Mickeila Teucama was born in 1992 in a small village in the Darien of Panama. She’s a Wounaan weaver who learned her craft from her mother, who is also a weaver.
Mickeila, also spelled Mitkela or Mitkeila, was educated through the 6th grade. This is typical in the Wounaan villages, most of which have state-mandated education through the 6th grade, and the state supplies teachers, classrooms, and some supplies. In the villages no further education is offered unless students move to the larger cities. Many of the higher earning weavers have sent their children to live with family in the city and support their child’s education with their weaving income.
She started weaving baskets when she was 17 yrs old, and currently she has 4 children. Having many children is prized in the Wounaan community. Mitkelia’s favorite design is geometric motifs, and she works on her weavings for about 6 hours each day, often while the children are at school and her husband is working.
All of her materials are gathered, shredded, and dyed by her alone – some weavers purchase or trade for prepared materials, but she likes to do this by herself. Mitkeila also prefers living in the villages surrounded by nature and the rainforest. While some Wounaan leave the villages to move to the city, she enjoys staying with her extended family and 7 siblings in the Darien rainforest.