opportunities faced by Indigenous Peoples to achieve their self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance.

The core action area of our strategy is Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, which guide and incorporate a holistic territorial perspective into all our programmatic areas of work.

Learn more and read our Global Strategy 2023 – 2027 here.

We look forward to working with you to support and promote Indigenous Peoples as key actors and providers of solutions to fight global challenges and promote inclusive and rights-based development for everyone.  


Comarca Naso Tjër Di continues the revision of its Organic Charter in Drudi  

The Organic Charter is fundamental to legalize and recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights in a territory

The project Strengthening of the Indigenous Agenda of Panama (FAIP for its initials in Spanish) concluded the elaboration of the Organic Charter of the Naso Tjër Di Comarca (territory) on February 21st in the community of Drudi.  

This process of revising the articles of the Naso Organic Charter began last October in the community of Sieyllik, the capital of the comarca. At that time, the project’s technical team reviewed more than half of the articles that make up the official document.  

The Organic Charter organizes the method to elect authorities, the geographical limits of the comarca, the cultural organization of the Naso people, land use regulation, and relations between state institutions, among other topics.  

During the five days of the workshop, the technical team, traditional authorities, experts in Naso culture and history, and community representatives agreed on several points of the Naso constitution. 

“For us, it is a new world to start writing the Organic Charter. We had no idea what the Organic Charter was, but after researching, we discovered that it is a statute where the laws that regulate the coexistence and social peace of the Naso region are located. When we were given this challenge, I did not know what I was going to face, but I believe that we assumed it with responsibility.”

Yeraldin Villagra, teacher in the Comarca Naso

“We are securing our future generation so that we can conserve our identity and our natural resources.”

Reynaldo Alexis Santana, King of the Naso Comarca

FAIP is an inter-institutional and international effort that seeks to strengthen Indigenous governance in Panama through the elaboration and publication of Organic Charters of four Indigenous territories. We chose to use a methodology of workshops convened by the authorities and facilitated by a recognized expert in Indigenous Law, doctor in Peace, Conflict, and Democracy Alejandro Bonilla, where community members discuss various issues such as restorative justice, international law, and land systems.

About the community

The community of Drudi is settled on a plain surrounded by mountains and the Ganadera Bocas Livestock Company, about 45 minutes from Changuinola through extensive pastures for cows and horses that were created by deforesting the province.  

Drudi was the scene of years of struggles between the community and Ganadera Bocas. At its peak, around 200 uniformed men broke into Drudi and burned the 20 houses that made up the settlement. The residents went to Panama City and slept in Santa Ana Park waiting for a response from the government.  

Today the Naso Tjër Di Comarca celebrates two and a half years of having been recognized by the State, when President Laurentino Cortizo signed the Law creating the comarca in December 2020 and returned sovereignty over their land to the Naso people.   

FAIP is funded by USAID and the FSC, implemented by the FSC Indigenous Foundation, and framed within the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program, executed in coordination with the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Coordinating Committee of Territorial Women Leaders (CMLT) and the Association of Women Artisans of Ipetí – Emberá (AMARIE)

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