This article describes a participatory research mapping (PRM) project to document the subsistence lands used by the indigenous populations of the Darién Province, eastern Panama. The region is the historic territory of the Kuna, Emberá, and Wounaan peoples, with a biosphere reserve, two indigenous comarca homelands, and one of the most active colonization fronts in Central America. Having fought for recognition of their land rights in the face of encroaching outsiders, indigenous leaders were well aware of the power and importance of cartographic information. Indeed, the Darién was the most inaccurately mapped province in the country, and indigenous leaders embraced the idea of a mapping project to document their expanding settlements and natural resources. Community representatives were trained to complete land-use assessments using questionnaires and sketch maps. They worked with a team of specialists, including the author, to transform this information into standard cartographic and demographic results. The project’s simple design brought outstanding results, including the first large-scale mapping of indigenous lands in this little-known region. The methodology shows how indigenous peoples can work with researchers in data collection and interpretation to transform their cognitive knowledge into standard forms, producing excellent scientific and applied results while enhancing their ability to manage their own lands.

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