Bribri People (S/F) / (S/F-T/G)

The Bribri people are an ethnic group native to Costa Rica. One tribe of Bribri were among the indigenous inhabitants of Isla Nublar. They referred to themselves as the Tun-Si, meaning “Water Men.” Their name for Isla Nublar was Guà-Si, meaning “Water House” or “House Beyond Water.”

On Isla Nublar, the Tun-Si subsisted mostly on fish and the island’s native plants and animals. Their religious tradition was centered around the island’s volcano, Mount Sibo, which resembles the conical house central to Bribri spiritual life. The spiritual leader of a Bribri tribe such as the Tun-Si is called an awa. The Tun-Si were first contacted by Europeans in 1525, which was followed by over five hundred years of displacement and neglect by outside forces. There are presently no Tun-Si living on Isla Nublar.

History

The Tun-Si tribe came to inhabit Isla Nublar thousands of years ago. Their mythology was centered around Mount Sibo, named after the Bribri creator deity Sibù, because the mountain resembles the conical house. In Bribri religion, a conical house represents the universe. Tun-Si people believed that Mount Sibo was built by animals. The Tun-Si domesticated goats, but found most of their food by fishing in the oceans; unlike their mainland relatives, the Tun-Si did not believe the ocean to hold any malevolent spirits and frequently swam and fished in the sea.

Probably due to their isolation, the Tun-Si used different words and pronunciation than the Bribri people on the mainland. For example, in the standard dialect “water men” would be Wëm-Di’, not Tun-Si; “water house” would be Ù-Di’, not Guà-Si, and Sibo is normally pronounced Sibù. However, the Tun-Si people do have some language in common with the standard Bribri language, such as “mokú-pá,” a name for the collared aracari. This translates to “parrot owl.”. The name of the awa, a spiritual figure in Bribri culture, is also the same in the Tun-Si variant of the language.

The Spanish carrack La Estrella made landfall on Isla Nublar in 1525 under the leadership of Diego Fernández. This marked the first interaction between Tun-Si and Europeans.

After the Spanish discovered the island in 1525, the next four centuries saw the indigenous displaced from the island for various reasons.

InGen entered negotiations to purchase Isla Nublar from Costa Rica in 1985. The Costa Rican government enlisted a Tun-Si awa, or spiritual healer, who had left the island three or four years prior with his daughter, Nima Cruz, and granddaughter, Atlanta Cruz, to talk up the island so that the government could ask InGen to pay a higher price. They gave him a suit and had him cut his hair so that he would not appear “simple.” After his presentation, InGen purchased the island. The resettlement of the Tun-Si was planned, but delayed for several years while John Hammond toyed with the idea of building his park in San Diego. However, it was eventually moved back to Isla Nublar.

In 1987, just two years before Jurassic Park construction was due to begin, InGen began evacuating all Tun-Si off the island with the help of Oscar Morales. InGen promised that the natives would be provided with schools, homes, and medicine, but failed to deliver on these promises; as a result, most displaced Tun-Si lived in ghettos in Costa Rica. Many Tun-Si, especially young girls, suffered under oppressive conditions; some descriptions imply that many young girls fell into human trafficking. This led to former Isla Nublar inhabitant Nima Cruz to work with Lewis Dodgson to sabotage Jurassic Park, as she wanted enough money to move herself and her daughter Atlanta out of the ghetto.

At some point following the construction of Jurassic World, the native people were allowed to return to Isla Nublar under the wing of Masrani Global Corporation. Control room employee Lowery Cruthers was friends with some of the natives, and lived with them rather than in the employee residence.

The Masrani corporate website gives an in-universe acknowledgement of the Bribri tribe and their contributions to the culture and history of Isla Nublar. Despite the efforts of Masrani Global to make amends for the past, the Tun-Si people were once again forced out of their homeland due to the December 18, 2015 incident in Jurassic World; the island was abandoned following the death of CEO Simon Masrani, with neither the corporation nor the American or Costa Rican governments making any effort to reclaim the island. The June 23, 2018 eruption of Mount Sibo effectively destroyed the island’s ecosystem, making it unlikely that any form of recolonization could occur in the near future.

Further reading

The Native Languages of the Americas website has information on the Bribri language and culture, as well as other Indigenous American cultures. There is also a link through which to donate to the organization in order to help preserve endangered languages of Indigenous Americans.