Map of the Darién Gap (Abya Yala)
Forest path in the Darién Gap (Abya Yala)

Abya Yala, which in the Guna language means "land in its full maturity" or "land of vital blood", is the name used by the Native American nation Guna people, that inhabit near the Darién Gap (today North West Colombia and South East Panama) to refer to their section of the American continent since Pre-Columbian times.[1] The term is used by some indigenous peoples of North and South America to describe the two continents.[2]

Origin and usageEdit

The Bolivian Aymara leader Takir Mamani argues for the use of the term "Abya Yala" in the official declarations of indigenous peoples' governing bodies, saying that "placing foreign names on our villages, our cities, and our continents is equivalent to subjecting our identity to the will of our invaders and their heirs." [3] Thus, use of the term "Abya Yala" rather than a term such as New World or America may have ideological implications indicating support for indigenous rights.

A publishing house in Ecuador, Editorial Abya Yala, chose its name according to Takir Mamani's suggestion.[4] The name has also been used by an independent theater in Costa Rica, Teatro Abya Yala,[5] and by a San Francisco video production and web design firm, Abya-Yala Productions.[6]

A similar term referring to the continent of North America is Turtle Island, which is used by several Northeastern Woodland Native American tribes, especially the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy, for the continent of North America.[7]

An anthology titled "Turtle Island to Abya Yala," featuring 60 Native American and Latina women artists and poets, had raised startup funding on Kickstarter as of 2011.[8]

The musical artists Combo Chimbita named their debut full length album "Abya Yala".[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. Miguelángel López-Hernández (2004). Encuentros en los senderos de Abya Yala. Editorial Abya Yala. ISBN 978-9978-22-363-5. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  2. Mignolo, Walter (2005). The Idea of Latin America. Blackwell Publishing. p. 22.
  4. "Abya-Yala - ¿Quiénes somos?". Archived from the original on 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  5. "Abya Yala". Asociación Cultural para las Artes Escénicas. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  6. "Abya-Yala Productions". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Johansen, Bruce Elliott and Barbara Alice Mann, eds. Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) Westpoint, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 0-313-30880-2.
  8. "Turtle Island to Abya Yala - A New Anthology by Native Women by Macha Femme". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  9. "Abya Yala, by Combo Chimbita". Combo Chimbita. Retrieved 2018-10-08.

External linksEdit

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