This group is formed by two indigenous reservations: Boruca y Curré

Brunca Indigenous Reservation

 
 

The Borucas

The Boruca indigenous culture is represented by two separate areas called Boruca and Curré, both of which have other peoples that make up each of these
territories.

1. Curré Indian Territory

Curre Indian Territory, is composed of ten small villages or hamlets which are Curré downtown, Zapotal, Chánguena Vegas, Coquito, Santa Elena, South Cajon, South Caña Blanca, Lagarto, San Rafael (near Grisera row). Curré downtown is the head of area and people can access this community through the Inter-American Highway after 235 km south to 35 km southeast of the canton of Buenos Aires. Its territorial extension is 10620 and its total population is around 1200 inhabitants.

The economy of the inhabitants revolves around agriculture, handicrafts and employment workforce in companies close to the community like Pindeco and Palma Tica. Some others work as public employees especially in education.

Within agricultural activities, the ones that stand out are the growing of maize, beans, rice, tiquizque, banana and pumpkin.

In crafts, people make balsa masks, carved gourds, and few people work the cotton fabric.

Livestock farming is characterized by being ofcattle, pigs, horses and poultry for family-scale farming on a smaller scale.

The basic food of the Curré community presents a list of foods characterized by traditional chicha (a traditional drink based on corn) the atoll, the chilate, roasted tamales, rice tamale and Biringo.

You can also mention the ripe plantains, the guacho, without leaving out the palm heart, the tubers and roots. Food also are obtained from the Rio Grande de Térraba like fish, crabs and shrimp. However, subsistence agriculture of banana, maize, rice and beans is one of the main forms of survival, as well as crops such as citrus, avocado, cacao, squash and tiquizque. The latter two are used for export.

The current situation of the indigenous language is based on a ratio of 15% for the Brunca and 100% Spanish. However, at the Curré school, for more than 10 years there a program to revitalize the Boruca indigenous language and culture in the presence of a master of crafts and one teacher for language and culture. Its most important tradition is the game of the little devils that is celebrated in the month of February.

Among the conditions or cultural elements that enhance their culture, identity and integrity as a group is the traditional Little Devil's Dance held every February, which represents the indigenous struggle against the Spanish. Moreover, a large number of legends that enhance their cultural heritage and affirm their membership are valid to be mentioned, among which are: the legend of Kuasrán, of Sancráhua, Dij sújcra of the Mamräm, among others.

In regard to social organizations, the most representative governance structure or organization of the administrative territory is called AID (Association of Indian Development) of the King Curré territory. However, the Women's Community Association Fighting Spirit, the Banana Growers Farmers' Association, Artisans Group Curré, Committee on Culture, the Association Regional COVIRENAS, The Pastoral, the School Board, among others are also an important part of the
community.

AID is the institution's community and public representative of the territory, it has among its priorities legal representation, management and policy development of local development, protection of indigenous interests, culture and territory of the village of Curré.

Among the main problems are lack of employment and the need for better markets to sell their crafts, land tenure and the deterioration of their natural resources.

2. Boruca Indian Territory

Its area includes 12,470 hectares of which 28% is devoted to the forest area. Among its most important communities, the following are included: Bella Vista, Mojón, Lagarto, Puerto Nuevo, Cajón, La Presa, Alto las Moras, Miravalles, Tres Ríos, San Joaquín, Shamba, Bajo Veraguas, Santa Teresita, Ojo de Agua, Maíz de Boruca, Mayal, Boquete, Bajo Dioses, Zapote, Vergel, Cañablancal and San Bosco. Its total population is around 2500 inhabitants.

You culd use the Road Distance Calculator to see how far is it from other cities of Costa Rica.

Boruca’s predominant agriculture is based on corn, beans, rice and tubers. The Livestock breeding is based on a family scale of cattle, pigs, horses and poultry.

The basic food of the Boruca community is based on rice and beans, products that correspond to their traditional diet. However, you can also mention foods that are derived from corn, bananas, meat and forest products. We can cite a list of food that have traditionally formed part of the diet of the Boruca population, such as chilate, chicha, atol, roasted tamales, boiled and roasted plantains, either alone or together with corn and rice. With the meat of wild animals and poultry the people prepare variety of foods such as the following: soups, rice and meat, in addition to the plant products such as wildflowers, palm, roots, tubers, fruits, seeds, leaves, sprouts and
mushrooms.

Among the elements or qualities that enhance cultural identity and integrity as a group is the traditional dance of the little devils which is held every December 31 and continues until January 2 in the community, and it represents the struggle of Borucas against the Spanish conquerors, reflecting that they were never "conquered". Also, their crafts are cotton fabrics, baskets, bows and arrows, spears, or the outstanding balsa wood masks help to maintain a sense of unity and
authenticity as a group the people Boruca.

Just like the Curré community, the use of natural resources reflects the way they exploit the raw materials provided by the environment. Balsa wood extraction for mask making, the use of pejibaye chonta for making bows arrows and spears, the carved gourds and obtaining natural dyes to dye their tissues are examples of how the Borucas benefit from their surrounding environment.

Currently, the main use made of the land is for growing coffee beans and the basic grains for forest. However, the greatest loss of territory, which is a product of the failure of the Indian Act from the state, generates constant pressure on indigenous population, which is owning less and less land.

In regard to the forms of organization and representation in the community of Boruca, currently, the main forms of organization respond to organizations and social committees which are having more say in community decisions.

Among the main problems are lack of employment and the need for better markets to sell their crafts, land tenure and the deterioration of their
natural resources.

 

This group is very small and they have almost lost their language (the Brunca) , which is generally only spoken by the elders.

This indigenous group lives in the territories of Boruca and Curré, and archeological evidence suggests that they have inhabited this zone since precolumbian times, from Quepos to the Chiriquí Grande River in Panama. Their political and commercial influence was quite important in the past, which is why the Southern region of Costa Rica is also officially named the Brunca Region.

Boruca indigenous people have kept their people´s physical traits, but their language is practically lost, and they dress the same as any farmer of the area. They use commercial clothes, shoes and kitchen items of non indigenous type. In some cases, they have television, electric devices and plumbing,  but these are the cases in which electricity exists.
However, the modern activities are strongly combined with the old traditions, which allows them to maintain their ethnic identity. The settlers in this community have suffered deforestation, to the extent that the hydrographic sources have disappeared and others almost to extinction.

Services

Bruncas has one Radio Station called "The Cultural Radio station of Boruca", electrical  service, school dining room, and a health and Nutrition Center. Each reservation has a  primary and a secondary school; some youths go to school with the help of the Indigenous National Commission, of the IMAS (Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social - Mixed Institute of Social Help) or Ministerio de Educación (Ministry of Education).

Housing

They live in houses made of wood with tin roofs. Their construction has changed. First they used walls of Caña Brava, with straw roofs, sometimes hay and palm, earthen floors,  rectangular rooms and  kitchens, almost always with a door and two windows. Nowadays, they use a combination of wooden walls, straw or palm roofs,  earthen or wooden floors and roofs made of  zinc or cement. The pattern is different, since the houses are concentrated in  town. They have utensils like: pots, firewood kitchens or vents, "huacales", baskets, table and wooden seats.

Culture

Handicrafts include wooden masks made out of balsa or cedar. They also make big beautiful baskets, javas with triangular ends and round exteriors made out of a type of vine or liana called “Hombre Grande”.

They also make some musical instruments like drums, maracas and flutes.

In Boruca and Rey Curré, visitors can purchase handicrafts and enjoy traditional dances such as the "Fiesta del los Diablitos" (Devils Party) and the "Danza del los Negritos" (Negroes Party).

Religion and parties

They maintain some traditional religious aspects. They keep ideas related with the spirits and  with the dead,  but in general, the old religion was replaced by the Catholic missions that introduced new religious customs. In Boruca, there is a Catholic temple and in other places they have built protestant churches. They still maintain special customs to celebrate marriages and funerals.

Among their annual parties, the most important are: "La Fiesta del los Diablitos" (Devils Party) and the "Danza del los Negritos" (Negroes Party).

Fiesta de los Diablitos: It represents the fight ‘of death against the Spanish culture that invaded the indigenous territories, this party displays indigenous traditions, customs, and beliefs. The start of this tradition dates from colonial times and has been passed down from generation to generation. Two main characters appear in the fiesta: the bull, which represents the Spanish, and the devils, representing the native Americans. The devils have their own hierarchy. There are old devils and young devils. The elder devils are responsible for order and discipline. The costumes worn in the dance are very simple: a sack habit and a wooden mask made out of balsa or cedar. Accompanying them there are flutes, drums, guitars, violins and accordions.

The masks used in the fiesta are generally handmade. Some are decorated with natural dyes and have mustaches and beards painted on. The bull is a person with a mask on his head which has real bull’s horns on it. The fiesta lasts for three days. Preparations for it begin on the 28th of December in Boruca. The event starts on the 30th of December and goes to January 2nd,  when they kill the bull in the middle of the village. Afterwards the meat of the animal is sold to anyone who wants to buy it.

La Fiesta de los Negritos (Negroes Party (Negroes Dance)).

Another important activity which takes place between the 6th and the 8th of December is the Fiesta de los Negritos. The preparations for this event are similar to those for the Fiesta del los Diablitos. The participants paint their faces with hollín (charcoal), but they don’t wear any special clothing. An elder devil leads the event. In Boruca, they play with a carved wooden bull and colt, while in Terraba they use a cow and a filly.

Boruca Indigenous Reserve also has a Museum which exhibits work processes and techniques using natural dyes used in making handicrafts. The building is an example of the type of thatched hut that the Boruca Native Americans used as their traditional housing. The museum is also used as a skill workshop to train and reawaken traditional community activities.

BORUCA INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY MUSEUM
BORUCA TRADITIONAL CULTURE

LOCATION: Boruca Reservation. Buenos Aires, Puntarenas in Buenos Aires county, 20 kms. from the Panamerican Highway.

It opens Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a. m. to 3 p. m.


This museum exhibits the processes and techniques of the natural dyes used in the Boruca crafts and the importance of this practice in a cultural context to the Boruca community. There are also other crafts on display. The museum also serves as a meeting center for the committee of craftsmen, and as a workshop to revitalize and practice these traditional crafts and as an outlet to sell their finished products.
The building is an example of the type of "rancho" used for a traditional Boruca home of which there are very few left in the zone.

Most part of the information has been provided by Uriel Rojas.
PHONE: 86-09-16-24
EMAIL:  urojas666@gmail.com

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