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  The Rama Indians
 
and Their Rainforest Home
The Ramas' day is marked by the passing overhead of the sun, the change in direction of the wind, or perhaps the approach of an afternoon storm, but life is always lived in harmony with their home, the jungle.

The traditional territory of the Rama is bordered on the north by the area around the Rio Escondido and on the south by the Rio San Juan. The majority of these lands fall inside the borders of the highly protected Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve. They have been the sole inhabitants of their rainforest home for centuries.

The Rama are an indigenous people of Nicaragua. They are a warm people who are typically shy but very welcoming to those who visit. The Rama speak English which was heavily influenced by the British in the 1800’s. The nearly 1,000 Rama Indians live in the Atlantic-coast region of Nicaragua, in the departments of Cela Norte, Zelaya Sur, and Río San Juan.

The largest settlements of Rama speakers were on the southern part of the Atlantic coast in places named Wiring Cay, Monkey Point, Cane Creek, Diamantes and Petaste up the Rio Punta Gorda, with smaller scattered settlements along the Kukra River. Only about 25 people are left that speak the Rama language exclusively, although many more speak Rama Cay Creole.


The Rama are hunters, fishers and agriculturalists growing mainly bananas and cacao beans. The Rama are considered descendants of the Votos. For the most part the Ramas have lived in small scattered settlements moving about and using the rainforest to conceal themselves from intruders.
 


Today their centuries old world for the most part remains unchanged. There have never been roads built from the west to the east in Nicaragua. There are no local roads, only well know trails and paths of the Rama. If you go anywhere, you go either by foot or water.

 The two most important things to the Rama are their land and people, especially their children. I was first introduced to the Rama people in the early 90’s by Dr. Alfredo Lopez. At that time Dr. Lopez was helping the Rama by providing medical treatments to the people of the Rio Indio area in southeastern Nicaragua.
 I made many trips to the area with clients to sport fish, and I always packed one of my bags with clothes for the Rama children. Dr. Lopez knew where all of the Rama families were living, and we made stops along the river to check on people in his care and leave clothes for the children. The little girls really loved getting the new clothes. Quite a few years have passed since then. Dr. Lopez helped establish a small clinic in the town of San Juan Del Norte, although many of the Rama still live far back in the jungle and depend on the Shaman for their medical treatments.
 In small ways their lives have changed for the better, but for the most part the Ramas continue to live as hunter- gatherers in their rainforest home.

Rama Children

Today a number of the local Rama work for the Rio Indio Lodge, providing them with much needed jobs and income. Dr. Lopez knows their families and has cared for them from the elderly parents, to the new born child and the young adults in between. The Rama make great guides for guests of the lodge, touring them in the Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve. They not only know where the wildlife is concentrated, but also where the best fishing is to be found. The Rama are a very proud people who live in harmony with their surroundings. They also love to show the traveling guest their pristine jungle home.  Who better to do so than its sole inhabitants, the indigenous Rama Indians.

Dr. Allan Falconer of George Mason University visiting with former     Rama Chief Marcelino MaCre

Gulf Caribbean LLC, J. Vincent Phillips, Owner/Manager
Contact: 601-954-2287 or gulfcaribbean@gmail.com

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