The Mapuche, also known as the Araucano, were said to be the first people in the region south of Chile’s Biobio River. Archaeological excavations show evidence of their culture dating back to 12,000 years. They were indigenous people that were inhabited originally in the southern portion of Chile in and around Region IX. They had well developed societies, impressive art, and the people were accomplished warriors. The leader what they call toqui was the Maximum Chief in war, and his power was symbolized by an engraved stone hatchet. The Spanish never successfully conquered the Mapuche. They were the only Hispano American nation hat was never vanquished. The Spanish captain won many battles before dying in the battle against the Mapuche. Although the Spanish had better weapons, the Mapuche observed the Spanish style of fighting, and took from it and were able to use what they gathered to help them win. However The Chileans defeated them after 30 years of constant war. In 1883 Chile began deposing Mapuches of land, eventually ceding 428,000 hectares, or less than 5% of the original territory.
They Chilean census of 1992 said there are as many as 928,060 Mapuche still living today. The Mapuche are bilingual but they try to use their native language in daily speech. Their lifestyle is agrarian, and their songs, dances and prayers underscore the dichotomy of the universe, and the struggles between good and evil.
People are a very important part of their lifestyles. There are no abandoned people in the culture, everyone is taken in and is cared for. There is a great importance placed on family bonds although there are not as many extended families as there used to be, due to
the cost of living and low wages. Many of the families are forced to be split apart to go do work.
The original religion of the Mapuche consisted of four “creation” gods: The old God, Wife of the old God, a Young God, and the Wife of the Young God. They believed in the supernatural, omens, and the afterlife. Horses were often eaten because the meat was said to be strong and would promote strength. If and important tribal member died, his horse was sacrificed because they believed the person needed the source of nourishment in the afterlife.
Now more Mapuches practice Catholicism as their religion. Though there are many echoes of ancient beliefs and customs, which are apparent in the culture. The most interesting is the Machi. The Machi, or Shaman is seen as a spiritual leader. They each possess special talents, some seers of the future others healers, and others maybe be able to communicated with spirits. The powers are symbolized by their curandero, a type of wooden stairway.
The Mapuche are a very diverse group of people. There beliefs are of the most unique I have ever heard of. I am really glad to hear that they used their intelligence rather than weapons to win a war it shows their dignity and pride in their culture. I am not sure that there are many groups of people out there today that could say they use their intelligence to win battles or wars. They are very strong spirited people that would never let anyone of their group down. That could possibly be why there are still Mapuche Indians living today. Many people of today’s world could take lessons from them and maybe there would not be as much terrorism as there is today.