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The Mapuche in Modern Chile

University Press of Florida

Florida A&M University, Tallahassee
Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers
Florida International University, Miami
Florida State University, Tallahassee
New College of Florida, Sarasota
University of Central Florida, Orlando
University of Florida, Gainesville
University of North Florida, Jacksonville
University of South Florida, Tampa
University of West Florida, Pensacola

The Mapuche in Modern Chile

A Cultural History

Joanna Crow

University Press of Florida

Gainesville Tallahassee Tampa Boca Raton
Pensacola Orlando Miami Jacksonville Ft. Myers Sarasota

Copyright 2013 by Joanna Crow

All rights reserved
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ISBN 978-0-8130-4428-6
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To Alex and Sofa


List of Illustrations / ix
Acknowledgments / xi
List of Abbreviations / xv
Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects / 1
1. Histories of Conquest: The Occupation of Araucana and Its
Consequences, 18621910 / 19
2. Renewed Struggles for Survival: National Festivities and Mapuche
Political Activism, 19101938 / 51
3. Caudillos, Poets, and Sopranos: Articulating Mapuche Identities on
the National and International Stage, 19381964 / 83
4. Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational
Challenges, 19641973 / 116
5. The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories,
19731990 / 150
6. Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism,
19902010 / 181
Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference / 213
Glossary / 231
Notes / 233
Bibliography / 267
Index / 281


Map 1. Southern South America, showing Mapuche territory

in Chile 20
Map 2. The Mapuche heartland in Chile 21
Figure 1. Photograph of Cacique Lloncn 2
Figure 2. Photograph of a young Mapuche man 2
Figure 3. Photograph of a Mapuche woman 2
Figure 4. Photograph of a Mapuche chief 3
Figure 5. Photograph of Mapuche women and children 3
Figure 6. Painting of the Parliament of Hipinco 27
Figure 7. Mapuche people on display in the Acclimatization Garden
of Paris 47
Figure 8. Statue of Caupolicn in Santiago 55
Figure 9. Manuel Manquilef 62
Figure 10. Statue of Caupolicn in Temuco 81
Figure 11. Venancio Couepn and President Carlos Ibez 89
Figure 12. Rayn Quitral 109
Figure 13. Mapuche Museum of Caete 129
Figure 14. Advertisement for Mapuche craft shop in Santiago 148
Figure 15. Memorial arch in Temucos Park for Peace 151
Figure 16. Front cover of Mapuche newspaper Azkintuwe 195
Figure 17. Rewe and ceremonial space of the Mapuche community of
Pedro Ancalef 207
Figure 18. Photograph collage in the Mapuche Museum of Caete 209


A number of colleagues and friends at the University of Bristol gave me

tremendously useful feedback on this book as it moved forward. I am
especially grateful to Matthew Brown and Caroline Williams, who read
the entire manuscript, pressed me to clarify and sharpen my ideas, and
gave me confidence to push on to the final text. I would also like to thank
Carmen Brauning and Luis Bustamante, who helped me appreciate the
significance of the Chilean New Song movement, and Lorraine Leu, who
was my mentor for several years before she moved to the University of
Texas at Austin and with whom Ive enjoyed many thought-provoking
discussions about the joys and perils of academic research.
Beyond Bristol, I warmly thank Nicola Miller, who was exceedingly
generous with her time and intellectual guidance right from the beginning of the project. I am also indebted to Christopher Abel, who always
encouraged me to think about Chile in a broader Latin American context, and to Colin Lewis and Rebecca Earle, who asked challenging and
stimulating questions about my research, and steered my thinking toward
publication possibilities. I am greatly appreciative for the comments I received from Nicola Foote, Kate Quinn, Michael Goebel, Allison Ramay,
and Clare French on earlier versions of the manuscript. A special acknowledgment goes to the two readers chosen by the University Press of
Florida for their detailed and highly constructive reports on the first draft
of the book. When I learned their names, Andr Menard and Florencia
Mallon, I felt incredibly privileged to have received such valuable input.
Since then, Florencia Mallon has provided further comments on revised
drafts of chapters, which have really motivated me to think carefully about
the narrative of the book as a whole. I look forward to continuing our
conversations about Mapuche histories in the future.
Of course, the thinking and writing involved in this project would
never have gotten far off the ground if it were not for the many Mapuche

xii Acknowledgments

people in Chile who have given of their time to talk to me about their
work and what has been happening in the country: Elicura Chihuailaf,
Jaime Huenn, Leonel Lienlaf, Csar Loncn, Pablo Marimn, Pedro Marimn, Csar Millahueique, Juana Paillalef, Sebastin Queupul, and Ral
Rupailaf. It is their creative exploitation and exploration of the minimal
spaces that exist for intercultural dialogue in Chile that have inspired me
to spend so much time in the archives and libraries, following up on the
historical leads they have given me and investigating the institutions of
which they are part or with which they have collaborated over the years.
They provide some hope for the future despite all the problems facing
their people today. I was also lucky to be able to share ideas with a number
of eminent Chilean scholars, most notably Rolf Foerster, Andr Menard,
Jorge Pavez, and Jorge Pinto.
I am very grateful to Sebastin Barros at Pehun Editores, Camilo
Pinto at the National Library, Francisca Riera and Diego Matte Palacios
at the National History Museum, Juana Paillalef at the Mapuche Museum
of Caete, Csar Millahueique at the National Monuments Council, and
the editorial team of the Mapuche newspaper Azkintuwe for providing
me with and authorizing my use of many of the images that appear in
this book. These certainly help to enliven the narrative and illustrate my
arguments. I am deeply indebted to my brother, Richard Crow, for taking
time out to help me format all the images, and to Jon Hill for designing
the maps. I wish to thank Pedro Marimn for letting me have access to the
fascinating diaries of Manuel Aburto Manquilef. My thanks also go to the
staff at the National Library in Santiago, particularly to Sonia Montecino
of the Saln de Investigadores; at the Library of the National Congress;
and at the Regional Archive in Temuco, for their help with access to crucial historical sources. Among the many dedicated staff at the University
Press of Florida who have helped make the publication process as painless
as it could be, I am especially beholden to Amy Gorelick for the enthusiasm she has shown for my project from the day I first contacted her about
it and for so patiently answering all my questions; I also wish to thank
my copyeditor, Kirsteen Anderson, for her meticulous work and helpful
Thanks to my loving parents, Ann and Bob Crow, who have supported
me throughout, and to my closest friends, Jane Wilson and Ellie Reid, who
have always been there to provide perspective on things when I feared I
might lose it! A big thanks to our Chilean friends, Marco, Ins, and Paula,

Acknowledgments xiii

who have always made me so welcome in Satniago. Finally, I owe an enormous amount to Alex Boughton, my husband, and our daughter, Sofa.
The book could not have happened without them giving me time to read,
think, and write, and without them coming to spend time in Chile with



Asociacin Nacional Indgena (National Association of

Indigenous People)
Centros Culturales Mapuches (Mapuche Cultural Centers)
Comisin Especial de los Pueblos Indgenas (Special ComCEPI
mission on Indigenous Peoples)
Centro de Produccin (Production Center)
Centro de Reforma Agraria (Agrarian Reform Center)
Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales (National Monuments
CONADI Corporacin Nacional de Desarrollo Indgena (National
Corporation for Indigenous Development)
Corporacin de Reforma Agraria (Agrarian Reform
COREMA Comisin Regional del Medioambiente (Regional Environmental Commission)
COTAM Comisin de Trabajo Autnoma Mapuche (Autonomous
Mapuche Working Group)
CVHNT Comisin de Verdad Histrica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos Indgenas (Commission for Historical Truth and New
Treatment of Indigenous Peoples)
Direccin de Asuntos Indgenas (Department of Indigenous
DIBAM Direccin de Bibliotecas, Archivos, y Museos (Department
of Libraries, Archives, and Museums)
Federacin Obrera de Chile (Federation of Chilean
Instituto de Desarrollo Indgena (Institute of Indigenous

xvi Abbreviations


Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario (Institute of Agrarian

and Livestock Development)
Movimiento Campesino Revolucionario (Revolutionary
Peasant Movement)
Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (Movement of the
Revolutionary Left)
Partido Comunista (Communist Party)
Primer Congreso Indigenista Interamericano (First InterAmerican Indigenista Congress)
Partido Socialista (Socialist Party)
Unidad Popular (Popular Unity [Coalition])

Mythical Objects and Political Subjects

Postcards depicting the Mapuche, or Araucanians, of southern Chile can

be bought in souvenir shops all over downtown Santiago.1 According to
the Chilean National Institute of Statistics, this indigenous people make
up between 4 and 10 percent of the countrys population today.2 Tourist
postcards tend to include historic images of Mapuche people, such as the
photographs shown in figures 15, which were taken by Gustavo Milet
Ramrez circa 1890.3 This was shortly after the Chilean state concluded its
military conquest of Mapuche territory.4
Milets photographs present us with the typical objects of travelers curiosity in 1890: a proud Indian leader; a young, half-naked man with a
spear; a chief on horseback; a woman wearing traditional silver adornments; and women and children preparing food around a tree. Together,
they portray a romanticized, rural idyllinhabited by an imagined mixture of the bellicose Araucanian warrior of colonial times and the tamed
Indian of the presentthat was destined to disappear as the Chilean nation marched toward progress and modernization (the catchphrase of
most liberal states in Latin America during the late nineteenth century).
In a sense, such photographs erased indigenous historical agency. And
yet, at the same time, the Mapuche people photographed here (the people
behind the images) were actively partaking in the performance of indigenous identity. They were posing for the camera. They were impressing
upon the viewer just how staged the photographs were. No one could miss
the studio setting and the European gardenlike background of some of

Above left: Figure 1. Photograph of Cacique

Lloncn by Gustavo Milet Ramrez, part of
a collection entitled Araucanian Indians of
Traigun, ca. 1890. (Photo included on a postcard bought by the author in Santiago.)
Above right: Figure 2. Photograph of a young
Mapuche man by Gustavo Milet Ramrez, part
of the Araucanian Indians of Traigun collection, ca. 1890. (Photo included on a postcard
bought by the author in Santiago.)
Left: Figure 3. Photograph of a Mapuche
woman by Gustavo Milet Ramrez, part of the
Araucanian Indians of Traigun collection,
ca. 1890. (Photo included on a postcard bought
by the author in Santiago.)

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 3

Left: Figure 4. Photograph of a Mapuche chief by Gustavo

Milet Ramrez, part of the Araucanian Indians of Traigun
collection, ca. 1890. (Photo included on a postcard bought
by the author in Santiago.)
Above: Figure 5. Photograph of Mapuche women and
children by Gustavo Milet Ramrez, part of the Araucanian
Indians of Traigun collection, ca. 1890. (Photo included
on a postcard bought by the author in Santiago.)

these prints. The settings were surely Milets choice, but the Mapuche appear as (albeit unequal) participants in the process.
One postcard I found in the Cultural Center of La Moneda Palace in
the summer of 2010 seems intent on feeding these nineteenth-century images into broader narratives of mestizaje and multiculturalism in twentyfirst-century Chile.5 The caption on the back tells us that the Mapuche
are an autochthonous ethnic group from the south of Chile who, together
with the Spanish, founded the Chilean people.6 They are presented as an
important part of Chiles past (the sepia tones make it clear that these are
people of the past, even though the postcard does not provide dates) but
their place in present-day Chile is precarious. Indeed, we can reasonably
argue that the Mapuche are reduced to a mere flavor of Chile, ascribed
the same significance as the recipe for pisco sour (a national cocktail made
from grape brandy), which is also printed on the back of the postcard.
Contemporary Mapuche organizations, on the other hand, have reframed these historical images so as to assert the survival of their people

4 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

in modern Chile, and to inspire and legitimize their resistance campaigns

against the Chilean state and (state-sponsored) mega-development projects in historic Mapuche territory. During the 1992 protests against official
celebrations of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, for example, the
image of Cacique Lloncn (figure 1) was reproduced on posters with the
words I shit on the quincentenary printed underneath.7 As Jos Ancn
recently remarked, Lloncn has been transformed into a modern-day
Mapuche Che Guevara.8 In sum, these images provoke multiple histories,
especially if we see through rather than merely see them, as Fernando
Coronil encourages us to do.9 One of the primary goals of this book is to
use a broad and diverse selection of cultural sources, such as the photographs, to probe the complexities of Mapuche political struggles in modern Chile.

Defining Cultural History

It is partly because of its emphasis on cultural representation that I have
subtitled this study A Cultural History. Alongside an analysis of Mapuche political activism, the following chapters investigate the multiple,
contesting ways in which Mapuche and Chilean artists, writers, and intellectuals have grappled with the countrys history of internal colonialism. I deal with poetry more substantially than any other form of cultural
production,10 but I also incorporate popular music, photography, theater,
testimonial writing, ethnographic studies, and literary criticism. In other
words, my book analyzes creative and scholarly explorations of Chiles
indigenous question. Where possible, it also examines the dissemination and reception of such explorations. This allows us to appreciate more
deeply the significance of the artistic, literary, and intellectual works and,
more importantly, the social fabric in which they are embedded.
Another major concern of the book is state cultural policy toward the
Mapuche. My analysis by no means ignores political or socioeconomic reforms. Clearly, cultural policy is intimately connected to such reforms, and
theyparticularly changes in indigenous land rights legislationprovide
a crucial backdrop to the story narrated in the following pages. What I
do, however, is bring to the forefront some of the key shifts in cultural
policy so as to expand our understanding of Chilean state discourses on
the indigenous question. For example, I scrutinize changes to the teaching curriculum at both local and national levels, the impetus behind the

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 5

creation of new state museums or the renovation of older museums, and

the implications of government policies relating to national monuments.
I delve into the cultural initiatives sponsored by the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DASIN) under President Carlos Ibez (195258), the
Institute of Indigenous Development (IDI) under President Salvador Allende (197073), and the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI) since its creation in 1993. I consider state-led national
festivities, in particular the centennial celebrations of 1910, and look into
one-off innovations such as the Department for the Defense of the Race
and Enjoyment of Free Time, set up under President Pedro Aguirre Cerda
This book is an analysis of images and words, or what we have grown
accustomed to think of as discourse. Images and words matter; as Foucault and many other scholars since have asserted, they are constitutive
and potentially transformative of how a society functions.11 But as Foucault himself made clear, images and words do not make sense if separated from the relations of power out of which they emerge. The following
six chapters discuss images and power. They draw our attention to the
images and words produced by a wide array of Mapuche and Chilean
artists, intellectuals, and writers, and by the state apparatus, from the late
nineteenth century through to the present day, in order to deepen our
understanding of the complex and shifting racial dynamics of Chilean
I have thus chosen the subtitle A Cultural History not only because of
the books principal topic of inquiry but also because of the way in which
it carries out that inquiry. My central task isto quote Lynn Huntthe
deciphering of meaning . . . rather than the inference of causal laws of
explanation.12 What did military conquest in the late nineteenth century
mean for the Mapuche, beyond the obvious economic, political, and territorial consequences? What did they say about it in their letters to state authorities? How did they narrate it in their memoirs? I ask the same for the
Chilean military officers involved. What did the legislation of compulsory
primary education in the early twentieth century mean for the Mapuche? In what ways did they engage with national debates about schooling,
and with broader state discourses of civilization and modernization?
What type of education did they seek? What did discourses of indigenismo, which were institutionalized at a continental level in 1940, mean for
Chilean intellectuals? How did they respond to and help to shape these

6 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

discourses by incorporating the Chilean experience? How did Mapuche

artists and political leaders appropriate such discourses? How did they
use them to influence new populist development programs during the
1950s? How did Mapuche people interpret the political radicalization and
agrarian reforms of the 1960s and early 1970s? How do they remember
those times now? How did governing elites and Chilean musicians incorporate indigenous peoples into their discourses of revolutionary change?
What kind of language did they use? How did Mapuche organizations
address government officials during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet? How did they use the press to voice their condemnation of the new
land division law? What significance did folkloric festivals have for them?
Through what channels did the regime respond to Mapuche demands
regarding education? What does historical truth mean for the Mapuche
movement in the twenty-first century? What narratives have Mapuche
people constructed through official truth commissions? How have they
used the spaces opened up through official discourses of multiculturalism
to criticize those very discourses? These are just some of the questions I
try to answer in this study.

Extending Previous Scholarship on the Mapuche

An important body of scholarship already exists on the Mapuche in Chile.
This has largely emerged from within the discipline of anthropology, but
historians, political scientists, and sociologists have also made significant
contributions. Without a doubt, Jos Bengoas Historia del pueblo mapuche (published originally in 1985 and in its seventh edition by 2008)
was the study of greatest consequence to appear in the twentieth century.
It was the first book to chart the multiple strategies of Mapuche people
as conscious actors on the national political stage, and it was the first
modern history of the Mapuche to embrace oral narratives as reliable historical sources. Bengoa used these narratives to highlight the diversity
of Mapuche responses to the military occupation of their territory, and
the complex confrontations and negotiations that followed as this people
tried to shape a place for themselves within Chilean national society.
Organizaciones, lderes y contiendas mapuches, by Rolf Foerster and
Sonia Montecino (1988), continued in this vein, documenting (mainly
through newspaper sources) the political machinations of a growing
number of Mapuche organizations during the years 1900 through 1970 as

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 7

they fought to secure rights for their people from the state. These two
works catalyzed an upsurge of academic interest in the Mapuche, which
coincided with increased Mapuche mobilization in the context of the
Chilean transition to democracy and with the burgeoning scholarship on
indigenous rights movements across Latin America.13
During the 2000s, a number of valuable monographs on Mapuche
politics appeared in English. Most of them concentrate on the last two
or three decades: Patricia Richards, Pobladoras, Indgenas, and the State
(2004); Diane Haughney, Neoliberal Economics, Democratic Transition,
and Mapuche Demands for Rights in Chile (2006); and Ana Mariella
Bacigalupo, Shamans of the Foye Tree (2007). These studies take distinct
disciplinary approaches (sociology, political science, and anthropology,
respectively) and focus on different perspectives: Mapuche activists in the
womens movement in Chile; Mapuche rural communities, neoliberal legislation, and environmental conflict; and Mapuche shamans gender identities as performed in distinct social, political, and ritual contexts. They
all draw our attention to the rich diversity of the contemporary Mapuche
movement and its multifaceted interactions with the Chilean state. The
only long-term study of indigenous-state relations in English is Florencia
Mallons Courage Tastes of Blood (2005). In this pioneering and prize-winning work, Mallon reconstructs the history of the Mapuche community of
Nicols Ailo across the entire twentieth century, through oral testimonies
gathered from community members and documents found in regional
and national archives. It is a history of state-building and modernization
(encompassing post-occupation land policy, state-backed developmentalism, agrarian reform during the 1960s and early 1970s, the violent repression and neoliberal reforms of the Pinochet dictatorship, and the return
to civilian rule in the 1990s) as experienced and remembered by members
of Nicols Ailo. More successfully and more extensively than any other
work, it traces the connections between national political developments
and the complex internal dynamics of Mapuche rural communities, and in
doing so challenges some of our previous understandings about national
political developments, not least the evolution of Chilean democracy.
My book is deeply indebted to all of these studies (and many more
listed in the bibliography), and draws on the specifics of the authors arguments throughout. It also seeks to expand this scholarship by casting
its net wider and incorporating some new, underexplored protagonists
and sources into its analysis. Many previous works have focused on the

8 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

rural communities and investigated Mapuche interactions with the state

through the lenses of their struggle for lands and Mapuche organizations
alliances with mainstream political parties. My study similarly discusses
Mapuche strategies to recover lost territory and Mapuche relationships
with political parties, but it gives increased attention to the urban sphere,
and especially to cultural and intellectual production in that sphere. It
revisits widely analyzed material such as regional and national press clippings, official correspondence, and government legislation, but alsoas
stated previouslyconsiders photography, poetry, theater productions,
music, cultural journals, school curricula, and museum publications and
exhibitions. It draws on these sources and the figure of the urban intellectual to delve further into the ambiguities of indigenous-state relations
in modern Chile.
This is particularly important for our understanding of the Chilean
state. As Mallon stresses in Courage Tastes of Blood, since the moment of
military defeat and resettlement [onto officially demarcated reservations
known as reducciones], the history of the Mapuche people in southern
Chile has been completely intermingled with the policies and actions of
the Chilean state.14 Mallon summarizes long-term state policy as having
fractured Mapuche territorial identity and attacked Mapuche peoples
capacity to preserve their culture and memory.15 On the other hand, she
also shows how Mapuche peasants have managed to adapt and make
theirs certain aspects of the post-resettlement institutional order, and indeed numerous other features of Chilean state legislation since then.16 In
short, Mallon impresses upon us how important it is to understand indigenous-state encounters as much more than a simple story of domination
and resistance, or of exploiters and victims. As in the other studies cited
above, this comes across most clearly through her analysis of Mapuche
communities and organizations diverse, creative negotiations with the
state. My study supplements this narrative, by exploring the multifaceted
negotiations embedded in Mapuche cultural and intellectual production.
It also seeks to illustrate further the fact that the state is not simply a
dominating, exploitative force.
Building on recent work by Karin Rosemblatt and Lessie Jo Frazier,
which shows that even a state as strong and centralized as the Chilean
one is composed of many different actors, agendas, ideologies, and institutions, I emphasize the multiplicity of Chilean state discourses on the

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 9

Mapuche.17 I demonstrate that different representatives and organizational components of the same government have often talked about or
treated the Mapuche in very different ways. Indeed, even the same institution or the same president can make contradictory statements on Chiles
indigenous question. Moreover, my book draws attention to the large
number of Mapuche who have worked within or with the Chilean state.
Yun-Joo Park and Patricia Richards recently published an excellent study
on Mapuche state workers and the ways in which these actors have simultaneously participated in and challenged neoliberal multiculturalism,
which became official state ideology with Chiles transition to democracy
in 1990.18 I extend their story of indigenous peoples efforts to penetrate
and influence state policies, by tracing this phenomenon back to the moment when the Mapuche were first incorporated into that state during the
late nineteenth century.
My long-term analysis of state cultural policy and state sponsorship of
(Mapuche and Chilean) intellectual production gives further weight to
the multidimensional view of Mapuche activism and the Chilean state, as
developed in the existing scholarship discussed here.19 Such an approach
inevitably engages with broader scholarly debates about identity, history,
and memory.

Questions of Identity
This book explores what it has meant and means to be Mapuche in modern Chile. It has become commonplace in Anglophone scholarship to talk
of ethnic and racial (and class, cultural, gender, national, and sexual) identities as social constructs that are contested, multiple, and constantly shifting.20 In other words, they have no fixed referents. To be Mapuche does
not have a given meaning. It is expressed, performed, and visualized, but
there is no preconceived thing to express, perform, or visualize; rather,
Mapuche identity is created and transformed through these processes. As
Charles Hale warns, however, it is important not to go too far down the
constructivist route. To interpret identities as merely a performative act,
he states, is to ignore the power of identity politics.21 Many people behave
as if ethnic identity exists.22 It affects how they see themselves and how
they see and treat others. Rights are given and demanded on the basis of
this identity. In sum, to be Mapuche has no innate meaning, but it is

10 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

far from meaningless; it acquires meaning through cultural production,

social relations, and political struggle, and thus becomes an important
aspect of peoples lived experience.23
My analysis focuses mainly on the relationship between indigenous
Mapuche identities and Chilean national identities. Building on the important theoretical insights of an ever-expanding historical scholarship on
race and nation in Latin America, I explore not only how Mapuche people
have challenged dominant national imaginaries in Chile, but also how
they have participated in the construction of these imaginaries.24 One of
the key motifs interweaving the chapters of this book is that of the noble
Araucanian warrior whose strength and valor was first narrated by Spanish soldier-cum-poet Alonso de Ercilla in the epic poem La Araucana
(156898). During the early independence period, the Mapuche freedom
fighters heroic victories (they were one of the only indigenous peoples
in the Americas to defeat the Spanish conquistadors on the battlefield)
served to inspire nationalist sentiment among the Chilean populace, or
at least among the elite sectors of the populace. As Ventura Marn (one
of the first students to graduate from Chiles National Institute) famously
proclaimed in 1827: What are those Demi-Gods of antiquity besides our
Araucanians? In all points of comparison, is the Greek Hercules not notably inferior to the Chilean Caupolicn?25 A rich body of work already exists on this long-standing imaginary and its paradoxes, most notably the
fact that Chilean elites exaltation of the Araucanians glorious military
past has often coexisted alongside a notable disdain for contemporary
Mapuche people.26 Indeed, twentieth-century Chilean governments are
renowned not only for showing contempt toward contemporary Mapuche
but also for denying their very existence.27 My study affords important insights into elite negations of the countrys indigenous reality. It also, however, maps out the many different ways in which the Araucanian warrior
has been appropriated to reassert the continuing vitality of indigenous
culture in Chile. It shows how, at different stages throughout the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, Mapuche people have seized
on the romanticized story of their ancestors military prowess and virility
in professing loyalty to, making demands of, or even justifying violent
actions against the Chilean patriarchal state.
The colonial encounter between the Araucanian warriors and Spanish
conquistadors forms the basis of the dominant script of nation formation in modern Chilemestizaje (cultural and racial mixing).28 My study

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 11

points to numerous instances when Chilean elites, like their counterparts

across the continent, have either implicitly or explicitly celebrated a mestizo national identity that integrates, dissolves, and consequently eliminates indigenous peoples.29 Existing scholarship has also shown, however,
how Latin Americas indigenous peoples have claimed mestizaje as a liberating counterhegemonic discourse of militant hybridity that questions
colonial categories of race and ethnicity and allows for the survival of a diverse flexible, evolving indigenous identity.30 As I document in this book,
Mapuche activists and intellectuals in Chile have rarely used mestizo
as an identity category to describe themselves, but they have contributed
(mainly during the first half of the twentieth century) to the elaboration
of discourses of hybridity that promote cultural regeneration, at the same
time as they have celebrated the Indian as the most authentic root of the
Chilean nation. I also underline a number of examples of Chilean intellectuals who have recast official discourses of mestizaje so as to reinforce
the presence of indigenous peoples in Chile, andmore significantlyto
assume their own indigenous heritage.
Mestizaje has often been seen as a social process through which Indians become literate and acquire urban skills.31 This understanding of
the term helpfully incorporates class into the equation. My study probes
the complex intersections between class and indigenous identity in Chile,
chiefly with regard to leftist politics. It demonstrates the ways in which
discourses of revolutionary struggle have often subsumed indigenous
peoples within the peasant masses and failed to take on board the specificity of indigenous cultural traditions. It also points, though, to the efforts made by Chilean and Mapuche leftists to link programs of social
and racial vindication without diminishing the significance of either, and
indeed, to the class divisions within Mapuche society. After all, self-identifications as Mapuche have just as often been articulated from the Right
as from the Left.
The principal protagonists of the book are Mapuche and Chilean intellectuals.32 It is their constructions or imaginings of class, ethnic-racial,
and national identities that I am analyzing. Most are urban based, are politically active, and have received some level of higher education. Beyond
this, it is difficult to generalize about them. Even on an individual level,
they often defy neat binary categorizations such as rural versus urban, local versus national, traditional versus organic, grassroots versus elite; they
may shift between these opposing types of intellectuals or even occupy the

12 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

position of both at the same time. For example, Elicura Chihuailaf and
Leonel Lienlaf, who appear in several chapters, were born in rural communities. Much of their poetry is rooted in the oral tradition, religious
worldview, and natural landscape of those communities, but they have
also lived, been educated, worked, and presented their written verses in
urban centers.
Political leaders also feature prominently in the study: Mapuche community authorities, leaders of Mapuche political organizations, leaders of
mainstream political parties, and Chilean presidents. In many cases, these
political leaders could be described as intellectuals. Pedro Aguirre Cerda,
Eduardo Frei Montalva, and Salvador Allende, for instance, all published
extensively. And Manuel Aburto Panguilef, Venancio Couepn, and
Rosa Isolde Reuque Paillalef, to name only a few of the Mapuche whose
voices enliven and inform my historical narrative, were all self-conscious,
reflective cultural producers. Behind these individuals, we have the Chilean state. Despite numerous proclamations signaling the end of the nation-state, the latter continues to act as a powerful force in shaping the
contours of identity politics.33 It plays a crucial role in constructing and
imagining Mapuche and Chilean identities, and most Mapuche organizations seek to articulate their demands for rights in a way that the state
understands. But, as emphasized previously, the state does not function
as a homogeneous whole. Rather, hundreds of different departments and
institutions on the national, regional, and local levels comprise it. And
each of these components is made up of hundreds if not thousands of
people. The intellectuals and political activists discussed in the following chapters have often worked as agents of the state (as congressmen,
diplomats, museum curators, teachers, and much more besides) andof
courseChilean presidents are leading representatives of the state.
For Bacigalupo, the central question is who has the power to define
indigenous identities?34 Understood in the Foucauldian sense, power is
something that is exercised rather than possessed. The state can exercise
power more forcefully than a political movement, artistic group, or individual intellectual figure can. In the case of indigenous and Chilean
identities, the state certainly has the financial resources and institutional
structures to disseminate its narrative or imaginings more effectively than
any of the other actors, but that is not to say that it can guarantee its
ability to impose that narrative or those imaginings on civil society. Nor
does it operate independently of civil society. This book underscores the

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 13

multiplicity of voices from within the state and civil society that have contributed to and influenced identity debates, while also remaining mindful
of the reality of power relations in Chile. Mapuche people are becoming
increasingly visible and audible on the national stage, but they are still the
poorest and least-educated sector of Chilean society. They are constantly
subverting dominant imaginaries of the Mapuche (as backward and ignorant, for example, or as fast disappearing) but in their everyday lives they
still have to contend with a system that allows so many lands to be held by
so few people, and that often permits violent actions by the military police
to go unchecked.

History and Memory

Since the 1980s, when many Latin American countries embarked on transitions to democracy after years of military dictatorship, a deluge of scholarly works on the politics of memory has appeared in book shops and
libraries.35 Chile assumed a prominent place in this literature following
the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1990,
and became even more prominent following the controversial arrest of
General Pinochet in London in 1998.36 The scholarship helpfully draws
our attention to the struggle over memory and the fact that this struggle
is not only between remembering and forgetting but also between competing memories.37 By foregrounding struggle and plurality, it presents
memory, like identity, as a social constructa process in which a whole
range of different actors take part. In Chile and elsewhere we witness an
ongoing effort by academics, journalists, human rights lawyers, novelists,
and many others to collect peoples testimonies of the repressive past. Particular emphasis has been placed on recovering the voices of marginalized
sectors and the victims of repression, but in order to get a full understanding of authoritarian rule, we also need to incorporate the views of the
powerful and the perpetrators of violence. This is what Steve Stern has
done in his trilogy The Memory Box of Pinochets Chile (200410). As he
outlines in the first volume, the lens of memory struggles invites us to
move beyond the rigid conceptual dichotomy between a top-down perspective oriented to elite engineering, and a bottom-up perspective that
sees its obverse: suppression, punctuated by outbursts of protest. By tracing the history of memory struggles, we see efforts of persuasion from
above to shore up a social base from below, not simply to solidify support

14 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

and concentrate power from above. We also see grass-roots efforts to

seek influence among, split off, or pressure the elites of state, church and
political parties, not simply to organize networks, influence, and protest
among subaltern groups.38
It is this nuanced view of the actions and strategies of governing elites
and subaltern groups that I seek to convey in my study of Mapuche history. In a recent essay on remembering and forgetting in post-Pinochet
Chile, Cheryl Natzmer argued that the voice of the Mapuche is conspicuously absent from the reconciliation dialogue as it is from most national
discourse. According to Natzmer, Mapuche memories have been absent,
ignored, or forgotten in post-dictatorship Chile.39 And yet state-led attempts at national reconciliation in the early 1990s were closely connected
to official recognition of Chile as a multicultural nation. President Patricio Aylwin established the Special Commission on Indigenous Peoples
(CEPI) only a month after he created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Many Mapuche people participated in the CEPI; it provided an
important platform from which to tell their stories of the past. Mapuche
people also recounted their memories in other arenas: they published poetry, taught in schools, covered city walls with graffiti, and protested in the
streets. Chilean artists and writers further publicized Mapuche memories.
This is not to say that they were necessarily being listened to, read, or
acknowledged by political elites, but the memories were certainly being
expressed. One of the aims of my book is to show that this was not a new
phenomenon of the 1990s, but rather that the Mapuche have been speaking out, telling Chilean society about their histories, and making complaints and demands of the state ever since they were first incorporated
into that state.
This book is an analysis of how Mapuche people have sought to preserve their culture and memory. It is also an account of how culture and
memory have been reconstructed in the process. Many of the sources
that I discuss (above all literary texts, theater productions, music, and
museum exhibitions) act as what Lessie Jo Frazier has referred to as containers of memory.40 They are sites where multiple representations and
understandings of the past confront and dialogue with one another. The
Mapuche have always been active participants in these sites. Like the
indigenous intellectuals who are the focus of Joanne Rappaports study
of historical memory in Colombia, the Mapuche protagonists have thus
made history in a double sense.41 That is to say, they are political actors

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 15

who have taken part in and thereby influenced historical events, and are
cultural producers who have narrated and reconstructed national historical processes.

Chapter Outline
My argument is structured around six chapters that follow a chronological order. Chapter 1 explores the multiple histories of the conquest of Araucana during the second half of the nineteenth century as told by a vast
array of sources, including newspapers, government documents, correspondence with military officials, testimonies, photographs, the school
curriculum, and museum exhibitions. It is a story of what has been written about the liberal states invasion of Mapuche territory; it is an analysis
of how different people perceived this invasion at the time and how it
has been remembered since. Overall, it argues that the Mapuche could
and did assert agency, in various ways, during and after the occupation
campaigns. In the face of state strength, they veered between participation and resistance, developing multiple strategies for survival that usually
fitted somewhere between the two. The detail of the chapter also shows
that even a civilizing state had some use for the notion of the noble
Araucanian and that the very idea of civilizing indigenous territory was
nuanced by elements of doubt about state violence. It concludes by focusing on the complex figure of the friendly Indian, who embraced Chilean
citizenship but simultaneously took advantage of Chilean state provisions,
such as schooling and the literacy that came with it, to condemn state
policy in Araucana.
Chapter 2 begins by analyzing the role allocated to the Mapuche in
the divergent visions of nationhood that were circulating during the centennial celebrations of Chilean independence in 1910. It shows that Mapuche political leaders and intellectuals were active participants in these
nationalist festivities and in debates about the fate of indigenous peoples
in modern Chile. The main part of the chapter focuses on Manuel Manquilef and Manuel Aburto Panguilef, the two most prominent figures of
the Mapuche political movement during the first decades of the twentieth century. This was a time of escalating working-class mobilization
in response to the problem of worsening living and working conditions,
which elites either ignored (until 1920) or made tentative and unsuccessful efforts to resolve (during Arturo Alessandris presidency, the populist

16 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

military dictatorship of Carlos Ibez and the short-lived Socialist Republic of Marmaduke Grove). Against this backdrop, I examine the pronouncements of Manquilef and Aburto on education and indigenous land
rights, and their articulations of Mapuche cultural identity through political speeches, scholarly writings, and ritual and theatrical performances.
Ultimately, I argue that they both sought to reassert the place of the Indian
in the Chilean nation-state and thereby challenge official (urban, whitened) definitions of citizenship, but that they did so in very different ways.
I conclude by tracing some of the developments of the 1930s, as Mapuche
migration from rural to urban areas increased, and Manquilef and Aburto
were eclipsed by the figure of Venancio Couepn.
My third chapter focuses on the 1940s and 1950s, when a succession of
Radical Party presidents and the (elected) populist administration of Carlos Ibez expanded state services and promoted more inclusive political
programs based on notions of participation and social justice, although
these tended to exclude rural areas. I analyze the writings of Chiles two
Nobel laureates, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, the political machinations of Couepn as he worked his way up through the corridors of
power, and the rise and fall of Mapuche opera singer Rayn Quitral, in
order to show how Chile contributed to and was influenced by developments in continental discourses of indigenismo. I suggest that all four figures managed to blur the boundaries between indigenista and indigenous,
as they campaigned to try to make Chilean governments and national
society listen to the demands and problems of the Mapuche.
Chapter 4 moves to the 1960s and early 1970s, which saw important
agrarian reform programs enacted by the Christian Democratic government of Eduardo Frei Montalva and the Popular Unity government of
Salvador Allende. For the first time in Chilean history, the state-directed
national project had the peasantry at its heart. And in Araucana the Mapuche made up a large proportion of the peasantry. My analysis of the
racial dimensions of the Revolution in Liberty and Chilean Road to
Socialism reaffirms the contradictions of agrarian mobilization and the
tension between ethnic-based and class-based organizing, as outlined in
previous scholarship, but then shifts its focus from the rural environment
to look at what was being said about the Mapuche in the urban centers
(mainly Santiago). It examines teaching reforms, poetic production, and
museums under Frei Montalva; the music of New Chilean Song artists
Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara; and the writings of Communist intellectual

Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects 17

Alejandro Lipschutz and the public declarations of Allende. Overall, the

chapter demonstrates how Mapuche culture became increasingly visible
during this period despite, in conjunction with, or indeed sometimes as a
direct result of government initiatives.
In Chapter 5 I explore the interacting dynamics of indigenous-state
relations during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The chapter begins by outlining the brutality of state repression, the consequences
of the land division law of 1979, and the significance of the emergence of
a large ethnic-based Mapuche organizational network in opposition to
this law. The main sections, however, concentrate on Mapuche and Chilean cultural production and state cultural policy (folklore festivals, sports
tournaments, theater performances, regional press narratives, and official
teaching programs) in order to show that resistance could entail some
strategic negotiating. And, on the flip side, we see that collaboration (as
with Chilean society more broadly, some sectors of Mapuche society supported the military regime) involved moments of defiance. The chapter
also stresses how, even under a military dictator, government discourses
on the indigenous question were multiple and often inconsistent.
Chapter 6 scrutinizes the spaces opened up and constraints imposed
by state-sponsored multiculturalism in post-dictatorship Chile. Focusing mainly on the government of the third Concertacin president, Ricardo Lagos (20002006), it explores the processes via which competing
historical truths of internal colonialism have been constructed and disseminated. I examine the procedures and protagonists involved in, and
the final reports produced by, the Commission for Historical Truth and
New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples (20013). I investigate the narratives constructed by the Mapuche newspaper Azkintuwe, the poetic verses
of David Aniir, and a controversial collection of essays by Mapuche historians and sociologists entitled Escucha, winka! Finally, I explore the
endeavors of two Mapuche poets to revise dominant ideas about history
and memory from within regional state museums and the National Monuments Council. This chapter brings the book full circle, by emphasizing
the continuing oscillation between negotiation and confrontation that has
characterized indigenous-state relations in Chile since the conquest of
Mapuche territory in the late nineteenth century, the multilayered nature
of Chilean state institutions, and the continuing diversity of the Mapuche
political movement. However, it also notes a key shift in Mapuche identity
discourses: that is the proclamation by many intellectuals and political

18 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

activists of a Mapuche nation (pueblo-nacin) that is separate from the

Chilean nation, rather than a Mapuche people or race within the Chilean
nation. Overall, the book narrates a defiant history of difference, as indicated in the title of the conclusion, but it seeks to show that what it means
for the Mapuche to be different has changed according to the historical
and political context in which difference is being enunciated, and who is
doing the enunciating.

Histories of Conquest
The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910

In 1845, shortly before he was granted Chilean citizenship, the Polish geologist and mineralogist Ignacio Domeyko exclaimed with great surprise
that his adopted countrya supposedly free and sovereign nationwas
divided in two by a handful of people [who remained] submerged in
barbarism.1 That handful of people was, in fact, the very numerous Mapuche population of southern Chile. Maps of the period often portrayed
Chile as a long, continuous whole, but most of the territory between Concepcin and Valdivia was controlled by the Mapuche (see maps 1 and 2). If
people wanted to travel between these two Chilean provinces they either
had to go by sea or to request permission and, indeed, assistance from
Mapuche leaders to journey overland.
Seven years after Domeyko made this remark, the Chilean state created
the Province of Arauco (July 2, 1852). In theory, this meant that the lands
to the south of the Bo-Bo River were no longer controlled by the Mapuche. Indigenous territory was legally reconceptualized and re-presented
as territory inhabited by indigenous people or as frontier lands that,
as of March 1853, could be bought or sold only with the authorization of
local state authorities. In reality, however, the new legal framework was
just that: a framework, a discourse, an ideal; it did not so much secure
state control of Mapuche lands as legitimize the states desire for and plans
to achieve that control.2 As the Argentine writer and statesman Domingo
Faustino Sarmiento commented in 1854, Arauco (or Araucana) could not
be conceived as a province of Chile if Chile means a country where her
flag is flown and her laws are obeyed.3

20 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Map 1. Southern South

America, showing
independent Mapuche
territory in Chile before
the state began its military
occupation campaigns
(186283). (Map created
by Jon Hill.)

By the late 1850s, most members of the political and military elite
agreed that a more effective integrationist program was needed, but there
was no consensus about how this should be carried out or, more broadly,
about what integration meant. Several key figures, such as General Jos
Mara de la Cruz, promoted a peaceful process of incorporation that
would allow for mechanisms of regional autonomy and self-government.
Such proposals were not well received by government authorities in

Map 2. The Mapuche heartland in Chile, giving an orientation to towns and cities
mentioned in this book. (Map created by Jon Hill.)

22 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Santiago, however, particularly in the context of the federalist, regionalist

uprising in Concepcin in 1859, which was supported by many Mapuche
chiefs in Araucana.4 As Arturo Leiva has documented, the occupation of
Mapuche territory became an issue of national security for the centralizing state led by Presidents Manuel Montt (185161) and Jos Joaqun
Prez (186171).5 Economic considerations were also important: Chiles
burgeoning agricultural export economy would benefit enormously from
the acquisition of the fertile lands of the south.6 El Mercurio, the oldest
and most influential newspaper in the country, was constantly urging the
government to proceed with military intervention. There is no more glorious and dignified endeavor for our army, its editorial page of May 24,
1859, asserted, than to take control of those barbarians, in the name of
civilization, [thereby] assuring forevermore the tranquility of the southern provinces and conquering for our country those vast, rich territories.
That supposed glorious and dignified endeavor began in earnest with
the occupation of Angol in December 1862 and proceeded in stages until
January 1883, when Chilean troops took over the ruins of the colonial
town of Villarrica.7
This chapter does not purport to provide a definitive account of what
happened during these years. Instead, it explores the multiple histories of
conquest as told by national and regional newspapers, government documents, correspondence between Mapuche leaders and state authorities,
Mapuche testimonies, the national history curriculum, contemporary
Mapuche poetry, museum exhibitions, and the final report of the Commission for Historical Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples,
which was made public in 2003. The chapter begins with a brief outline
of recent changes in scholarly work on and official representations of the
occupation campaigns. It then delves into the two most prominent narratives at the time of the military campaigns: stories of peace and friendship between Chileans and Mapuche versus vivid accounts of violent conflict. It investigates the trajectories of five important Mapuche figures and
their divergent interactions with the colonizing forces. It also explores the
contesting ways in which the Indian was imagined in late nineteenthcentury Chile, and asks how these conceptions fitted in with dominant
discourses of race and nation. Finally, it discusses the consequences of
military occupation for the Mapuche as a people.
Throughout I stress that the histories of the occupation campaigns are
plural and contested. And yet we detect several key threads or patterns

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 23

within this framework of multiplicity. The Chilean state of the late 1800s
and early 1900s was stronger, more centralized, and more successful in its
expansionist drive than many other states in Latin America at the time.
(Remember that the acquisition of Araucana coincided with the annexation of vast tracts of Peruvian and Bolivian territory in the north during
the War of the Pacific, and was followed shortly after by the appropriation of Rapa Nui.) But it was far from one uniform or all-powerful whole.
Various state actors and institutions responded to Mapuche society in a
number of different ways. Moreover, state presence in, and control over,
Araucana remained precarious for many years after the occupation campaigns. This meant that governing authorities needed to engage and negotiate withrather than merely impose their will onlocal Mapuche
Two other fundamental points emerge in conjunction with this reassessment of the state. First, the Mapuche could and did assert agency in
various ways during and after the military campaigns; their territory was
occupied by the Chilean state, but they were not entirely conquered nor
was their culture wholly assimilated. Second, the romantic images of the
Mapuche, which emerged during the colonial period (as a result of Ercillas epic poem La Araucana) and were reinforced during the early independence years, endured well into the twentieth century. Most existing
scholarship suggests that the heroic Araucanian warrior had disappeared
from official discourse by the late nineteenth century, and that Chilean
state authorities were highly racist in their attitude toward and treatment
of contemporary Mapuche.8 There is certainly much evidence to support
claims of Chilean state racism, butas I will shownot all descriptions
of or expressions about the Mapuche were negative. They retained a place
within Chilean nationalist discourse and iconography, not least because
their brave military struggles of the (colonial and more recent) past continued to provide inspiration in the present, especially when the state was
at war with external enemies.

Recovering a Marginalized History

Despite playing such a central role in the Liberal Republics drive for economic modernization and territorial expansion, the military campaigns
against the Mapuche have received little attention in Anglophone studies of Chilean history. The most recent edition of A History of Chile by

24 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Simon Collier and William Sater, for example, dedicates only one and a
half pages to the subject. It has also been sidelined by some of Chiles most
renowned historians. In the sixteen volumes that made up his Historia
jeneral de Chile (1904), Diego Barros Arana only got as far as 1833. Benjamn Vicua Mackenna was a vociferous supporter of military intervention in Araucana, but he died shortly after the final offensive and never
wrote any scholarly accounts of the campaigns. Luis Galdames devoted
only two pages to the subject in his Estudio de la historia de Chile (1907),
focusing on the influx of foreign and national settlers, the activities of
the French adventurer Orlie Antoine (who proclaimed himself king of
Araucana and Patagonia in 1861), the Mapuche rebellion of 1881, and the
pacification of that revolt.9 Francisco Antonio Encina dedicated more
space to the conquest of Mapuche territory in his twenty-volume Historia
de Chile (194052), but his take on events replicated the standard story.
Chapter 52 of volume 18 called readers attention to the horrors of the Mapuche uprising in 1881, but claimed that the attacks were repelled without
many problems because most of the indigenous population had lost their
admirable fighting strength. And of the armys occupation of Villarrica
in 1883, it simply stated the difficulty was not so much a struggle against
the aborigines as against the [regions] dense forest.10
Traditionally, the national history curriculum and Chilean state museums reinforced these minimalist narratives. During the Christian
Democratic government of Eduardo Frei Montalva (196470), teaching
programs barely mentioned the occupation campaigns. Even during the
fervently nationalistic military regime of Augusto Pinochet (197390),
when one might presume that a war of conquest would have been celebrated, it was not until secondary school that students looked at the
spontaneous and official occupation of Araucana, and then only briefly.
Moreover, the subject was introduced within the bigger picture of peaceful resolutions to border conflicts.11 Visitors to the National History Museum in Santiago used to be told in the exhibit placards that the Mapuche resisted [occupation] but the superiority of the Chilean military
forces was unstoppable, as was the civilizing ideology that justified the
advance of the troops.12 The Regional Museum of Araucana in Temuco
also presented the Conquest and Pacification of the Mapuche as an inevitable, uncomplicated component of the nation-building project.13 Mapuche protagonists were noticeably absent from this dominant narrative.
School texts and museum poster boards eulogized Cornelio Saavedra,

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 25

Basilio Urrutia, and Gregorio Urrutia (the military generals who led the
campaigns) and often made reference to the adventures of French King
Orlie Antoine (most likely for comic effect), but rarely did they mention
any Mapuche individuals. Instead, this people were presented as a homogeneous and defeated mass.
The failure to deal in any depth with this chapter of the past can largely
be attributed to the fact that one of the main themes in Chilean national
historiography has been the unfolding of a stable, almost preordained,
national order.14 A complicated military conflict does not fit with the
dominant narrative of political stability, otherwise known as Chilean exceptionalism in Latin America. The last two to three decades, however,
have seen a major rethinking of the campaigns that brought an end to Mapuche independence. More is being written on the subject, and increasing
emphasis is being placed on Mapuche experiences of, and their participatory roles in, the colonization process. The year 1985 saw the publication
of Jos Bengoas groundbreaking Historia del pueblo mapuche, the first
modern study of the Mapuche to draw substantially on oral histories and
to underscore the diversity of Mapuche responses to the military occupation of their territory. This text foreshadowed some of the most important
tenets of postcolonial studies in Latin America, particularly with regard to
indigenous historical agency, and encouraged other Chilean anthropologists and historians to move in this direction.15 The political realities of
late twentieth-century Chile also played an important role in opening up
debates about the occupation campaigns. Most obviously, we see how the
varied (official and nonofficial) attempts to deal with the legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship (197390) have stimulated a broader discussion about
conflict and state violence in Chilean history.16
The accepted history of the colonization of Araucana has thus undergone substantial revisions since the 1980s, but this is not to say that no
in-depth record of it existed previously. Chiles most prestigious historians
may not have dwelt for long on the episode, but national and regional
archives in the country hold an abundance of official correspondence and
military reports detailing the intrigues of the occupation campaigns. We
also have access to the published testimonies (albeit filtered by the transcriber) of a number of Mapuche who either participated in the hostilities themselves or remembered the participation of their friends and relatives (e.g., Toms Guevara, Las ltimas familias i costumbres araucanas,
published in 1913; and Wilhelm de Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los

26 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

indgenas araucanos en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, published in 1930).

Furthermore, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
several people, described by Jorge Pinto as local historians, thought it
important to bring together the primary documents and relate in book
form the events that led up to the final offensives of 1883: Horacio Lara,
Crnica de la Araucana (1889); Toms Guevara, Historia de la civilizacin
de la Araucana (18981902); and Leandro Navarro, Crnica militar de la
conquista y pacificacin de la Araucana (1909).17 All three writers support
the civilizing mission of the Chilean state, but their narratives also attest
to the problems involved and, more importantly, acknowledge the multiple roles assumed by Mapuche people in this mission. Thus, the complex history of the campaigns has been available in written documents
ever since they took place. The point is that this history was not widely
disseminated or debated until the late twentieth century, when marginalized histories began to be incorporated into mainstream narratives of the

Proclamations of Peace and Friendship

In his opening speech to the Chilean Congress in 1883, President Domingo Santa Mara proudly declared that the occupation of Araucana
had been achieved without inflicting any harm upon the bellicose but
now pacified inhabitants of those territories. According to Santa Mara
once aware that they would receive fair treatment the Mapuche were
persuaded of the futility of their struggle and gave themselves up, quietly
trusting in the civilizing protection afforded by our laws.19 This, as Mapuche historian Sergio Caniuqueo notes, was to become the official narrative
of events: In the public sphere, he said, the occupation campaigns were
given a toque de naturalidad, and terms such as war and military invasion
were purposefully avoided.20
Sergio Villalobos, who received the National History Prize in 1992 and
is the author of numerous history textbooks, has proffered a similarly
peaceful description of the occupation campaigns. According to one of
his early works, the first military intrusion (the occupation of Angol in
1862) took place without any resistance.21 By 1881, when troops were
withdrawn from the Araucanian frontier and sent northward to fight
against Bolivia and Peru, he noted that the Chilean position was weakened

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 27

Figure 6. Painting of the Parliament of Hipinco (1869) by Manuel Jos Olascoaga.

(Image provided by the Coleccin Biblioteca Nacional de Chile; available at www.

but claimed that the Mapuche failed to make the most of this situation.
Villaloboss conclusion was particularly forthright: initially, people presumed that the military advances would be terrible, due to false images of
a bloody struggle. The reality, however, was very different. There was no
formidable rebellion; everything was resolved through high-flown words,
well-intentioned parlamentos, fears, threats and [a few] skirmishes.22 By
the 2000s, Villalobos had revised his story line slightly. In the most recent edition of Breve historia de Chile (2008), he acknowledged that there
was a Mapuche uprising against Chilean intrusions in the late 1860s, and
that the Mapuche did take advantage of the War of the Pacific (187984)
to rebel again in 1881, but there is no analysis of such resistance efforts
nor of the repression that followed, and the main thrust of his account
centers around the establishment of forts (which forts, when, and where,
etc.) Villalobos finished his brief summary by saying thus the task assumed by the Spanish more than three hundred years before was [finally]
concluded.23 Accompanying this last comment was a copy of a painting
of the Parliament of Hipinco by Manuel Jos Olascoaga (figure 6), which
Villalobos captioned a friendly meeting between Cornelio Saavedra and
the caciques of Araucana.

28 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

The same painting appears in several other histories of the occupation campaigns.24 Undoubtedly, it is an important visual source which
suggests that the meetings between colonial authorities and indigenous
representatives continued to function long after Chilean independence. It
also indicates that the meeting in Hipinco was attended by a variety of different people, including military officials, religious missionaries, Chilean
civilians, prominent Mapuche leaders, and their followers, some of whom
were armed with spears. Perhaps most significantly, Saavedra is presented
as the superior authority, sitting comfortably on a chair in the shade, while
all the other people either stand or sit on the ground. One man is talking,
and Saavedra appears to be reflecting on what is being said.
Imagined thus, the occupation campaigns were a painless affair. These
friendly meetings enabled the government, represented on this occasion by Saavedra, to keep a firm control of the situation, dialoguing with
the Mapuche, allaying their fears, and thereby avoiding violent confrontation; the occupation and civilization of Mapuche territory necessitated
nothing more than a clear explanation (to the Mapuche) as to the procedures involved and the benefits it would bring.
It was Saavedra who led most of the expeditions into Mapuche territory
during the 1860s and 1870s. One of his commentaries has become particularly famous, not least because of its frequent citation by Villalobos:
in 1862 he told state authorities in Santiago that Angol had been taken
without any resistance and assured them that the occupation of Arauco
no nos costar sino mucho mosto y mucha msica (requires little more
than alcohol and music).25 In the same report, Saavedra explained how
crucial the parlamentos were to the colonization process. Reflecting on
one particular meeting, he claimed that the Indians quickly became used
to the presence of our troops on their lands, they became friendly with the
soldiers and brought fruit and other products to the army camps.26
Other military officers sought to perpetuate this story of peace and
friendship. For example, General Gregorio Urrutia, who led the final offensives of 1882 and 1883, once professed: I have always endeavored to
carry out the occupation by convincing the Indians of the benefits of civilization, treating them with care, helping them in their disputes, [and] offering them protection against thieves and those who seek to usurp their
lands. He asserted that he had never shot an Indian and that this fact,
together with his benevolent approach, was the great secret that [allowed
us] to occupy Araucana without spilling a drop of blood.27 This was how

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 29

Gregorio Urrutia wanted the campaigns to be remembered in the official

records. An investigation of correspondence between military authorities
and Mapuche leaders suggests that it was also how they wanted Mapuche
people to think of their incorporation into the Chilean state. In 1872 Basilio Urrutia signed off a letter to Antonio Painemal as your friend who
wishes to live in peace with all the caciques of your land.28 Particularly
interesting is Urrutias recognition that at least some of Araucana was
Mapuche land (your land). Of course, pledges of friendship and an apparent willingness to acknowledge (some) Mapuche sovereignty did not
always translate into respectful behavior in reality (and it is worth noting
that Gregorio Urrutia qualified his not spilling a drop of blood by finishing the sentence with unless we were at war). Nonetheless, it is significant that this was the kind of self-image that Chilean military officers
wanted to promote. It is also significant that they felt they needed to try
to garner Mapuche support.
To a certain extent, the Chilean government and military forces were
successful in such efforts. The aforementioned Antonio Painemal was
once described by a fellow Mapuche as a very useful supporter of the
Chilean government.29 He was the author of one of the letters Jorge Pavez
reproduces in Cartas mapuches (2008), an exceptionally valuable resource
for investigating Mapuche-state relations in Chile and Argentina during
the nineteenth century. In this particular letter, Painemal referred to Gregorio Urrutia as my General and, after recounting some of his problems,
such as his impending blindness and various hacendados attempts to steal
his lands, promised that he would always help Urrutia, and that, if he died,
his sons would continue to propagate [Urrutias] affability.30
We find many other proclamations of support from Mapuche leaders
in the letters collected by Pavez. As early as 1861, Narciso Lonkgochino
assured the Chilean Ministry of the Interior that his Mapuche-Huilliche
Indians would always remain at peace with and obedient to the Republic.31 Ambrosio Paillalef began one letter to Major Barbosa in March 1870
by saying, It is my great pleasure to take this pen in my hands so that I
can greet you with the warmest of well wishes and ask after the health
of all your family and ended with the words, My beloved friend, I am,
as always, your servant.32 In September 1878, Domingo Melin wrote to
Saavedra, congratulating him on his appointment as minister of war, and
reasserting that he was a cacique who had always offered his services
to the government, intervening in the establishment of forts, helping to

30 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

quell any [potential] uprisings amongst the Indians, and protecting Spanish [meaning Chilean] traders. Melin concluded the letter by describing
himself as a good friend of civilized, Christian men.33 The next month,
Luis Colip also wrote to Saavedra, stressing the fidelity I have always
shown toward [Chilean] laws.34
Such promises of peaceful intent are not surprising. The Chilean military was far better armed than the Mapuche. In the face of state strength,
many Mapuche probably decided it was in their best interests (or that
their only option was) to pledge loyalty to the colonizing forces. This was
by no means a new phenomenon; Mapuche-Chilean alliances were a constant throughout the nineteenth century. In one well-known letter of 1823,
for example, Venancio Couepn (I) told independence leader Bernardo
OHiggins that he could always count on [his] Araucanians.35
Professed loyalty to the government also had several benefits or at
least compensations. Pavezs Cartas mapuches indicates the large number
of Mapuche leaders receiving salaries from the Chilean government. As
with indios amigos (friendly Indians) during the colonial period, Mapuche caciques were supposed to receive regular payments for providing
information on planned rebellions and trying to prevent such rebellions
from taking place.36 According to Basilio Urrutia, the success of government recruitment was such that all the main caciques of Araucana were
rentados by 1879.37 In many cases, the friendly Indians were also given
weapons to defend themselves against their Mapuche rivals: in the last
line of his letter of March 18, 1870, and after proclaiming himself to be
Barbosas servant, Ambrosio Paillalef politely reminded the commander,
Do not forget to send me a rifle and some bullets. Beyond payments or
provisions of arms, there were other favors that pro-government caciques
could request. Melins letter of 1878 was written from prison. He presumably hoped that assertions of long-term loyalty would help to secure his
release. Domingo Painevilu, who described himself as someone who had
always served the government, traveled to Santiago to warn President
Santa Mara about a planned attack against Temuco in 1881, and was given
a couple of the finest horses in return.38

Accounts of Violence
Many Mapuche pledges of loyalty were made in direct response to allegations of treachery. A letter written by Melin to Saavedra on December

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 31

13, 1867, for example, expressly sought to allay Saavedras concerns that a
major uprising against Chile was being planned amongst his people. We
do not want to go to war, this leader promised, we are not mixed up in
anything. He wrote again a week later, shortly after meeting with Saavedra in Angol, detailing all his efforts to maintain calm in the region.39
By the late 1860s, however, it would seem that Araucana was far from
calm. According to Leandro Navarro, 1869 marked the beginning of a
cruel, enraged war, a war to the death, in which the legendary Araucanian made perhaps his last supreme effort to hold on to independence.40
He described the violent raids carried out by the Araucanians, their
assassination of friendly Indians such as Ancamilla, and the terrifying
threats of the notorious Mapuche rebel Jos Santos Quilapn,41 who proclaimed himself cacique generalissimo of Araucana and harshly criticized people like Melin for acting like hobbled cows, who quietly let their
milk be taken.42 Quilapns threats were enacted in various military confrontations, and publicized by the press, but he eventually signed a peace
deal with the authorities and, according to official records, order was
restored to Araucana by 1871.
Ten years later, when Chile was at war with Bolivia and Peru, national
newspapers again bombarded their readers with reports of Mapuche violence in the southern regions. In early 1881 no more than two or three
days went by without El Mercurio of Valparaso reporting on some vicious
attack against a frontier town and its inhabitants. On January 31, it reproduced a piece from La Revista del Sur of Concepcin claiming that 1,200
Indians had recently assailed the fort of Traigun. Following defeat, they
made their way to Los Sauces and burn[ed] everything in their path. On
February 3, El Mercurio reported that Indians had hijacked a convoy of six
wagons from Traigun and murdered the drivers. On February 9, it gave
details of an assault by the indomitable savages on the fort of Curaco
near Collipulli, the battle that followed, and the deaths of various Chilean
civilians who were trying to defend the fort alongside the military troops.
The piece finished by proclaiming that the rebels would soon receive their
punishment!43 On February 21, the newspaper lamented that the body of
an unfortunate Chilean had been found horrendously mutilated, and
warned that the military campaign against the Indian rebels was going
to be full of dangers. By March 7, its tone had become quite hysterical:
So far the expedition to the south has achieved nothing. . . . Panic reigns
everywhere it said, before telling readers about more atrocities committed

32 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

by the Indians. These are just five of at least fifty reports to appear in El
Mercurio during the first half of the yearnotably before the major rebellion that took place in November.
Pascual Coa, a respected community figure from Lake Budi near
Puerto Saavedra, recounted one particularly gruesome act of violence
that took place during the uprising of 1881. A group of Chilean representatives, who had been sent to Araucana in an attempt to dissuade the
Mapuche from rebelling, were captured by Marimn (one of the rebel
leaders). Coa was not a witness to what happened, but instead relayed
what other people had told him: People say these Chileans were tied
up and had their hearts ripped out while they were still alive. The Mapuche offered the hearts up to their Gods and dipped their spears in the
blood of these men.44 Official military correspondence and government
reports did not mention such an incident, but they did detail the brutality
of the attacks led by Mapuche rebels against the forts of Lumaco, ielol,
Temuco, Caete, and Imperial in November 1881. In one telegram to the
Ministry of War dated November 9, a commander of the frontier troops
stated that Imperial had been completely destroyed, that the number
of people killed by the Indians in and around Lumaco [was] more than
one hundred, and that the total number of victims [was] incalculable.45
This source was cited by Bengoa in his Historia del pueblo mapuche, which
also documented the killing of forty injured Chilean soldiers as they were
transported from Temuco to ielol.46 The book recounts numerous instances of Mapuche violence, weaving them into a history of heroic ethnic
resistance: as interpreted by Bengoa, the rebellion of 1881 was the last
cultural act, a symbolic act, expressive of [Mapuche] cultural unity.47
For the Mapuche, he said, who self-identified as the sons of Lautaro and
Caupolicn, war was a rite of historical continuity.48
Yet, despite the fact that Mapuche acts of violence appear in contemporaneous newspapers, Mapuche testimonies, military documents, and
retrospective scholarly accounts, the most shocking aspect of the picture
drawn by the same sources is the brutality of the Chilean forces. Official
reports on the rebellions of 1869 noted the loss of scores of Chilean soldiers and some civilians, but they also recorded the deaths of more than
six hundred Mapuche.49 Some senior military figures were surprisingly
open about the trail of destruction left behind by Chilean troops as they
advanced through Araucana, a scorched earth policy endorsed at the
highest levels.50 In 1870 Minister of War Francisco Echaurren wrote to the

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 33

then commander of frontier troops, Jos Manuel Pinto: If the Indians do

not obey . . . you need to organize military regiments that will penetrate
the rebel territory, from various different points, destroying their properties and causing them the worst suffering possible.51 Even Saavedra, who
had been so optimistic in 1862, was later forced to admit that violence and
suffering was bound to accompany the Chilean colonizing mission:
A war, initiated by a series of military incursions into indigenous
lands, will always be destructive, expensive, andabove all else
never ending. . . . Because of the type of lands controlled by the
savage Araucanians, and the fact that they can easily avoid or escape
the clutches of our soldiers, the latter are left with no other option
than the worst and most repugnant of actions. That is to say they
burn down the [Indians] farms, kidnap their families, steal their
livestock, and [then] destroy everything that cannot be taken away.52
In this 1868 report, Saavedra aired his doubts as to whether the occupation campaigns could ever be successfully concluded; even if the Mapuche
surrendered, he seemed to say, they would find it difficult to remain loyal
to a state whose military forces had treated them so abominably.
Many Mapuche informants (in the traditional ethnographical sense)
confirmed the aggression and cruelty of Chilean soldiers. Lorenzo Koliman told Toms Guevara that during this period people killed Mapuche
like today they hunt birds,53 and the memoirs of Pascual Coa describe
one trigger-happy Chilean officer, Juan Pea, who took the lives of many
Indian rebels that surrendered. In addition, Coa relays the macabre
story of Patricio Rojas, a monster who arrested some Mapuche people
and locked them up inside their ruka; he then set fire to the ruka and
watched as the Indians died in the flames.54 The brutality of the colonizing forces was also acknowledged and, indeed, lamented by some local
and national newspapers. On February 25, 1869, El Ferrocarril of Santiago
described the war being waged against the savages as an inhumane, imprudent, and immoral war that brings no glory to our soldiers.55 Several
years later, just prior to the widespread Mapuche rebellion of November
1881, El Araucano of Lebu published a tale which it said would truly touch
peoples hearts.56 The author recounted the capture of an Indian rebel in
ielol. The prisoner was kept tied to a pole by his hands and feet overnight. The next day his naked body was beaten over and over by both
junior and senior officers, but this barbarous and inhumane flagellation

34 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

achieved nothing, for the prisoner refused to tell them what they wanted
to know. He was then forced to march, and a young policeman, all of sudden, [struck] his head with his sword, a terrible strike, again and again
and thereby finished the existence . . . of someone who had lived freely in
this place for many years. The author clearly pitied the captive, who was
romanticized as a heroic martyr, and felt embarrassed that Chilean police
officers could act in such a barbarous and inhumane manner.
Even Guevara, Lara, and Navarro, who celebrated the pacification of
Araucana as a splendid triumph for Chile, did not ignore the violence of
the occupying troops. Both Lara and Navarro, for example, recounted the
premeditated murder of Domingo Melin, who had always pledged loyalty to the government, and his son, Fermn Alejo Melin, who had been
educated in a Chilean school, had trained to be a teacher, and was at the
time working as a translator for the local governor.57 And all three wrote
of barbaric atrocities committed by colonist farmers against defenseless
Mapuche women and children, which went unpunished by Chilean authorities. What all these sources shared in common, either implicitly or
explicitly, was an inversion (or at least questioning) of the dominant racial
discourse of civilization versus barbarism, for it was the Chilean state
agents, supposedly charged with the mission of civilizing the Indians,
who were portrayed as barbarians.
Given this profusion of primary material confirming the violence of the
occupation process, it is little wonder that Bengoa described it as one of
the darkest pages in Chilean history. According to this author, the army
invaded [Mapuche] territory and began a relentless war of extermination
against the civilian population, [including] women and children, stealing
[their] animals, burning [their] houses and fields. The purpose, he said,
was clear: to provoke [such] terror that [the Mapuche] were forced to
give in.58 Drawing on Bengoa as one of its most authoritative sources,
the final report of the Commission for Historical Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples concluded that Santiago society at the time
had become convinced that it was [only going to be possible] to occupy
Araucana through violent means and labeled the years 1869 through
1883 as a period of great violence.59 Thus, the state-sponsored narrative
of conquest now rejects President Santa Maras 1883 peaceful version of
events. Since the changes of 20067, the National History Museum has
made more explicit, albeit brief, reference to the brutality of the army
troops sent in to occupy Mapuche territory,60 and since 2008 the Regional

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 35

Museum of Araucana has obliged visitors to confront the stories of horror and suffering, as recounted by Mapuche testimonies, contemporary
newspapers, and local intellectuals. Even teaching programs, which refrain from probing this historical conflict in too much detail, now use this
episode as a starting point to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our
nationalism, and the duality of identity versus chauvinism.61
Particularly compelling are recent Mapuche literary representations of
the military campaigns. As narrated by renowned poet Elicura Chihuailaf,
The Chilean state was consolidated through blood and fire, [thereby]
violently interrupting the dreams of our people. My grandfather, the
cacique of Quechurewe, was disappeared and his wives and children cried
for him; my father told me that he was taken together with some other
men to be killed because he would not agree to the voluntary sale of
his lands.62 It is a memory that haunts his family: they move their / sad
winter lips / and remind us of our / dead and disappeared he writes in Es
otro el invierno que en mis ojos llora (It Is Another Winter That I Weep
For), in De sueos azules y contrasueos.
In an equally moving poem on Temuco published as part of his prizewinning Se ha despertado el ave de mi corazn (The Bird of My Heart Has
Awoken), Leonel Lienlaf evoked his ancestors who slept below that city:
Dreaming in their sleep / they are / and in the river flows / their blood.63
Whereas violence interrupts the dreams of Chihuailaf s family, Lienlaf s
ancestors experience death as liberation; no longer subject to brutal repression, they are once again able to dream. Le sacaron la piel (They tore
off his skin), from the same collection, is more powerful still: They tore
off the skin / of our brave leader! / And cut off his head. And the skin of
his back / they used for a flag / and his head they tied to a belt. / We leave
crying and our blood / soaks the land. . . . As I have contended elsewhere,
the identity of they here is ambiguous, leaving the reader to reflect upon
the similarities between the Spanish and Chilean wars of conquest.64 If we
read the poem as an account of the latter, we are confronted by a Chilean
nation that is created from the body parts of murdered Indians; the Mapuche nation, personified by the cacique, had to be dismembered in order
for the Chilean nation to flourish.
Some periods during the colonization process were more violent than
others, particularly 186871 and 188183. As official documents tell it,
these times coincided with widespread Mapuche rebellions and subsequent military repression. Yet the rebellions were, in part, responses to

36 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

the atrocities already being committed by Chilean troops or Chilean colonos. As one Mapuche man arrested after the uprising of 1881 told General
Urrutia, You do not know what your countrymen have done to us; you
have no right to reprimand me.65 This mans wives had been raped and
murdered, and all his children killed. The authorities knew what was happeningmilitary commanders in the southern regions frequently complained to the central government that such violence was hindering the
occupation processbut they refused, or were unable, to do much about
it. The point to stress here is the constant violence underpinning the colonization of Araucana. This is the overwhelming narrative to come out of
the majority of sources, and it is the story prioritized by the recent Commission for Historical Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples,
new museum exhibits, and contemporary Mapuche poetry.
All accounts of violence undermine the official rhetoric of the Chilean
state during the late nineteenth century. It is not surprising to find such
challenges in recent sources, but it is unexpected to find them in documents produced by the same military authorities that were leading the
campaigns, the newspapers that often condemned the Mapuche as barbaric savages, and the accounts written by local historians who celebrated
the military pacification of indigenous territory. A general civilizing
ideal elaborated by the state was, it seems, nuanced by elements of doubt
about violence, even at the time of the occupation campaigns. In more
recent years, the doubt focuses on the very notion of civilizing in this

Investigating Subaltern Actions

From the proclamations of peace and accounts of violence outlined thus
far, we get a clear sense that the Mapuche of the late 1800s veered between
compliance and resistance in the face of state strength. And yet, even as
we acknowledge these two broad (opposing) strategies, we are continually
struck by the great internal diversity of Mapuche society and how difficult it is to neatly categorize or explain everyones responses to Chilean
colonization. Family lineage was clearly an important factor: Mangin was
one of the most feared anti-Chilean Mapuche caciques during the first
half of the nineteenth century (he died in 1860), and his son Quilapn
was the last great lonko of rebel Araucana.66 But lineage did not explain
everybodys position. Venancio Couepn (II) maintained good relations

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 37

with the Chilean authorities, as his father had done before him, and he
defended the government during the great uprising of 1881, and yet his
brother Millapn was one of the leaders of this uprising.67 Territorial location also had a role to playthe arribanos from the northern frontier
region (e.g., Quilapn) tended to be more rebellious and violent than the
abajinos farther south (e.g., Couepn), but this was not always the case.
Finally, timing can help us to understand Mapuche actions. The year 1881,
for instance, was a key turning point: many leaders who had long been
loyal to the government ended up joining the major insurrection, perhaps because they could see that their alliance with the authorities had
not helped to protect their lands. Still, a large number of caciques did not
change their position and fought with Chilean troops against their compatriots during the uprising.
Rather than try to outline all the different Mapuche positions (to compile lists of people, locations, and dates would not sufficiently document
all the variants), I delve into the experiences of five representative individuals, most of whom have already appeared in this chapter. It is through
their personal histories that we can best appreciate the complex reality of
Mapuche historical agency during this period.
Mangin once proclaimed, They might threaten us with their guns and
cannons. Let them come! We will confront them with our spears.68 For
a while at least, his son Quilapn maintained this defiant stance against
the invading forces. Addressing Jos Manuel Pinto in early 1869, he announced, You may have thousands of bayonets at your disposition, but I
have the same number of spears at mine, and if I wish I can double them;
if you want to avoid bloodshed, come with your sword and we will resolve
this dispute between the two of us.69 By this point, Quilapn had already
demonstrated his capacity to organize the Mapuche and lead a successful
rebel army: one of the first direct confrontations between Quilapns men
and Chilean forces was in April 1868, and it was the former that emerged
victorious. As Bengoa recounts, twenty-three Chilean soldiers were killed
and the remaining troops were forced to retreat.70 Such successes were
short-lived, however, and harsh reprisals usually followed. Perhaps for
this reason, Quilapn entered into negotiations with the government in
July 1869. The resulting peace settlement was signed by Quilapns fatherin-law, Faustino Quilahueque, in September of the same year. (Quilapn
may have feared that he would be killed if he went in person.)71 And yet
Quilapn continued to describe himself as cacique generalissimo of

38 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Araucanian territory, an indication that he did not equate peace with

Chilean sovereignty over the region.72 He certainly remained mistrustful
of Chilean military authorities. On April 29, 1870, he penned an abrupt
note to Colonel Orosimbo Barbosa to complain that he was still waiting for the formal written peace agreement; he demanded Barbosa reply
as soon as possible because if the peace [accord] is not signed, we are
at war.73 A final complicating twist was Quilapns stance on education.
Even when he was at war with the Chilean government, he employed a
Chilean tutor to teach his children how to read and write in Spanish. In
the words of Navarro, he did not entirely reject the benefits of [Chilean]
Venancio Couepn (II) consistently proclaimed his loyalty to the
Chilean government. For this reason, he was not informed about the
planned uprising of 1881. According to Navarro, Couepn took refuge
in the fort of ielol when the violence broke out and, together with sixty
of his followers, fought alongside the Chileans to defend the town against
its attackers.75 He was consequently proclaimed the Cacique General of
the Pacification of Araucana.76 As noted, there were several incentives
to act as a friendly Indian: Couepn was paid, he had soldiers to defend him and his lands from rival Mapuche leaders, and Basilio Urrutia
promised that the government would take care of his sons after he died.
But Couepn presented his loyalty as something that far surpassed such
practical benefits. In a letter to General Gregorio Urrutia, he described
himself and the caciques he represented as the ultimate patriots and
purposefully rooted this patriotism in history, making a reference to their
fathers who had fought with Seor Freires (probably the independence
leader Ramn Freire) and General Bulnes (who led Chile to war against
the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation in the 1830s).77 At the same time,
however, Couepn did not envisage himself as subservient to Chilean
state authorities. He showed respect toward them and was prepared to
fight for them, but demanded that he and his people be treated deferentially in return. In the same letter to Urrutia, he explained that he had
recently met with various local caciques who were very angry with the
government because they felt it sought to take away [their] lands. Appropriating the legalistic discourse of the Chilean state, he argued determinedly that there was no officially recognized basis for such actions. To
some, Couepn may seem like a desperate man trying to preserve (at
least some of) his lands and local power; to others, like someone who

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 39

sincerely believed in his friendship with state authorities. In reality, he was

a mixture of the two. Traditional Mapuche society was highly segmented
and functioned around a complex system of alliances.78 This setup continued into the late nineteenth century (and well beyond, as we see in
later chapters). When Couepn spoke of amistad or fidelidad, this did
not usually involve emotive commitment; he was referring instead to a
distinctly political friendship.
Shortly before he died in 1927, Pascual Coa of Lake Budi recounted
his life story to Capuchin missionary Father Wilhelm de Moesbach. According to this document, the rebellion of 1881 in Chile was initiated by
Mapuche leaders in Argentina via a message sent across the Andes: We
still have the issue of these huincas (foreigners, thieves); we are going to
rise up against them. The indigenous people of Argentina will finish them
off, and we want you to do the same with yours.79 Coa and Painemilla
(the main lonko of the area) were not informed of the forthcoming rebellion because everyone knew they supported the huincas: Once [the
rebels] had carried out the mass meetings, we also became aware that a
great uprising was about to take place [and we] went to the army headquarters in Puerto Saavedra. Here they joined the Chilean troops who
were en route to Toltn. Coa did not explain his or Painemillas motives: there is no mention of a salary, of loyalty to the government, or of
patriotic pride in being part of the Chilean republic. Indeed, he narrates
the entire episode in such a deadpan manner that it seems he could just
have easily joined the rebels. What was his reward for supporting Chilean
occupation? Nothing: he traveled to Santiago with Painemilla to inform
President Santa Mara of the rebels actions, but they left empty-handed.
Juan de Dios Neculmn was a major protagonist of the 1881 rebellion.
His son described him as one of the most well-known caciques of Boroa
who was feared by the Chilean authorities because he was so powerful.
Apparently, Neculmn did not dislike huincas per se; it was simply that
he did not want them to establish towns in Araucana.80 According to
Coas memoirs, it was Neculmn who first received instructions from
the Argentine caciques in 1881. He then passed these on to other Mapuche
chiefs in Araucana, saying I have decided in favor of the uprising and I
advise you to do likewise, because we have agreed that anybody who does
not join the rebellion will be severely punished.81 Neculmn joined in the
attack against Temuco on November 11, and was forced to flee with the
other rebels when their insurrectionary plans failed. Oral legend has it

40 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

that he went into hiding in nearby forests until he could negotiate a peace
settlement, and that this agreement involved the establishment of an Anglican Church mission and school on his lands.82 But in Coas narrative
we read that Neculmn made contact with the governor of Imperial as
soon as the uprising failed, assuring him that he had not taken any part
in it and offering his help in the reprisals against the leaders that ordered
the rebellion. The governor agreed to give Neculmn the benefit of the
doubt and encouraged him to punish all the leaders and their men.83
Within a year, Neculmn was being paid (or was supposed to be paid) a
government salary.84 Seventeen years later, a large number of important
state officials, including the governor of Imperial, attended his funeral.85
Thus, Neculmn transformed himself from a powerful rebel leader into
one of the Chilean authorities most important allies.
In the case of Antonio Painemal the shift was less clear-cut, or rather
it was never really known to what extent he supported Chilean occupation. As noted previously, a fellow Mapuche described Painemal as a
very useful supporter of the Chilean government.86 He professed his
allegiance to the Chilean state on numerous occasions, and El Araucano
once wrote of his leading fifty tame Indians into the town of Lebu to
pay their respects to the new governor.87 Yet, only a month before this
local newspaper report, El Mercurio of Valparaso told its readers that
Painemal had been emboldening the Indians and encouraging them to
attack [Chilean] carts.88 According to Navarro, Painemal met with the
government minister Recabarren in 1881 and pleaded with him not to
proceed any further with the establishment of forts in Araucana, on the
basis that doing so would mean that the Mapuche would lose their lands
and be subjected to laws they did not recognize.89 Whatever his dealings
with the government, at least some of the Mapuche rebel leaders of 1881
must have thought Painemal was on their side because (as narrated in
Coas memoirs) they informed him of the impending uprising.
Ultimately, we can never know what motivated these men to act in the
way that they did. Even sources (directly or indirectly) authored by them
cannot be taken at face value, for we always have to think about the context in which they were writing, whom they were addressing, and why.90
The point of probing the actions of these five individuals, however, is not
to ascertain their exact motivations, but rather to get a sense of the many
different (real and perceived) trajectories that the relationship between
Mapuche leaders and the Chilean state could take. We have an infamous

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 41

warrior-hero who was determined to resist Chilean intrusions, eventually

signed a peace deal, and yet never entirely capitulated; a consistently loyal
Chilean patriot, who was prepared to fight to the death for Chile, but
who also demanded compromises of the republican authorities; a sidekick
of a lonko who sided quite spontaneously with Chile during the rebellion
of 1881 but received nothing in exchange for his endeavors; a powerful
rebel leader who converted into an important ally of the government, and
was applauded and rewarded for doing so; and a cacique who professed
peace but whose loyalties were frequently doubted and who certainly
knew about the rebellion of 1881. In sum, the strategies these Mapuche
adopted indicate a significant gray area in between resistance against
and participation in the states colonizing mission. They often changed
tactics. They possibly feigned submission or rebellion. Participation in
the nation-building project did not preclude all resistance against it, and
vice versa; they could be involved in one element of it and reject another.
Given that Mapuche people responded to the realities of conquest in multiple ways, it follows that Chilean attitudes toward them could be just as

Images of Race and Nation during the Occupation Campaigns

The dominance of anti-indigenous sentiment during the late nineteenth
century has become a well-established fact in existing scholarship on
Chile.91 Certainly, ample primary material exists to support this line of
thinking, especially in the heated congressional debates about the occupation of Araucana. (Benjamn Vicua Mackennas outburst in 1868, when
he urged his peers to rip the [Araucanians] poisonous arrow of savage
revenge out of the heart of the republic, is probably the most widely cited
source.) And national newspapers, such as El Mercurio, echoed the theme.
On March 14, 1881, the latters editorial page proclaimed that the government should declare a war of extermination [against the Indians] and
not think about trying to civilize them, because this has entailed nothing
but a loss of life, time, and money. We will never be able to civilize the
Indians. This is just one quotation, but there are hundreds of others like
it, particularly during the buildup to and the events of the major Mapuche
rebellion in 1881.
That this was the predominant sentiment of intellectual and political elites at the time, however, does not mean it was the only prevailing

42 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

sentiment. The noble Araucanian warrior of old was certainly less prominent in late nineteenth-century imaginings of the Chilean nation than he
had been during the early independence years, but he remained present
nonetheless, and in fact enjoyed a revival during the War of the Pacific
against Bolivia and Peru. On April 2, 1879, El Mercurio printed a stirring
piece called To War We Go! in which the volcanic lava of Arauco
was compared to the Inca of Peru: Pizarro drove thousands of Atahualpas Indians to the slaughter in Limas main square as if they were sheep
[whereas] Valdivia could not manage to kill a single Araucanian without
being punished for it. The former were less than women, the latter much
more than men; [indeed] they were titanic patriots. As the furor surrounding the initial campaigns developed and Chile prepared to confront
the allied armies of Peru and Bolivia, which could field almost three times
as many troops as Santiago,92 the robust and virile Araucanian warrior of
colonial times became the perfect national hero.
To be sure, an idealization of the indigenous past is quite different from
an appreciation of the indigenous presentand the contemporary Indian
was a source of contempt for many of those people determined to push on
with the progress and modernization of Chilebut I would argue that
elite attitudes toward the contemporary Mapuche (or Araucanian) could
be as varied as those toward his heroic ancestors. In opposition to the
savage, rebel Indian, who presented a major obstacle to the consolidation
of the modern nation-state, for example, was the civilized (or at least
partially civilized) loyal Indian who had earned his place as a citizen of the
Chilean republic. The latter was widely lauded in southern newspapers
such as El Araucano of Lebu:
Over the last couple of days an avalanche of Indians, from alto Imperial, has descended on Lebu. What beautiful Indians! Tall, athletic, with their heads held high, a pink if not white complexion, and
riding fine horses, each one of them was a magnificent specimen of
that strong and rigorous Araucanian race that inhabits the shores of
our southern rivers. The main objective of their coming here was to
pay their respects to the new governor, a courtesy which has a long
history among the tame Indians.93
The Mapuche protagonists in this piece also distinguished themselves
from the poor, weakened Indians that inhabited many peoples imagination in the late nineteenth century. Despite having submitted to Chilean

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 43

control, the tame Indians were physically imposing, proud, and wealthy
(if the ownership of fine horses is any indication of social status).
Even El Mercurio, renowned for its anti-indigenous propaganda, was
prepared to honor the civilized, loyal Indian. The following detailed
report, published in May 1879, recounts the arrival of Juan Colip the
younger in Santiago:
This famous chief, son of [the man] who so valiantly defended the
town of Buin in the glorious campaign of 1838, arrived in the capital
on the same train as General Urrutia, with an important message
for our government. He is a tall, broad-shouldered man, with little
facial hair, a wide forehead, prominent cheekbones, a penetrating
and alert stare, and full lips; he wears a black, wide-brimmed hat
and a silk scarf around his neck; apart from that his clothes are no
different from those of his compatriots.
Yesterday he went to the telegraph office to send a message to one
of his relativesin his homeland (tierra), as he referred to itand
many people surrounded him, asking if he knew the history of his
father, to which he replied affirmatively; he then relayed this history.
He said he had come to offer his services to the government, that he
wanted to . . . help to defend Chile [against Peru and Bolivia]. . . .
Someone asked him if he wanted to fight as part of the cavalry or
the infantry. He replied that he would prefer to go as a cavalryman,
but if this were not possible he would be happy to fight in any other
capacity. After speaking extensively about a variety of issues, he returned home followed by many people.94
As presented here, Colip was a modern Indian, who arrived in Santiago not on horseback but by trainmoreover, on the same train as
General Urrutia (one of the military leaders responsible for civilizing
Mapuche territory). His hat and scarf were deemed to be typically western. He used the telegraph, another sign of modernity; and was clearly
literate and well spoken in Spanish, for he was able to converse with people about a variety of different issues. Equally as important as his social
status and modern practices was, of course, his enthusiasm to fight in the
war against Peru and Bolivia. Imaged thus, Colip was living proof that
national integration of the Indian was possible. Indeed, he had come to
epitomize the ideals of Chilean (modern, urban) nationhood. Yet, at the
same time, there was something of the independent, rebel Araucana left

44 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

in him: most of his clothes were like those of his indigenous compatriots,
and he used the telegraph to communicate with a relative in his homeland, where other Mapuche were destroying the telegraph lines. Colip
had also inherited the military prowess of his ancestors, which could be
a threat to the Chilean state if he decided to turn against it; he was loyal
when it served his purposes to be so, but loyalty did not necessarily mean
subservience, as we saw with Couepn.
This military figure transcended the binary oppositions of modernity
versus tradition and was testimony to the fact that class was just as significant as race when it came to determining who was to be counted as a
fully fledged citizen of the nation. Colips prestige and wealth (he owned a
large estate in the south) had allowed him to become whiter than other
Indians; but he, like the magnificent specimen described in the previous
passage, had not been entirely de-Indianized. Finally, we can see that not
all Mapuche who continued to believe in an independent homeland were
denigrated as barbaric enemies of Chile.
A newspaper article published in February 1881 is particularly illuminating in this regard. Its author first proclaimed the superiority of the
Chilean Araucanian over the Peruvian Inca, based on the climates in
which they lived (the indigenous Peruvian having been weakened by the
excess of tropical heat, and standing in great contrast to the indigenous
Chilean son of the temperate forest), then celebrated the fact that this
race of mighty warriors, exalted by Ercilla was still sleeping with their
spears at the ready, guarding their frontiers and defending their territory.95 Thus, at the same time that other issues of the same newspaper
were urging the government to exterminate the uncivilizable Indian,
this article presented their defense of freedom as something to be celebrated. It also portrayed their struggle as a source of pride for the very
Chileans who were seeking to quash it.
There were even occasions when the military troops fighting in Araucana were moved by the arrogant Araucanian defending the independence of his lands.96 What is more, some of the officials commanding
these troops openly denounced the short-sighted nature of the campaigns
(in terms of the contingency plan for the post-military occupation) and,
in doing so, defended at least some elements of Mapuche autonomy. In his
report of 1867, Basilio Urrutia complained that the Indians are [supposed
to be] citizens like us, yet, in reality, they were subjected to a constitution
and laws that they are not familiar with, and worse still, laws that do not

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 45

take into account their most traditional customs.97 As explained by Urrutia, the Mapuche enacted their own system of justice, and thus greeted
with horror the punishments handed down by the Chilean legal system.
He seemed to be saying that crimes committed by indigenous people in
lands inhabited exclusively by them should be judged and punished by
their own authorities. The same man, then, who was charged with occupying Mapuche territory was willing to allow, at least temporarily, the
continuation of Mapuche customary lawwhich might suggest that he
did not deem this to be barbaric or completely antagonistic to the civilizing mission of the state.
The imaginings analyzed here show that the meanings of civilization
or barbarism were open to contestation. They also point to the possibility
of crossing racial boundaries, and the fact that racial identity categories
were expressed or manifested in a variety of different ways: biologically
(in the blood that runs through our veins), physically (build, height),
physiologically (strength, valor), culturally (clothes, language), or socially (education, wealth). One Mapuche testimony, which appears in Las
ltimas familias (1913), called attention to the style of dress of cacique
Lorenzo Colip, just as El Mercurio had done with Juan Colip in 1881.
Although Colip had a generals [military] uniform, Lorenzo Koliman
remembered that he always dressed as a Mapuche, with fine robes and a
silver-adorned saddle, when he went to Santiago.98 As expressed through
his clothes, this leader easily shifted between Chilean (white, European)
and Mapuche identities. The fine robes allowed Colip to assert his indigenousness at a moment when this might seem threatened: in Santiago
(the most modern and Europeanized of Chilean cities) he wanted to proclaim his indigenousness, whereas in Araucana he had no need to do
so. In contrast, a piece on Domingo Melin published in El Bo Bo of Los
Angeles on October 14, 1880, envisaged racial identity in a far more rigid
fashion. It also explicitly interpreted mestizaje as a process by which indigenous people either lost or purposefully cast off their original culture:
Unlike Quilapn, Melin could never be described as the last of the Araucanians, a real Indian. Instead he was a type of mestizo ladino, intelligent
and literate, for he had learnt to read and write in the public school of Los
Angeles. . . . He also sent his oldest son to school in Santiago. Here Melin,
who had just been murdered by government officials, was denied real
Indian status. This was possibly a way of saying that he was not a savage, rebel Indian who deserved to be killed, and thereby denouncing the

46 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

government, but it also intimates that a person could not be literate and
Indian at the same time. Clearly, the author did not know that Quilapn
was literate, or that he employed a Chilean tutor to teach his sons.
Debates about the meaning of Indianness continued throughout the
occupation campaigns and well beyond. What is clear from the sum of the
evidence is that the media and even the modern civilizing state, which
still named battleships and army battalions after Lautaro and Caupolicn,
and gratefully accepted the military services of present-day Mapuche
leaders, had some use for the notion of the noble Araucanian.

Consequences of Occupation
When Villarrica fell to the Chilean army in January 1883, cacique Queupul of Cunco mournfully declared, Today, after many years, the huincas
have [finally] arrived to take our lands and erect [their own] towns, to do
away with our customs and to disturb our solitary way of life.99 The Chilean state most certainly took their lands. It gave away or sold off most of
the newly acquired territory to national and foreign colonists.100 It established land-grant communities (reservations) for the Mapuche, which in
total encompassed approximately 5 percent of their historic territory.101 In
the words of Pascual Coa the poor Mapuche no longer owned anything,
not even their homes . . . they were in a really dismal state.102 The loss of
land resources transformed the Mapuche from semi-migratory livestock
herders into small peasant farmers.103 It also eroded the traditional system
of authority and leadership in Araucana.104 Thus, for the first couple of
decades after the final military offensive, when state presence was limited, there was a marked power vacuum in the region, which according to
Leonardo Len, meant that Mapuche communities were exposed to the
unrestrained violence of their mestizo neighbors.105
On initial view, the photograph in figure 7 epitomizes this history of
military defeat, dispossession of land, fragmentation of power structures,
and exposure to external threats. It was taken by French photographer
Pierre Petit in 1883 in the Acclimatization Garden of Paris, which was
created for international exhibitions.106 At precisely the same time as the
Chilean state was concluding its so-called pacification of their territory, a
group of Mapuche (reportedly two families) from Caete were being displayed in the domesticated section of the garden.107 They are confined
to a small space, like caged animals: the fences are not high enough to

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 47

Figure 7. Photograph of Mapuche people in the Acclimatization Garden in Paris, 1883.

(Photo by Pierre Petit; image provided by Editores Pehun.)

prevent escape but surely help to contain them. Almost all of the exhibits
are looking directly at the camera (as instructed, one imagines). Some of
the men are holding palin (hurling) sticks, although there are not enough
of them to play the actual game. There is a kultrun (Mapuche drum) in
the middle of the picture. All the men are dressed in ponchos and head
scarves. The women and some of the young girls wear trarilonkos (silver
chains fastened around their heads) and trapelacuchas (silver pendants).
The only infant is supported upright in the traditional kupulhue (carrier).
They are, in sum, a perfect example of the exotic native about whom
Europeans fantasized.
Some of the Mapuche appear subdued, resigned to their fate, but one
could argue that there are also some looks of defiance here and a certain
pride in their ethnic origins and cultural customs. However unequal the
colonial power relations were, these people were asserting their presence,
both in the moment of the photograph being taken and in the image itself.108 As the French ethnographer Girard de Rialle exclaimed at the time:
The Mapuche exist, and they are here in the Acclimatization Garden!109
In this context, it is important to note the possibility that (unlike the
Fuegino families who were captured and forcibly transported to Europe

48 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

for similar exhibitions) these Mapuche were not obliged to go to Paris.

According to Cristin Bez and Peter Mason, the two families had cordial
relations with German zoologist Richard Fritz, who accompanied them
on their trip from Chile.110 Furthermore, while on display in the garden,
they were visited regularly by Achille Laviarde (relative of Orlie Antoine
and pretender to the Araucanian throne), who then introduced them
to the French capitals literary and political circles in the Chat Noir.111
They performed for the revelers at this famous cabaret, and went on to do
likewise in the nightspots of Brussels, Berlin, and Hamburg.112 To some
extent, then, they were willing participants in the spectacle of exoticism.
They could also set limits to that spectacle. As reported by anthropologist
Joseph Deniker, who studied the Mapuche specimens on display in the
garden, it was difficult to measure their body parts: they simply refused
to comply.113
Evidence also suggests that the Mapuche maintained some combative
muscle back in Araucana.114 During the 1890s and 1900s, regional and
national newspapers were full of tales of Mapuche raids on frontier towns
and vengeful attacks against landowners. Mapuche leaders were also able
to influence frontier life from within the intruding state institutions. In
Temuco (the regional capital) several Mapuche lonkos were appointed as
district judges; they also offered their services to, and therefore secured
some influence over, local army regiments.115
Nor did Chilean occupation lead to the elimination of Mapuche cultural practices. Several scholars, such as Mischa Titiev, Jos Bengoa, and
Rolf Foerster, have claimed that, despite all its negative implications, the
reservation system allowed the Mapuche a space in which to continue
and reassert the validity of their communal traditions. Government reports from the time confirm this reality, although they certainly did not
celebrate it. In 1901, Temuco authorities complained that certain ceremonies which were depressing [to behold] were still a frequent occurrence
among the local indigenous population.116 Mapuche leaders continued to
think of themselves as distinct from nonindigenous Chileans, or at least
continued to highlight their particular cultural and ethnic identity even as
they claimed their place within the Chilean state. This comes across quite
clearly in their correspondence with Chileans. On February 19, 1889, Domingo Couepn wrote to Horacio Lara to congratulate him on the publication of his Crnica de la Araucana. On behalf of his homeland (patria)
Arauco he thanked Lara for investigating and disseminating its history,

The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences, 18621910 49

and finished with the words in the name of my nation, I wish you a happy
future.117 That nation was Arauco, not Chile. Five years later, in 1896,
Joaqun Millanaw wrote to the minister of foreign relations, culture, and
colonization, asking for help in defending his lands from unwanted impostors. He made this request on the basis that he and his people, whom
he specifically identified as Araucanian Chileans, were supposed like all
other citizens, to be represented under the Chilean flag.118
Manuel Manquilef Gonzlez, born four years after the final military
offensive of 1883, followed the example set by Millanaw. He embraced
Chilean citizenship, while simultaneously proclaiming his indigenous
roots. He was sent away from home as a young child to attend a Chilean
school and remained in the Chilean education system until adulthood,
qualifying as a teacher in 1906. According to the final report of the Commission of Historical Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples,
the public school [was] designed as a mechanism to dominate, subjugate,
and negate Mapuche [society].119 Chilean authorities of the early 1900s
most certainly saw schooling as a means to civilize and nationalize
the Mapuche,120 but learning to read and write in Spanish could also be a
tool of empowerment. Many caciques in the post-occupation period saw
state-provided education as an opportunity to be seized rather than as a
punishment or colonial imposition.121 It would enable their sons to understand the Chilean society of which they were now part; it would enable
them to survive and perhaps even prosper in that society. As noted, even
the most rebellious of Mapuche leaders were keen to have their children
educated by Chilean tutors, and this was long before the definitive occupation of their territory. For Quilapn, education did not signify domination, subjugation, or negation of Mapuche society. Quite the oppositehe
chose to have his sons educated in Spanish precisely to prevent them becoming servants of the Chileans.122
After qualifying as a teacher, Manquilef went on to achieve great acclaim in Chilean academic circles. He took advantage of this privileged
position to denounce the actions of past Chilean governments, especially with regard to their policies in post-occupation Araucana. In an
essay titled Las Tierras de Arauco! (1915), he complained that the new
towns emerged . . . overseen by the worst of the public administration
system. . . . In contact with such elements, which were supported by the
army of the Republic, the Indians had to learn vices as well as virtues, as
do all races that embark on the civilizing process, and [in this case] they

50 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

only learned vices, seeing as the government never concerned itself with
teaching them any virtues. . . . If someone had to judge the acts of the
Government of Chile, they would condemn it as a corruptor of minors.123

Manquilef internalized the civilizing discourse of the state but he also
undermined that discourse by highlighting its failings and hypocrisy. He
was testimony to the fact that Chilean occupation of Mapuche territory
did not entail the complete silencing of its people or the disappearance of
their culture. The position of pro-integration, literate Mapuche in early
twentieth-century Chile was ambiguous but not entirely untenable. This
is the subject of chapter 2. Through Manquilef and his main political rival,
Manuel Aburto Panguilef, we return to the Histories of Conquest and
probe further the way in which these have been re-presented and re-signified by the colonized. Indeed, the multiple, contested histories of the military campaigns outlined here reemerge on several occasions in the book,
because they remained a crucial reference point for Mapuche intellectuals
and political activists throughout the 1900s and well into the 2000s. Following chapters also reiterate the patterns within this multiplicity: Mapuche peoples oscillation between participation in and resistance against
Chile state-building (or rebuilding) projects; elite and subaltern appropriations of the image of the Araucanian freedom fighter; and a multilayered state that elaborates divergent policies toward and discourses about
its indigenous population. In turn, these all relate to broader questions
about landownership, the connection between class and ethnicity, and
the ever-evolving relationship between Chilean and Mapuche identities.

Renewed Struggles for Survival

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938

Following the occupation campaigns of the late nineteenth century, the

Mapuche became colonial subjects of the Chilean state and were reduced
(reducidos) to approximately 5 percent of their historic territory.1 As
shown in chapter 1, however, to have their territory occupied and to be
subjugated to Chilean laws did not mean that indigenous people were
totally powerless or voiceless. This chapter argues that the Mapuche continued to be a visible and vocal presence in Chilean society throughout
the early decades of the twentieth centurya period of increasing rural
and urban poverty, and of escalating working-class radicalism.
In the years building up to the centenary of Chilean independence in
1910 there was a proliferation of strikes and mass demonstrations, which
were met with violent state repression (the most symbolic episode being
the massacre of thousands of nitrate workers at the Escuela Santa Mara
in Iquique in 1907). This repression led to some retrenchment but, overall, the 1910s and 1920s marked the consolidation and institutionalization
of worker organizations: the Socialist Workers Party was formed in 1912
and it was succeeded by the Communist Party in 1922.2 Arturo Alessandris administration (192024) attempted to introduce important social
reforms to improve living and working conditions for the poor, but the
congress refused to pass them. Responses to this political stalemate included a military coup in 1924, the enactment of a new constitution in
1925 (which increased the power of the executive vis--vis parliament),
the dictatorship of the populist military leader Carlos Ibez (192731),
and the short-lived Socialist Republic led by Marmaduke Grove in June

52 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

1932. Mapuche organizations were active participants in these political

developments, particularly with regard to the issue of communal landownership in the southern provinces (in the context of the continuing
resettlement of their people onto state-demarcated reservations).3
This chapter begins by investigating some of the competing visions
of Chilean nationhood that were circulating during the centennial celebrations of 1910. It explores the dominant racial theories of the time, as
articulated by state institutions, scholars, and various media outlets, probing their ambiguous views on the fate of the Mapuche in modern Chile.
These become particularly intriguing when we incorporate Mapuche
pronouncements on the matter. Against the political backdrop outlined
earlier, I concentrate on the works of Manuel Manquilef (18871950) and
Manuel Aburto Panguilef (18871952), the two most active ideologues
of the Mapuche political movement during the first three decades of the
century, according to Andr Menard and Jorge Pavez.4 Manquilef and
Aburto sought to carve a place for their people (or race) within the Chilean nation and thereby undermined dominant assumptions about both
Mapuche and Chilean identities. But they did so in very different ways.
Finally, the chapter highlights some of the important developments that
took place during the late 1930s, as Manquilef and Aburto were eclipsed
by a new generation of Mapuche activists.

Celebrating Independence
September 18, 1910, marked the centenary of Chiles first declaration of
independence from Spain. Despite the deaths of President Pedro Montt
on August 16 and his interim successor Elas Fernndez Albano on September 6 of that year, state authorities proceeded with their plans for lavish celebrations and warmly welcomed the many foreign dignitaries who
arrived in Santiago for the occasion. The literary arts magazine Selecta
praised the luster and splendor of the festivities which far surpassed
[peoples] wildest expectations,5 and the Valparaso weekly Sucesos rejoiced to see the capitals streets so brilliantly illuminated; even if only
for a couple of days, people felt as if they had been transported to a fantasy land reminiscent of the tales of Arabian Nights.6 In a parliamentary meeting the day before the anniversary, Congressman Jos Ramn
Gutirrez asserted that Chile now found itself reaping the benefits of social, political, and economic progress, an accomplishment that was due

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 53

to Chileans profound national spirit and respectful attitude toward the

countrys institutions.7 A special Independence Day issue of El Mercurio
echoed Gutirrezs congratulatory narrative: After one hundred years, we
find ourselves in great health, well organized, confident, robust, experienced, and conscious of what we are.8
And yet the same newspaper also informed readers of the many
troubles facing Chile in 1910. It ran several reports on the problem of
working-class housing, for example, asserting in one editorial (only a
couple of weeks before Independence Day) that in no other place [in
Hispanic America] did the people live in such deplorable conditions as
in Chile.9 El Mercurio was not the only publication to voice concerns: El
Peneca drew its readers attention to the problem of child poverty in the
country and (on the very day when everyone was supposed to be celebrating Chiles accomplishments) El Ferrocarril printed eye-catching posters
warning people against the perils of alcoholism.10 As Michael Gonzales
has recently argued in regard to Mexico, Independence Day celebrations
served as forums for elites to promote [their own] political philosophies
and programmes, but they also functioned as battlegrounds for competing political communities.11 They provided governing authorities with
the perfect occasion to instill patriotic pride in the populace and to create
an image of a united national community, but they also prompted the
emergence of counter-narratives and the revelation of internal divisions.
In Chiles case, the most prominent counter-narrative was elaborated
by a group of intellectuals known as decadentistas. These writers argued
that the nation was in a state of crisis. They were far from a homogenous
group: in the words of Chilean historian Cristin Gazmuri, there were
rich and poor, believers and agnostics, conservatives and progressive reformers.12 They disagreed on the nature of the crisis they were denouncing and they proposed different solutions, but they were generally united
in their nationalism, anti-liberalism, and rejection of the governing elites
cosmopolitan agenda.13
William Skuban recently claimed that statesmen in early twentiethcentury Chile tended to stress the political and civic elements of the
nation, whereas their Peruvian counterparts emphasized its cultural and
historic attributes.14 This comparison is certainly valid with relation to
the strategies employed in the Peru-Chile border region during the dispute over Tacna and Arica, which is Skubans focus,15 but in the context
of the centennial celebrations, it seems clear that cultural and historic

54 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

attributes of nationhood were just as high on the Chilean governments

propagandistic agenda as its political and civic elements. Indeed, the very
nature of the occasion (that is, a commemoration of the heroic feats of
Chiles independence leaders one hundred years beforehand) meant it
was difficult to separate the two forms of nationalism; it was ones civic
responsibility to show an interest in Chilean history. Thus, advertisements
for the Historic Centenary Exhibition, organized by Joaqun Figueroa and
housed in the Urmeneta Palace in Santiago, called on Chilean citizens
not only to attend the exhibition and thereby discover the glories of the
national past, but also to donate objects for the exhibition.16
State authorities in Temuco commended such initiatives. In one letter
to the central government, they stressed how important it was to collect together all objects of historical interest, because this would help
Chileans to remember the era of our aborigines as well as the colonial
and republican periods.17 As articulated here, the nations past went back
much farther than the independence wars and it had decidedly ethnic
hues. After visiting the Centenary Exhibition, journalist Luis Orrego Luco
affirmed that it was the indigenous mummies . . . that attracted most
interest for they took people back to the very beginning of our historia
patria.18 His monthly column also referred to the inauguration of a statue
of Alonso de Ercilla, the immortal poet who sang of Araucanian glories.
One can therefore argue that the Mapuche had an important presence in
the national histories being circulated in 1910. Indeed, they were imaged
by some as the very origins or roots of the nation. Yet we also detect the
limitations of such an emphasis, in that it confined Mapuche agency to
the first pages (or prologue) of the national narrative, and excluded them
from the main story line of modern historical developments.
Particularly worthy of analysis in this regard is the immensely popular
statue of Caupolicn, sculpted by Nicanor Plaza in the 1860s (figure 8).19
According to the special centenary issue of El Mercurio, the hero of La
Araucana was soon to stand out against the beautiful Chilean sky, with
one of the rocks of Santa Luca as its pedestal. That a statue of the legendary Araucanian warrior existed and that it should be moved to a more
open space (in the center of Santiago) in the context of Independence
Day celebrations should come as no surprise. In many ways, it reinforces
the dissociation between the indigenous past, which was exalted, and the
indigenous present, which was largely ignored. What we see with this
monument, however, is not just an attempt to relegate the Mapuche to

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 55

Figure 8. Statue of Caupolicn, sculpted by Nicanor Plaza in the 1860s.

It now stands on the top of Santa Luca Hill in Santiago. (Photo by author,

history but also a distortion of that history. As novelist and playwright

Ariel Dorfman narrates, Caupolicn was not the statues original name.
Apparently, the U.S. embassy in Santiago had commissioned Plaza to create an authentic Araucanian Indian. However, because he was living in
Paris at the time and had no knowledge of Araucanian culture, the sculptor based his work on the only text on indigenous peoples that he had to
hand: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.20 The U.S.

56 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

embassy did not want a statue commemorating one of their own Indians
and reneged on the deal but, luckily for Plaza, Chilean government authorities stepped in and bought it. According to Dorfman, the latter did
not mind that the statue was not based on Caupolicn. In fact, he maintains they paid for it precisely because it was so far removed from the real
Araucanian Indian and his history; Caupolicn had met a brutal death,
impaled on a stake by his Spanish foes, but state authorities did not want
to dwell on this part of the story. In this way, a statue that was supposed
to memorialize Caupolicn actually served to erase him twice over from
national memory: both Caupolicn (as a likeness or an artistic inspiration) and his history of violent struggle were absent.
Santiago-based newspapers and magazines tended to focus on the festive activities of the elites: a garden party organized for diplomatic residents in the grounds of Santa Luca,21 a spectacular dance held by the
Colonia Francesa,22 a lunch for journalists held in the exclusive Jockey
Club,23 a dinner (and various other events) to celebrate the arrival of the
Argentine president Jos Figueroa Alcorta,24 and so forth. Popular events
were not given as much coverage, but they were certainly not ignored.
Sucesos of September 22 and El Mercurio of September 18, for example,
both reported on the staggering number of children from public schools
who had participated in the pilgrimage to the monument of the independence hero Bernardo OHiggins. On September 17, the latter told readers about the patriotic revelry of Boy Scout groups, university students,
and various worker organizations; and Sucesos of September 15 included
several photo features of the workers in Santiagos bakeries, factories, and
vineyards. Regional newspapers in particular provided detailed accounts
of non-elite celebrations of the centenary. As relayed by La Prensa, never
have the citizens of Temuco been as patriotic as today.25 On September
18 in Temuco, Chilean flags were flying from every home; trains were
decorated with giant posters of the padres de la patria; a gymnastics competition for local public schools was held in one of the main squares; a
bike race sped through the city; and a spectacular fireworks display was
put on in the Plaza de Armas. More telling still was a piece on Gorbea, approximately forty kilometers south of Temuco, which complained that the
local authorities [had] not made any plans to celebrate our centenary.
In spite of this, the towns inhabitants had rallied together and organized
a balloon launch and other honest entertainment.26

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 57

Many Mapuche in the southern provinces embraced the opportunity

to participate in the centennial celebrations. Barely a day of September
1910 passed by without La poca of Temuco making some reference to
the activities of the Caupolicn Society, the first nontraditional Mapuche
organization in Chile, which had been founded just two months previously.27 Its first public event was to be a parade in honor of the centenary: Beloved brothers, read the leaderships directive of September 2
(published in La poca), do not forget that your presence is required on
the great day of September 18 in order to show the civilized people that
we are patriotic and that we respond to the demands that are made of
us.28 On September 11, La poca announced that the Caupolicn Society
was to lay the first stone of a monument dedicated to the Araucanian
Race later that afternoon.29 It encouraged the public to attend, exclaiming that the good works of the Araucanian race merit a page in our national history.30 On September 14, the newspaper ran a brief piece on the
people who had been chosen as patrons for the monument. On September 17, it published the official program for the fiestas patrias and noted
that Manuel Manquilef, a founding member of the Caupolicn Society,
was going to be one of the judges of the gymnastics competition.31 The
same Manquilef was author of a prizewinning essay on the Mapuche rebellion of 1881, which was to appear on the front page of La poca on
September 18.32
Three important points are worth highlighting here. First, the prominence of the Caupolicn Society in both the celebrations themselves and
in the newspaper reports about them indicates the very real, contemporary inclusion of Mapuche people in local (Temuco) society, as opposed to
the imaginary, historical inclusion discussed earlier in relation to events
in Santiago. Second, the Mapuche participants in the celebrations were
not always part of the popular classes. Manquilefan educated, wealthy
member of various associations and societies in Temucomost certainly
considered himself, and was often treated as part of, the local elite. Third,
Mapuche participation in the festivities did not preclude criticism of the
Chilean state. In his prizewinning essay, for example, Manquilef railed
against the deceitful and dishonorable manner in which it had treated
some of the Mapuche leaders who fought with Chilean troops during the
occupation campaigns. There is a similar point to be made for their contribution to dominant racial discourses of the time.

58 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Cultural Representations of the Mapuche: Vestiges of the Past

or Part of Chiles Future?
Impressed by the public response to the Historic Centenary Exhibition,
the government of Ramn Barros Luco decided to establish a national
history museum in July 1911. According to Rebecca Earle, indigenous artifacts constituted an important part of the new museums collection,33
although early catalogues suggest that these were largely relegated to
the prehistoric section. As with the Centenary Exhibition (from which
many of the museums displays were drawn), indigenous culture served as
a starting point for national history, but it was quickly overshadowed by
the courageous exploits of the conquistadors and the even braver feats of
Chiles republican leaders. One visitor in 1914 exclaimed his disappointment with the primitive and rudimentary objects found in the prehistoric section, especially when compared to the glorious and magnificent
relics pertaining to Chiles colonial and republican past.34 Indeed, visitors
could easily miss the prehistoric section altogether, hidden away as it was
in the basement. More than indigenous peoples being gradually erased
from national history, then, it could have been construed (by a visitor who
began his or her tour in the colonial section) that they never formed part
of that history at all.
The National History Museum can thus be read as an attempt by the
state to ignore the existence of its newly acquired Mapuche subjects, yet
other state institutions at the time did acknowledge the presence of the
Mapuche in modern Chile and, what is more, seemed to endorse their
survival. In 1907 the National Institute of Statistics recorded more than
100,000 Araucanians living in six different provinces, and a subsequent
government report on these figures (published in 1912) congratulated
the Chilean military for managing to conquer and occupy Araucana
without annihilating the defeated.35 In correspondence between local
authorities and the central government, we find many complaints about
the barbarism of Mapuche ritual customs, but we also discover letters
authorizing those same practices. This is particularly the case with the
guillatn,36 which has been described as one of the most important bulwarks of Mapuche identity.37
By the early twentieth century, the notion that humankind was divided
into inferior and superior races carried the imprimatur of science.38
According to scientific racial theories, strong and intelligent (white,

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 59

European) races were destined to flourish, whereas weak, ignorant, and

uncivilized (indigenous, black) races were doomed to extinction. Flix
Jos de Augusta, a Capuchin missionary of Jewish-German descent who
spent many years working in southern Chile, feared that this was the fate
of the Mapuche. In the prologue to Lecturas araucanas, which was published to much critical acclaim in 1910, he stated that the Araucanian race
[was] undergoing a period of transformation and lamented that the customs and superstitions documented in the book would in a very short
space of time no longer conform to reality. Not even a memory of them
would remain, hence his efforts to preserve all the details for ethnological
science.39 Three years later, in the foreword to his collection of Mapuche
oral testimonies, Toms Guevara laid out a similar fate for the Mapuche,
although he seemed less regretful than Augusta. The Araucanian race,
he asserted, was in its last period of existence. Indeed, he claimed that
many Mapuche customs had already disappeared due to [their] contact
with progress and the necessities of modern life.40
Paradoxically, at the same time as these scholars were dismissing Mapuche culture as (soon to be) part of Chiles past, their documentation of
Mapuche language and traditional practices served to inscribe this people
in the national narrative of the present. As Augusta wrote, this [Mapuche] nation lives, thinks, loves; [it] has its traditional laws, religious ideas,
culture, poetry, eloquence; its songs, music, arts, dances, and games; its
civic life, passions, and virtues.41 And this is precisely what he recorded
in Lecturas araucanas: the visions and dreams of a machi, funeral prayers,
ceremonial chants, historical memories, tales, poems, songs, and much
more. The orators were named (for example, Domingo Segundo Wenuamko, Painemal Weitra, and Julian Weitra) and their stories were told in
the present tense. Moreover, by recording these stories in Mapuzungun
(as well as in Spanish) Augusta validated its continued use. He applauded
the Mapuche languages simple logic and structure, the richness of its
verbal forms, the precision and clarity of diction, and the facility with
which it expresses all thoughts and feelings.42 We can make the same
argument for the German-turned-Chilean folklorist and ethno-linguist
Rodolfo Lenz, who referred to the Mapuche as people de baja cultura,
but found their language so interesting that he dedicated his life to investigating it, and was especially concerned with find[ing] material relating to the Indians of today.43 Thus, he wrote about a contemporary as
opposed to ancient language. Lenz also sought to demonstrate how much

60 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Mapuzungun had influenced, and therefore reasserted itself through,

Chilean Spanish.44 Similarly, Guevara claimed to be writing about Las
ltimas familias i costumbres araucanas, but many of his informants
clearly did not feel themselves to be in the last period of their existence.
Their memories of events in the past were firmly connected to the present,
and had important implications for the future too. It is no coincidence
that this book was recently re-edited by CoLibris and the Liwen Center
for Mapuche Studies with a new title that omits the word last.45
Such contradictory representations were also present in, and perpetuated by, cultural magazines of the time. For instance, on January 22, 1910,
Zig-Zag published a poem by Claudio de Alas titled Raza vencida (Defeated Race):
Sweating and weary, with hardened skin,
a frank and noble dialect, a sullen and diffident gaze,
the Indian travels the curve of life
Arrogant race, mighty race that is in its death throes
like a colossus who fell after the triumph . . .
From your consumed trunk, ashes float and fly
over towns, mountains, and seas!46
There is no doubt that the Mapuche race, as imagined by Alas, has been
vanquished. Nevertheless, something of their strength and fury lingers
on. They seem indomitable even as they are about to die, and their remains (ashes) continue to haunt the landscape.
Three weeks earlier Zig-Zags editorial team chose a photograph of a
wizened old Mapuche woman for the publications title page. The caption
below read, The oldest Indian of the reservation of cacique Malhuepe in
Angol. Taken in 1898, when she was 120 years old.47 There was no mention of this image in the interior pages of the issue, leaving the reader
unsure as to whether the editors intended to tell a story of extinction or
of survival. The woman was old and wrinkled, and needed the support of
a stick to stand, but she was still alive. The photograph was taken in 1898,
so the woman was presumably dead by 1910, but the magazine did not
say so. Furthermore, the people in the background, presumably members
of the womans community, were young, healthy, and engaged in a lively
conversationthey appeared to have a long future in front of them.

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 61

This ambiguity about the fate of the Mapuche in modern Chile also
marked the public discourse of prominent Mapuche figures. To some extent, they internalized the dominant racial discourse of the period and
resigned themselves to the idea that their peoples time on earth had come
to an end: in a September 1910 letter to Leoncio Rivera (who was in charge
of organizing the resettlement of Mapuche people onto land-grant communities), the then president of the Caupolicn Society, Manuel Antonio Neculmn, wrote: our society wants nothing else but to recognize
your passionate work in favor of a race that is marching toward its disappearance,48 and in Comentarios del pueblo araucano (1911), Manquilef
described himself as one of the last remnants of a race that steadfastly
defended its territory during three and a half centuries of struggle.49
And yet the purpose of Manquilef s auto-ethnography, whichlike the
narratives of Augusta, Guevara, and Lenzwas written in both Mapuzungun and Spanish, was surely to give a new lease of life to that race. In
Manquilef s own words, he sought to show Chileans that the Araucanians were men of great souls, with knowledge, sentiments, and thoughts
analogous to those of the races that have created the most cultured and
powerful nations in the world.50 More significantly, the political organization founded by Neculmn and Manquilef explicitly fought to defend
the rights of the Mapuche in the present and to secure a place for their
people in the Chile of the future.

Manuel Manquilef: Reconciling Tradition and Modernity

Manuel Manquilef (figure 9), son of Fermn Trekaman Manquilef (a Mapuche) and Trinidad Gonzlez (a Chilean criolla), began to work on ethnographic studies of Mapuche culture and history shortly after he graduated from the Teacher Training College of Chilln in 1906. His published
works attracted a national readership and he was frequently invited to
speak at prestigious institutions such as the Chilean Folklore Society.
As previously noted, he was also a founder of the Caupolicn Society,
and served as its president between 1916 and 1925. In 1926 he was elected
diputado (member of the national Chamber of Deputies) for the Liberal
Democratic Party and, in this capacity, served as a member of the Public
Education Commission and the Agriculture and Colonization Commission. After losing his congressional post in 1932 (a result of the dissolution

62 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Figure 9. Manuel Manquilef (18871950).

(Photograph provided by Coleccin
Biblioteca Nacional de Chile; available at

of congress during the Socialist Republic of Marmaduke Grove), he was

briefly governor of Lautaro.51 In short, Manquilef was an educated, urbanbased professional who gained an important voice in Chilean intellectual
and political circles.
Manquilef s success story can be attributed to his fathers decision
to send him, as a young boy, to a Chilean state school in Temuco. Before this he lived with his Mapuche grandmother in Pelal (his father was
cacique of Pelal), where he was raised speaking Mapuzungun. In his Comentarios del pueblo araucano Manquilef reconstructed an idyllic childhood en medio de los matorrales.52 He remembered wearing traditional
indigenous clothes (a black chiripan, striped poncho, and beautiful ornate
trarilonko) and running happily among the numerous flock of sheep.
He pledged never to forget the loving verses that his grandmother taught
him or the dances of ritual ceremonies like the guillatn: how pleasant it
was to move my head to the rhythm of the musical instruments and dance
the famous lonkomeu! As presented by Manquilef, it was this oral, rural,
Mapuzungun-speaking and poncho-wearing experience that made him,
in his own words, a genuine Araucanian and thereby allowed him to
write with authority about Mapuche culture and history.53

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 63

Manquilef was thus a mixture of a modern (Chilean) present and a

traditional (Mapuche) past. The same could be said of the Caupolicn
Society which, in Xavier Albs words, straddled the line between ancestral roots and an ideology of progress.54 To find some meeting point between the two, Manquilef avowed (in October 1910, shortly after founding
the society), was what was best not just for the Mapuche, but for Chile as a
whole: When we achieve the complete fusion of the two races, and when
both [those races] have realized that they form but two arms of the same
body, and that the happiness of the patria depends on their shared intelligence and fraternal labor, that will be the moment when our beloved
Chile will have fully embarked on the path of national progress.55 He thus
undermined the elites tendency to equate progress with the annihilation
of the native. The Mapuche were to be key participants in, rather than
the antithesis of, a nation-building project based on modern capitalism
and, as such, they would help to shape it. In this sense, the fusion that
Manquilef spoke of was, as Pavez asserts, more political than biological.56
Manquilef campaigned to transform this utopian vision of political fusion into a reality but was well aware of the obstacles he faced. As Florencia Mallon has commented, he believe[d] that the state and its laws
should treat everyone fairly as equals but the condition of his people
shout[ed] out to him, time and time again, that the practice of modernity [was] not consistent with the theory.57 She makes this point about
Manquilef s double consciousness in the context of the increasing pauperization of Mapuche society during the early 1900s and his (failed) attempts to recover lands illegally expropriated by colonists and powerful
In the same work Mallon discusses how colonialism and modernity
related to issues of translation in the aforementioned Comentarios del
pueblo araucano. This bilingual ethnographical study was authored by
Manquilef but prefaced by Rodolfo Lenz. Manquilef portrayed himself
as the academic expert who wanted to share his knowledge of Mapuche culture, history, and language as part of a broader project of crosscultural communication and political fusion. Lenz praised the value of
Manquilef s text, as the first study of Mapuche society authored by an
authentic Mapuche, but then proceeded to underline the inadequacies
of Manquilef s translation from Mapuzungun into Spanish. According to
Lenz, Manquilef sometimes struggled to find an adequate idiom in Spanish for the concept expressed in the Indian phrase,58 which begged the

64 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

question, Is it possible to translate literally from one language to another,

when the structure of each is so distinct and they represent completely
different levels of culture?59 His answer was a resounding no; exact translation was impossible, meaning, more broadly, that no fusion was possible. In saying all this, Lenz ignored Manquilef s own very sophisticated
sense of the issues of translation, most notably his awareness of the need
for both literary as well as literal translations.
Lenz sought to underline the evolutionary differences between Mapuche and Spanish cultures, despite the fact that some of his own voluminous studies traced linguistic overlaps between them. As Mallon notes,
this was a direct response to Manquilef s efforts to break down the colonial hierarchies embedded in traditional ethnographic scholarship. Particularly innovative was Manquilef s decision to translate Chilean authors
into Mapuzungun (to support his argument about the values of Mapuche
culture).60 Lenz promoted the diffusion of Comentarios, but clearly felt
threatened by the transgressive subtext of the book.
Manquilef learned his first Chilean words in a private, rural school that
was not far from Pelal but nonetheless required him to leave his grandmothers community.61 He wrote about this moment in Comentarios: one
day a woman came and had a conversation with my father. She tried to
speak to me but I ran to hide behind my grandmother, because I didnt
understand a word she was saying. The next day she took me to a school,
where I stayed for three months, until I managed to escape and return to
my homeland (tierra).62 His father then decided to send him to a state
school in Temuco so as to prevent him running away again, and it appears
that he never returned to live in Pelal. This establishment taught Manquilef to speak the [Spanish] language very well and to read and write
with remarkable perfection, which meant he was subsequently accepted
at the esteemed Liceo de Temuco (the same school that Pablo Neruda
would attend several years later).63 It is difficult to tell from Manquilef s
writings whether he actually enjoyed his time at school in Temuco, but he
certainly valued the tools that such schooling gave him. Moreover, he saw
no conflict between this and his individual Mapuche identity: in stark
contrast to most of my Araucanian brothers who have been fortunate
enough to receive an education, I have never tried to hide my origins nor
change the spelling of my surname.64
Education was a major topic of debate across Chile during the 1910s, as
congressmen discussed the possibility of making primary-level schooling

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 65

obligatory for all children.65 Manquilef made the most of this opening
and, together with the Caupolicn Society, resolutely petitioned the government to expand and improve school facilities in Araucana. In contrast
to the oligarchic Chilean administrations of this period,66 whose primary
tool for alleviating social problems was charity, the Caupolicn Society demanded access to education as a fundamental right of all citizens. But its
members were also careful to articulate such demands within the official
government rhetoric of progress and modernizationthat is, arguing
that schools were a crucial weapon in the struggle against ignorance and
barbarism. Perhaps more significant, however, was Manquilef s call for
Mapuche people to use the education system to serve their own purposes.
In a newspaper article of April 1911 he asserted that it was the duty of civilized Indians to maintain their honor and alertness and to show that
they could defend with energetic penmanship and [use of] the reasoned
word what their ancestors had defended with spears and arrows.67 If we
take the last words at face value, Manquilef was urging Mapuche people
to make use of the literacy and knowledge gained through education to
defend their dignity as an independent people. He thereby simultaneously
appropriated and challenged the civilizing and nationalizing goals of state
education policy, and disturbed the perceived equation between the two,
for it was precisely the civilized Mapuche like him who were trying to
ensure that their people maintain a sense of ethnic difference.
Most of the Caupolicn Societys education-related demands focused
on the increased provision of schooling for Mapuche children. It asked
the government to build more primary schools in rural areas, to provide
more grants enabling Mapuche students to receive secondary and higher
education in Chiles urban centers, and to create more boarding schools
and student residences for this purpose.68 In this sense, the main concern was education per se rather than what kind of education students
were receiving, although the societys leaders did express a preference
for secular as opposed to religious education and also emphasized the
practical, socioeconomic needs of Mapuche students, claiming (in July
1910) that the best way to improve the moral and material conditions
of our descendants, and incorporate them into . . . civilization was to
provide them with industrial and agricultural training.69 It would seem
that either governing authorities responded quickly to this petition or
they were already thinking of the same project themselves, given that official correspondence between Temuco and Santiago (dated September 5,

66 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

1910) confirmed the purchase of a plot of land and ministerial permission

to construct an Industrial School and Refuge for Indigenous People in
Temuco.70 Overall, the Caupolicn Society presented its demands for education in a language that the state would understand. Certainly, there was
an element of subversion in the public statements issued by Manquilef
and his organization, in terms of maintaining a level of autonomy as a
people, but they tended to prioritize the socioeconomic modernization
of Mapuche society over culture and tradition.
We detect far more interest in Mapuche culture and tradition in Manquilef s Comentarios. The first volume, La faz social (The Social Aspect,
1911), provided detailed descriptions of the clothes and adornments used
during fiestas, the building of a ruka (traditional thatched-roof family
dwelling), the branding of livestock, the making of enclosures, the festivities in honor of a community members return (after he had been away
looking for sustenance for his family), and the production of mudai (a
wheat-based liquor) and apple cider. The text was all written in the present tenseapart from the section which relayed the actual construction
of his fathers ruka several years beforehandthereby implying that such
traditional practices were still common in 1910. They were also depicted
as fundamentally collective in nature: The Indian wants to include all his
friends and family in his daily tasks. He even turns the job of branding
his animals into a festive gathering known as uneltun. It was, without
doubt, a celebratory narrative. Among other things, Manquilef praised his
peoples camaraderie, asserting that their kind treatment of guests was an
innate characteristic of the Araucanian race.71
This narrative continued in the second volume, entitled La jimnasia
nacional (Physical Training) (1914), which focused on Mapuche sports,
military exercises, and traditional dances. It was mainly about ancient
sports, which were introduced in the past tense, but the subsequent detail
was written in the present. Manquilef drew on many different sources of
information, from Ercillas colonial epic La Araucana to his own experiences of a machitn, which had taken place as recently as 1909.72 This connection between the past and present was important: it was disciplined
physical training that had allowed the Mapuche to defeat the Spanish
conquistadors and to survive as a people well into the twentieth century.
Particularly intriguing are his comments on the modern or imported
sports. According to Manquilef, these demonstrated Mapuche peoples
intelligence and reason as well as their capacity to assimilate elements

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 67

from foreign cultures. He wrote of the ease with which indigenous people brought Chilean games to their fields,73 recounting specifically the
history of soccer in Araucana. There are several clubs in the province of
Cautn, he asserted, that were entirely Araucanian and deserved much
praise for their good organization, hygiene, and attention to the rules.74
Overall, then, there was plenty to rejoice about: an abundance of evidence proving the intellectual and physical capacity of the Indian, as well
as his ability to appropriate aspects of other cultures without losing any
of his own supposedly innate characteristics. Manquilef was, in a sense,
relaying a process of transculturation.75 As expressed by Quechua-speaking Peruvian Jos Mara Arguedas (191169), transculturation pointed
to the possibility that mestizos could come into existence . . . through
a conscious formation launched by the Indians themselves.76 Arguedas
promoted mestizaje (cultural mixing in this case) as a constructive, modernizing experience that would benefit indigenous peoples if they were
in control of it. Comentarios seemed to assert the same possibility for
the Mapuche of Chile: they could become part of the mestizo nation, selectively adopting elements of the Chilean criollo cultural system (which
itself had elements absorbed from many cultures) to better their own society. The Mapuche were leading the process of cultural change, and instead of forcing the dissolution or disappearance of indigenousness, such
adaptation would only renew and strengthen their own cultural system.
When we look at Manquilef s pronouncements as a political leader,
however, it becomes apparent that he did not defend all Mapuche cultural
traditions. For example, he often spoke out against polygamous marriage.
Indeed, he urged the government to outlaw this practice.77 And, despite
Manquilef s own personal memories of the beautiful machi (shaman)
Mercei and his apparent acceptance of her medical credentials (he described her as a doctor in volume 2 of the Comentarios), it is well known
that the Caupolicn Society denounced machi healing rituals as immoral and irrational.78 To Manquilef s mind, particularly when he was
acting in his role as politician, it was difficult to reconcile these traditions
with Chilean modernity.
Also sitting rather uneasily with the story told in Comentarios were
Manquilef s views on and proposals for land reform. In Las tierras de
Arauco! (1915), he blamed previous governments for the degradation and
poverty of Mapuche communities. He insisted that his people had once
been rich and powerful and had owned hundreds of thousands of

68 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

animals, but during the process of radicacin initiated after the military
occupation of Araucana, they had been allocated only very small plots
of land (between 1 and 4 hectares, compared to between 40 and 150 hec
tares given to foreign settlers).79 And even these tiny allocations continued to be encroached upon and usurped by colonos and local hacendados.
Such theft was possible, Manquilef claimed, only because the state turned
a blind eye to it and because the Mapuche were not allowed to put up
fences around (and thereby protect) their lands. State legislation decreed
that each family plot formed part of a larger communal whole, which
could not be formally divided or sold off. For Manquilef, it was communal
landownership that prevented the Mapuche from enjoying the benefits
of modernization and becoming equal citizens of the Chilean republic.80
Thus, in stark contrast to Comentarios, which presented Mapuche culture as essentially collective, Manquilef s political propositions portrayed
the Mapuche as (want-to-be) adherents of the individualism of modern
capitalism. We also see how the land, which had important cultural and
historical connotations in Comentarios, was re-envisaged as a primarily
economic resource.
Soon after being elected as diputado for the province of Cautn in
1926, Manquilef submitted a draft law for the division and privatization
of indigenous communal lands (which triggered his expulsion from the
Caupolicn Society).81 Confronted by his Mapuche constituents who protested against the bill, Manquilef denied having any obligation to act as
their spokesman, stating I represent only the Liberal Democratic Party
and the civilized Indians of my province.82 Yet in response to other
diputados who had strong reservations about the law and questioned his
Mapuche-ness for having presented it to the National Congress without
proper consultation,83 he affirmed my blood tells me that with this law I
am loyally and effectively serving the Araucanian race.84 No longer did
this political leader link his indigenous identity to a childhood spent in a
rural community or to his own participation in and knowledge of cultural
traditions; rather, he presented his indigenousness as a biological fact.
According to Manquilef s ethnographic studies, there was room for
some Mapuche community customs in modern Chile; he also showed
how Mapuche society was capable of modernizing without doing away
with these customs. Mapuche society was thus imaged as both dynamic
and static. When it came to landownership, however, there was no room
for collective tradition. Here tradition and (capitalist) modernity were

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 69

directly opposed to each other. It was in this context that Manquilef s own
indigenous identity became rather shaky. One particularly poignant statement helps to shed light on the tensions within Manquilef s discourse: in
Las tierras de Arauco!, published more than ten years before he presented
the land division law to congress, he implored the government to change
its [land] policy and to, once and for all, kill the Indians and allow them
to live like other citizens.85 By to kill the Indians he meant to eliminate
them as a (marginalized) social category, to do away with property laws
that treated them differently. Eradicating them as a biological or cultural
category was neither possible nor necessary, because indigenous blood
and cultural practices (or at least some cultural practices) were not antagonistic to civilization and modernity.

Manuel Aburto Panguilef: Creating, Documenting,

and Performing Mapuche Cultural Identity
Shortly after his death in 1952, La poca of Loncoche described Manuel
Aburto Panguilef as a tireless defender of the Araucanian race and a
perfect example of [Chilean] patriotism and good citizenship.86 Aburto
would likely have approved of this description. Biologically speaking he
was pure Mapuche (in contrast to Manquilef, whose mother was a Chilean criolla), but his first surname points to a history of strategic political
alliances between his family and Spanish governors during the late colonial period,87 and his grandfather and uncle had supported the Chilean
army during the occupation campaigns of the late nineteenth century.88
Like Manquilef, he received a European-style education and later some
professional training as a lawyer, butand this is a crucial difference that
might help to explain the distinctive (spiritual, mystical) form that his
political discourse was to take in the following yearsit was primarily
a religious education, provided by the Anglican mission in Maquehue,
as opposed to Manquilef s (mainly) state school experience.89 Another
important factor distinguishing the two leaders was their community experiences: Manquilef never returned to live in Pelal after his father sent
him to study in Temuco, whereas Aburto did go back to his community
in Collimallin, Loncoche, and it was from here that he began his political
organizing. Indeed, despite spending much time in Temuco (because of
his political organizing) and traveling up and down the country with his
theater groups, Aburto retained Collimallin as his main base throughout

70 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

his lifetime. Furthermore, Aburto knew firsthand the reality of rural

poverty.90 He was descended from a prestigious line of lonkos, but the
history of dispossession impacted his family and community more than
Manquilef s (who owned extensive tracts of land), andagainAburtos
political organizing emerged from this local reality.
Aburto was a vociferous opponent of Manquilef s land division law, he
developed close links with the Left during the 1920s (whereas Manquilef
was a member of the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party), and he did
not seem to feel that he had to prove his Mapuche-ness (as Manquilef
was constantly doing in his public speeches and writings). Aburto also
developed and promoted a different understanding of the notions of Mapuche culture and customs. Rather than describe or narrate traditional
practices, he actively participated, and encouraged others to participate,
in these practices and thereby constantly revitalized and re-presented
them, so as to encourage a dialogue (rather than fusion) with Chilean national society. Like Manquilef, Aburto internalized certain aspects of the
dominant civilizing discourse of his timehe frequently spoke of the
need for advancement and progressyet for him culture was more of a
constitutive social process than a fixed way of life that could be civilized
or eradicated.
Aburto did not publish any books or academic studies, but he did produce a vast corpus of writings. Among these are newspapers (which either
reproduced his speeches as part of news articles or published his communiqus about forthcoming events); records pertaining to the Araucanian
Federation (over which he presided from 1921 until his death) and the
Araucanian Congresses (192150), which he organized and chaired;91 and
thousands of pages of his personal diary, written by either himself or his
daughter Herminia, which narrated the minutiae of his working life.92 As
Menard remarked, he [wrote] at every possible opportunity. He note[d]
down every occurrence, each peso spent or earned, each meeting, each
transaction, his hours and minutes and, of course, the increasing number
of messages emitted by Divine Voices.93 He also collected and made constant reference to documents produced by otherslegal treaties, letters,
legislative records, epic poemsthat served to re-create the Mapuche in
history as legitimate political subjects, to maintain their historical-political difference as a people, and to support their contemporary demands.94
Aburto began to make a name for himself in regional circles in 1910,
when he got a job as interpreter for the Protectorate of Indigenous People

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 71

in Valdivia. Six years later, he founded the Mapuche Mutual Protection

Society of Loncochea response to the dire socioeconomic conditions in
which many local Mapuche peasant-farmers were living and to the violent treatment they were suffering at the hands of colonos who sought to
expropriate their lands (the press reported on several massacres of indigenous people by colonos in the area during the years 191215).95 According
to Andrs Donoso Romo, the organizations principal objectives were to
condemn the abuses being committed against Mapuche people and to
offer support to the victims of such abuses. He quotes Aburto speaking at
the first meeting of the Mapuche Mutual Protection Society in September
1916: With the formation of this society, there will be protection for all
widows who do not have the means to educate their children. If a Mapuche is unjustly arrested, the protective hand of the society will be there to
defend his cause.96 There was also an important cultural dimension to the
societys agenda.
One of Aburtos first initiatives as president of the Mapuche Mutual
Protection Society was to set up the Araucanian Theater Company. On
December 2, 1916, he published an advertisement in La Voz de Loncoche
inviting all those friends of the Araucanian race and all those people
who wish to see the improvement [agrandecimiento] of Loncoche to a
recital by a talented troupe of forty young Mapuche people.97 The announcement promised a spectacular exhibition of all the customs of the
aborigines by indigenous performers who would be dressed according
to ancient tradition. Four days later the same newspaper reported that
the performance had gone very well, singling out the Hormachea girls,
whose rendition of the song Los copihues rojos received widespread
Over the next couple of months, Aburtos theater company traveled
to Valdivia, Temuco, Concepcin, Talcahuano, Tom, Chilln, Talca,
Valparaso, and Santiago. On December 23, El Diario Austral of Temuco
encouraged people to attend a soire of indigenous theater, which
promised to be very interesting, given the originality of the act.99 In
mid-January La Divisa of Tom commended the splendid program of
brilliant songs, dances, and villatunes.100 Such a display, it said, demonstrated that the customs of the aboriginal and indomitable tribe of Arauco
remain[ed] very much intact. The Araucanian Theater Company succeeded in recontextualizing the ancient customs of Mapuche communities: it performed the exotic and historically remote Indian for Chilean

72 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

audiences of the 1910s, but it also made the exotic real; it brought this supposedly ancient culture to life for people who, in Aburtos words, previously had no idea about the Mapuche.101 As Luis Pradenas summarized,
this artistic group projected itself as a cultural delegation which aspired
to reestablish the lost dignity of their people.102 The positive reviews suggest that Aburtos group was successful in its mission.
The tour also had more immediate, practical goals. Almost every newspaper report about the Araucanian Theater Company told readers that the
money raised from ticket sales would be put toward the construction of
an agricultural and industrial school for indigenous people in Loncoche.
One of the first things the group did when it returned to Loncoche was to
hold a mass meeting to inform local people of its plans for this school.103
As director of the group, Aburto stressed that it would benefit the entire population of Loncoche: its teaching and apprentice schemes were
to be exclusive to Mapuche students, but the education and economic
well-being of the Mapuche was crucial to the progress of the town as a
whole. In this sense, he presented himself and his performing troupe as
civic-minded citizens who were proud of both their ethnic and their regional identities. A couple of years later Aburto recalled how well received
the school project had been, making specific reference to the people of
Valparaso whose League of Workers Societies had started a fund-raising
campaign for it.104
As indicated here, the Mapuche Mutual Protection Society was in
agreement with the Caupolicn Society about the need for specialized
schools for Mapuche students. This was also a key demand of the larger
Araucanian Federation, which Aburto founded in 1921. Aburto was constantly using his public platform to urge Mapuche parents to send their
children to school because, as resolved at the Araucanian Congress of
1925, the only way to advance as a people was to become civilized.105
Like the Caupolicn Society, Aburtos organization endorsed official state
discourse on education (specifically, the idea that a Chilean education
would ensure progress), but it also referred to the Mapuche as a people
whoregardless of the education they receivedwould remain historically and politically distinct from Chilean society.
At the same congress of 1925 delegates agreed to petition the government to create more primary schools in or near rural communities, to establish special boarding schools for indigenous students of both sexes, and
to provide grants to enable more Mapuche children to attend secondary

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 73

school.106 The demands recorded in the proceedings of the 1929 congress

were more specific: sixty million pesos of government funding to build
six hundred new schools, and the provision of trained teachers to set
up these schools.107 At the Araucanian Congress of 1931 Aburto railed
against the authorities for their failure to build a single school for the
rural communities; Mapuche demands, it seems, were not being listened
to.108 Nevertheless, Aburto talked more forcefully than ever before about
obliging the government to improve education facilities for the Mapuche.
He also started to elaborate the idea of an enseanza indgenaa more
indigenous-oriented teaching practice, led by indigenous teachers.109
Education was clearly an important topic of debate at the Araucanian
Congresses, annual political-ceremonial meetings which were led by
the Araucanian Federation but brought together thousands of Mapuche
people of various political hues from all over Araucana. Another important issue, indeed probably the most prominent issue on the agenda, was
indigenous land rights: how best to defend the lands they had and how
best to recuperate the lands that had been stolen from them. Aburto, his
Araucanian Federation, and most of the other community leaders and
Mapuche organizations in attendance at the congresses were resolutely
against Manquilef s land division law. Indeed, at the Congress of 1926 held
in Collico, Ercilla, Manquilef was proclaimed a traitor and widely denounced for failing to consult with Mapuche people before he presented
the new legislation to parliament. It was shortly after this that the state
deemed Aburtos political organizing sufficiently subversive to warrant
legal punishment.
Aburto missed several of the Araucanian Congresses due to successive prison sentences in internal exile.110 He must have been distraught by
this, for the congress was one of the most important events of the year for
him. At least a couple of months beforehand he was always busy issuing
invitations, placing advertisements in the local press encouraging people
to attend, and deciding what food to take (a dream inspired him to take
large quantities of corn to one congress).111 Aburto was involved in every
aspect of the preparations. He was also one of the leading figures at the
event itself which, in the words of Menard and Pavez, symbolized an autonomous space of territorial and organizational representation. Acting
as the inverse reflection of the [Chilean] National Congress (which was
a secure institution, inscribed in a permanent building) the Araucanian Congresses (which were mobile [and] updated intermittently, in an

74 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

itinerant fashion in the open air) helped to reinforce Mapuche historicalpolitical difference.112
The congresses also provided opportunities for large collectives of
people to act out and revitalize Mapuche cultural identity. This was not
simply by default: to reestablish and uplift all the ceremonies and customs of the Mapuche race was part of the very purpose behind their
(and the Araucanian Federations) initial establishment.113 The minutes of
the congresses, newspaper reports, and Aburtos diaries give us a sense of
some of the ritual practices involved. The first few hours of the three-day
(sometimes four-day) meeting were taken up with greetings from political dirigentes and community leaders, who often spoke in Mapuzungun.
There was also a long prayer, led by a machi, in which many different
people participated, one person taking over from the next. Again, much
of this was spoken in Mapuzungun. People prepared, offered to the earth,
and then consumed mudai (a traditional drink made from fermented
wheat, described by Manquilef in his Comentarios), and they held a great
guillatn, during which requests were made of the ancestral spirits and a
small animal (usually a lamb, calf, or young bull) was sacrificed in return.
The congresses also gave Aburto a chance to perform his own individual
Mapuche identity: he often wore a poncho and traditional head scarf; he
spoke in Mapuzungun; and he recounted the visions that he had had in
his dreams.
Aburto and other participants thus asserted the enduring vitality of
Mapuche cultural traditions as well as the legitimacy of Mapuche political demands in twentieth-century Chile. Importantly, though, this was
not done in an adversarial or threatening manner. One of the most striking features of the congresses was the actual or metaphorical inclusion
of Chileans. Those with voting power had to be Mapuche,114 but several
Chilean politicians were invited to address the congress (senators Artemio Gutirrez and Luis Enrique Concha were present at the 1926 congress, for example),115 and Chilean journalists were encouraged to attend
so as to be able to report on the event afterward. Flags pertaining to the
various Mapuche organizations were flown everywhere, but so too was
the Chilean national flag. Aburto usually opened the proceedings by proclaiming the virtues of the Araucanian Race, but another crucial ingredient of this first ceremonial act was the singing of the national anthem.
Prayer sessions were led by a machi, who usually spoke in Mapuzungun

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 75

and made an offering to the ancestral spirits, but supplications were also
directed at the all-powerful Christian God and related to Chile as a
whole, not just the Mapuche people or Araucana. At the congress of 1924,
for instance, Aburto and machi Ignacio Quipaihuanque co-led a special
prayer in which they asked Dios el Todopoderoso to guide the military
government in its beautiful work so as to bring positive benefits for the
country.116 Rather than separating Mapuche and Chilean cultures, then,
the congresses acted as a meeting point where they could enter into dialogue with each other.
Bengoa has described Aburtos movement as 100 percent rural.117 Yet
the main office of the Araucanian Federation was in Temuco and most
of its legal activities were carried out there and in nearby towns. Aburto
himself moved constantly between the rural and urban worlds: he spent
several nights a week in Temuco but then returned to stay with his two
wives and children in Collimallin, Loncoche. The Araucanian congresses
were always held in rural localities, such as Collico or Collimallin, and
when it was suggested (at the 1926 congress) that the meeting take place
in a town, so as to be more easily accessible, Aburto refused. To move the
Parliament of the Araucanian Race from the countryside, he said, was
to relax the rules of its organization as a Mapuche entity.118 However, the
urban world was not excluded from the congresses. Far from it; many of
the delegates were urban-based (as were the congressmen and journalists
who were invited), and the agreements they reached were reported in
urban newspapers. Thus, just as the congresses brought together Chilean
and Mapuche cultures, one could also speak of their bringing together the
rural and urban. Similarly, they combined the oral and written (speeches,
prayers, and political debates were recorded in print), the spiritual and
legal (ritual ceremonies were a key component but so too was the drafting of formal petitions to the government), the collective and individual
(Mapuche cultural identity was performed en masse but there was also
the opportunity to assert ones individual Mapuche identity in front of
the masses), and the traditional and modern (the rewe was a centerpiece
of the guillatn, but the gramophone was also an important accompaniment to the festivities).119 Consequently, the Araucanian congresses disturbed many of the preconceived ideas about indigenous identity in early
twentieth-century Chile. (Indeed Aburto himself was comfortable in both
a poncho and a formal suit, spoke Mapuzungun and Spanish, prayed to

76 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Mapuche and Christian deities, promoted the value of the spoken word
but also recorded everything in written documents, and had two wives
but pledged never to contravene the laws of the Republic.)
One of the most well-known and widely cited congresses was that of
1931, because it was here that Aburto proposed the creation of an Indigenous Republic in Araucana. By this point he and his Araucanian Federation no longer demanded only the return of those lands that had been
illegally usurped since pacification, but also Mapuche ancestral lands;
that is, what had been independent Mapuche territory before the occupation campaigns. Aburto frequently made reference to el territorio indgena and what this consisted of in both his private diaries and public
speeches.120 He also stated that the Araucanian race should be able to
lead their lives according to their own psychology, customs, and rituals
and use their territorial space to create their own progress and culture.121
While these proclamations of Mapuche cultural and territorial sovereignty led certain religious scholars, such as Augusta, to describe Aburto
as anti-Christian and anti-Chilean,122 what most troubled the governing
elites were his connections with the Left. Aburto had shown indications of
his leftist leanings almost as soon as he emerged onto the political scene in
1916 when, in conjunction with his Araucanian Theater Companys tour
and its warm reception in Valparaso, he made a pact with the League
of Workers Societies. And by the mid-1920s regional newspapers, such
as El Diario Austral of Temuco, were denouncing him as a caudillo of
Communism and a Mapuche soviet.123 Nonetheless, it is probably fair
to say that his class politics were more sharply pronounced by 1931, when
delegates at the Araucanian Congress agreed that the problems related
to the land and education of the [Mapuche] race were social problems
that also affected and thereby linked the Mapuche to the national proletariat.124 With specific regard to the creation of an Indigenous Republic, a
proposition supported by the Communist International, it was noted that
the aspirations of the race were achievable only with an effective alliance between indigenous peoples and the campesinos and the workers.125
For Aburto, race and class were intimately connected (the Mapuche
were discriminated against for being poor and for being Indians; land
was an economic as well as a cultural resource) but he never reduced
the indigenous question to one of class. Moreover, as the 1930s progressed and dreams of political and territorial autonomy were no longer

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 77

deemed compatible with the international class struggle led by Moscow,

Aburto began to move away from the Left. By 1938 his attitude toward
the Communist and Socialist parties in Chile was openly hostile, and he
had decided to support the military populist Carlos Ibez (who rejected
the traditional party system and had, as dictator between 1927 and 1931,
introduced a number of initially progressive policies that included an attempt to rethink colonization policy in the southern provinces) in the
upcoming presidential election.126
Aburto has often been referred to as a radical, fundamentalist political leader.127 Certainly, there was a notable mystical and spiritual, even
messianic, slant to his discourse,128 and he was much more preoccupied
with re-creating cultural tradition than Manquilef was. Yet, as I have argued previously, even in his most eccentric moments, Aburto focused his
struggle on Chilean recognition of Mapuche difference.129 He sought to
forge a dialogue between rather than to separate (or indeed fuse) Mapuche and Chilean cultures, both of which were constantly changing.

Anthropology, Poetry, and Politics in the City

Aburto was keen to see Mapuche relics preserved and exhibited in
Chilean state museums. The Natural History Museum in Santiago had
amassed thousands of objects pertaining to indigenous cultures by the
early twentieth century, but these only became prominent in the displays
once Ricardo Latcham became director in 1928 and was able to embark
on a major renovation of the anthropological section. (A civil engineer
from England, Latcham found a vocation as an anthropologist when he
came to work on the Chilean railways in the late nineteenth century.)130
In 1936, for example, funds from the National Tourism Council allowed
for the inauguration of the Araucanian Room in which a life-size ruka
was built by local Mapuche men.131 Not unexpectedly for a natural history museum, the exhibits tended to relegate the Mapuche to the status of
flora and fauna. Nevertheless, such developments suggest an increasing
interest in indigenous society and a concerted effort to make it more lifelike for visitors. Furthermore, they point to the reemergence of a popular
cultural nationalism in Chile based on emotive evocations of land and
nature.132 This was notable in artistic and literary circles from at least the
1920s, but it was only in the 1930s (and particularly during the Popular

78 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Front government of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, which will be discussed in

chapter 3) that such visions of nationhood were widely adopted by state
It was also during the mid- to late 1930s that poetry written by Mapuche authorsas opposed to the oral poetry that had been transcribed
and translated by Chilean and foreign scholars in the early 1900sfirst
appeared in the public sphere. Guillermo Igaymn and Antonio Painemal saw their verses published in newspapers such as La Voz de Arauco
of Temuco and El Heraldo of Santiago, and Anselmo Quilaqueo (with
the backing of the Mapuche student organization Centro de Estudiantes
Newentuain) published a book of poetry entitled Cancionero Araucano
(Araucanian Anthology) in 1939.133 All of these authors drew inspiration
from the well-trodden stories of Araucanian military prowess and valor
during the colonial era, but they reworked them in order to assert the continuing resistance and strength of Mapuche society in twentieth-century
Chile. Igaymn sang, Ay, Araucanian soul! You are / the ancient legend of
our land / But you are [also] the light of the bright morning star. Painemal wrote of a mirror of the Bo-Bo / where you pledged to fight until
death / where you struggled with ferocious momentum / [where] today
we see your people smile once more. Quilaqueo penned, Oh, Arauco!
/ Remember how one day you spilled / your beautiful blood upon this
beloved land / refusing time and again to give in . . . / You took revenge
for the way you were punished / and for that reason you rise up again
[today].134 Igaymn, Painemal, and Quilaqueo did not write of their individual realities, but rather focused on their people as whole. They also
envisaged a Chile in which this people still had the potential to threaten
the status quo.
These poets and the men who built the ruka for the Natural History
Museum were just a few of the thousands of Mapuche who were beginning to migrate to urban centers, or to move back and forth between the
rural and urban worlds, during the first decades of the twentieth century.
Some may have decided to spend time in the city for professional or political reasons, as did Manquilef and Aburto, but for the main part the mass
urbanization of Mapuche society that took place during this period was
directly linked to the poverty of the rural communities and the stimulus
of urban employment created by state-led industrialization campaigns.135
Most migrants had no other choice but to try to make a living in the city
(often Temuco or Valdivia, but increasingly Santiago too). In his memoir,

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 79

Mapuche political leader Martn Painemal remembered arriving in Santiago in the mid-1920s and searching for work in a bakery.136 There were
many young Mapuche in Santiago by that time, he commented and, as a
result, an increasing number of Mapuche organizations, such as the Galvarino Society and the Society of Araucanian Residents.137
It was the young urban Mapuche who challenged the patriarchal ways
of Aburto Panguilef as president of the Araucanian Federation. Tensions between the militant youth and the traditional leadership were already a significant problem by 1926, as Menard and Pavez have noted.138
However, these came to a head during the presidential elections of 1938,
which pitted Pedro Aguirre Cerda, leader of the Radical Party (favored
by many young urban Mapuche), against the former military dictator
Carlos Ibez (supported by Aburto). Confronted with this internal political division, Aburto claimed that the young Araucanians who live[d]
in Santiago [did] not represent the Araucanian race, to which they responded: we come from many different places; we have come to know
each other in this city, and we maintain close ties with our families and
friends. We are therefore more representative [of the race] than Manuel
Aburto Panguilef and his so-called Central Committee of the Araucanian
Federation.139 Aburto presided over the Araucanian Federation until his
death in 1952. However, there is little doubt that he began to fade from the
national political scene in the late 1930s, partly due to (or perhaps as illustrated by) his problematic relationship with young Mapuche militants.
Aburtos loss of influence was also explained by the situation of the
indigenous rights movement more generally. The Caupolicn Society and
the Araucanian Federation agreed on numerous issues in the 1930s, including specialized education for indigenous students and the need to
defend communal lands, but they had conflicting ideas about the importance of cultural traditions and they worked separately from each other.
On August 10, 1938, Jos Cayupi approached Aburto to talk about a possible reconciliation between the two organizations in order to better
defend the interests of the race.140 Aburto was reluctant but eventually
conceded, and on August 11 he and Venancio Couepn (who was by
then the main leader of the Caupolicn Society) signed a pact of alliance.
As was customary, Aburto recorded every detail of the episode in his diary, down to the restaurant where they went to celebrate afterwards, how
much wine they drank, and the cost of the bill ($45.80, which was paid
by Couepn).141 The Araucanian Corporation was officially formed on

80 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

November 12, 1938, with Couepn as its president and Aburto as vice
president. According to the latters diary and to newspaper reports of
the following years, the Araucanian Federation continued to function,
but it became obsolete, as did Aburto, who was eclipsed by the figure of

Despite scholarly proclamations of impending extinction, the Mapuche
continued to exert their presence in early twentieth-century Chile. They
were active participants in the centennial celebrations, they engaged with
(simultaneously internalizing and challenging) dominant scientific discourses of race, and they founded numerous organizations in defense of
indigenous rights. Manquilef and Aburto provide a fascinating window
onto the internal diversity of the incipient Mapuche political movement,
and they were just two (albeit the most prominent) of a much larger number of leaders.142 This diversity was reflected in conflicting views not only
about landownership, but also about the meaning and performance of
Mapuche-ness in twentieth-century Chile. Both leaders undermined
stereotypical images of the Indian and sought to carve a space for Indians
in, and by this means to transform, the modern nation, but in very different ways: Manquilef promoted the revalorization of Mapuche cultural
difference within a broader project of political fusion, whereas Aburto
stressed a historical-political difference that could coexist in dialogue
with Chilean society and was to be reinforced through writing, cultural
performance, and bureaucratic/legal practice. These two figures had
largely disappeared from the national political scene by the late 1930s, at
the same time as we begin to see the impact of urbanization and increased
literacy on both Mapuche organizing and Mapuche cultural production.
One event that took place in Temuco in 1939 encapsulates some of
these developments. On November 26, a large crowd gathered at the intersection of Avenida Caupolicn and Calle Manuel Montt to witness the
unveiling of a statue of Caupolicn (figure 10). Almost thirty years had
passed since the Caupolicn Society had laid the first stone of its Monument to the Race during the buildup to the centennial celebrations. The
statue erected in 1939 was a private initiative: according to El Diario Austral, Bolivar Alarcn del Canto donated the scaled-down replica that he
had made of Nicanor Plazas sculpture (although, as you can see from

National Festivities and Mapuche Political Activism, 19101938 81

Figure 10. Statue of Caupolicn in Temuco. (Photograph by author, 2010.)

the photographs in figures 8 and 10, the two are quite different); it was
also Alarcn who paid for the statue to be mounted on a plinth. But local
governing authorities decided to make a formal occasion of the inaugural
In contrast to the official rhetoric surrounding Plazas Caupolicn in
Santiago, important connections were made between the legendary Araucanian hero and his contemporary descendants: three Mapuche leadersVenancio Couepn, Jos Cayupi, and Marcelino Nanculeoas
well as the poet Ignacio Igaymn were invited to speak at the event.144
An article in El Diario Austral stressed that this was a tribute to ancient
Araucana and praised Temucos efforts to improve civic pride through

82 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

the installation of monuments.145 Mapuche people were part of this story

of civic pride. They wanted to contribute to the development of Temuco
as a city, but they also objected when development plans ran contrary to
the well-being of the rural communities. An increasing number of Mapuche inhabited the urban space and made their voices heard in it, but
their demands (and their identities) remained closely linked to the rural
world. For them the monument was much more than a tribute to ancient
Araucana; it symbolized their continuing struggle for dignity and justice
in the present.
Chapter 3 further develops the themes of urbanization and the precarious position of Mapuche intellectual-political figures, analyzing the
twists and turns that occurred during the 1940s and 1950s. In particular,
it points to the international dimensions of the Mapuche question by
exploring the indigenismo of Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, the political machinations of Venancio Couepn, and the public persona of
Mapuche opera singer Rayn Quitral.

Caudillos, Poets, and Sopranos

Articulating Mapuche Identities on the National and
International Stage, 19381964

As Ronald Niezen emphasizes in The Origins of Indigenism (2003), indigenous identities are not elaborated solely within national boundaries,
but also in the context of broader geopolitical and economic realities. The
international dimension of Chilean ethnic politics was particularly prominent in the 1940s and 1950s, during the Radical Party presidencies of
Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Juan Antonio Ros Morales, and Gabriel Gonzlez
Videla; and the (second) government of the self-styled populist leader
Carlos Ibez. This chapter focuses on four cultural and political figures
of the periodrenowned poets Pablo Neruda (190473) and Gabriela
Mistral (18891957), Mapuche caudillo Venancio Couepn (190568),
and Mapuche opera singer Rayn Quitral (191679)and explores the
ways in which their efforts to reshape notions of Chilean national citizenship were influenced by and responded to the development of continental
Indigenismo claimed to seek the emancipation and integration of the
exploited Indian. I say claimed because most recent scholarship concurs
that there were many limitations to this artistic and political current (it
could also be referred to as an ideology, a movement, or both) that rose
to prominence during the 1920s.1 Most indigenistas were criollos or mestizos; indeed, Mexicanist scholar Alan Knight describes indigenismo as an
explicitly non-Indian construct.2 And indigenistas often defended their
role as spokesmen (or spokeswomen) for indigenous people on the basis
that the latter were incapable of speaking for themselves: in the words of

84 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Manuel Gamio (first director of the Inter-American Indigenista Institute,

created in 1940), the Indian did not know or understand the appropriate
means to achieve his liberation.3 Consequently, Latin American indigenismo can be seen as profoundly paternalistic in its treatment of the Indian.
It is also true that many indigenistas continued to consider the Indian a
According to the sociologist Jorge Larran, Chile never developed an
indigenista intellectual movement comparable to that of countries like
Mexico or Peru.4 He acknowledges that several prominent Chilean intellectuals wrote about the indigenous question, but claims such writings
were limited to anthropology scholarship and argues that they had very
limited impact. To Larrans mind, it was not until the 1980s that a significant number of authors began to show an interest in the subject. It is certainly difficult to talk of an indigenista movement in Chile, in the sense
that it never became a dominant current in Chilean intellectual circles.
However, what I have argued elsewhere and aim to illustrate further here
is that Larrans comments slightly misconstrue the Chilean experience.5
Apart from academics, many members of the countrys artistic and literary community, not least its two Nobel laureates, showed a concern for
indigenous peoples at least as early as the 1940s and 1950s, andtogether
with many Mapuche cultural producers and political activistsput pressure on successive governments to engage with the issue of indigenous
All four figures discussed in this chapter spent time living in Mexico
under a postrevolutionary state that incorporated indigenismo into its
official ideology: Mistral was invited in 1922 to participate in a literacy
crusade led by Education Minister Jos Vasconcelos, and she stayed there
until 1925;7 Neruda was given a diplomatic post in Mexico City between
1940 and 1943; Couepn visited for brief spell in April 1940; Quitral traveled to Mexico City in 1945, having been invited to perform in its Palace of
Fine Arts, and remained in the country for four years.8 Mexico certainly
seems to have opened the eyes of Mistral and Neruda to the plight of indigenous people (they had not written on the subject before going to Mexico); it also prompted their growing sense of and identification with a collective Latin American identity. Mistral was particularly influenced by the
postrevolutionary Mexican model of mestizaje (a binary, integrationist,
state-sponsored version), which she reproduced in numerous essays and
poems intended for distribution in schools across the continent.9 Neruda

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 85

was struck by the work of the Mexican muralists and the power of their visual vocabularies of revolution. He once stated that the best things about
Mexico [were] the agronomists and the painters.10 Couepn left Mexico
enamored of Lzaro Crdenas, whose presidency (193440) has been described as a spirited revisiting of the egalitarian and nationalist thrust of
the revolution.11 He wanted to see a similar kind of man (and a similarly
activist, interventionist state) in power in Chile.12 Evidence on Quitral is
fragmentary, but we do know that her performances at the Palace of Fine
Arts in Mexico City were well received and that she was subsequently
contracted to sing on government-funded radio stations across the country.13 She was, it seems, woven into the Institutional Revolutionary Partys
folkloric tapestry of indigenous America.
An analysis of the discourses elaborated by and projected onto Mistral, Neruda, Couepn, and Quitral helps to illustrate the diversity of
emphases and positions that existed within Latin American indigenismo,
as well as the shifts that took place in indigenista debates during the 1940s
and 1950s (and through to the 1960s). The Chilean experience of these
four figures and their articulation of that experience contributed to and
helped to shape those continental debates, at the same time as the wider
debates led them to rethink the situation in Chile. In Mistrals writings
the Indian as degenerate other, in need of protection and doomed to
disappear through an assimilatory process of mestizaje, has the potential
to transform into an agent of social change. Neruda exemplifies the renewed links between Marxism and indigenismo in the context of cold war
politics and U.S. imperialism in Latin America. Impressed by Mexicans
use of the pre-Columbian indigenous theme as a propagandistic device,
he proceeded to incorporate Mapuche colonial history into his own heroic narrative of leftist revolutionary struggle. Couepns political career
counters what Knight says of early twentieth-century Mexico, for it shows
that the Indian could be the author as well as the object of indigenismo.
The full name of his organization was, after all, the Araucanian Corporation (Indigenista Movement of Chile), and it was as a result of his political machinations that indigenismo found a place, albeit a temporary one,
in the Chilean state bureaucracy. Finally, Quitral provides a fascinating
window onto indigenista debates about the possibilities of civilizing and
redeeming the Indian, while also blurring the boundaries between Indian and non-Indian.

86 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

We are not a country of Indians! Or Are We?

In 1940, Pablo Neruda was appointed Chilean consul-general in Mexico
City. Soon after arriving in the country, he launched a new magazine
called Araucana, which he hoped would increase Mexicans awareness of
Chilean culture. The first front cover was, as Neruda himself put it, dominated by the most beautiful smile in the world: that of an Araucanian
woman. The poet spent a small fortune sending copies home and waited
expectantly for some words of commendation and gratitude, but he did
not receive them. Instead, state officials angrily proclaimed, We are not
a country of Indians! and instructed him either to change the name of
the magazine or to suspend its publication.14 In a short essay published in
1968, Neruda remarked on how perplexing this response had been, given
that Chiles president at the time, Pedro Aguirre Cerda, was the spitting
image of Michimalonco, one of the legendary Mapuche warriors who
fought against the Spanish conquistadors.15
More significant, Aguirre Cerdas Popular Front government (193841)
was in the process of creating special laws, educational institutions, and
consultation forums to address the specific demands of this supposedly
nonexistent people. For example, in 1940 a school for Mapuche children
was built in Huichahue, Cunco,16 and a new law (Law 6362) was passed
authorizing the establishment of Small Farmers Cooperatives. The latter
involved many Mapuche people, both as potential members of the cooperatives and as state officials in charge of overseeing the scheme.17 Aguirre
Cerda also set up the Commission on Indigenous Issues, an official entity
composed of government figures and Mapuche political representatives,
which proposed three steps toward a resolution of the land question: that
communal lands not be divided, that usurped lands be returned, and that
all sale contracts entered into since the laws of 1927 and 1931 be nullified.18
Beyond these practical initiatives, which coincided with its pledge to
expand state services, Aguirre Cerdas administration represented an important shift in official discourses of nationhood.19 In November 1939,
it announced the creation of a new state department, named Defense of
the Race and Enjoyment of Free Time, which sought to cultivate national
consciousness and patriotic honor among elite and popular classes.20 As
Patrick Barr-Melej summarized, the Popular Fronts culturally oriented
discourse . . . centred on the inclusion of marginalised Chileans . . . in a
more democratic vision of nation.21 There was no explicit mention of

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 87

indigenous people in what was later to become the Plan de Chilenidad.

In fact, in many ways, the unifying racial imaginary of Chilean nationality
reinforced historic denials of the countrys ethnic diversity.22 At the same
time, however, its emphasis on the value of folklore and its official sponsorship of regional (as well as national) identities,23 opened up a space for
the Mapuche.
One example of this was the Popular Fronts creation of the Araucanian Museum in Temuco.24 In February 1940, Carlos Oliver Schneider
(the then general inspector of museums) told readers of El Diario Austral
that the new museum sought to counter the lamentable ignorance about
the regions pre-Hispanic past.25 This cultural institution also aimed to
encourage a sense of belonging to the frontier zone and to disseminate
the spirit of Chilean nationality.26 As was true at the Natural History
Museum in Santiago, the Mapuche were depicted as an intrinsically rural
people: the entire first section of the exhibition was dedicated to the flora
and fauna of the region. Recent indigenous history was ignored, and the
Conquest and Pacification of Araucana was told along the official lines
discussed in chapter 1. Furthermore, the organizers were eager to display
the physical characteristics of indigenous people (which points to their
endorsement of deterministic theories of race) and to teach visitors about
social hygiene.27 In line with the Popular Fronts eugenic rhetoricthe
openings and constraints of which Karin Rosemblatt probes in Gendered
Compromises (2000)it asserted the need to educate, sanitize, and ultimately improve the local population.
There were at least some innovative suggestions for the exhibition design, however. The last section on fine arts, for instance, planned to reunite indigenous people and the region in everything that has inspired
artistic creation, and Schneider pledged to show that static mummy
museums [were] a thing of the past.28 Especially noteworthy was a commemorative event organized by the museum in 1946: the laying of a
plaque at the bottom of Cerro ielol to honor those Mapuche leaders who
had met there one early morning of 1881 to plan Temucos liberation from
Chilean control. The permanent exhibition might not have recognized
Mapuche people as modern political subjects, but some of the events it
was involved in certainly did.
Shortly after it established this museum, Aguirre Cerdas government
sent Mapuche leader Venancio Couepn to the First Inter-American
Indigenista Congress (PCII), which took place near Lake Ptzcuaro in

88 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Michoacn, Mexico. The event coincided with the creation of the InterAmerican Indigenista Institute (III) and thereby marked the institutionalization of indigenismo at the continental level. Delegates to the PCII
focused on the perceived poverty and miserable living conditions of indigenous communities, which they proposed to combat through statesponsored reforms in the fields of education, health care, and labor rights.
The congress was a major hemispheric event. Even the New York Times
commented on its importance: The nations of America were finally
coming face to face with their Indian problem stated one of its leading articles of April 14, 1940.29 By sending a representative to the PCII,
Aguirre Cerda was indicating that Chile shared Americas Indian problem, or at least that he was interested to know what other countries were
doing about theirs. That the chosen representative was indigenousa rarity at the conference which, according to Rodolfo Stavenhagen, largely
spoke about rather than with indigenous peopleis even more intriguing.30 Surely, this was a public declaration of Chiles contemporary indigenousness; it would also seem to suggest that the government wanted indigenous peoples feedback on international developments, for Couepn
was asked to submit a report on the conference.
The Santiago magazine Zig-Zag once claimed that Aguirre Cerda represented the Chile of the poncho, the dark-skinned [and] the rural.31
His governments decision to send Couepn to Mexico would seem to
endorse this view, and yetas noted earliercertain sectors of the state
bureaucracy at the time rejected the existence of a dark-skinned Chile.
Moreover, although Aguirre Cerda certainly promoted a more democratized vision of nation than his conservative predecessors, and talked
of incorporating the rural into chilenidad, little was actually achieved in
practice, by either him or the Radical Partyled Popular Front administrations that followed him. The 1940 law on agricultural cooperatives
was not widely implemented (recommendations along these lines were
still being made in the early 1950s),32 and the proposals for agrarian reform were eventually rejected by Aguirre Cerda, and never revisited by
Ros Morales or Gonzlez Videla. New legislation aimed at developing
and modernizing the nation tended to concentrate on Chiles urban centers; as Rosemblatt comments, the countryside was left out of the new
compromise state.33 The absence of roads, for example, remained a major problem in rural Araucana throughout the 1940s, as did the lack of

Figure 11. Venancio Couepn (wearing glasses, second from right) and President
Carlos Ibez (in center, waving hat) in Temuco, ca. 1955. (Courtesy of the Museo
Histrico Nacional, Santiago.)

90 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

schools.34 Overall, the Popular Front era was a great disappointment for
rural Mapuche, who were still the majority despite the ever-increasing
number of Mapuche moving to the cities.35
By the late 1940s, the political climate had shifted to the right (Gonzlez
Videla outlawed the Communist Party in 1947), and there was a general
erosion of support for the Radical Party, which was seen as corrupt and
self-seeking.36 The ex-dictator Carlos Ibez took advantage of the electorates disenchantment with the established political system and the
traditional parties, and relaunched himself as a leader with a noble and
disinterested sense of patriotism.37 He was elected senator for the recently
formed Agrarian Labor Party (PAL) in 1949 and went on to win the presidential elections of 1952 with 46.8 percent of the national vote.
The rise to power of the General of Hope coincided with the increasing visibility and audibility of Venancio Couepn, himself portrayed as a
great hope for his long-suffering people.38 In 1945, Couepn was elected
as diputado for the department encompassing Temuco, Lautaro, Imperial,
Villarrica, and Pitrufqun. In the 1949 congressional elections, he drew
on the expanding organizational networks of his Araucanian Corporation to increase his share of the vote.39 The support that Couepn and
his corporation gave to Ibez was one of the reasons that the General of
Hope received so many votes from enfranchised peasants in the southern
provinces in 1952.40 Ibez was well aware of thisit was the result of
an informal populist pact between the two caudillo-like leaders (figure
11)and he returned the favor by making Couepn minister of lands
and colonization and then creating the Department of Indigenous Affairs
in 1953, which Couepn would run until 1958.41 It was the most explicit
acknowledgment by a Chilean president that Chile was most definitely a
country of Indians.

Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda: Poetry, National Iconography,

and Chiles Indigenous Question
Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda were contemporaries of Couepn but
there is no evidence that they ever met or had any communication with
him, which is perhaps surprising, given their pronounced interest in indigenous cultures. Both poets are revered national icons in Chile: schools,
streets, parks, and squares are named after them; monuments and statues have been built in their honor; their faces appear on banknotes and

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 91

stamps. Recent scholarship on Mistral has explored and critiqued successive Chilean governments appropriations of her as the passive, saintly
mother of the nation,42 which contrasts starkly with Nerudas national
image as the combative, revolutionary father.43 These writers symbolic
significance, however, is by no means fixed. Indeed, what becomes clear
from any analysis of the reception of their literary works and political
personas is just how contested these have always been. In this section, I
focus on Mistrals and Nerudas literary indigenismo and highlight some
of the divergent responses to it.
Neither Mistral, who spent much time in historic Mapuche territory
during the 1910s and 1920s, as a teacher at the Liceo de Nias in Traigun and director of the Liceo de Temuco, nor Neruda, who grew up in
Temuco and spent his family holidays in Puerto Saavedra, showed much
interest in writing about the Mapuche until they went to Mexico. Most
existing studies on Mistral and Neruda do not find this problematic. That
Mexico was the catalyst for their indigenismo has largely been interpreted
as a natural consequence of their contact with its far greater indigenous
population and their exchanges with Mexican intellectuals and government officials.44 One welcome exception to this lack of skepticism is the
work of Licia Fiol-Matta, which suggests that Mistral made a conscious
decision during the early 1920s to remodel herself as the national mother
of racially mixed children in order to ingratiate herself with the postrevolutionary Mexican state.45
Whether genuine or contrived, the indigenismo of these two literary
figures cannot be understood outside the Mexican framework, for it was
while they were in that country that they began to engage in debates about
the indigenous question. They made sure Chileans knew about these debates (taking them back either in person, in the case of Neruda, or in literary publications, in the case of Mistral, who never returned to live in Chile
after 1922), and they also made sure Mexicans and other Latin Americans
knew about Chiles indigenous reality. Here I draw mainly on Nerudas
Canto general (General Song), published in exile in 1950, and Mistrals
Poema de Chile (Poem of Chile), written during the 1940s and 1950s but
not published until 1967, and probe the place that they ascribed to the
Mapuche within national and continental narratives, their reformulations
of the relationship between indigenous people and nature, their engagement with the state, and their self-identification with the Mapuche past
and present.

92 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

The Mapuche appear toward the beginning of Nerudas great epic poem
of America.46 They quite literally rise up from the earth: The war chiefs
germinated there. / From that black wetness, / from that fermented rain
/ in the volcanic cones / magnificent breasts emerged / . . . Thats how the
earth coerced man into being.47 They are made of the natural landscape
and they learn to manipulate it for their own purposes. With his steadfast eyes of the land, Caupolicn makes use of the foliage of the southern
forests to camouflage himself and his men as they prepare to attack the
Spanish invaders.48 Nerudas Caupolicn was markedly different from the
idealization monumentalized on Santa Luca Hill in Santiago. Instead of
eschewing the brutal violence of Spanish colonialism, Nerudalike the
Mexican revolutionary muralists Diego Rivera, Jos Clemente Orozco,
and David Alfaro Siqueirosmade it a central motif of his story.49 In the
poem El Empalado (Impaled), we read of the warriors gruesome torture and murder: Impaled on the sacrificial spear, / he died a slow death
like trees. Such atrocities scarred Chilean nationality (Into my countrys
bowels/ plunged the lethal blade, / wounding the hallowed lands), but
they did not terminate Mapuche rebellion, for Caupolicns blood irrigated the land, which went on to produce other freedom fighters:
The burning blood fell
from silence to silence, downwards,
onto the seed
which is awaiting springtime.
This blood fell deeper still.
It flowed toward the roots.
It flowed toward the dead.
Toward those about to be born.
Thus, Nerudas story is one of rebirth as well as death. Caupolicns
blood eventually lands upon a deposit of quartz crystals, the stone rises
where the drop falls and that is how Lautaro, who went on to defeat
Pedro de Valdivias forces in the Battle of Tucapel (1553), is born of the
earth.50 La tierra and indigenous Mapuche identity are closely connected
in Nerudas poetic narrative, but he goes beyond the essentializing tropes
that we find in much early twentieth-century indigenista literature, in that
he links nature to political struggle. The Mapuche are not reduced to nature; they are not a mere part of the natural landscape (as represented in

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 93

some museum exhibits); instead, they are active historical agents, who
live on through nature and use it to help defend their territory against the
enemy. Always present, then, is the theme of rebellion and war, whether
this resistance is actually taking place or being planned.
It is notable that the poem Toqui Caupolicn (War Chief Caupolicn)
shifts from past to present tense after the first stanza. The indomitable
warrior was part of Chiles colonial history but his struggle, as Neruda
told it, also had important contemporary relevance. In the words of Jason
Wilson, Canto general was essentially a Cold War epic.51 In Siqueiross
painting Tropical America (1932) an Indian is crucified on a double cross
on top of which stood the Yankee eagle of [North] American finance (the
principal capitalist oppressor).52 The symbolism is no less clear in Nerudas verses: the glorious military feats of Caupolicn and Lautaro feed into
a broader narrative of resistance against colonial rule, class hierarchies,
and U.S. imperialism; their heroism is passed on to Chilean independence
leaders and twentieth-century working-class figures such as Luis Emilio
Recabarren, who founded the Communist Party of Chile. It is, as Mary
Louise Pratt has remarked, La Araucana revived in a radical counterhegemonic guise.53
Neruda had been a communist sympathizer since the Spanish Civil
War (193639), and he publicly associated with many well-known communist figures during his time in Mexico (194043), but it was not until
1945, when he was elected as senator for the northern province of Antofagasta, that he officially became a member of the Chilean Communist
Party. The (perceived) complementary relationship between Marxism and
indigenismo dates back at least as far as Jos Carlos Maritegui in Peru
(18941930), but we generally think of this cohesion as having waned
by the 1940s. As noted in chapter 2, Aburto Panguilef distanced himself
from the Left during the mid- to late 1930s as it became apparent that his
plan for an Indigenous Republic was no longer supported by the Communist International, and leftist revolution was certainly not endorsed
by the PCII, the main concern of which was to make capitalism work
for indigenous communities. Pushing in a contrary direction, Nerudas
literary crusade for national and continental liberation sought to bring
indigenismo and Marxism back together.
The most renowned of Nerudas poems on the Araucanian Liberators is probably La educacin del cacique (The Chief s Training), which

94 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

narrates the hardships suffered by an adolescent Lautaro. In a similar vein

to Caupolicns blood, which fell from silence to silence, this heroic figures childhood years were dominated by silence, as he bided his time
and prepared for war. If silence symbolized impending rebellion, speech
embodied actual rebellion. The Caupolicns and Lautaros of the colonial
period were long dead, but Neruda allowed them to continue speaking
through him. The Chief s Training is written in the third person, but by
the time we get to Pedro de Valdivias Heart, which depicts the murder
of the Spanish conquistador by Lautaros men, Neruda often uses the first
person: Give me your coldness and heart, heinous foreigner. / Give me
your great jaguars bravery. / Give me the fury in your blood.54 Neruda
purposefully confuses himself with the Araucanian warriors, as they seek
strength and power through the consumption of Valdivias blood. He allies himself with them and becomes a vehicle for telling their story, just as
he does with the Inca in Alturas de Macchu Picchu (Heights of Macchu
Ive come to speak through your dead mouths.
Across the country bring together
the silent dispersed lips
and from the depths talk to me through this long night . . .
Press your bodies against mine like magnets.
Respond to my veins and to my mouth.
Speak through my words and my blood.
Nerudas quest to speak for the Araucanians raises some important
questions, and brings us back to Knights argument about the nonindigenous authorship of Mexican indigenismo.55 But here Neruda does not
so much patronize and talk over indigenous people as identify and try
to communicate with them. Furthermore, his writings have been well
received by several contemporary Mapuche intellectuals and political
activists. The most notable example is Elicura Chihuailaf, who recently
translated forty-four poems from Canto general into Mapuzungun, including The Chief s Training.56 In the prologue to Todos los cantos/Ti
kom vl (All Songs), Chihuailaf described the impact that Nerudas poetry
had on him: So close do I feel the emotion and compassion . . . [that] I
hear the thoughts of my elders [and] sense the tenderness of my people,
my grandparents and my parents reflected [in his verses].57 The highly

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 95

acclaimed Mapuche poet thus endorses and celebrates Nerudas role as a

literary voice of the Mapuche. Neruda is writing, but it is his own people,
his own family that Chihuailaf can hear through the verses.
Mistralunlike Nerudawas highly critical of the monumental stature of La Araucana.58 In an essay of 1932, titled Msica araucana (Araucanian Music) she wrote:
anyone would have thought that a people who . . . were eulogized
by their mortal enemies . . . would have had a more fortunate fate.
No such people exist. The generous intentions were felt at the
time . . . but the work died a literary death within fifty years; it was
deadly boring, [and] annoyed readers with its false tone . . . and
naive Homeric model.59
La Araucana is dead, she insisted, and shows no signs of coming
back to life. Mistral praised the profound beauty of traditional Mapuche music. However, like the ethno-linguists Augusta, Guevara, and Lenz
(whom I discussed in chapter 2), and Mexican indigenista intellectuals
(such as Gamio), Mistral prioritized a history of social, moral, and cultural degradation: they gave up cultivating their lands, abandoned their
tribal loyalty . . . forgot their love of family and spiritual values, and once
the cultivator, family chief, and priest were no more, they slowly returned
to a state of barbarism. Mistral denounced the complicit role of the courts
of law and the Catholic Church in this declinethey had, she said, failed
to protect the Mapuche against rural bullies and thievesbut the overwhelming story being told here and in other writings on Mapuche music
and poetry (for example, Elementos del folklore chileno [Elements of
Chilean Folklore] published in 1938) was of a people who had lost all connection to their glorious past. This rejection of a romanticized account
of indigenous history, which was too easily manipulated for nationalistic
purposes, and concern for the deplorable and impoverished situation of
contemporary indigenous people were to be the principal narratives of
delegates at the PCII in Ptzcuaro.
During the 1940s and 1950s, however, Mistral seemed to revise her
view of Mapuche culture and to identify more closely with it. This shift
coincides with Alexander Dawsons outline of the development of Mexican indigenismo from its paternalistic stance in the 1920s to a more open
recognition by the 1940s of Indians as social actors in their own right.60 At
the time, Mistral was working on Poema de Chile. In this poetic narrative

96 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Mistral returns to Chile as a ghost and travels from the Atacama Desert
in the north to the glaciers of Magallanes in the south. As they go, she and
her co-traveler (an Atacameo child) name the flowers, trees, mountains,
and lakes that they encounter, as well as the animals and birds that inhabit
this inspiring natural landscape. Chiles urban centers, which were the
priority target of Popular Front reforms, either no longer exist or are purposefully ignored. We also detect a marked absence of the state. According to Mary Louise Pratt, there is no imagined community in Mistrals
poem, only the national territory naturalized as an ecological entity and a
concrete maternal . . . relation.61
Without doubt, there are few human protagonists in the poemario, but
Chile is not entirely depopulated. Those who work the land are present,
even if only in an indirect or metaphorical sense, in Huerta (Fruit Garden), Campesinos (Peasant Farmers) and Reparto de la tierra (Distribution of Lands). All three poems press home the desperate need for, and
successive Chilean governments failure to implement, a profound agrarian reform program. As stated by Nicola Miller, Mistral was no primitivist or atavist, celebrating an allegedly pure, uncomplicated rural life.62
The reader is also introduced to the Araucanos (Araucanians):
Little one, listen: they were
the owners of the forests and the mountains,
of all the eye can see
and much beyond that,
of plants and fruits,
of the open air and Araucanian enlightenment,
until the arrival of men who owned
guns and horses.
They were dispossessed of their lands
but they are the Old Country,
our newborn cry
and our first word.
They are an ancient choir
that no longer laughs or sings.
Name them, say it with me:
Go on: they fell

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 97

Say more: they will return tomorrow.

Lets go, you will see them again one day
they will return, transfigured
coming down from the lands of the Quechua
to the lands of the Araucanians
to look at and recognize one other,
to embrace each other silently . . .
This poem narrates a brutal history of conquest and dispossession. The
Mapuche, the rightful owners of vast tracts of land, anchor the nation
in a primordial time. They are the first enunciation of Chilean nationhood: our newborn cry. They once had a voice, but they have lost it
(they are an ancient choir / that no longer laughs or sings) just as they
have lost their lands. So far, the story is not so different from earlier portrayals of decline, but then the poem shifts gears. Mistral encourages the
Atacameo child she is traveling with to name the Araucanians; naming
them out loud testifies to their existence and claims a space for them in
the national vocabulary. She urges her companion to enunciate both their
historical defeat and forthcoming revival. The verbal recuperation of the
past (say it with me) and the declared recognition that they have a future
is of utmost importance to Mistral: the Mapuche have been mistreated
and have suffered greatly, and this has to be acknowledged publicly. There
is also a spoken certainty here that they will come back, emboldened by
the Quechua in Peru, to claim what is theirs.
The allusion to Pan-American indigenous political mobilization is significant, for it allows Mistral to transcend the nation even though her
collection is titled Poem of Chile. Focusing on her time in Mexico in the
1920s, Fiol-Matta argues that Mistral was obsessed with national boundaries and who belonged within them.63 I am more inclined however to
agree with Nicola Miller, who claims that Mistral wrote dismissively of
those whose vision was bounded by the borders of nation-states.64 Certainly, we see critiques along these lines in many of her private letters.
And much of her poetry, including Araucanos, firmly locates Chile and
its inhabitants within a regional cultural community.
Notably, it is Mistral and her companion who do the talking in Poema
de Chile. The Mapuche, a shadow of their former selves, as symbolized by
the spectral female figure that approaches the travelers at the beginning
of the poem but then quickly disappears, do not have a voice:

98 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Why is she running, you say,

and hiding her face?
Call her, bring her over, run,
she looks like my mother.
Shes not coming back, little one,
shes vanished like a ghost.
She runs too quickly, no one can reach her.
Shes escaping from what shes seen
strangers, white people.
According to Fiol-Matta, the indigenous woman evoked in Mistrals pedagogical essays of the 1920s was never hailed as a significant social actor,
much less as a leader.65 She was, instead, a millenarian and singular icon
fatally detached from social life, an oddity deserving a curious admixture
of pity and admiration.66 We can see this dynamic here to some extent:
the india azorada hides her face and slips away when confronted by
danger. She literally disappears from Chile. Butand this is the crucial
pointnot forever. The Mapuche return at the end of the poem, embracing their Quechua brothers and sisters; they are silent, but the reader
gets the impression that they will shortly recover the ability and desire
to speak.
It is the assertion of Mapuche historical agency and the possibility
of returning tomorrow that Mapuche literary critics Ariel Antillanca
and Csar Loncn perceive to be the most important storyline of Araucanians. In contrast to cultural theorist Patricio Marchant, who reads
Mistrals poem as the narrative of the Death of the Mother (meaning
death of the Araucanian people as the Mother of Chilean mestizaje),67
Antillanca and Loncn claim it envisages a future in which the Mapuche
rediscover themselves and play a fundamental role in the process of
social construction.68 They clearly suffered as a result of nation-building
projects and so-called modernization campaigns, but they were not passive victims. Mistral did not reject the well-intentioned efforts of governments to raise the living standards of indigenous people, as proposed at
the PCII in Ptzcuaro. Indeed, she was a staunch and outspoken advocate
of state-sponsored social reform. But, as noted, the state is noticeably absent throughout Poema de Chile. The poem is, in sum, a story of possible
Mapuche emancipation, but without the help of the state.

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 99

There are numerous limitations to the indigenista discourses of Neruda and Mistral. Nerudas epic poem focused on the colonial past of the
Mapuche (its Mapuche protagonists are those of the sixteenth century)
and tended to subsume this people and their distinct culture and history within a broader, unifying narrative of revolutionary class struggle.
Mistral prioritized a history of exploitation and oppression, and rarely
engaged with the political activism of contemporary Mapuche. Her Araucanians are going to return; there is no sense that they have already
come back and started fighting for their rights (as we saw with Manquilef
and Aburto in chapter 2, and will see with Couepn in this chapter).
Mistrals choice of an Atacameo boy for a companion is also noteworthy:
as Pratt comments, Mistral takes on a decidedly maternal role and indigenous people are rendered childlike. The boy asks pertinent questions, but
it is always she who has the answers. Despite such limitations, however,
several prominent Mapuche intellectuals have noted and reinforced both
literary figures defense of the Mapuche struggle. Chihuailaf incorporated
Mistrals voice as part of the collective that spoke out in his Sueos azules
y contrasueos (Blue Dreams and Counter-Dreams); he also claims Nerudas work offers one of the possibilities for dialogue between Chileans
and Mapuche.69 Such appropriation points to the Nobel laureates useful
status as national icons: what better figures to legitimize the Mapuche
cause? It also hints at the flexible, shifting nature of their representations
of Mapuche-ness, which both replicates and counters dominant discourses of indigenismo in mid-twentieth-century Latin America.70

Venancio Couepn: Reframing Official Doctrines of Development

Venancio Couepn Huenchual was elected to the National Congress
at the same time as Neruda, but located himself at the opposite end of
the political spectrum (supported by the Popular Liberation Alliance
in 1945 and the Conservative Party in 1949). He was the third Venancio
Couepn to figure in Chilean national history. His grandfather, whom
General Cornelio Saavedra named Cacique General de la Pacificacin
de la Araucana, and his great-grandfather, who fought for the patriotas against the Spanish in the early nineteenth century, were both mentioned in chapter 1. Couepn shared this history of strategic alliances
with Manuel Manquilef and Manuel Aburto Panguilef. He also shared the

100 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

experience of a western-style education, having attended the Araucanian

missions primary school in Cholchol (the same mission that operated the
school in Maquehue where Aburto was educated) and, afterwards, the
Liceo de Temuco (the same school Manquilef attended). On graduating
from the latter, Couepn entered the world of business and worked for
Ford Motors in Temuco. In 1938, he married Ruth Kindley Parcker and
decided to give up his managerial post with Ford in order to concentrate on developing his political career.71 This was the same year when
he became president of the newly formed Araucanian Corporation. As
historian Pablo Marimn has remarked, Couepn was fortunate enough
to make a great deal of money from business and agriculture (his family
owned vast tracts of land in Pitrako and Pewchen near Cholchol) and did
not, therefore, depend on a salary or the goodwill of [any] institution.72
According to Diane Haughney, the Araucanian Corporation framed
its demands in terms of the immediate needs of the rural communities,
not as a reordering of the overall political relationship between the Mapuche people and the Chilean state,73 and Florencia Mallon points to its
integrationist character.74 However, Mallon also quotes from Foerster
and Montecinos seminal study, which affirms that the Araucanian Corporationrooted in and supported by the rural communities and their
traditional authorities (lonkos)constituted an organic movement
with a strong ethnic character. I would argue, countering Haughney,
that Couepn and his Araucanian Corporation did in fact seek to reorder the overall political relationship between the Mapuche people and
the Chilean state, but in rather subtle and indirect ways. Following the
readings of Mallon and of Foerster and Montecino, we can interpret this
leading Mapuche figure and his political organization as simultaneously
integrationist (indigenista) and proethnic autonomy (indgena). Like
Manquilef and Aburto, Couepn found himself at the interface between
Mapuche and Chilean societies, but he seemed to manage this position
more effectively than his predecessors did (remember that Manquilef was
expelled from the Caupolicn Society and that Aburto was reproached by
both state authorities and young Mapuche militants).
In what follows, I analyze Couepns role as a Mapuche cultural activist and politician in Chile during the 1940s and 1950s. I am not so much
interested in the details of his political demands as in the way he articulated those demands, his imaginings of Chilean and Mapuche identities,
and his response to the dominant developmentalist discourse of the time,

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 101

which was intimately connected to continental indigenismo. Bengoa refers

to the desarrollismo indgena of Couepn.75 I explore the meaning of
this term, and argue that Couepn did not simply imitate or repeat the
dominant paradigm of indigenismo, as presented at the PCII in Mexico,
but rather selectively adopted and adapted certain elements to suit his
own political agenda. He blurred the boundaries between indigenous and
indigenista in a more overt manner than Neruda and Mistral, who tended
to associate themselves with an indigenous past rather than an indigenous
present. Moreover, he affirmed indigenous identity not in opposition to
modernity but as intimately bound up with it. In this sense, Couepn
proposed an alternative modernity; he fought for modernization on indigenous terms.
In response to a formal invitation from Lzaro Crdenas, Aguirre Cerdas administration asked Couepn and Csar Colima (another Mapuche
political leader) to represent Chile at the PCII in Mexico. They jumped
at the chance. It was, after all, a major international event that could have
important consequences for their people: urban intellectuals and political
representatives from all over the continent, including the United States,
would be there. The basic objectives of the congress and the institute that
it created were to assist in coordinating the indigenous affairs policies of
member states, to promote research into indigenous peoples living conditions, and to support the training of individuals working with indigenous
communities.76 As outlined in the introduction to this chapter, the focus
of discussions was the poverty of indigenous communities and how to
best alleviate this issue through economic development.
We know very little about Couepns participation in the PCII. Its
founding guidelines and the limited scholarship available on the event
suggest that he went as an observer (oyente) rather than a delegate with
voting power. According to Bengoa, the leader of the Araucanian Corporation did not speak at the congress but instead took notes and processed everything that went on.77 Whatever his role there, it is clear from
his parliamentary interventions during the late 1940s that the conference
in Mexico had a major impact on his political strategizing.
Couepn first stood for parliament in 1941 as an independent candidate, but failed to get elected. In 1945, he was more successful, partly because he had the support of the Popular Liberation Alliance. In the campaign for this election, a newspaper advertisement presented Couepn
to the voting public as the Candidato de la Raza (Candidate of the

102 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Race).78 This could be interpreted as an open declaration of his Mapuche racial identity. He was, after all, still leader of the Araucanian Corporation; he made much of his (planned) indigenous rights program on
the campaign trail; and helike other Mapuche leadersoften spoke of
la raza araucana. But la Raza can also be construed to refer to the
Chilean mestizo race, similar to the nationalist imaginaries elaborated by
conservative intellectuals of the early twentieth century such as Nicols
Palacios.79 As portrayed in the advertisement, Couepn represented a
blending of the old and the new: as an energetic combatant of great ability he was the living embodiment of the Araucanian warrior of colonial
times; as the true spirit of renewal, he would help transform Chilean
politics, which had become corrupted and stale. (In this respect, his selfprojected image was very similar to that of Ibez). More importantly, the
electorate was told he had good experience and knowledge of agriculture,
business, credit systems, and the social question. This experience and the
implication that he had the facility to bring the rural and urban worlds
together were crucial to Chiles development as a modern, democratic
nation. Far from being a problem, Couepns indigenousness became
part of the solution to the countrys troubles: he was the most authentic
of Chileans (the body and soul of the nation);80 the most honorable,
serious, hardworking, and patriotic of Chileans; a symbol of difference
and unity (Chileans, Indians, and gringos will vote for him, because to
do so is to vote for Chile). If Couepn was evoking a mestizo national
identity here, it was most certainly one that allowed for the survival of the
Mapuche race; indeed, the collective destiny of Chile depended on it.
In his early parliamentary speeches, Couepn presented himself as
a genuine representative of the Indians who had come out of [his] silence in order to counter the sensationalist propaganda campaign that
had been launched against his people.81 As with Nerudas and Mistrals
histories, Couepns decision to speak out was intimately connected to
political struggle. The difference was that, in addition to telling a history
of Mapuche suffering and resistance, he also embodied it. Previously, he
said, silence had been one of the Indians only weapons, along with our
sarcastic expression and insulting scorn.82 It also served, contrarily, as
proof of the Indians patriotism: we have remained silent . . . because we
are painfully aware that there are already many hateful divisions between
Chileans, which affect our fortune as a country.83 The recovery of (public)

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 103

speech, he asserted, was forced upon him by the suffering of his people
and the deceitful, malicious words of others.
The PCII featured prominently in Couepns presentations to Congress. For one thing, he used it as a launching pad for his diatribes against
the hypocrisy of the civilizing mission of the Chilean state. According
to Couepn, delegates at Ptzcuaro had rejected the old theories regarding the incorporation of the Indian into civilization as a mere pretext for the [continuing] oppression of aboriginal peoples.84 Building on
this, Couepn claimed that to relate the history of the Mapuche since
[their] contact with civilization, was to confirm the lack of understanding shown toward them, [and] the brutal, inhumane, and sinful way in
which they had been treated.85 What kind of people showed the world
the goodness of their civilization by killing and murdering the Indians[?],
he asked.86 At that moment in Chile the Indian was being blamed for
everything: for the failure to meet production targets and for the lack of
progress, but the Indian [knew], Couepn said, that this was a construct of his enemies imagination. The Indian knew that the dispossession of his lands required justification in the form of evidence of his
supposed inferiority.
The terms conocer and saber (to know) were central to Couepns discourse. The men at Ptzcuaro he stated, know much more than others about the indigenous question, implying that what they said (mediated, of course, by him) should be heeded and acted upon. The others
were the Chilean ruling elites who refused to pass legislation to benefit
indigenous people, Chilean landowners who had stolen indigenous lands,
and Chilean journalists who were leading the sensationalist propaganda
campaign against the Indian. Inverting dominant racial stereotypes of
the poor, ignorant, ineffectual Indian, enunciated not only by the Chilean
governing classes but also by some leading creole indigenista intellectuals
in Mexico, Couepn made frequent references to what nosotros sabemos (we know) and what ellos ignoran (they do not know). The Indians
did not have sufficient knowledge of the laws (a situation he sought to
change through education), but they did know the value of their cultural
customs, they did know about their ancestral past, they did know the
value of land, and they did know that they had been dispossessed of what
was rightfully theirs. In contrast, the enemies of the race, particularly
those of lower social extraction (remember that Couepn was from a

104 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

wealthy, landowning family) were ignorant of their history and incapable

of comprehending the value of tradition.87 He cited specific Chilean intellectuals who wrote regularly for the national press, such as Hernn Daz
Arrieta (better known as Alone), Alejandro Tinsly, and Emilio Rodrguez
Mendoza, asserting that they [did] not know the Indian and therefore
[could] not understand him.88
Having drawn on the PCII to reinforce the validity of what he was
saying (an irony, given that many delegates there claimed to speak for the
ignorant Indian), Couepn then proceeded to subvert one of its principal resolutions (and thus bring the incongruity full circle). The PCII
concluded that indigenous people required improved access to education
in order to redeem themselves from backwardness. Couepn was a firm
believer in education, but not on the basis that the Indian was naturally
ignorant. The Indian already had much knowledge, but he needed to acquire new knowledgefor example, how to make his land more productive, how to use the tools of dominant society to his own advantage. He
would do well at school, because he was well aware of the benefits that
education could bring. On the other hand, there were numerous well-todo Chileans who received a first-class education and yet remained uninformed on very many issues, not least their countrys indigenous history.
It was they who needed redemption, according to Couepn.
The United States also made a frequent appearance in Couepns verbal harangues. On November 25, 1947, after telling Congress we [the
Indians] are fully aware . . . that wherever we find ourselves, we are living and walking on lands that have always been ours, Couepn quoted
the U.S. Chief Justice John Marshalls opinion in the famous Georgia v.
Worcester case of 1832. According to Couepn, who had traveled to the
United States from Mexico in 1940, Marshall argued that the Cherokee
people retain their original native rights as the indisputable owners of the
lands, since time immemorial.89 Couepn repeated the last part of the
quotation in a subsequent session, and contrasted Marshalls acknowledgment of indigenous rights to the actions of one of Chiles protectores de
indgenas (magistrates charged with protecting Indians rights), who had
recently ruled in favor of a large hacendado and evicted Mapuche families from their ancestral lands.90 Couepn also referred to a court case
involving the Shoshone people: as he told it, the U.S. federal government
had recognized the Shoshone tribes claim to some lands, butdespite

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 105

thissettled another group of Indians on these lands. However, the Supreme Court found in favor of the Shoshone and ordered the government
to pay $4,408,144.23 plus interest in compensation. Couepn then exclaimed, I have never heard of the Chilean government having to pay a
thousand, let alone a million, pesos to the Indians!91 When it comes to
the indigenous problem,92 he lamented, our governments, courts of law,
and other authorities either do not want to listen, or they listen with icecold attitudes, as if they were gentlemen of a superior world.93 The point
was clear: Couepn was contrasting Chile unfavorably with the United
States, and the United States was everything the Chilean ruling elites
wanted to be or be seen to be: a beacon of democracy and modernity.
From these landmark cases of the nineteenth century, Couepn proceeded to Franklin D. Roosevelts administration and its Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (the Indian New Deal) which, as summarized by
Couepn, prohibited the sale of indigenous lands; protected the lumber,
oil, flora, and water resources found on indigenous lands; created funds
to enable the government to buy lands for landless indigenous people; set
up credit schemes for indigenous agriculture and industry; provided economic assistance for indigenous students to attain higher education; and
established a preference for indigenous workers in the State Department
of Indigenous Affairs.94 According to Couepn, Roosevelt described
these reforms as no more than a powerful nations obligation of honor to
a people who live among us and depend on our protection.95 By 1942, the
U.S. government was spending $10 million on indigenous education and
more than $4 million on indigenous health care.96 Through such initiatives, Couepn said, the great men of this great country secured the
solidarity of the Indians as members of the political state. In contrast,
all the Mapuche heard from Chilean ruling elites were petty, demagogic,
and hypocritical attitudes. Again, the logic of Couepns speech was
obvious: if Chile wanted to be as great and integrated a country as the
United States, its government needed to respond to indigenous demands.
These included the creation of a special education institute that took
into account the idiosyncrasy, customs, and language of the Mapuche
(and which needed to be run by people who know how to understand
the aboriginal character and soul); an institute dedicated to indigenous
peoples health; an organization providing indigenous people with credit
and technical assistance; and a Corporation of Indigenous Affairs.97 This

106 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

agenda drew on Roosevelts Indian New Deal and the resolutions of the
PCII in Mexico, but it was Indian-led and it had a more cultural and more
egalitarian bent.
Couepn demanded equality of opportunity, not special treatment
in other words, rights as opposed to charity. Non-indigenous people, he
rationalized, had banks, credit schemes, and so forth; why shouldnt the
Indian too? To refuse to help the Indian was decidedly antipatriotic,
because assistance would improve the quantity and quality of indigenous
peoples productive output, resulting in an increase in national production (my emphasis), which would, in turn, benefit all inhabitants
of Chile. In this way, Couepn presented the indigenous question as
a national, as opposed to a local or regional, problem. He also shifted
the problem from the indigenous people themselves to the country that
had treated its indigenous people so badly. Like Manquilef before him,
Couepn asserted that his people, despite the indignity with which they
have been treated, wanted to contribute to the progress and greatness
of our fatherland.98 They also wanted to benefit from that progress and
greatness, and to do so as a distinct people with their own language and
cultural traditions. What he presented was, in short, an indigenista development plan that would transform his people from victims in need of
protection to fully fledged, productive, and self-sufficient citizens. Thus,
we see the racial nationalism of his 1945 electoral campaign converge with
a distinctly utilitarian notion of citizenship.
Couepn was partially triumphant in his mission. He succeeded in
reimposing constraints upon indigenous land sales during the late 1940s
(specifically, postponing the consequences of Manquilef s division law of
1927 and the subsequent reform package of 1931).99 He also saw the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DASIN), which he proposed, become a
reality soon after right-wing populist leader Carlos Ibez was elected to
the presidency in 1952.100 This success can be partly attributed to Ibezs
broader goal of creating new institutional channels for mediation between state and society that would stand as legitimate and stable alternatives to the traditional party system,101 but it is also an indication that
Ibez was willing to listen to and act upon some of the Araucanian Corporations demands (in return for its support during the election campaign). Couepn was appointed director of DASIN, meaning that for
the first time in the twentieth century the country had a national state
institution led and controlled by an indigenous person.102

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 107

A review of DASINs annual reports (195358) provides useful insight

into Couepns discourse as government minister.103 The institutions remit was primarily economic, with a focus on improving the production
levels of thousands of Mapuche farmers, thereby conforming to the indi
genista agenda adopted at the PCII in Mexico, but this effort was combined with cultural initiatives, such as new libraries for young people
in the communities, which were to take into account Mapuche tradition, customs, and language.104 It sought to develop and modernize
the countryside, and to reinsert rural Chile back into a state agenda that
prioritized urban centers, but also to indigenize discourses of development and modernization. Couepn now started to talk of incorporating
the aboriginal race into modern civilization, despite having previously
denounced such notions as mere pretexts for oppression; he stressed,
however, that such a process had to take place en forma integral.105 As
Couepn framed it, civilization no longer entailed the loss of indigenous
lands. On the contrary, Couepn always fought to defend communal
lands, not just as a means of production, but also as a fundamental base
for the reproduction of Mapuche culture.
Under Couepns directorship, DASIN implemented several initiatives that benefited Mapuche people and also jumped in to defend indigenous communities against unwanted intrusions. It awarded hundreds
of grants to enable Mapuche students to finish their secondary education, and it found jobs for some of the thousands of Mapuche migrants
arriving in Santiago. It thwarted plans to build an airport at Natre, in
Cautn province, which would have required the relocation of scores of
Mapuche families. It renegotiated numerous contracts between forestry
companies and Mapuche communities, making these more advantageous
for those communities (in 1955, Couepn claimed DASIN had secured
agreements that would produce many millions of pesos).106 Indigenous
people were to benefit from and participate in, rather than be exploited
by, capitalist development ventures, and they were to do so as a collective
(with distinct cultural practices that kept them bound together) in addition to as individuals. Finally, DASIN ensured continued tax exemption
for indigenous communities and arranged for the State Bank to provide
them with credit loans (in 1954, 55 million pesos; in 1956, 100 million
DASIN made very little progress, however, in the area of education.
Every year Couepn presented the establishment of indigenous schools

108 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

near rural communities as one of his main priorities, and every year he
reported that this objective had been impossible to meet due to lack of
money and staff.107 DASIN also had to deal with critics who, according to
Couepn, clearly did not know or understand the governments plans.
Ignacio Palma of the National Falange (later the Christian Democratic
Party) spoke to congress of his fears that DASIN would stimulate the creation of a political movement with distinctly racial characteristics. He
complained that it was being run by a people rather lacking in culture,
who were so peculiar as to speak a different language from the rest of
Chile.108 Couepns efforts to show congressmen that the Mapuche also
spoke the same language as them had, in this case at least, failed.
DASIN forced indigenous rights onto the national political agenda; it
publicized the issue and made sure people were talking about it. But it did
not manage to establish a lasting dialogue with those who controlled that
agenda. Couepn got the political elites talking, but did not manage to
persuade them to reconsider their opinions on indigenous rights. More
broadly, by 1958 it was clear that Ibezs plans to establish a new framework for civil-state relations that relegated traditional political parties to
the sidelines had failed: the presidential election that year was won by the
leader of the revived National Party, Jorge Alessandri.
Couepn has been described as a revolutionary for the society of
his time.109 He worked within the state apparatus, thereby securing an
important public platform from which to defend indigenous rights and
to reformulate dominant (indigenista) discourses of development, but the
same state apparatus also constrained his efforts. It was, after all, made
up of many people who felt threatened by Couepn and what he represented. Ibez may have supported the Araucanian Corporation, but his
support was not enough. As Jean Grugel states, his government suffered
from a high degree of ideological confusion composed as it was of a variety of antagonistic political projects. That confusion created a space for
Couepn, but it also produced a lack of (clear and long-term) direction
for his revolutionary agenda.
With the fall of Ibez, Couepn lost his prominent position in government, but he did not disappear from the political scene. Jorge Alessandris administration appointed him director of the State Bank, he was reelected as diputado for the United Conservative Party in 1961, and he was
successful again in the parliamentary elections of 1964. In fact, Couepn
continued to have a voice in national politics right up until he died in

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 109

1968. By this point, however, he was no longer talking about indigenous


Rayn Quitral: The Potential for Indian Redemption?

Shortly before Couepn set off for Mexico in 1940, the efforts of his Araucanian Corporation to stimulate the cultural progress of the indigenous race were celebrated at a concert held in Temuco.110 The star of
the show was Rayn Quitral (figure 12), an opera singer of Mapuche descent who had traveled from Argentina for the occasion. The popular
broadcasting (entrance to the concert was free) of her internationally
acclaimed soprano voice coincided with the Popular Fronts campaign, led
by the newly created Department for the Defense of the Race and Enjoyment of Free Time, to provide enhanced recreational opportunities and
thereby improve the intellectual and artistic conditions of the masses.111
In light of her own rags-to-riches life story, Quitral seemed the perfect

Figure 12. Opera singer

Rayn Quitral, 1952.
(Courtesy of the Museo
Histrico Nacional,

110 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

advertisement for the governments civilizing and modernizing mission:

she symbolized the possibility of Indian redemption in mid-twentiethcentury Chile.
Mara Georgina Quitral Espinoza (her original name) was born into a
poor peasant family in Iloca in Chiles Seventh Region in 1916, andlike
so many other Mapuche and, indeed, non-Mapuche campesinosmigrated to Santiago in the early 1930s. According to Manuel Pea Muozs
study of literary cafs in Santiago, Quitral found employment as a maid
in the house of Sofa Campo, the famous Chilean soprano and music
teacher, who was struck by the exceptional vocal talents of the young
Araucanian girl and decided immediately to [try to] train her beautiful, resounding voice.112 Another account claims that Quitrals voice was
discovered by a dentist, Alfredo Avaria, who invited her to work in his
house in Santiago and introduced her to Emma Wachtler de Ortiz, a music teacher of Bavarian origin.113 The discrepancy underlines the fragmentary nature of historical sources on Quitral. What both accounts agree
on, however, is that her voice required disciplining and training in order
for her to succeed on the national and international stage. When Quitral
made her debut in Santiagos Central Theater in May 1937,114 the New York
Times correspondent in Chile reinvented her origins so as to underscore
the magnitude of the event: according to this account, she had been discovered in an Araucanian settlement in the far south of Chile only a few
months beforehand. It described Quitral as the sensation of the season
and reported that she was bewildered by offers from all sides.115 Over the
next twenty years, this Mapuche woman from Iloca was invited to sing at
prestigious opera venues across the Americas and Europe, including the
Teatro Coln in Buenos Aires, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City,
the Metropolitan in New York, and the Royal Opera House in London.
Like Aburto Panguilef, Quitral performed her Mapuche identity: she
changed her first name from Mara to Rayn and, according to the New
York Times, dressed as a real Indian.116 On European stages, her traditional Mapuche clothes and distinctive trapelacucha (silver pendant) were
particularly well received.117 She also used these opportunities to speak
out about her peoples suffering and struggles in modern Chile: I am
the flower that unfolds, she sang, nearby the Indian homes / that which
springs to life in the morning / [and] during my drowsy nights / harbors
within my bloody leaves / the tears of the Araucanians.118 But this was
not the only role she performed. She also represented Chile (the Musical

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 111

Courier of New York and the New Statesman of London referred to her
as a Chilean rather than Araucanian soprano) and it was Chilean verses,
such as Ay, ay, ay by Osman Prez Freire, that she helped to make famous
abroad.119 Moreover, El copihue chileno (Chilean Copihue Flower) the
previously quoted song lamenting the way Mapuche people were treated
in Chile, was written by a non-Mapuche Chilean poet, Ignacio Verdugo
(18871970). Quitral can thus be seen to exemplify the possible coexistence of and dialogue between Mapuche and Chilean cultures.
In many ways, Quitrals voice reached out even beyond these cultures,
for she achieved the most international acclaim for her interpretations of
the great European classics, such as Beethovens Fidelio, Puccinis Madame
Butterfly, and Mozarts The Magic Flute, rather than for her recitals of Chilean songs or her indigenous roots. The Austrian conductor Erich Kleiber
(18901956), for example, went so far as to say she was the best Queen of
the Night on the circuit during the early 1940s.120 To be sure, given operas
European origins, Quitral could not have used that music to promote a
primordial Chilean or Mapuche identity, and as far as the audience was
concerned (at least when she put on a spectacular performance), Quitrals
ethnic origins were irrelevant. Her penetrating tones also rose above class
divisions. She came from a humble peasant family, but embraced a form
of music traditionally associated with the elite. By participating in the
free concert held in Temuco in 1940 and by incorporating well-known
Chilean songs into her European performances (alongside Mozart and
Beethoven) she was, in effect, popularizing opera.
Overall, the reviews of her operatic talent were varied. The Revista Musical Chilena referred to Quitral as the extraordinary Chilean soprano
who was endowed with one of the most marvelous vocal instruments,
and Modern Music praised her phenomenal voice.121 According to the
New Statesman, Quitral had some good solid metal in her voice but she
needed to learn to use it better.122 And the famed travel writer Harry Alversen Franck, who had managed to see one of her recitals while in Chile,
said simply no [Dame Nellie] Melba, but still. . . .123 At the other end of
the scale, Harold Rosenthal described her interpretation of Queen of the
Night at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, as nothing
short of disastrous,124 and in a review of her performance at the Metropolitan in New York, her voice was summarized as unmusical.125 From
the limited evidence available, it would seem that although the national
and international press might have noted her racial identity, it played little

112 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

role in appraisals of her talent. Reviewers may have been critical but they
tended not to patronize Quitral, treating her like any other performing
artist and focusing on her voice.
Like the music she performed, Rayn Quitrals career fits into a broader
narrative of cross-cultural artistic collaboration. Without Sofa Campos
(or Emma Wachtler de Ortizs) direction and training, the soprano voice
of Quitral would never have been heard in Chile, let alone abroad. She
performed with a wide variety of internationally renowned opera singers,
including Charles Kullmann from the United States, Alexander Kipnis
from the Ukraine, and Giacomo Vaghi from Italy. Austrian conductor
Erich Kleiber helped to secure Quitrals place in the music scene of Buenos Aires, and Perico Vergara, apparently an acquaintance of the Prince
of Wales, made sure her performances in London were well publicized.126
In this respect, Quitrals life story reaffirms the potential of music to
transcend ethnic and national boundaries, but without rendering ethnic
and national identities meaningless. Even if it did not ultimately affect
how her voice was received, Quitral constantly stressed her indigenous
heritage: she promoted it on her international tours and reviewers, as a
result, often made reference to it. Through Quitral we also come across
several instances of official state recognition of Mapuche contributions to
national culture: the Christian Democratic government of Eduardo Frei
Montalva (196470), for example, granted Quitral a state pension for her
work and, in 1997, the Concertacin government of Eduardo Frei RuizTagle paid tribute to Quitral in a series of commemorative stamps dedicated to Chiles most important cantantes lricos.127
Quitrals life did not have a happy ending, however. According to Ma
nuel Pea Muoz and Carolina Benavente, the sopranos shining star began to fade in international circles long before her last public performance
at the casino in Via del Mar in 1967. Both attribute this to her excessive
consumption of alcohol and failure to complete contracts.128 As narrated
by Pea, Quitral spent her last years wandering around Santiagos literary cafes piecing together memories from her travels in Europe. She
was, he says, completely forgotten by the time of her death in October
1979. Overall, Pea seems to feel little compassion for the singer: She
had a [much-needed] arrogance and a wonderful, dramatic smile when
she sang. However, Rayn Quitral was lacking in education. She did not
honor her contracts. She drank a great deal. Profoundly indigenous, she

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 113

felt like an outsider in Europe. She had a natural talent, but she lacked
The Quitral portrayed in this passage managed to transcend her indigenous identity only temporarily. Her decline was almost inevitable: no
matter how powerful her voice, she could not succeed without (western)
discipline and education. Thus, Pea counters the optimism displayed by
El Diario Austral and Aguirre Cerdas government in 1940 with regard to
the potential for the cultural advancement of the Araucanian race, or at
least intimates that in this case the optimism was misplaced. Although
Quitral might have popularized opera, opera did not manage to gentrify

Latin American indigenismo claimed to seek the emancipation and integration of the exploited Indian. This chapters exploration of the discourses elaborated by and projected onto Mistral, Neruda, Couepn, and
Quitral has underlined the heterogeneity of indigenismo as a continental
ideology and movement. It has testified to the existence of multiple, contesting interpretations of emancipation (emancipation from what? how?)
and integration (into a homogeneous or a plural collective?), and has also
highlighted some of the broader shifts taking place within this diverse
indigenista mosaic. Indigenismo is often associated with assimilatory notions of mestizaje, but all four figures, albeit to differing degrees and with
various limitations, asserted the survival of indigenous difference in midtwentieth-century Chile.
Numerous scholars have stressed that indigenismo was not the same as
indigenous political mobilization, but this is not to say the two never coincided. As shown here, the Mapuche were certainly being spoken for and
speaking for themselves during the 1940s and 1950s. More questionable
is how much they or their supporters were being listened to. Couepns
Department of Indigenous Affairs faced numerous challenges from other
sectors of the state apparatus, which greatly hindered its work in defense
of indigenous rights. Mistral was a consistent and vociferous campaigner
for agrarian reform, but nothing was achieved in this area during her
lifetime. Neruda escaped into exile in 1949, after denouncing the anticommunist repression of Gonzlez Videla; for several years afterward he

114 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

had to do his speaking from abroad, and Canto general was first published
in Mexico, not Chile. Moreover, whereas I have prioritized the place that
he gave to the Mapuche in his discourse of class struggle, it is worth noting that many other leftist intellectuals did not hear or at least did not
respond to this aspect of Nerudas poetic narrative. Finally, Quitral, who
achieved international acclaim for her soprano voice during the 1940s and
1950s, had no public platform from which to speak by the time she died
in the 1970s.
All four figures affirm the potential for intercultural dialogue in the
country. Mapuche poet Elicura Chihuailaf has appropriated the verses
of both Neruda and Mistral to defend his peoples continuing struggle in
contemporary Chile. Couepn was elected to the National Congress by
Chilean and Mapuche voters, and it was through his close relationship
with Ibez that DASIN came into being. Quitrals voice was trained and
then launched and disseminated by others. Yet, as I have suggested, this
intercultural dialogue only went so far. It did not involve enough (sufficiently powerful) people to push forward with the socioeconomic changes
that were necessary if the Mapuche were to become equal players in national cultural and political arenas. Rosemblatts history of the Popular
Front years talks of vacillations in state policy and asserts that these
permitted a degree of flexibility with regard to gender identities and
womens rights legislation.130 We could say the same of indigenous identities and rights, and carry this through to Ibezs government too. Vacillations in state policy under the Radical Party presidencies and Ibezs
populist right-wing government allowed a space for the Mapuche to voice
their problems, but the same lack of consistency and resolution meant
that few concrete reforms were enacted to deal with such problems.
A final theme linking all four cultural and political figures is protest and
rebellion: military resistance against invaders (Neruda); Pan-American
indigenous organization (Mistral); speaking out from within state institutions (Couepn); and rejection of rigid ethnic boundaries (Quitral). The
politics behind their protests varied. Neruda was a staunch supporter of
the Communist Party and its left-wing revolutionary project. Couepn
was a firm opponent of this project: he strategically negotiated a variety
of allegiances in order to carve a place for himself in the state apparatus,
but these were always with groups on the right of the political spectrum.
Mistral eschewed ideological labels: she pushed for progressive social
reforms but condemned the fanaticism and constant electioneering

Mapuche Identities on the National and International Stage, 19381964 115

of people like Neruda.131 Similarly, though she was not apolitical by any
means, Quitral had little to do with mainstream party politics. More than
anything else, the experiences of Mistral and Quitral speak to the realities
of gender relations in the mid-twentieth century, but they also show that
it was still possible to abstain from the divisions between Left and Right
in Chile. This was no longer the case by the 1960s. During the elections
of 1964 and even more so in the decade that followed, Chilean society
became increasingly polarized between those agitating for far-reaching
agrarian, educational, and labor reforms, and those who were trying to
prevent them. The place of the Mapuche and Mapuche indigenous identity within this context of class conflict is the subject of the next chapter.

Revolutionary Transformations and New

Representational Challenges, 19641973

Lorenzo Aillapn Cayuleo, known today as El Hombre Pjaro because

of his birdlike oral poetry, was born in the Mapuche community of RukatraroLake Budi, near Puerto Saavedra, in 1940. In 1959, he migrated to
Santiago, where he worked in a factory and studied at night school. That
year he recounted something of this experience to Chilean anthropologist
Carlos Munizaga. By 1971, when they met again, Aillapn was involved in
numerous indigenous rights associations in Santiago, including the Galvarino Araucanian Union Society, the Mapuche Center (CENMAP), and
the Cultural Indigenista League of Chile. At one point in their conversation, Munizaga asked whether the indigenous rights movement could be
described as Marxist. The answer he received was no: Marxism is a scientific conception, and the Mapuche people cannot relate to it as such. It
is incompatible with Mapuche culture generally, which renders tribute to
spirits, animals, and supernatural forces. But Aillapn finished by saying
despite this, there are many Mapuche who are communists or socialists,
and then asserted that there were several constructive things that the Mapuche movement could take from Marxism.1
Aillapns life story, edited and published by Munizaga, provides a
compelling starting point for this chapter, which investigates the incongruities of leftist discourses on the Mapuche during the 1960s and early
1970s. First, the testimony reinforces just how difficult it is to pigeonhole
Mapuche activist-intellectuals. As a Mapuche campesino inserted into
proletarian life in the capital city, Aillapn transcends the rural-urban divide. He also eschews the dualistic view that sets the written word against
oral expression, gaining prestige in intellectual circles for his creative

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 117

use of both. Second, and most important, the testimony underscores the
complex relationship between class-based and ethnic-based mobilization
in Chile. Aillapn sympathized with the Left and could see connections
between its political agenda and the problems faced by the Mapuche, yet
he was also well aware of the antagonisms that existed between the class
reductionism of Marxism and the Mapuche worldview (and therefore
Mapuche organizing).
In 1971, when Aillapn was discussing these issues with Munizaga,
Chile was being led along a democratic path to socialism by Salvador
Allendes Popular Unity (UP) government (197073). Allende took over
from the Christian Democratic administration of Eduardo Frei Montalva
(196470), whichlike other reformist governments in Latin America
after the Cuban Revolutionhad pursued a program of extensive social
change. This included agrarian reform,2 a dramatic increase in education
coverage, and (top-down) popular mobilization through trade unions
and neighborhood groups. Under pressure from an increasingly radicalized social movement on the one hand and the U.S.-sponsored Alliance
for Progress (which promoted social reform so as to prevent the spread
of Communism) on the other, Frei sought to make capitalism healthier
(that is, more inclusive) and more efficient for Chile.3 For many rural
and urban workers, his Revolution in Liberty was not enough. By the late
1960s, land invasions and mass street protests were common occurrences.
The province of Cautn, in particular, became a hotbed of grassroots mobilization: Mapuche peasants, frustrated with the slow pace of agrarian
reform, were increasingly taking the law into their own handsoften with
the support of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR)and seizing lands that they believed to be theirs by legal or ancestral right. Freis
response to such direct actions was police repression.4 Soon after Allende
became president in November 1970, he gave a speech to student volunteers in Santiago in which he declared that his mandate derived from the
pain and the hope of the Araucanians in the south of Chile.5 He urged
peasants to stop the land occupations, but did not evict them; indeed, in
many cases, the UP legalized such actions by officially expropriating the
lands and incorporating them into the reformed sector.6
Florencia Mallon has published several compelling analyses of this
period of political radicalization from the perspective of Mapuche communities and Mapuche rural activists. She shows how the UP parties,
the MIR, and its peasant affiliate the Revolutionary Peasant Movement

118 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

(MCR), like the Marxist Left elsewhere in Latin America, engaged with
and supported indigenous land claims as part of their anticolonial class
struggle. However, she also observes that, by endorsing a single message
of liberation that was supposed to work for all, they failed to take the
particularity of traditional Mapuche society into account.7 And, in this
sense, they ended up reinforcing some of the same colonial hierarchies
they were struggling to overthrow.
Mallons insights add force to Aillapns remarks and provide a crucial
backdrop to this chapter, which shifts the focus from the agrarian environment to the urban cultural and intellectual sphere (mainly of Santiago). It
probes the racial dimensions of the contrasting revolutionary programs
enacted by the Christian Democrats and the UP, as they were articulated
at the center of government. Of course, the center was responding to
and seeking to impose itself on Mapuche rural communities. And Mapuche peasant-activists were traveling and often migrating to the urban
centers and making themselves heard there, sometimes from within the
central state apparatus. Nevertheless, a fresh perspective on leftist and
center-leftist imaginaries of the Mapuche helps to elucidate the successes
of as well as the tensions inherent in Mapuche political organizing during the 1960s and early 1970s. Overall, I argue that Mapuche cultural difference became increasingly visible during these heady years, despite, in
conjunction with, or indeed sometimes as a direct result of, government
My analysis focuses on several key cultural and intellectual sites. First,
I examine teaching reforms, poetic production, and museums under Frei
Montalva. In one of the few studies available on the Christian Democratic
governments attitude toward the Mapuche, Carlos Ruiz Rodrguez and
Augusto Samaniego Mesas argue that it rendered indigenous groups invisible by hiding them amongst the marginalized.8 There is much truth to
this statement, above all in relation to the national literacy campaign and
the Agrarian Reform Law of 1967.9 I argue, however, that Freis cultural
policieseven if only inadvertentlycatalyzed some important openings, which Mapuche people were able to use to assert their presence as a
distinct people in the Chilean state.
The second section focuses on Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara, both of
whom were closely associated with La Nueva Cancin Chilena (New
Chilean Song). This movement, officially inaugurated at the Catholic University in Santiago in 1969, engaged with the indigenous question in the

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 119

broader context of a revitalization of folk traditions, a search for a more

inclusive and authentic sense of Chilean nationhood, and a firm commitment to radical social and political change. That context often limited
the extent of engagement, but Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara nonetheless
made an important attempt to open up Chilean attitudes toward the Mapuche. They acknowledged that the Mapuche struggle was not just about
landownership and economic development, but also about culture and, in
many ways, their music acted as a space through which that culture could
be reproduced.
The third section scrutinizes the writings of Alejandro Lipschutz, an
anthropologist closely associated with the UP government, and Salvador
Allendes public declarations about the Mapuche. From the very beginning, Allende presented Chiles indigenous people as both important
participants in and beneficiaries of his socialist revolution, and many
Mapuche activists remember this revolution in positive terms today.
The Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (a militant autonomist organization
founded in the late 1990s), for example, has described the reforms enacted
during the early 1970s as the first real opportunity that the Mapuche had
to solve a difficult situation of political, social, and territorial marginalization,10 and Mapuche newspaper editor Pedro Cayuqueo recently claimed
that the UP represented a time of great hope for the Mapuche.11 Such
assessments do not necessarily contradict the argument that Allende and
the UP failed to consider the cultural aspects of the indigenous problem.12
Even if government reforms focused on economic concerns and sought
to homogenize indigenous people as part of the rural working class, the
UP experiment could still be described as a time of hope or the first
real opportunity for the Mapuche. After all, almost 200,000 hectares
of land were returned to Mapuche communities during the first year of
Allendes government.13 However, the argument that Cayuqueo made and
that I develop further in the last section of this chapter is that the UP did
acknowledge the cultural difference of the Mapuche. There were undoubtedly limitations to and contradictions within its discourse, and even more
so in the implementation of its reforms. We see this most clearly in the
case of agrarian reform and official representations of indigenous peoples
relationship with the land. However, this was only one aspect of the UPs
revolutionary experiment. There were other more cultural components,
which allowed for and, indeed, sometimes encouraged the assertion of an
ethnically diverse Chile.

120 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Before proceeding further, however, let me say a little more about Mapuche political organizing during this period. Such contextualization is
essential if we are to get a full sense of both the confines of and spaces
opened up through cultural and intellectual debates.

The Cautn Pact: Shifts in Mapuche Political Organizing

The Mapuche, like other indigenous peoples across Latin America, have
always identified with a wide array of ideological perspectives.14 Nonetheless, one can reasonably argue that a leftist tendency became dominant
during the 1960s. This tendency is perhaps best encapsulated in the Cautn Pact, signed between Salvador Allende and various Mapuche organizations at the foot of Cerro ielol, in Temuco, on April 6, 1964. That day,
Allende, as leader of the Socialist Party (PS), pledged that, if elected, his
government would respect Mapuche culture and religion, and introduce
important socioeconomic reforms to benefit Mapuche communities. In
return, the Mapuche activists in attendance promised to support Allendes
candidacy. How did such a pact come about?
During the 1950s, Couepnwho allied himself with parties on the
right of the political spectrumwas by far the most prominent Mapuche
leader in Chile, but he had many adversaries, especially among urban
Mapuche who had become involved with trade union organizations and
leftist political parties. Martn Painemal, who worked in the bakery industry in Santiago, was one such opponent. In 1953, he cofounded and
became leader of the National Association of Indigenous People (ANI)
which, as Foerster and Montecino have remarked, was the first Mapuche
association with a clearly defined party-political orientation.15 Painemal
was a member of the Communist Party (PC), and the ANI emerged from
within and was supported by the PC. To be sure, there existed a long history of alliance between Mapuche activists and the Left in Chile, largely
because the latter supported demands for the redistribution of lands in
Araucana. We know, for example, that Aburto developed close links with
the FOCH (Federation of Chilean Workers) and the PC in the 1920s and
early 1930s.16 But in the case of the ANI we are talking about a more organic and longer-lasting relationship. Aburto was never a member of the
FOCH or the PC, and he publicly spurned them when their program for
revolution no longer fitted in with his desire to establish an Indigenous

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 121

On some levels, the aims and demands of Painemals organization were

not so different from those of Couepn and the Araucanian Corporation: the ANI fought to bring an end to racial discrimination, to preserve
Mapuche culture and language, to defend collective landownership and
recuperate usurped lands, and to promote economic development.17 What
differed were the broader picture into which the aims and demands fitted,
and the plans about how best to achieve them. The ANI, whose meetings were attended by renowned Communist intellectuals such as Pablo
Neruda,18 pledged to work together with the working classes to liberate
Chile from foreign domination. It urged the nationalization of the countrys natural resources and openly denounced the landowning oligarchy
and Yankee imperialism as the main enemies of the Mapuche as well as
the main cause of Chiles economic prostration.19
Couepn, who was a wealthy landowner and, as we saw in chapter 3,
sang the praises of U.S. indigenous rights initiatives, was condemned as
a hypocrite and traitor to the Mapuche cause. During a rally in Temuco
in 1955, Painemal denounced Couepn and other indigenous parliamentary representatives for never bothering to inform their peers either
in the Senate or in the Chamber of Deputies about the needs [of the
Mapuche].20 Painemal also criticized Couepn in his memoirs. The
Araucanian Corporation, he said, went on and on about the race question just to get votes. He continued, They said we were working for the
huincas, that we were lackeys of the huincas. . . . We argued that there
was no reason to separate ourselves, and that we had to unite with our
working-class brothers. Couepn attacked us, he said we were extremists. What cheek! They also had party-political links: Couepn was a
member of the Conservative Party. Another thing favoring Couepn
was his fluency in Mapuche. He was a good orator. He also had plenty of
Painemal embodied a new kind of Mapuche political leader. He was
a poor, urban worker who did not speak Mapuzungun.22 In the context
of increasing rural-urban migration and mass popular mobilization, he
and other urban leaders took over from Couepn and the Araucanian
Corporation, whose power had dwindled as soon as Ibez left office, as
the most prominent representatives of the indigenous race. And they
tended to align themselves with the Left.
This close connection with Chilean leftist parties was one axis (the eje
partidaria as Mallon puts it) of Mapuche political organizing during the

122 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

1960s. The other was the eje comunitaria, a wave of direct actions instigated at the local, grassroots level: the recuperation of communal lands
through corridas de cerco (moving of fences) and tomas de fundos (illegal land occupations).23 These initiatives were initially supported and
encouraged by a number of leftist parties and organizations, but they
became increasingly autonomous as the decade progressed and young
community activists often took the leading role. Such actions were indicative of the communities growing exasperation with the states legal
mechanisms, which were supposed to help defend indigenous lands but
were either unable to do so (remember DASINs problems in the 1950s)
or actively sided with landowners, logging companies, and other intruders. As Rafael Railaf, Mapuche activist and supporter of the Movement
of the Revolutionary Left, recounted in a recently published collection
of testimonies: Once we saw that there really was no solution, that the
courts and the judges were corrupt and useless, we began to organize ourselves.24 Similarly to Nerudas orientation in Canto general, Railaf drew
inspiration from the legendary Araucanians of the colonial era: We used
to say to ourselves we are going to have to fight, witrapetu Lautaro, witrapetu Caupolicn. It does not matter if we die, for other more combative
warriors will come forth.25
It was this rage that Allende was responding to when he promised a
new era in indigenous-state relations with the Cautn Pact. But he was
also tryingas I shall showto capitalize on and harness the strength of
Mapuche mobilization in order to buttress his own political agenda. For
the moment, though, we turn to Frei Montalva as he, not Allende, won
the elections of 1964.

Education Reform and Cultural Policy under Frei Montalva:

Democratizing Chilean Nationality
Speaking about the Educational Reform Law in 1965, President Frei Montalva asserted that one of the main aims of his government was to stimulate an open dialogue between all sectors of our nationality.26 There
seems little doubt that Frei was referring to social rather than ethnic or
racial sectors here, and the following evidence partly reinforces just how
limited his governments representations of the Mapuche were. Nonetheless, the Christian Democrats reform program provided some important

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 123

opportunities, which Mapuche people were able to exploit to promote

their cultural difference as a people.
Freis government increased investment in education from one-seventh to one-fifth of public expenditure, which allowed approximately
three thousand new schools to be built across the country.27 Matriculation
in secondary schools and higher education establishments also improved
dramatically, as did adult literacy statistics, due to the nationwide campaign launched under the guidance of Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire.
But the reforms were not exclusively about access to education. As Mapuche academic Juan Pablo Lipiante has noted, this was the first time that
a Chilean government sought to fundamentally revise the content and
methodology of the national teaching curriculum.28
Particularly innovative were the changes made to the teaching of history, or what was to become historical and social sciences. If we compare
the post-1968 curricula with what came before (the reform law was passed
in 1965 but the new programs were not produced until 1968), we detect
a marked shift in emphasis from western Europe to Latin America. Government authorities wanted students to leave school with a strong sense
of the planet around them and, especially, the American world.29 They
hoped that by giving a preferential place to national and Latin American
reality, . . . the subject [would] be of more interest to young people.30
Development and integration were the principal catchphrases of the new
syllabus. Chile was portrayed as part of Latin American underdevelopment, and for the first time Marxist historians, such as Hernn Ramrez
Necochea and Julio Csar Jobet, were included in the bibliography for
teachers.31 The Mapuche were brought into the teaching program as an
illustration of the continental problems of underdevelopment.
They were also incorporated into discussions about Latin American
mestizaje. Primary-school children were to be taught that Chileans, like
their neighbors, were the product of mestizaje and it was suggested that
they collect and interpret artistic representations of race and mestizaje in
Hispanic America.32 With regard to the pre-Columbian period, secondary teachers were encouraged to focus on Araucanian, Aztec, Inca, or
Maya peoples due to their intrinsic importance [and] influence in the
forthcoming societies [of Latin America].33 Teaching programs stressed
that European penetration of the Americas caused the coming together
of two distinct cultures, not the obliteration of one by another,34 a narra-

124 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

tive which eschewed the violence of conquest, but at least recognized the
continued existence of indigenous cultures.
Indigenous cultures were also studied as part of courses on contemporary Latin America. Teachers of the (first-year secondary-level) unit
entitled Integration: The Challenge of Today were told to discuss the
persistent legacy of ethnic groups in Latin America.35 Such persistence
was presented as a problem that should be, but in many places had yet
to be, resolved through mestizaje. The continent was divided into three
groups: countries with small indigenous populations, where the problem
was concrete but localized (for example, Costa Rica); countries with a majority indigenous population that was seen as culturally undeveloped and
segregated (Peru and Guatemala); and countries where the indigenous
element was significant but deemed more developed and its integration
consequently more advanced (for example, Mexico). Seemingly, Mexico
had found the model solution to the indigenous problem: via mestizaje,
different groups were being successfully assimilated into a modern, homogenized nation.36
Chile was conspicuously absent from this comparative framework. The
problem of ethnic minorities in contemporary Chile was not mentioned
until the second year, in a unit on rural-urban migration and agrarian
reform, and then it was limited to the frontier zone around Temuco.37
Chile was thereby located in the same group as Costa Rica. The continued
existence and marginalization of the Mapuche people was portrayed as a
regional rather than a national problem. Moreover, this marginalization
was discussed in purely socioeconomic terms.
The bibliography for secondary-school teachers provides further insights into the innovations in but also the limitations of official representations of the indigenous question during Freis administration. One
name that stood out was Juan Coms, renowned Mexican anthropologist
and member of the Inter-American Indigenista Institute. Coms repudiated narrow-minded nationalisms that excluded indigenous peoples.
He asserted the need to improve indigenous communities socioeconomic
situation and praised their contribution to national culture. It was important that teachers were reading about these ideas, but the specific article
recommended made no reference to Chile.38 In contrast, Chile featured
prominently in another book by Argentine scholar Angel Rosenblatt,
which compared the mestizo, indigenous, and black populations of various Latin American countries.39 According to official statistics, Chile was

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 125

50 percent mestizo and only 2.24 percent Indian,40 but Rosenblatt pointed
out the discrepancy between these and nonofficial statistics, quoting Donald Brand, a North American anthropologist, who claimed that indigenous people constituted 10 percent of the national total. Some people,
Rosenblatt said, even described Chile as profoundly Indian.41
Notably, none of the authors included in the bibliography was Chilean.
And yet Alejandro Lipschutz, who is discussed in the last section of this
chapter, had already published numerous works on indigenous cultures
and mestizaje by the 1960s. What we see overall, then, are some hesitant
incursions into continental debates about indigenous peoples. The Christian Democrats made greater efforts to incorporate the Mapuche into
the national teaching curriculum than the Popular Front government of
Aguirre Cerda and the populist administration of Ibez had (see chapter
3), but they were still presented largely as a (socioeconomic) problem.
Chile shared this problem but only in a limited sense: it was reduced to
one specific region and presented as a minor preoccupation of the government and intellectuals.
As noted, these limited revisions of official national imaginings coincided with a significant expansion of primary schooling, which had an
important impact on rural areas and meant that many more Mapuche
children received an education. There was also a significant increase in the
number of Mapuche students enrolled in secondary schools and higher
education establishments due to increased grants for low-income families.
As Alvaro Bello states, by the end of the 1960s Mapuche students had an
important presence in Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno, and Santiago.42 The
teaching in schools and universities did not actively promote the cultural
difference of Mapuche people and there was no official endorsement of
bilingual education, despite the demands of Mapuche organizations, but
the Mapuche often used the tools provided by education, such as literacy,
to reinforce their distinct ethnic identity. They published poetry in Mapuzungun. They created new journals and magazines with Mapuche titles.43
In Temuco they campaigned to protect the Araucanian Museum when it
was threatened with closure in 1970: one newspaper report claimed that
the Mapuche had been the first to go out on to the battlefield to protect
their treasures and relics.44 In this regard, increasing class consciousness
went hand in hand with growing cultural awareness.
Sebastian Queupul Quintremil (1924) was born in Ralipitra, a rural
community near the town of Nueva Imperial in southern Chile. Like

126 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

many Mapuche before him, Queupul received his primary and secondary schooling at religious establishments: the Capuchin mission of Boroa
and the Anglican mission of Pelal. The Chilean state apparatus effectively
entered his life and took charge of his education in 1943, when he was accepted into the Teacher Training College of Victoria.45 Soon after graduating from there Queupul left for Santiago.
In 1966, two years into Freis Revolution in Liberty, Queupul published
a short bilingual collection of poems entitled Poemas mapuches en castellano which, in the words of Ariel Antillanca, Clorinda Cuminao, and
Csar Loncn, marked a dramatic opening of a new period in Mapuche
poetic production.46 The publication of Mapuche poetry was not in itself
a new phenomenon. As we saw in chapter 2, many were the scholars who
collected (transcribed, translated, and published) Mapuche oral poetry
in the early 1900s, and by the 1930s several Mapuche writers were circulating their verses via Chilean newspapers. The novelty of Poemas mapuches
lies in the fact that it was the first (albeit short) book of poetry in Mapuzungun and Spanish to be self- and sole-authored by a Mapuche writer.
What makes it especially worthy of analysis is that Queupul was working
for the Ministry of Education at the time. Indeed, it was the Ministry of
Education that financed the publication of Poemas mapuches.
Of the four poems in Poemas mapuches the most widely reproduced is
Arado de palo (Wooden Plough):
I want to turn over the earth with my wooden plough.
And plant my simple words in the wilderness.
I want to trace the straight line of my own desires.
And look for symmetry in times gone by.
I want to weave together the fibers of the white foam.
And lie down on the plush marine carpet.
My knotted heart is made of climbing plants.
And the blood in my veins breaks down the floodgates.
The saddened Mapuche drum moves slowly away.
Crying ceaselessly as it goes.
I am convinced I have seen the moon.
Inhaling the scent of the canelo tree or sleeping in the ruka.
The mutinous Mapuche trumpet blurts out its woes.
Hurt by the infamy and indescribable contempt.

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 127

I want to turn over the earth with my wooden plough.

And lie down in the furrow of my old desires.
In a 1971 article, literary specialist Ivn Carrasco argued that Queupuls poem symbolized the dissolution of Mapuche consciousness. Some
elements [were] truly Mapuche, he saidsuch as the kultrn (drum),
the ruka (rural dwelling), the trutruka (trumpet) and the sacred canelo
treebut these existed only in nostalgic memories: they were part of the
authors past, not his present. Carrasco claimed that Queupul wanted to
distance himself from the present and return to a distinctive and authentic past, yet the critic also noted a certain apathy and tedium, which he
claimed was visible in so many indigenous people.47
The poems tone is, as Carrasco asserts, melancholic and wistful. It
draws attention to the disruptive encounter between a provincial rural
life and the cosmopolitanism of Santiago, and clearly there is a sense of
frustration and even rebellion (the knotted heart and the mutinous
Mapuche trumpet). But I would argue, building on Antillanca, Cuminao,
and Loncn, that Queupuls connection with Mapuche culture went far
beyond a mere yearning or nostalgia for the past.48 The kultrn is moving away, but the (Mapuche) blood that courses through his veins cannot be stopped; it is powerful enough to break down the floodgates. As
interpreted by these Mapuche critics, Queupuls poetry demonstrated a
Mapuche cultural resurgence, not a loss of Mapuche-ness. The poemario
was, after all, written in Mapuzungun as well as Spanish.
For Carrasco, the city was decidedly European and nonindigenous,
as were phrases such as trazar la recta (trace the straight line) and
simetra (symmetry); according to Carrasco, the Mapuche were unaware of geometry.49 When Queupul became part of the city, it followed
that his indigenous identity would disappear. Almost thirty years later,
Carrasco continued to make the same argument about Queupuls poetry:
The impossibility of maintaining or recuperating a stable Mapuche identity that is defined in terms of its ancestral culture, he said, is manifested
in a feeling of nostalgia for [his] lost identity and the yearning to recuperate it.50 Carrascos persistent references to a stable Mapuche identity
and lost identity run counter to most contemporary scholarship, which
asserts that identities are always in flux. The critics analysis also conflicts
with Queupuls own statements about his work. During an interview in

128 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

2003, Queupul recalled that he began to write poetry only because others, apparently impressed by his love letters, encouraged him to do so.51
His Mapuche heritage emerged in the poetry, he said, but this was not the
reason for, nor the main theme of his writings. Instead, the writer stressed
the universality of his poetry.
To be sure, this was a retrospective commentary on his literary production, and it may well be that by 2003 Queupul was tired of speaking about,
and having everyone else speak about, his Mapuche identity. However, it
is also important to acknowledge that a poem about living in the capital
city (he does not explicitly mention Santiago but we know he was there
at the time) could speak to Mapuche and to universal issues; the two are
not mutually exclusive. The sense of displacement and confusion that we
detect in Arado de palo is, as Peruvianist Jorge Coronado comments,
at the center of all migrant experience.52 The protagonist, who is alone
(there are no other humans in the poem), tries to find peace in an unfamiliar environment. He is not rejecting that environment, but rather
trying to come to terms with it.
As Queupul represents it, Mapuche culture is not stable; nor is it as antagonistic to and easily diluted by European culture as Carrasco seems to
imply. The poet was preoccupied with the rural past, but he was also shaping a place for himself in the urban present. By the time Poemas mapuches was published, this poet was working for the Department of Culture
and Publications (in the Ministry of Education), preparing school texts
on Mapuche grammar, lexicology, and place-names. Instead of losing his
Mapuche cultural identity, he was reinforcing and renovating it. He was,
in a sense, the exemplary Indian for Freis government: there were no
direct political references in his work, he had benefited from the education system, and he was grappling with the processes of modernization
and urbanization. The Christian Democrats wanted a healthier capitalist
Chile. Queupuls poetry articulated some of the problems of urban life for
a migrant but without denouncing the system that had brought migration about, and through his own career Queupul showed that a Mapuche
could succeed in Santiago.
Two years after the publication of Poemas mapuches, Freis government
passed a law creating the Mapuche Museum of Caete (figure 13). As Gloria Crdenas and Irene Gonzlez have stated, the official objective of the
new institution was to pay homage to the Mapuche of Chile, by protecting, exhibiting, and diffusing their cultural heritage.53 Such aims were

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 129

Figure 13. Mapuche Museum of Caete. (Photo by author, 2003.)

enthusiastically embraced by the first director, Fernando Brousse Soto.

In a 1971 letter to the Department of Indigenous Affairs in Temuco, for
example, he alleged that the museum was of transcendental importance
to the local Mapuche community, and asked the head of this department
to send as much information as possible on Mapuche culture for the museums library.54
Congressional documents tell a rather different story, however. When
the diputado for Caete first presented the project to the Chamber of
Deputies in 1966, he made no mention of the protection and diffusion of
Mapuche culture. Instead his emphasis was on honoring the memory of
deceased Radical Party President Juan Antonio Ros Morales, who had
been born in Caete and whose family was to donate the land for the
museum.55 Furthermore, official correspondence suggests that the Department of Indigenous Affairs office in Temuco had no idea that the museum existed until 1971, when it received the aforementioned letter from
Brousse Soto. One wonders how the museum could have been of such
transcendental importance to the Mapuche if the government body
supposedly responsible for this peoples well-being was unaware of its existence. It is also significant that local communities themselves were not
involved in the initiative to create the museum, nor were they consulted
about its original exhibition.56

130 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Whatever the motives behind its creation, however, the mere fact that
a museum dedicated to Mapuche culture should be the vehicle chosen
to commemorate the life of a Chilean president was significant. It was
initiated by one congressman, but the government approved the proposal
and, as a result, the Mapuche became more visible within the countrys
institutional landscape. Like at the Araucanian Museum in Temuco, the
early displays tended to relegate Mapuche culture to the past (in fact, until very recently the narratives accompanying the exhibits of Mapuche
weavings, funerary ornaments, silver jewelry, and sports equipment were
written entirely in the past tense), but some local Mapuche people were
employed as guides and were thus able to communicate something of
their present-day lives, as well as their own oral histories of the past.57
This, at least, is how Armando Marileo Marileo, who began working at
the museum in 1974, recalls his experience.58 In sum, the innovations in
government cultural policy were limited and did not compensate for the
heavy-handed response to Mapuche protests and land invasions, but the
new museum in Caete provided an important spaceas did education
and poetrythrough which the Mapuche could assert their distinctive
identity in modern Chile.

The New Chilean Song Movement: Revolutionizing Folklore

La Nueva Cancin Chilena had, in the words of Jan Fairley, no formal
structures, no manifestos, no group statements, [and] no regular meetings.59 There were, nonetheless, certain ideas and views that connected
New Song artists together: a passion for Latin American folk music, a
rejection of U.S. cultural imperialism, and a commitment to radical social
and political change. There were also key figures and groups that stood
out from the great diversity of musicians involved in the movement: Violeta Parra (generally considered to be the founder of the movement), Vctor Jara (the ostensible leader of the movement after Parras suicide in
1967), and Quilapayn and Inti-Illimani (who continued to promote New
Song abroad long after the military coup of 1973), and all these musicians
showed an interest in and concern for indigenous cultures.
Through these artists top-selling records, live performances, and
radio broadcasts, indigenous Chile became increasingly visible and audible to audiences at home and abroad. Violeta Parra, who claimed an
indigenous great-grandmother, interpreted indigenous ceremonies in her

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 131

music, spoke out against indigenous peoples suffering, and often wore
indigenous peasant clothes.60 Vctor Jara based some of his verses on Mapuche people he had met during his travels. In the early days, he was a
member of a group called Cuncumn (murmuring water in Mapuzungun). After Cuncumn, he started working with the group Quilapayn
(three beards in Mapuzungun). The name Inti-Illimani was also indigenous (Quechua and Aymara), and their song Charagua was the first
using indigenous instruments to reach the top ten in Chile.
My aim here is to explore how New Song artists saw their Mapuche
contemporaries. Focusing on Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara, I examine
what it meant for the Mapuche to be included in the new revolutionary
Chile when such inclusion was firmly rooted in folkloric tradition and
class struggle. These artists representations of Mapuche culture were not
entirely unproblematic, but they nevertheless helped to pave the way for
more open understandings of that culture: they brought the rural, indigenous world alive for urban audiences; they obliged listeners in Santiago
to take notice of this other Chile.
New Song artists interest in indigenous music constituted part of
what Nancy Morris refers to as a broader search for a genuine national
identity.61 Violeta Parra traveled all over Chile, recording hundreds if
not thousands of folk songs, seeking to prevent them from being lost
forever.62 In this sense, the folklorist had much in common with the
missionaries-cum-ethnographers of the early 1900s: it was the music of
traditional Mapuche of the countryside that Parra sought out in order
to counter the artificial, imitative music of Europe and the United States.
The Mapuche thus gained visibility and audibility as romanticized objects,
synonymous with a rural idyll on the verge of extinction.
And yet, as Fairley says, one of the things that caught everyones attention when they listened to Parra sing was her reaction against the limits
and prejudices of traditional tourist folk [music], in particular the way
in which it sentimentalized and idealized rural life.63 In reality, the rural
life Parra describes in El guillatn (196465), a lyrical representation of
a Mapuche ritual ceremony in which the community asks for help from
their ancestral and natural deities, is anything but idealized:
Millelche is saddened by the coming of the storm
the wheat stalks lie down in the muddy ground
after crying, the Indians resolve

132 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

to speak to Isidro, God, and San Juan.

The machi walks on to the guillatn,
shawl and head scarf, jewels and drum,
even the patients of her machitn
join the swelling ranks of this guillatn.
The rain comes down without reprieve
the Indians look on, not knowing what to do
they pull out their hair, they stamp their feet
because they are going to lose their crops.
This song evokes the precariousness of Mapuche peasants existence. A
storm has destroyed a communitys wheat crop, which is why they have
decided to pray as a collective to their gods. The situation is so desperate
that even the sick people (patients of the machitn) decide to attend the
ceremony. The song may depict a close relationship between Mapuche
people and nature, but it is certainly not a harmonious one.
Parra explored the expressive possibilities of a wide range of instruments, many of which were indigenous, including the quena (Andean
flute), the trutruka (Mapuche trumpet), and the charango (a small guitar).
She also experimented with different rhythms and musical chords. Despite the diversity and, indeed, spontaneity of her music, Parras style was
simple, sometimes even austere. Her main aim was to involve the public
in her performance, to establish a ritual of communion between her and
them.64 El guillatn, an intense, almost chant-like melody that reached a
crescendo at the end of each verse, portrayed Mapuche religious practice
as far from becoming extinct. Instead, audiences were confronted with
powerful cultural expression that continued to serve an important function in 1960s Chile.
Parras crusade against the dominant form of folklore, which Isabel
Parra described as vulgarity wrapped in national colors and lo popular
stuck in its repetition,65 was taken one step further in Los Jaivass reinterpretation of El guillatn. The folklorist would likely have approved of
their eclectic mix of creole guitar and electric guitar, amplifiers and Mapuche trutruka, and echo chamber and kultrn.66 As the Guardian said
of Quilapayn when they performed in London in 1975, Parra was not an
antiquarian who liked to see folk music pinned down safely between the
covers of books.67 Like Chilean New Song more broadly, she represented
not so much a folk revival as a folk rebirth.68

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 133

Jeffrey Taffet recently discussed the revolutionary potential of folklore

in an article on the cultural politics of the Popular Unity government. He
quoted extensively from Gramsci, who claimed that folklore must not
be considered an eccentricity, an oddity, or a picturesque element, but as
something which is serious and must be taken seriously.69 To Gramscis
mind, folklore stood in the way of revolutionary culture because it incorporated many ideas and worldviews from the dominant classes, but
he also believed that its symbolism could be transformed if given proper
attention. Violeta Parra did just that: she gave folklore proper attention;
she made it serious and took it seriously.
As El guillatn indicates, Parras folkloric music was openly political. In the words of the Argentine singer and writer Horacio Guarany,
To speak of Violeta Parra is to speak of Chile, of Chile in its entirety, but
fundamentally of the long-suffering, saddened, and denigrated Chile.70
For Parra, the Mapuche were part of this long-suffering, saddened, and
denigrated sector of national society. This comes across most clearly in
Arauco tiene una pena (Arauco Is Grieving):
Araucos grief and sorrow
cannot be silenced,
everyone has witnessed
the centuries of injustice
Blood is soon spilled
the Indian doesnt know what to do
they are going to take his lands
he must defend them
Where did Lautaro go?
lost in the blue sky,
and the soul of Galvarino
was carried away by the southern wind
For this reason, they are still crying
From the year 1400
dates the Indians distress
in the shade of his dwelling
you can see him cry

134 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Araucos grief
is darker than the Indians shawl
it is no longer the Spanish
who make him cry
today it is the Chileans
who steal his bread
The elections are approaching
we hear endless speeches
but the complaints of the Indian
why wont they be heard?
Despite the tomb resounding
with the voice of Caupolicn
This song is a forceful condemnation of the abuse and discrimination
that has continued from colonial times through to the present. It differs
markedly, however, from similarly denunciatory narratives such as Nerudas Canto general (discussed in chapter 3), in that it portrays a debilitated
and victimized Indian who cries over his losses, who doesnt know what
to do, who remembers but is far removed from his heroic ancestors. The
voice of Caupolicn lingers on but no one, especially not among the political classes, listens to the complaints of the Mapuche in modern Chile.
The fact that the legendary warriors voice continues to resonate suggests
the possibility of future rebellion. Parra justifies and encourages this rebellion: Levntate Huenchulln (Rise up, Huenchulln), she urges at the
end of the first verse; she says the same to Curimn, Manquilef, Callfull,
Callupn, and Pailahun at the ends of subsequent verses. As in Mistrals
poem Araucanos, Parra hopes that they will rise up to defend their lands,
but there is no recognition of the many rural and urban activists who were
already doing so in 1960s Chile.
Vctor Jara also sang of the exploitation suffered by the Mapuche in
modern Chile. According to the Vctor Jara Foundation, it was his encounter with Angelita Huenumn that awakened a passionate interest
in the history of his ancestors, their telluric roots, and their struggles.71
Recalling the meeting several years afterward, Joan Jara (Vctors widow)
described how Angelita Huenumn became a friend whom he met again

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 135

as the years passed and historic events drew people together.72 This is the
song that he wrote about her:
In the Pocuno Valley
where the sea wind ricochets about
and the rain nourishes the moss
lives Angelita Huenumn.
The red blood of the copihue flower
flows through her Huenumn veins,
and by the light of the window
Angelita weaves her life.
Angelita, in your weaving
I see time and tears and sweat,
and the anonymous hands
of my own resourceful people.
This was a more personal song than Parras Arauco tiene una pena or
El guillatn. It told of a friend who lived a lonely existence on a farm in
Pocuno with a son and five dogs to look after her. Through Angelita however there also emerged a collective imaginary of the Mapuche as poor,
hardworking campesinos. It was Angelitas labors that Jara identified with:
the grueling physical nature of weaving, but also its artistic and imaginative side. Importantly, Angelita Huenumn was one of twenty songs by
Vctor Jara that Elicura Chihuailaf recently chose to translate into Mapuzungun.73 The Mapuche poet cited some of its lyrics in his introduction
to Canto libre/Lliz ulkantun (Free Song) to show that Jara assumed and
publicized his morenidad as few other Chileans did. Chihuailaf then proceeded to talk about Jaras frequent visits to Mapuche communities, his
belief in the need for an intercultural dialogue, and his appeal to Chilean
society to accept its indigenous identity.74
However, it was not Jaras knowledge of and love for Mapuche culture
that originally attracted Chihuailaf to his music. In the introduction to
Canto libre, Chihuailaf described the first time he heard Jara singing on
the radio. Reportedly, he and his family immediately liked and identified with La cocinerita (The Little Cook), a cueca from northern Argentina. Shortly thereafter, his brother Arauco introduced him to the song

136 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Questions about Puerto Montt, which described a police massacre of

landless squatters in March 1969. These texts and melodies, Chihuailaf
said, reflected the commitment and sensitivity of this man of peasant
origins, who always smiled while he was singing of dreams for a better
future. For Chihuailaf, the Mapuche were part of the class struggle that
was taking place in 1960s1970s Chile, but this did not mean they had to
disappear within it. As interpreted by the Mapuche poet, Jara was saying
the same thing.
Reports of a musical composition that Jara had been working on shortly
before his death are also worthy of analysis. According to Joan Jara, the
Confederacin Ranquil approached Vctor to write and compose a work
about their history, about how their organization had survived a terrible
massacre [the Ranquil Massacre of June 1934], and had grown, little by little, into the massive confederation which was fighting for the interests of
the peasants throughout Chile.75 Apparently, Vctor Jara met and talked
with the survivors of the massacre, one of whom had the minutes of the
1928 meeting at which the confederation was created: Let us go forward,
Mapuches of Lonquimay, Juan Leiva Tapia had proclaimed, a new sun
will light up this valley of snow and forest; let us put aside the quarrels
and disagreements which the landowners foment among us and give life
to our union.76 In quoting this source, Joan Jara acknowledged that there
were differences between Mapuche and non-Mapuche peasants, but these
were interpreted as a consequence of the landowning elites divide-andrule strategy, and ultimately the story was one of a shared struggle for
land. However, Joan Jara was also keen to stress that her husband aimed
to recapture the myths, legends, and natural beauty of the region in the
poetic text that he was working on. He wanted, she said, to bring out the
cultural inheritance of those forgotten and persecuted people.77
In the 1930s, Communist Party publications claimed that the Ranquil
rebellion was instigated by an allied group of tenant farmers, Mapuche
people, and mine workers in the region. According to Mallon, however,
scholars generally agree that few Mapuche participated in the uprising
and that those who did acted as individuals rather than as a collective.78
Prominent Mapuche political figures at the time, such as Aburto Panguilef, denounced the massacre but were not involved in the uprising
which triggered such brutal repression. What we see in Jaras unfinished
song, then, is the reinforcement of a partially mythologized story of a past
cross-cultural alliance between the Mapuche and Chilean workers aimed

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 137

at inspiring similar collaborative support for Allendes Popular Unity government in the present.
Through music Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara communicated a history
of social inequality that linked Mapuche and Chileans together. Both artists were also interested in Mapuche folkloric tradition. They sought to
recapture this tradition in their music, not only as part of the bygone
past, but also as part of the ever-changing present. Their reproduction
of folklore made it universal as well as local, urban as well as rural, and
modern as well as traditional. A commentary published on the Mapuche website in 2009 claimed that folklore was the
false copy of the original reflection. According to the author, artists like
Jara and Parra used autochthonous elements, but these were dissociated from their origins. The piece then moved on to discuss the social
schizophrenia of Chiles mestizo population and their hidden desires
to appropriate a cultural expression that does not belong to them.79 To
argue thus is, surely, to deny (as Carrasco did in his analysis of Queupul) the flexibility and fluidity of cultural identity. Both Parra and Jara
maintained that indigenous cultural expression did belong to them: they
spoke of the Mapuche as their ancestors. Furthermore, some contemporary Mapuche have championed their music in order to reinforce a common understanding about the problems plaguing Chilean society. Violeta
Parra and Vctor Jara knew well the realities of poverty; they lived it as
children. They supported an integrationist project of social vindication,
but they also endorsed a more culturally based vision in which Mapuche
autonomy was not entirely subsumed by the divisions and demands of the
political parties.

Alejandro Lipschutz, Popular Unity, and Mapuche Political Activism:

An Intercultural Dialogue?
By the time Allende was inaugurated as president in November 1970, many
Mapuche people of Araucana held prominent positions in the local state
apparatus. Among other things, they were military officers, school principals, chairs of parents associations, and regional directors of the Institute of Agrarian and Livestock Development (INDAP).80 Mapuche people
also played important roles in locally elected peasant councils, which fed
into the National Peasant Council, created by state decree in December
1970. In some cases they were able to dominate the agenda because they

138 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

made up the majority of council delegates.81 Beyond the state apparatus,

some Mapuche participated in the Movement of the Revolutionary Left
and the Revolutionary Peasant Movement (two of its founding leaders in
Cautn were Moiss and Flix Huentelaf).82 Finally, they set up scores of
their own organizations, on local, regional, and national levels, from the
Radical Committee of the People of Melipeuco to the National Confederation of Mapuche Associations. Most of these organizations participated
in the National Mapuche Congresses held in Ercilla in 1969 and Temuco
in 1970. Both within and outside the state, then, Mapuche people had
gained important platforms from which to speak out.
Their demands varied. Some asked only for basic socioeconomic provisions: the Radical Committee of the People of Melipeuco, for example,
wrote to the government to say their community desperately needed electricity, a permanent doctor, and an ambulance service,83 and Pedro Milliman Antilef, principal of a state school in Pumalal, requested a well, extra
desks and chairs for new students, better road access to the school, a completed school fence, and improved toilet facilities.84 Neither letter made
any allusion to support for Popular Unity or Allende. The Small Farmers Association of Loncoche and the Regional Cooperative Cachillalfe,
in contrast, described various aspects of the agrarian reform program to
be muy nuestra, and assured the government that they wanted to work
within the legal channels.85 At the other extreme, the MCR asserted the
moral legitimacy of their decision to take the law into their own hands
and continue with their illegal land seizures. This was not a rejection of
dialogue with the UP, but rather an attempt to draw attention to the plight
of Mapuche and non-Mapuche peasant communities, and to compel the
government to radicalize agrarian reform.
Clearly, socioeconomic problems were the top priority, but petitions to
the government also addressed cultural concerns. On December 14, 1970,
Juan Marn Calqun and Heriberto Huenulaf from Pitrufqun requested
official permission to celebrate a guillatn in their community.86 Ren
Colilln Catrilaf made the same request on behalf of the Mapuche Union,
a group of Mapuche prisoners in Temuco; they wanted to celebrate the
New Year according to their own traditions and asked the local governor
to contribute three lambs for the occasion.87 The Peasant Front for the
Full Dignity and Development of Araucana solicited the creation of a
Mapuche education council to study the cultural reality of the area and to
promote (with financial support from the government) the preservation

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 139

of [our] customs and traditions.88 The public summons to the Second

National Mapuche Congress also pointed to the significance of cultural
issues: apart from the proposal for a new indigenous law, establishment
of cooperatives, tax exemption, and legal defense requirements, congres
sional delegates were to analyze and discuss a Mapuche plan for tourism, recreation, and folklore in the region, as well as the creation of a new
cultural journal.89 The central question addressed in the last section of
this chapter is whether or not intellectuals linked to the UP government,
and the government itself, took such cultural affirmations seriously.
Despite his advanced age, Alejandro Lipschutz (18831980) was an important intellectual voice during the UP government. Of Lithuanian descent and a Chilean national since 1930, Lipschutz had studied and written
about Mapuche culture and history for more than half of his adult life. He
had been involved in and spoken at meetings that Mapuche organizations
attended.90 According to one of his students, Bernardo Berdichewsky,
Lipschutz had visited many Mapuche rural communities in the south,
both when he was living in Concepcin and later from Santiago,91 and his
work on legal cases involving Mapuche defendants certainly seems to confirm this assertion.92 Berdichewsky also recalls Mapuche political leaders
visiting Lipschutzs Institute of Experimental Medicine in Santiago.93 We
know, therefore, that this biological scientistcumanthropologist had
been talking to Mapuche people. He had also read some of their written
publications. In Marx y Lenin en Amrica Latina (1974), for example, he
cited Queupuls bilingual poetry and Aillapns autobiography.
As I have discussed elsewhere,94 Lipschutz persistently claimed that the
concept of Indian and the treatment of those people referred to as Indians
could not be understood outside their social context and colonial history:
racial discrimination is a powerful instrument of social discrimination,
[used] in defense of social privileges acquired through conquest.95 The
Mapuche were living in abject poverty because they were a colonized people who had been dispossessed of (most of) their lands. This was the fundamental problem and one that was being addressed by the UPs agrarian
reform program.96 Despite prioritizing the socioeconomic dimensions
of the indigenous question, however, Lipschutz clearly did not reduce it
entirely to class determinations. In some instances he turned the discussion around and looked at the way in which cultural and racial factors
impacted upon economic and class structures.97 Furthermore, he never
subscribed to the idea that class struggle would erase cultural difference.

140 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

To his mind, cultural difference was something that should and would be
celebrated in revolutionary communist societieshence his discussions
about Mapuche tribal or national autonomy within the great Chilean
nation. As Lipschutz interpreted it, the Mapuche belonged and were
loyal to that nation, but they also identified as Mapuche. This was the
law of double patriotism.98 The parallels with Aburto Panguilef s call
for the creation of an Indigenous Republic in the early 1930s are remarkable. Seemingly, Lipschutz was revisiting the possibilities for indigenous
autonomy in the context of revolutionary change, at a time when most
leftists (following the line of the Communist International) had long since
moved on to a more integrationist agenda.
Lipschutzs interest in Mapuche culture went far beyond a concern for
the preservation of traditional customs or a preoccupation with recording
those customs before they disappeared. Indeed, one of his principal arguments was that Mapuche culture was not on the verge of extinction (despite numerous claims to the contrary).99 He asserted that there were at
least half a million people in Chile who claimed an indigenous Mapuche
identity and for whom the memory of Caupolicn and Lautaro [was] still
very much alive.100 And one only had to look at the works of people like
Sebastin Queupul, he said, to realize that they had a fervent desire for
a cultural renaissance.101 Lipschutz saw culture as adaptable and flexible,
something that was constantly being reconstructed and renegotiated. Mapuche people might wear miniskirts instead of the traditional ponchos, go
to see a doctor instead of a machi, speak Spanish as well as or instead of
Mapuzungun, and embrace written as well as oral literary production, but
this did not mean they had lost their cultural identity.102 On the contrary,
Mapuche identity was amplified and cleansed through these renovations; for Lipschutz, appropriation of other cultural practices signified
purification rather than contamination. Thus, Lipschutz moved beyond
the notions of an earlier or primordial indigenous identity that were common in Latin American Marxist intellectual circles.
Yet it would be wrong to suggest that he was the only one to elaborate
such ideas. In Chile, Lipschutz co-published an essay on cultural change
in Mapuche society with Gregorio Rodrguez, director of Chiles Indigenista Institute, and Luis Sandoval, the president of the Chilean Anthropological Society.103 He worked with the artists Carlos Isamitt and Margot Loyola, who were interested in diverse aspects of Chilean indigenous

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 141

music. He had long discussions with Toms Lago, director of the Popular
American Art Museum in Santiago, which held an impressive collection
of Mapuche objects. He also spent much time with Pablo Neruda. According to Hernn Soto, the Nobel laureate had more influence on Lipschutz than vice versa (because Lipschutz liked poetry, whereas Neruda
rebelled against scientific prose),104 but I would suggest that Nerudas shift
of emphasis in the 1960s from the heroic Araucanian warrior of old to
the present-day Mapuche, and his proposals for an Araucanian university
where the teaching would be done in Mapuzungun, came about at least
partly as a result of conversations with Lipschutz.105 The crucial point here
is that other intellectuals engaged with Lipschutzs rejection of classical
Marxisms class reductionism.
To some extent, so too did Allende. Lipschutz was a good friend of his
and a firm supporter of the Chilean Way to Socialism.106 Allende, in turn,
showed great interest in Lipschutzs work on Mapuche culture and history.
In 1970, the Chilean government awarded Lipschutz the National Science
Prize for his cultural indigenismo as well as his contributions to medical science. It also asked for Lipschutzs advice on how best to incorporate
the Mapuche into the agrarian reform process. Perhaps most significantly,
Allende made special reference to Lipschutz and his intellectual merits
when he presented a new indigenous law to the Chamber of Deputies on
May 19, 1971.107
This piece of legislation was based largely on the proposals put forward by Mapuche organizations at the Second Mapuche National Congress in Temuco in December 1970, which Allende had attended. When
he introduced the draft law to Congress, the president emphasized that
indigenous peoples have different values [than Chileans], just as they
have different ways of behaving.108 He also asserted that indigenous peasants views on land and land reform differed from those of the rest of the
Conscious that they have been the owners of their land for centuries, their attitude is that of someone who has been dispossessed of
something that legally belongs to him, whereas for other peasants
the acquisition of land constitutes a conquest. Indigenous peoples
fight for the recuperation of their land, while other peasants demand the redistribution of the land to those that work it.

142 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Possibly, Allende was restating what he had heard at the Mapuche

National Congress. Possibly, he had read the history of colonization and
pauperization told by Pascual Coa in the late 1920s (which I discussed
in chapter 1).109 After all, a new edition of this book was published by the
Institute of Training and Research for Agrarian Reform (ICIRA) during
the UP government. Coas testimony helped to bolster Allendes point
about historical consciousness. It also supported his proposal for separate
laws and institutions to deal with the needs of the Mapuche, and reinforced his explanation as to why Mapuche peasants had been driven to
violent action in recent years. Importantly, the new edition replaced the
Capuchin missionary Moesbach with Coa as the primary author, and
thus reasserted Mapuche agency in the storytelling process.
It seems clear that Allendes speech of 1971 transmitted Mapuche views.
And it is surely not insignificant that some retrospective accounts provided by Mapuche activists who were involved in the illegal land seizures
in the 1960s and 1970s mirror what Allende told the Chamber of Deputies. Rudecindo Quinchavil, for example, recently stressed that the fundamental problem in the countryside [was] always land, and that this
issue affected both Mapuche and non-Mapuche, but that a distinction
needed to be made in the historical and cultural aspect of the problem.
Non-Mapuche [peasants] had the same needs as the Mapuche, he said,
but from a historical perspective they were not reduced people; they did
not live on reservations.110
Shortly before speaking to the Chamber of Deputies about the new
indigenous law, Allende recorded an unprecedented television interview
with the U.S. journalist Saul Landau, during which he insisted that the
Mapuche problem [could] not be resolved through agrarian reform
alone.111 It was not just an economic problem, he said, but an anthropological problem, a cultural one, a problem of race.112 It was unclear
what he meant by the Mapuche being an anthropological, a cultural, and
a racial problemand Landau did not push him on the subjectbut this
comment, together with the institutions created through the indigenous
lawwhen it was finally passed in September 1972point to an official
recognition that Mapuche cultural difference could not be entirely subsumed within class struggle. For example, Article 34 of the law stipulated that the new Institute of Indigenous Development [IDI] aimed to
promote the social, economic, educational, and cultural progress of

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 143

indigenous people, and to strive for their integration into the national
community, taking account of their idiosyncrasy and respecting their
customs. Within this broad remit, one of its specific obligations was
to promote the development of indigenous art and craft by building
handicraft centers, providing credit, be it in the form of money or primary
materials . . . , and helping to secure its commercial viability by organizing
buyers for the craft works.113
The final document said nothing about bilingual education, but existing scholarship affirms that Allendes government endorsed this policy
in areas of the country with high proportions of Mapuche inhabitants
and gave the IDI joint responsibility for implementing it.114 One of the
most significant initiatives in this area was the Program for the Cultural
Mobilization of the Mapuche People, which was launched in 1971 as part
of the National Workers Education Program, and which encompassed
technical and work training, organizational development, and Mapuzungun-Spanish bilingual literacy.115 The project was, as Robert Austin
comments, premised on educational self-management and ethnic selfaffirmation.116 Indigenous organizations such as the National Confederation of Mapuche Associations and the Federation of Indigenous Students
played an important role in designing and managing the program; it also
involved twenty Mapuche monitors and one thousand Mapuche literacy
educators. But they did not work alone. These individuals and organizations were in constant contact with government bodies (such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Culture) and non-Mapuche
anthropologists. Meeting together in the literacy centers, they engaged
in ongoing debates about revisions to teaching methodologies, didactic
materials, and the written forms of the Mapuche alphabet.
The IDI, which was to become part of these debates in 1972, also provided an important forum in which Mapuche people could voice their
concerns and influence indigenous policy. As laid out in Article 40 of
the promulgated indigenous law, seven of the sixteen members of the
IDI management council were to be Mapuche, elected directly by Mapuche peasants by secret ballot. In the opinion of Lipschutz, these seven
Mapuche councilors were to be the legal representatives of their people.
It is essential, he said in the same year that the IDI was created, that
we now proceed, without delay, to the creation of an autonomous body
to represent the Mapuche tribe or nation. We are not just talking about

144 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

theory or words, but rather an immediate, urgent action [to be] taken by
the Mapuche. As he saw it, indigenous Mapuche autonomy was not only
feasible but also inevitable within the framework laid out by Indigenous
Law 17.729.117
We could also argue that the new legislation allowed for a more nuanced and open understanding of indigenousnessagain, an indication
of Lipschutzs (direct or indirect) involvement in the drafting process. For
example, when Allende first spoke to the National Congress about the
law in May 1971, he stated that at least one-quarter of Chiles total indigenous population, which was estimated to be 800,000, lived in urban areas
(mainly Santiago, Concepcin, and Temuco). The rural Mapuche population was still the majority, hence the presidents emphasis on the necessity
of radical agrarian reform. Nonetheless, it was significant that the urban
reality of many Mapuche was finally being acknowledged. For the first
time in Chilean history, the official definition of indigenous was extended
beyond those who lived or owned a plot of land in an indigenous community to include people who lived in any part of our national territory,
formed part of a group that usually expresses itself in a native language,
and distinguished themselves from the rest of the inhabitants of the Republic [through their] social organization, customs, [and] religion.118
If we look at other elements of the indigenous law or other statements
made by Allende, however, we are confronted with a less encouraging
picture. Indeed, we discover that Allende voiced an official discourse that
became increasingly contradictory and seemed to ignore the realities and
views of contemporary Mapuche. During the aforementioned interview
with Landau, for instance, Allende described those Mapuche individuals and communities involved in the illegal land seizures as lacking in
political understanding. He also asserted that when one is hungry and
has been promised so many things and cheated so many times it is difficult to reason. Explained thus, the Mapuche (or at least the most radical
Mapuche, who were the only ones being discussed) were denied a role
as informed, rational actors; yet, the government negotiated with them
and, in fact, often legitimized their actions by officially expropriating the
illegally occupied lands.119
Such puzzling remarks make more sense if we think about them in
the broader Latin American context. As Mallon has commented, Latin
American Marxism has focused on the connection between indigenous
peoples and the land, has tended to see this connection as based on an

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 145

ancestral or primordial collective and communal identity, and has therefore to some extent romanticized indigenous peoples as having the purest
and most direct connection to the land.120 Following this line, Allende
presented Mapuche strategies to recuperate lost land as emotive, instinctual, and spontaneous, and therefore lacking in theoretical insights and
ideological maturity. But at the same time, their rebellious actions could
not be ignored or repressed as they were under Frei Montalva. To the
contrary, the UP celebrated the force of Mapuche communal mobilization
and actually sought to cultivate this, but also to confine it within the remit
of party-political aims.
In the same interview, Allende told Landau that, along with the minister of agriculture, he had sent doctors, teachers, anthropologists, and
sociologists to the southern regions to help the Mapuche. The emphasis was no longer on Mapuche participation in the revolutionary socialist project, but rather on how they were to be helped by it. This paternalistic attitude was verbalized more forcefully during a speech Allende
gave to youth workers in Santiago on December 21, 1970: the Popular
Government . . . will raise the material and cultural levels of the Araucanian. . . . It will give them lands and dignify their existence. After asking
the young people gathered there to do voluntary work in the communities, he pushed the same point home again: For our part, we will mobilize
INDAP, CORA, and all other organizations necessary to change the life
and work of the Mapuche.121 Clearly, it was the state that was to act as the
key motor of revolution, even if it was student volunteers and intellectuals
that were going to help carry it out.
But what if Mapuche people did not want (everything about) their life
and work to be changed? At one point during the interview with Landau,
Allende stated, We need sufficient time in order to erase from the spirit,
from the mind of these people what has been happening for more than a
hundred years. He was referring to the fact that the law had previously
treated the Mapuche like children, without rights and that it was therefore difficult to try to enter immediately into legal agreements with them
as full citizens. This seemingly ran counter to the decision-making roles
that they were allocated in the IDI and to their leadership of bilingual
literacy schemes. The statement was also relevant to the state-led farming cooperatives that Allende wanted to set up in conjunction with the
agrarian reform program. When he presented the new indigenous law to
the Chamber of Deputies in May 1971, Allende acknowledged that even

146 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

though Mapuche people had a collective link with the landformally enshrined through the ttulos de merced established after Chilean occupation of Araucanathey farmed, managed, and owned the land as family
units.122 However, rather than accept the individualist spirit of Mapuche peasant-farmers (which was also attributed to the post-occupation
radicacin process, as a consequence of the scarce amount of land granted
through the ttulos de merced) Allende was adamant that their agricultural
system be transformed into one of collective or cooperative ownership
and production.123 Many Mapuche rejected this imposition, but as Jos
Aylwin has observed, their will was not always respected.124 Lipschutz
had listened to Mapuche views on the issue. He defended the indivisibility
of Mapuche communal lands, but he did not presuppose that these had
to be farmed collectively. The choice between individual production and
cooperatives, he said, should be up to each person or family.125 Either
he did not impress this point upon Allende, or the president decided to
ignore his advice.
Thus, Allende recognized Mapuche cultural specificity and was willing to listen to and act upon some of their demands, but he also insisted
that this people relearn their supposedly instinctive collective ways and
conform to the UPs lawful road to socialism. As with so many presidents
before him, he still had a sense of wanting to civilize and teach the Mapuche.126 Rafael Railaf, a Mapuche political organizer from Alhueco who
supported the MIR and participated in illegal land occupations, recently
spoke of the time when he met Allende in person. Allendes words to
Railaf sum up the incongruities of the UPs efforts to incorporate indigenous people into its revolutionary experiment: You are true revolutionaries, he said, [and] Im pleased to see you encouraging your people to
rise up against the [capitalist] system, but not in this way.127
It is plausible that the socialist leader adjusted his acceptance of Mapuche actions and values depending on who he was talking to. Perhaps he
could talk in this patronizing manner to an individual such as Railaf. And
when speaking to a journalist whose (U.S.) government proclaimed the
illegitimacy and unfeasibility of the Chilean Way to Socialism, it makes
sense to isolate those peasants involved in illegal land seizures as politically immature and explain their actions as the inevitable result of hunger
and poverty; this is the story he would have wanted a sympathetic Landau to communicate to a U.S. audience. The UP had to appear to be in
control, so much so that it might be capable of erasing Mapuche history

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 147

and memory. To this end, when asked by Landau about Mapuche people
separating themselves from Chileans, Allende recognized that this was an
important problem for Chile, but not an overwhelming one. No obstacle
was too great for his socialist revolution. A similar point could be made
about his address to the Chamber of Deputies in May 1971 (his plan to
incorporate the Mapuche into the agrarian reform process was feasible
because his government was capable of transforming their agricultural
practice) and his speech to volunteers in Santiago in December 1970 (he
recognized the legitimacy of [Mapuche] hopes and their yearning for
land but explained that he had demanded they no longer participate
in illegal land seizures, as if this was tantamount to saying that the seizures would stop). Allende probably did not emphasize his own demands
or talk about Mapuche political immaturity when he addressed the four
hundred Mapuche leaders who were invited to La Moneda for the official
promulgation of the new indigenous law in September 1972.128

The Christian Democratic government failed to engage with the specificity of Mapuche land claims, and its reformed teaching curriculum downplayed Chiles indigenous question, but the Mapuche did gain a louder
public voice during this period (due to increasing social mobility and the
creation of new cultural spaces), and they often used it to assert a distinct ethnic identity. The most prominent artists of the Chilean New Song
movement, Violeta Parra and Vctor Jara, drew attention to the plight of
indigenous peoples within the remit of the workers struggle for social
justice, but they were also keen to promote the continuing value of indigenous culture in Chile and they identified with that culture. For both
Alejandro Lipschutz and Salvador Allende, the origins of Chiles racial
problems lay in the class relations of colonialism, but they did not try to
explain race entirely in terms of economics. Lipschutz perceived, spoke,
and wrote about the complexities of Mapuche cultural identity politics,
which could not be encompassed within the totalizing narrative of classical Marxism. Allende presented the Mapuche as the most authentic
exponent of a system that [had] permitted men to blindly exploit other
men.129 The system had to be changed in order for the lives of Mapuche
people to improve. He acknowledged that the Mapuche had a distinct
culture and history, and he engaged with some of their demands in this

148 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Figure 14. Newspaper advertisement for Melilahuen, a Mapuche craft shop in Santiago,
September 15, 1972. (Courtesy of the Archivo Diario El Mercurio de Santiago de Chile.)

regard, but not all and not always; he recognized that they had multiple
collective identities (rural and urban, ethnic and class, community and
party political), but it was the rural, leftist peasant that he prioritized.
Ultimately, Allende responded to and drew inspiration from the power of
Mapuche organizing, but he also sought to hold sway over it, as if he and
his government had superior political knowledge.
The main opposition newspaper, El Mercurio, said little about Mapuche
culture during Allendes thousand days in power. Much more common
were reports of marauding Mapuche gangs instilling panic and fear in
the southern regions as the land seizures continued unchecked by the
government. I was therefore surprised to find an advertisement for a Mapuche craft shop (figure 14) in the issue of September 15, 1972. It encouraged tourists to visit Melilahuen, described as an authentically Mapuche
corner of Santiago, where they could find all sorts of indigenous objects,
such as musical instruments, jewels, ceramic pots, and wooden kitchen
implements, to take back home as unusual and exclusive presents for
their family and friends. Few records exist of this shop, and we are thus
left wondering whether it was run by Mapuche people themselves. It

Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges, 19641973 149

could have been; Mapuche business entrepreneurs did exist in Santiago.

This is an important point that was largely ignored by leftist and centerleftist discourse in the 1960s and early 1970s. When they talked about the
indigenous question neither the Christian Democrats nor Allende nor
Lipschutz nor Violeta Parra nor Vctor Jara made any reference to those
Mapuche who were not part of the neglected and oppressed. One could
consequently argue that they all thereby failed to fully understand the
very complex nature of that question.
With branches in downtown Santiago and Las Condes, Melilahuen catered to both mainstream and upper-class tourists. It seemed to want to
separate culture from politics for those tourists. As depicted in this advertisement, the artifacts for sale were genuinely and uniquely Mapuche;
the political subjects engaged in land occupations in the south, a topic
which attracted much attention in both the national and international
press, were not.130 Notably, the advertisement ran on the same day that the
new indigenous law was promulgated, an event that El Mercurio decided
not to discuss.
This newspaper was jubilant when the UPs revolutionary experiment
was brought to an end by the military coup of September 11, 1973. Augusto Pinochets regime soon embarked on major education reforms that
included a revision of the history curriculum so as to eradicate the discussions of social inequality and underdevelopment promoted by Frei Montalva. It also abolished the National Workers Education Program set up
under Allende. The music of Chilean New Song artists was banned from
the airwaves, removed from record stores, confiscated, and burned.131
Many of its authors were exiled, imprisoned or, in the case of Vctor Jara,
murdered. Alejandro Lipschutzs house was ransacked by the military
on two occasions, and his collection of books, which he had donated to
the University of Chile, was destroyed.132 Allende committed suicide and
many people in his government were rounded up and sent to notorious
prison camps such as Dawson Island. Peasants involved in the agrarian
reform program, especially those who participated in the illegal land occupations, were brutally repressed. It is clear what the coup and ensuing
dictatorship meant for class politics in Chile. It is less obvious what they
meant for Mapuche cultural politics. That is the focus of chapter 5.

The Pinochet Dictatorship

Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990

In his memoir Heading South, Looking North the author Ariel Dorfman
relayed some of the foreboding events that took place in the last weeks of
the UP government. Toward the end of August 1973, Dorfman (cultural
and media adviser to Salvador Allendes chief of staff) was ushered into
a musty, secluded room of the presidential palace to listen to an old
Mapuche Indian woman who had come to Santiago from the south of
the country to denounce her husbands torture and death. As Dorfman
recounted it, a group of Air Force officers had raided the familys communal farm in search of weapons and, when none were found, proceeded
to tie the womans husband to the blades of a helicopter. While the man
spun round in agony, the officers had taunted him, asking why his president was not coming to the rescue and suggesting he call on his fucking
pagan gods for help instead. The woman wanted Allende to punish those
responsible but it was as if power had already been transferred to the
military. For Dorfman, this tragic story constituted a visionary dress
rehearsal of the violence that was about to invade the country.1
The invasion occurred on September 11, 1973. A military junta, consisting of General Augusto Pinochet, General Gustavo Leigh, Admiral
Jos Toribio Merino, and General Csar Mendoza (Pinochet took over
sole command in 1974), declared that it had a moral duty, imposed by
the fatherland to depose the unashamedly illegitimate government of
Salvador Allende.2 The junta shut down congress, outlawed the UP parties, imposed a strict curfew, and censored the press. UP activists were
arrested and interrogated; some were shot immediately. Detention and

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 151

Figure 15. Memorial to The People Who Were Disappeared or Executed for Political
Reasons during the Military Dictatorship (197390) in the Region of Araucana in
Parque para la Paz (Park for Peace) in Temuco. It was inaugurated in 2001 during the
presidency of Ricardo Lagos. (Photo by author, 2010.)

torture centers were set up throughout the country. The new regimes
campaign to extirpate the Marxist cancer was particularly brutal in
Cautn in Araucana, because of the groundswell of protest and illegal
land seizures that had occurred here during the governments of Frei and
Allende (as described in chapter 4, this was where Allendes accelerated
agrarian reform program was pushed to its furthest limits). By August
1973, the right-wing press was bombarding its readers with rumors of
arms factories, buried weapons, and guerrilla schools. As Florencia Ma
llon notes of Nehuente, local peasants were seen either as conspiratorial
revolutionaries ready to attack all peace-loving citizens in their homes or
as innocent dupes in a violent extreme-left conspiracy led by the MIR.3
The memorial arch in Temucos Park for Peace (figure 15) shows that
many of the victims of military repression in Araucana were Mapuche.
Some had barely reached adulthood. Julio Agosto iripil Paillao, a farmworker from the community of Huincaleo near Galvarino, was only sixteen years old when he was dragged from his bed by military officers late
on October 8, 1973, and shot dead outside his home.4 Others were well
advanced in age and, similarly, had little chance of defending themselves.
Gregoria Carilaf Huenchupn was severely beaten by the police when

152 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

they came to look for (and could not find) her son on November 15, 1973;
she died two days later, aged seventy-three.5 The Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (199091) concluded that a total of 136 Mapuche were disappeared or murdered during the Pinochet years.6
Foreign academics and journalists at the time voiced concerns that
the military dictatorship was committing acts of genocide and ethnocide against the Mapuche. In April 1974, for example, Anthropology News
published four harrowing reports from people who were either living in
or visiting the southern provinces in September and October 1973, and
urged the American Anthropological Association and other organizations to investigate further. One Chilean woman relayed a conversation
she had had with a German named Gustavo Hott who had loaned his
car to local carabineros and accompanied them at night on an Indian-killing mission. He told me in detail, she said, how the Indians were pulled
from their shacks and killed and thrown into the Toltn River. Another
described how the Indian reserves [had] been pacified and taken over by
cruel military officials. A Chilean filmmaker recounted the story of two
friends who had observed the mass-killing of Mapuche youths. And a
Mapuche student wrote of the torture being used against Mapuche university students in Santiago and at the Universidad Tcnica de Estado in
Temuco, where 90 percent of the Mapuche students [had] been expelled.7
No wonder, then, that most recent scholarship points to the especially
violent physical repression suffered by Mapuche people during the military dictatorship.8 It also underscores the significance of Decree-Law 2568
of 1979, which encouraged the division and privatization of indigenous
communal lands, and stated that the subdivided plots of land would cease
to be considered indigenous, as would their owners. This effectively presumed the eradication of indigenous people as a distinct legal and social
category (hence ministerial statements to the effect that there were no
indigenous people in Chile, only Chileans).9 By the time Pinochet left
power in 1990, almost all Mapuche reducciones had been subdivided. In
the words of Mallon, his regime was responsible for the most ferocious
attack ever launched against the Mapuche territorial base in the postreduccin communities.10 There is also a consensus (rooted primarily in
the land division law and its implications) that the dictatorship explicitly
and consistently denied Chiles ethnic diversity; as expressed by Charles
Hale and Rosamel Millamn, it returned to the punishing assimilationist
ideology of times past.11 Finally, nearly all previous studies highlight the

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 153

valiant efforts of Mapuche people to resist the onslaught, mainly through

the Mapuche Cultural Centers (CCM), established in 1978, and their successor Ad-Mapu, which had managed to link fifteen hundred communities from the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth regions by 1982.12 These are the
principal components of what could be referred to as the dominant historical narrative on indigenous rights in Pinochets Chile: brutal repression on the part of the dictatorship and large-scale resistance on the part
of the Mapuche.
Without doubt, the general picture outlined here faithfully represents
the experience of many Mapuche people during the dictatorship, as they
told it at the time and as they have remembered it since. However, it does
not represent the experience of all Mapuche people. Nor does it fully convey the internal diversity of the state apparatus under Pinochet. This chapter aims to supplement and broaden the existing literature by incorporating new, untapped material from the period, and by revisiting regional
press sources and published testimonies of important Mapuche political figures. It teases out some of the more subtle interactive dynamics of
indigenous-state relations at this time, showing thatas in the previous
periodsnot all Mapuche opposed the regime, and that this military regime both denied and did not deny the cultural and ethnic diversity of
Over the years, academics, writers, government institutions, and human rights organizations have collected and published thousands of personal memories of life under the Pinochet regime.14 Taken together, the
ever-increasing body of work shows just how contested and fragmented
such memories are. This is the starting point for my analysis of Mapuche
experiences of the military dictatorship. Drawing on the important theoretical insights of Elizabeth Jelin, I do not seek to establish the truth of
what happened but rather to destabilize some of the certainties.15 To this
end, I probe the conflicting narratives of the dictatorial past, calling attention to some of the lesser-known stories. These do not undermine the
dominant version of events. Instead, they add to it and help us to understand further how Pinochet managed to remain in power for so long.16
The policies of this period need to be considered with a great deal of
care and contextualized within the broader social and political goals of
the regimeparticularly its plan to reorganize society, in a corporatist
fashion, into private economic sectoral organizations that would interact directly with the state rather than going through political parties.17

154 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Pinochet was not the first president to try to discipline national society
in this way, but his regime represented, as Paul Drake asserts, the most
concerted effort at corporatist government in Chilean history.18 Ibez
had flirted with state corporatism during his military-based dictatorship
of 192731 and his elected government of 195258. Drake describes this
as inclusionary or quasi-populist corporatism (or controlled mobilization), in contrast to the exclusionary, repressive, quasi-fascist corporatism of the Pinochet years, which sought to demobilize assertive interests.
Nonetheless, what is important for us is that the oppositionwhich included Mapuche associations such as the CCM (later Ad-Mapu)could
use the new laws of social organization to create a small space for themselves and make tangible demands of the state.
This chapter is divided into four main sections. First, I explore the
racialized nature of military repression under Pinochet and compare
Decree-Law 2568 to previous land division legislation. In the next three
sections I shift my focus to cultural production and cultural policy: I analyze some of the cultural activities that took place during the 1970s and
1980s (specifically folklore festivals, sports tournaments, and theater productions); the narratives and voices that appeared in the main newspaper
of Temuco, El Diario Austral; and the details of official education schemes
under Pinochet to show how people could simultaneously resist and collaborate with the regime. In other words, resistance could entail some
strategic negotiating and, vice versa, some of the cooperation between
Mapuche organizations and the state involved moments of resistance and
defiance. I also highlight the inconsistency and multiplicity of government discourse on the indigenous question. Even under a military dictator who once proclaimed not a leaf moves in this country if I am not
moving it,19 the state never functioned as a uniform whole. Rather it was
composed of multiple entities that had different agendas and responded
to Mapuche demands in a variety of ways.

Political Repression, Neoliberal Restructuring, and Mapuche

Responses during the Early Dictatorship Years
Many of the Mapuche who felt the wrath of military repression after the
coup of September 11, 1973, were members of peasant councils or trade
union federations, had links with the Communist or Socialist parties,
or supported more radical organizations such as the Movement of the

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 155

Revolutionary Left (MIR) and its affiliate the Revolutionary Peasant

Movement (MCR). Many had been involved in the UP agrarian reform
program (as members or indeed leaders of the newly established asentamientos, CEPROs, or CERAs) or had participated in the land invasions
that forced the Popular Unity government to radicalize its agenda or both.
In this regard, the repression was political. Mapuche people were targeted
not because they were Mapuche, but rather because of their alleged leftist connections and their attempts to undermine the power of the large
landowners in the south, hence the old man in Dorfmans narrative being
mocked for his loyalty to Allende. Sometimes the practice of repression
was different for the Mapuche, however, and in this way it took on racial
or ethnic dimensions. In other words, they might not have been targeted
for being Mapuche, but their Mapuche-ness affected the way they were
treated by the repressive state apparatus. A number of Mapuche people
who survived imprisonment have testified to the insulting, racist language
of the military police who interrogated them, saying they were maligned
not just as communists or subversives, but specifically as Indian communists or Indian subversives.20 This coincides with Dorfmans account
of military officers goading their prisoner to pray to his fucking pagan
gods as they tortured him. Furthermore, as documented by the human
rights organization CODEPU, much of the violent intimidation and interrogation sessions took place in the communities, rather than in prisons
or army regiments.21 In some cases, large groups, including elderly men
and women, as well as young children, were held captive in their communities and physically and psychologically tortured together.22 Like other
subversives, Mapuche people had their homes and bodies repeatedly
violated. In contrast to other people, however, their communal, territorial
space, as well as the authority of their community leaders, was desecrated.
Mapuche rural communities were also greatly impacted by the military
regimes neoliberal economic reforms. The process of land redistribution
initiated under Frei Montalva and expanded under Allende was brought
to a swift halt. Government spending on agriculture was dramatically reduced. Almost a third of the land in the reformed sector was returned
to its former owners and the asentamiento system was dismantled.23 The
objective, as Collier and Sater comment, was not to restore the traditional
hacienda, but rather to transform the countryside into highly capitalized, labor-intensive commercial farms.24 The militarys agrarian counter-reform coincided with the passage of new legislation to encourage

156 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

expansion of the logging industry in the southern regions.25 National and

international conglomerates receiving generous subsidies from the government were favored over local communities, whothrough the prohibition of political organizinglost their rights to protest against such
intrusions. The dictatorships neoliberal policy also overlapped in the long
term with Decree-Law 2568 of 1979.
The Mapuche Cultural Centers and Ad-Mapu campaigned consistently
and vociferously against the subdivision and privatization of indigenous
lands, but one of the leaders of this organization, Rosa Isolde Reuque
Paillalef, has acknowledged that a number of communities wanted individual property titles and therefore requested division.26 Indeed, official
correspondence held in the Regional Archive in Temuco shows that some
community leaders were approaching the authorities as early as 1974 to
ask for permission to divide their lands.27 This should perhaps come as
no surprise given that the first subdivision law, passed almost fifty years
earlier, was proposed by Mapuche congressman Manuel Manquilef.
There were, however, significant differences between Law 4169 of 1927
and the Pinochet law of 1979, not least the latters stipulation that the process could be undertaken at the request of any single occupant of the community. More importantly, the reform package drafted, presented, and
defended by Manquilef, and all subsequent discussions emanating from
it, had presumed that the lands would be divided among those individuals
with a kin connection to the original settlers under the ttulo de merced;
that is, according to membership in that particular Mapuche lineage and
land-grant community. It also required the community to be in possession of the whole extent of their original title. Thus, numerous communities, which had been dispossessed of lands that could not be restored,
had been unable to divide their lands. In fact, as Mallon details, people in
many communities, although often interested in farming their individual
plots and avoiding enduring conflicts with their neighbors, also requested
division in order to achieve restitution of lands that had been usurped
from their community as a whole.28
By contrast, Decree-Law 2568 was a simple land-to-the-occupant law.
Consequently, those who had leased their land to outsiders (a growing
trend during the economic hardships of the early dictatorship years) lost
their plots because the renters were in possession of the land when the
military commission responsible for the division process visited the communities. Furthermore, all migrants to the citieswho under earlier rules

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 157

that took the inheritance of kinship rights into account would have had
access to land in their rural communitieswere now left out of the equation.29 This resulted in many disagreements and conflicts within communities and families. Indeed, it is possible that some individual petitions for
land division under Pinochet were predicated on earlier understandings
of what land division would entail. We also have to acknowledge, as Ma
llon does in the case of the community of Nicols Ailo, the conditions of
intimidation under which the division was carried out.30
Fear and intimidation could also help to explain the many letters of
support that the military received from Mapuche people shortly after the
coup. On September 14, Arturo Hueche Manquilef and Rafael Cayupn
Antivil wrote on behalf of the Committee of Small Farmers of Temuco to
thank the armed forces for crushing the foreign and sectarian tendencies that had threatened Chilean democracy.31 Following suit, Antonio
Quilaleo Quintulem from the community of Molonhue wrote, as representative of the Small Farmers of Nueva Imperial, to offer unconditional
support to the Military Government of National Reconstruction. According to Quilaleos letter the whole of Araucana [was] jubilant about
the work that the [military was] doing for the benefit of all Chileans.32
One communication, dated September 20, from a group of organizations
in Lican Ray was particularly emotive: their hearts, it said, were filled
with love for the fatherland and gratitude toward the Generals, and they
begged God to bless their efforts to bring peace and well-being to
Chile.33 Of course, it made sense to pledge loyalty to a government that
seemed determined to eliminate anyone who did not support it. On the
other hand, we cannot presume, just because it was a time of great fear,
that these people had no real sympathy with the coup. As Mapuche historian Sergio Caniuqueo recently stated, the idea that the Left has always
been a natural ally of the Mapuche, and the Right their obvious enemy, is
an invention of the Left.34 Many Mapuche have aligned themselves with
the Left (as we saw in chapters 2 and 4), but there are also those, such as
Couepn, who have sought alliances with the Right (see chapter 3).
Importantly, those Mapuche who declared their support for Pinochet
or developed the private property bug, as Reuque calls it, were no less
likely to lay claim to a collective Mapuche identity than those people who
backed Allende. Three days after the coup, the Confederation of Araucanian Societies wrote to congratulate the military junta for its patriotic
decision to intervene to resolve the economic, social, and moral disorder

158 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

and chaos [created by] the Popular Unity Government, and avowed that
their national movement [had] been fighting for years to try to prevent
the Marxist evil from spreading to the Mapuche communities.35 Caniuqueo draws on this letter to argue that the Mapuche have always had a
project as a people and that their party-political allegiances depend on
who they think best serves this quest for autonomy.36
Three letters written the following year help to reinforce as well as nuance Caniuqueos argument. They were all written by women and pledged
loyalty to the military regime, but they also made demands of it. They told
of the rivalries that existed within their communities at the same time as
they promoted a strong collective identity as a people. Furthermore, an
indigenous ethnic identity often informed their demands.
On March 15, 1974, Mara Isabel Poblete Huircn wrote to the regional
intendant in Temuco to complain about another Mapuche woman who
was trying to throw her family off their land. She began by lamenting that
Mapuche people had always been tricked by the law courts. Her adversary,
in contrast, was seen to be manipulating these courts and consequently to
have become less Mapuche, meaning she had less plausible claims to the
land. The main purpose of Pobletes letter, however, was to demand that
the government appoint competent authorities who understood Mapuzungun to investigate the matter.
On July 9, Felicia Manqueo asked the same intendant to suspend the legal actions being carried out in favor of her son (who wanted some of the
family land), on the basis that he had married a woman who worked for
the Agrarian Reform Corporation (CORA) under Allende. Like Poblete,
Manqueo demanded that the authorities appoint someone who knows
about our problems to monitor the situation. Our indigenous race she
said has full confidence in the Military Government, which is . . . enacting justice for all the poor people of Chile. We, the Mapuche, hope to be
treated . . . with dignity and respect, as well as to end the abuses of some
violent Mapuche people, who persist in trying to disrupt our peaceful
lives. The distinction between the good and bad Indian here (with
the intention of prohibiting the second from claiming his or land rights)
depended on ones politics.
Finally, we have a letter of February 8, 1974, from Petronila Nahuelpn
Niripil to the minister of the interior, General Oscar Bonilla. Unlike Poblete and Manqueo, Nahuelpn was not complaining about a neighbor

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 159

or family member, but rather a group of military officers who had come
to the community and tried to intimidate people into signing some legal papers. The papers stated that the community had usurped the lands
they were living on, and the military officers threatened to kill people if
they did not sign. Of particular interest here is that five months after the
coup Nahuelpn still thought it was worth complaining about military
violence, and she did so specifically as an indigenous person and Chilean
citizen, who is proud of my tradition and that of my parents.37
These letters indicate the variety of strategies adopted by Mapuche
people during the dictatorship. As with the occupation campaigns of the
late nineteenth century, collaboration and resistance were opposing extremes; most strategies fit somewhere in between the two or incorporated
elements of both. In terms of the regime, the letters confirm the use of
violent repression, but they also indicate some instances of dialogue and
interaction. This comes across more clearly still in Mapuche cultural performance, Chilean cultural production, the Chilean press, and the dictatorships cultural policies.

Folklore, Sport, and Theater: Astute Negotiations and

Subtle Subversions
According to Hale and Millamn, the Pinochet regime responded ferociously to any sign of political opposition but did not view cultural expression as political.38 An always should probably be inserted here between
not and view (as I show, some cultural activities were indeed repressed by
military police) and it is worth stressing that Hale and Millamn were talking specifically about Mapuche cultural expression, which political elites
have so often reduced to traditional ritual ceremonies, as opposed to a
phenomenon like the Chilean New Song movement, which was brutally
repressed. Nevertheless, their overriding point is a valid and important
one. Mapuche folklore festivals and sporting tournaments, and theatrical
productions focusing on Mapuche culture and history, were sanctioned
and occasionally even sponsored by the regime. In some cases, one could
argue that their organizers were being co-opted by the dictatorship and
forced to play along with the official image of that dictatorship as open
and tolerant (an organic type of democracy). However, we can also see
how cultural events provided a space for Mapuche people to voice their

160 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

concerns, and indeed how they and others interested in the indigenous
question could use this space to challenge government policy.
On January 15, 1979, El Diario Austral published a short article about
the Third Mapuche Festival, which was to take place in Villarrica the following month.39 The initiative received funding from the governments
Department of Sports and Recreation. It was also supported by the National Confederation of Folkloric Groups and the Regional Tourist Office
in Temuco. The event was to be held in conjunction with the Mapuche
Craft Fair of Villarrica which, apart from exhibiting and selling artistic
items, included some presentations on Mapuche culture by teachers at
the local Catholic University, a game of chueca, and a performance by the
prestigious folkloric group Palomar from Santiago. The festival itself
centered on music, song, and dance of authentic autochthonous origin
performed by the most genuine representatives of our aboriginal race,
and the newspaper was pleased to report that the Spanish and German
embassies had shown interest in attending. There was a similar celebration of Mapuche cultural traditions in Loncoche in March 1979. Mapuche
people paraded along the main street playing their trutrukas. The men
were dressed in ponchos and head scarves, and the women wore their
traditional silver adornments. A life-size ruka was also erected for the
occasion. This time the street performance was in honor of Pinochets
visit to the region.40 The following year, it was Temucos turn. On September 18, 1980 (the 170th anniversary of Chilean independence), readers of El Diario Austral were told that eighty Mapuche warriors would
be participating in the military parade later that afternoon.41 Lautaros
troops were to be led by four Mapuche caciques on horseback wearing
the typical black riding robes and four war leaders on foot, dressed in
multicolored robes. Four other men, brandishing weapons of the past,
were to bring up the rear.42
The Mapuche were thus asserting their presence in Villarrica, Loncoche, and Temuco, but on all three occasions this assertion seemed to
be reduced to clichd leftovers of a heroic past. They had been asked to
perform authentic Mapuche culture for a largely non-Mapuche public. In one case, they were performing for the dictator himself. These
events could not have been more official. They could not have been less
threatening to a regime which, perhaps more than any other government,
sought to anchor Chilean nationality in the virility and military prowess
of the Araucanian titans of colonial times.43

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 161

Isolde Reuque has been critical of these kinds of events, especially

the Mapuche Festival and Craft Fair in Villarrica, which she describes as
gaudily folkloric, but her organization also took part in official celebrations. In When a Flower Is Reborn, she recalls being invited to participate in Temucos centennial festivities of 1981: We asked ourselves, what
should we do? We were invited to dance and we accepted, but we didnt
just want to dance.44 In the eighteen months leading up to the event, the
Mapuche Cultural Centers worked in communities across Araucana, organizing and planning. They held guillatunes, played palin, and arranged
storytelling competitions and traditional cooking contests. The motive
behind these local ceremonies, which culminated in a mass guillatn in
Temuco, was far from government certified: they represented a strong
show of Mapuche solidarity and pride at precisely the same time as state
authorities in Temuco were celebrating Chilean occupation of Mapuche
territory.45 One hundred years might have passed since Temuco was definitively pacified, but the activities organized by the CCM demonstrated
that Mapuche culture had survived, and not in a traditionally folkloric or
mass-produced sense, but rather as everyday experience at the grassroots
As Reuque remembers it, all the events in which the CCM was involved
had political as well as cultural significance: [they] helped us to get in
touch with our roots, and we said it loud and clear. . . . I think in times
of great repression, people look for ways to connect to each other and to
unify.46 Two pertinent points emerge here. First, the Mapuche did not
organize despite the repression, but precisely because of (that is, in opposition to) it. Second, and most ironically, it was the regimes folkloric,
almost tourist-oriented approach to the Mapuche that allowed them a
space to organize politically.47 For example, the Cultural Week of February 1979 in Nehuente was billed as a folkloric and tourist event, but
also served to commemorate four young peasant-farmers whose shackled
bodies had been found a year earlier in Puerto Saavedra.48 Reuque was
keen to assert that it was not the intention of the CCM to be folkloric, but
acknowledged that being seen as such provided them with an opening
that they could use to their advantage:
For example, at the palin tournaments we organized . . . you could
have forty teams at a single gathering . . . and have only a pair of
policemen assigned to monitor the event. Let me tell you that under

162 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

no other government have we been able to have so many people, so

many teams gathered in one place . . . and the speeches people gave
were truly militant!49
Some leaders appealed to those present to rise up and face the common
enemy, and they were explicit that that enemy was the dictatorship (because it was trying to liquidate indigenous communities), but they spoke
in Mapuzungun, which the police did not understand. Reuque would
then speak in Spanish, about development and participation: that was
the facade for the wingkas, especially the cops, she said.
Subversion was not always this simple, however. One event in Tirua
in March 1984 had only just begun when it was interrupted and forcibly
terminated by the military police. A participant in the event later told
On March 27, more than four hundred military officers and policemen arrived, [and began] hitting us with machine guns, and shooting at my relatives and everyone else gathered there in Miquihue for
a ceremony and game of chueca; this is a traditional custom of ours.
They entered this private area without any justification and without
saying anything to us. They made us line up, and they fired into the
group, injuring five peis (brothers); others were savagely beaten.50
According to Chief of Police Aquiles Blu Quezada, the game was a
pretext for a political meeting, and some of the people involved were hiding weapons. Drawing on negative racial stereotypes, he also asserted that
the Mapuche present were drinking alcohol. Apparently, this made them
all the more threatening, and the violent treatment to which they were
subjected all the more justified.51
At this point it is useful to return to the foundation of the CCM in
1978 and the organizational developments of the early 1980s, because they
reinforce this dual story of openings and constraints. As documented by
numerous sources, the movement began modestly and its meetings were
clandestine due to the threat of repression.52 Yet its inauguration was
publicly announced in the newspapers and it was sponsored by Catholic
Church authorities in Temuco, which provided some measure of protection.53 The movement had a space because it was cultural, but that space
was limited. If its members pushed the boundaries too far, arrest and
torture were very real possibilities, especially for people like Melliln

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 163

Painemal, who was a member of the Communist Party. He took part in

the ceremonies, but did not get involved in the grassroots organizing because of the dangers involved.54
Despite the known party politics of some of the CCMs leadership, the
government had to formally recognize the network in 1980, when the
CCM changed its name to the Association of Artisans and Small Farmers Ad-Mapu. It conformed to Pinochets constitutional requirements,
as an occupation-based organization that made concrete socioeconomic
demands (such as scholarships, medical assistance, funding for cultural
events) and prioritized indigenous rights over and above any particular
ideological line. To some extent, the dictatorship gained a tighter control
of Ad-Mapus activitiesin keeping with the practice of corporatist regimes, all group interaction was supposed to occur only through the prior
mediation of the state and official channels (for example, Ad-Mapu had to
ask permission to hold meetings)but it also provided the organizations
members with an authorized platform from which to speak, and they often spoke out against state actions and policies, especially the land division law. Ad-Mapu was thus working within the parameters set out by the
regime and challenging its authority. Therefore, its members were monitored, intimidated, and sometimes abused by state agents.55 By 198283,
however, when civil society began to express its discontent in mass street
protests, which forced an opening in civil-state relations (people were
overcoming their fear, and in huge numbers they were impossible to fully
contain), it became increasingly difficult for the regime to disappear or
murder public figures, especially those working for officially sanctioned
associations. Thus, although members of Ad-Mapu were always cautious
about their work in the communities, they were not as fearful as they had
been in the 1970s. Not coincidentally, at the same time as leftist parties
were given a new lease on life, internal political divisions began to afflict
Ad-Mapu; the non-party perspective lost ground and Reuque left the organization in 1983.56
During this period Domingo Colicoy Caniuln, a socialist militant
and prominent member of Ad-Mapu, set up the Mapuche Theater Group,
which was to achieve legendary status in the rural communities and cities of the southern regions.57 According to another political leader of
the time, Domingo Montupil, it started off as a folkloric venture but also
showed the reality and suffering of the Mapuche people.58 Montupil
claimed it helped young people develop a sense of their Mapuche identity

164 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

by enacting captivating scenes such as those related to traditional marriage customs. In the words of Colicoy, the theater group sought both to
defend and reconstruct Mapuche culture.59 To this end, members did
not simply take plays and perform them to the communities, but rather
worked together with the communities on the productions. The approach
was all about collective artistic production. This direct involvement was
crucial to the process of political consciousness raising, and the politics of
the director were most certainly leftist. In all, it was a risky but nonetheless possible venture by the mid-1980s.
Chilean playwrights also showed an interest in Mapuche culture and
history during the dictatorship. Isidora Aguirre was a close friend of Me
lliln Painemal. In 1978, when she was visiting their home, Painemal and
his family asked her to write something about the Mapuche people. In
April 1982, Aguirre and the independent theater company PROTECHI
premiered Lautaro! Epopeya del pueblo mapuche in Los Andes Arts
Center in Santiago.60 By July approximately thirty-one thousand people
had been to see the play, and national television wanted to commission
an abridged version.61 At first glance, the work seems to conform to the
well-trodden, idealized story of the noble Araucanian warrior of old: the
Mapuche are an independent, content, and prosperous people working
their lands; Spanish forces arrive, claiming ownership of all they see and
submitting any indigenous person who dares to challenge their rule or resist slave labor to unthinkably cruel punishment; Lautaro is taken to serve
Pedro de Valdivia, who is more intelligent and honorable than most other
conquistadors; a close, father-sontype relationship develops between the
two, but Lautaro can never forget where he comes from, and eventually he
returns to his people, taking with him his knowledge of Spanish war tactics in order to lead the Mapuche in rebellion; Lautaro and Valdivia spot
each other in one particularly gruesome combat; Valdivia is killed, and
Lautaro (not the killer) mourns him (as a loved one, not as a conqueror);
Lautaro too finally diesa brave fighter to the end, he is determined to
reclaim Santiago despite the fact that his forces have been decimated by
war and disease. The play had a successful run in Santiago and in the
provinces, without interference from state authorities, from whom it received official endorsement by way of a positive review in the Revista de
Educacin (mouthpiece of the Ministry of Education).62
However, closer inspection of the published script reveals obvious contemporary political resonations:

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 165

Actor 1: Lautaro!
Choir: You are here!
Actor 2: Brother
Choir: Here we are.
Actor 3: To defend your land.
Actor 4: Your land.63
The colonial warrior had died but his spirit could not be crushed. In late
twentieth-century Chile the Mapuche still had the will to fight and continued to claim collective ownership of their ancestral lands. Lautaro was
their inspiration: shortly after these lines, the choir exclaims, IN DEATH
YOU (capitals in the original). To make the point even clearer, Aguirre
explained in the prologue:
In history textbooks, we learn that the Mapuche were bellicose and
valiant and that they successfully resisted the Spanish in a war that
lasted for three centuries. . . . Many people, however, are unaware
that they continue fighting to this day, that they struggle to defend
their community lands, their way of life, their language, their songs,
their culture, and their traditions.64
Thus, although the focus of the drama was the sixteenth century, the final
scene evoked present-day Chile. The initial stimulus for the project was
contemporary as well. As told by Aguirre, the Mapuche were well aware
of the continuing relevance of Lautaros anticolonial struggle, but many
Chileans were not. Her play was aimed at them. It constituted a public show of support for the contemporary Mapuche struggle, specifically
those people protesting the land division law.
There was another unmistakable subtext to Lautaro! The capitalized
exclamation reminds us of the revolutionary slogans of the Allende years:
the warrior hero incorporated into the imaginary of the new cooperative
farms and re-projected through the graffiti of working-class neighborhoods on the outskirts of Santiago. This narrative becomes even more
explicit when the choir sings Indio Hermano (Brother Indian):
I learned from you, beloved brother
Indian of these lands
I learned from you how to resist cruel oppression.

166 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

I am not bothered by hunger, prison, or pain,

I am a man, not just a thing to be pushed around
Brother Indian, you, you have helped to revive
the flame of liberation in my heart.
This songalong with the rest of the plays musicwas written by Los
Jaivas, who lived in exile from 1973 until 1982, were closely associated
with the Chilean New Song movement, and publicly spoke out against
the Pinochet regime. Knowing this, one begins to wonder how Lautaro!
made it past the dictatorships tight censorship controls, let alone how it
was sanctioned by the Ministry of Education.
There are several possible and interrelated explanations. As noted earlier, it was a time of relative respite for Chilean society. The government
could no longer suppress everything. Some progressive cultural productions had to be allowed, in order to contain growing public unrest and to
assure the international community of the regimes supposed democratic
intentions. Furthermore, theaterwhich playwright Ramn Griffero
once described as the most feasible art form to do in Chile as an act
of dissidencehad more space than other means of social communication.65 But it was not simply a case of letting the play slip through; the
dictatorship publicly approved it. Perhaps the bureaucrats charged with
reviewing the play did not wait for the end or did not perceive the political content of the ending. More likely, they noticed it but did not deem
it to be as overtly rebellious as other works. To be sure, the play could be
interpreted as suitably patriotic; for the main part, it conformed to the
founding narrative of Chilean nationhood (the bellicose encounter of two
heroic military forces), which the dictatorship promoted through schools
and museums. Possibly, then, the censors accepted it but tried to tone
down its politics.
This interpretation is supported by the press reviews of Lautaro! The
historical conflict between the Spanish and Mapuche was discussed, as
was the contemporary Mapuches continuing love for his land (a direct
quote from Aguirre),66 but only briefly. Newspapers seemed more interested in the staging of the play than the narrative content. For instance,
they highlighted the innovative choreography, particularly the mixture
of traditional and modern dance.67 Within this framework, journalists
emphasized that the Mapuche were an important part of Chiles present as
well as its past. One piece quoted the director, Abel Carrizo, who explained

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 167

that the staging [was] done with the present day in mind; [the actors]
fight for their ideals, [and] sing and dance like young people of today
would.68 In addition, we find out that Aguirre publicly dedicated several
of the previews to Mapuche people living in Santiago and that one of the
singers in the choir was Mapuche: Sofa Painequeo, who usually opened
the shows with songs in Mapuzungun.69 However, we also discover that
some of those involved in the venture could be rather denigrating toward
the Mapuche. Carrizo, for instance, explained that the modern-day costumes of the Spanish soldiers were supposed to highlight the enormous
cultural difference between the Spanish and the Mapuche. This in itself
was not problematic, but he was then quoted as saying that the Mapuche
were centuries behind the Spanish.70 And Paula Lacannelier (acting the
part of Guacolda, Lautaros lifelong love) told a reporter that she had spent
the summer before the launch of the play visiting Mapuche reducciones
near Temuco, in order to watch how they walked and laughed, almost as
if they were specimens on display in a circus or zoo.71 We cannot attribute
these attitudes directly to the newspapers, but it indicates the slant that
some of them were taking: a continuing emphasis on the exotic, backward Indian, rather than the modern political subjects who had suggested
Aguirre write the play in the first place. More significantly, there was little
reference to the problems and struggles of contemporary Mapuche. People who saw the play could not miss its rebellious undertones, whereas
those who merely read about it in the press probably could.

The Press: Transmission, Manipulation, or Repression of

Mapuche Voices?
Like other dictatorships across Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s,
the Pinochet regime severely curtailed the flow of information in Chile.
Editors, reporters, and photographers were kept under close scrutiny.
Harassment and intimidation were common occurrences, and many suffered much worse: more than sixty media workers were killed or disappeared.72 The focus of my analysis here is El Diario Austral of Temuco
which, like twenty-two other regional newspapers in Chile, is part of El
Mercurio S.A., the largest, most influential press syndicate in Chile. El
Mercurio received funds from the CIA during the elections of 1964 and
1970, was relentless in its attacks against Allendes UP government, and
remained pro-Pinochet long after the dictator left power in 1990. It is

168 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

therefore reasonable to describe the local Temuco newspaper as an official

mouthpiece of the regime. Even if it hadnt been, press censorship made
it difficult for any major news outlet to veer too far away from the government-authorized storyline. Building on my argument about reviews
of Aguirres play, and the positive publicity that events such as Villarricas
Mapuche festivals received, this section delves further into the question
of how press control worked with regard to discussions about Chiles indigenous question.
Much of the coverage in El Diario Austral was as we would expect.
On several occasions, it explained and justified the states use of violence
against Mapuche campesinos who were involved in illegal political gatherings. In January 1982, for example, it reported on a meeting held in
the community of Antonio Millaln in Pillanlelbn, which resulted in
sixty-one arrests. According to one of the community members involved,
they were meeting with students from a local school who had volunteered
to work in the community over the summer (a normal occurrence in
Araucana in January).73 According to the newspaper, they were meeting
to plan terrorist actions, encouraged by university students in Santiago
(the logic being, perhaps, that Mapuche campesinos could not lead a rebellion themselves).74 Eventually, all of the sixty-one supposed subversives were released due to lack of evidence, but this received far less attention in the press than the initial arrests.
El Diario Austral also portrayed a government that was greatly troubled by the poverty afflicting Mapuche communities and doing its best
to resolve the problem, always in consultation with the Mapuche. On the
subject of land division the newspaper informed readers of numerous
meetings held between government authorities and Mapuche organizations, the concerns that Mapuche people had about the new legislation,
and the assurances that they received from the government in response.75
It also reported that there was much support for the reform among the
rural Mapuche population. Mario Rayman of the Regional Indigenous
Council (set up by the military regime to help implement the land division law) and Juan Huichalaf of the Confederation of Araucanian Societies were repeatedly quoted proclaiming their gratitude for such enlightened legislation.76 And, as Mallon has observed, a great deal of publicity
was given to the rural subsidies, new health posts, and scholarships being
provided by Pinochet.77 In sum, El Diario Austral presented his regime as
one that sought to give contemporary Mapuche people the best chances

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 169

of modernizing and succeeding in twentieth-century Chile, but also one

that would not tolerate extremist elements.
One Mapuche who frequently appeared in the newspaper in the early
1980s was Emilio Antilef. He was born in Santiago in 1972 and by 1982
had published two books of poetry.78 The Municipality of Temuco invited
the Araucanian child prodigy to join in the citys centenary festivities in
March 1981, and El Diario Austral published the poem he had written in
honor of the occasion:
A new day was born.
After fierce battles and struggles
those men, such proud souls
proclaimed peace, calm reigns.
The cry of revenge and war quiets down
and a torrent of peace and harmony
gives way to the birth of [new] towns
in the beautiful Region of Araucana.
Araucanian race, show your joy
by giving thanks to Our Father the Creator
for your beauty which is glory and poetry
for Temuco, its people and its ielol.79
As represented in Homenaje a Temuco (Homage to Temuco) the heroic
military conflict of the past had given way to peaceful relations in the
present. The towns in Araucana had emerged within this context and
thus Mapuche, like Chileans, could and should participate gratefully in
Temucos centennial celebrations, thanking God all the while for their
good fortune.
Antilef returned to Temuco to stay with family friends in January 1982.
In an interview with El Diario Austral, he spoke of how proud he was to
be Mapuche because his ancestors had never been defeated by another
people.80 To reiterate the point, the newspaper printed his poem Una
cancin por mi Arauco (A Song for my Arauco):
Today in these verses
I want to show the courage of my Arauco
the glory of invincible warriors

170 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

whose deeds were recorded for posterity

Immortal, glorious, heroic race
with defiant brow and a warriors heart
I am proud to be a son
of my brave and just Arauco.
Such celebratory verses coincided with the regimes militaristic version
of nationalism. Antilef was a perfect mascot for the regime in other ways
too. An article written toward the end of 1982 included photographs of
him dressed up in typical Mapuche garments and participating in the
ceremonies of his ancestors, whenever his busy schedule allowed him to.
In other words, he had embraced the opportunities offered to him in the
capital city, not least a good education, but he also kept in touch with his
indigenous roots. When asked how he would react if someone shouted
indio! at him, he replied I wouldnt feel particularly good or bad. It
might be said in a derogatory manner, but he insisted it was a compliment
to be called an Indian. Most important, Antilef was certain that he would
never get into a fight about it. Finally, he talked about wanting to become
a priest when he grew up. It is no surprise that a Mapuche child-genius,
who embraced Chilean-ness and Catholicism and avoided conflict, was
given a voice in El Diario Austral.
So far, no surprises: we see the dictatorship imagined as sympathetic
toward and concerned about the problems of Mapuche people, and prominence being accorded to those Mapuche voices (Rayman, Huichalaf, and
Antilef) who symbolized successful racial integration and celebrated the
achievements of the dictatorship. However, a detailed review of El Diario
Austral, particularly for the years 197881, also reveals occasional broadcasting of Mapuche organizations criticisms of government policy. On
January 29, 1979, for example, it reported on a meeting held in Victoria
and attended by several leaders of the CCM.81 It printed the main points
agreed on at the meeting, as summarized by Manuel Cheuque Huenchulaf: to reject the division of indigenous lands; to push for a truly representational national organization that was born out of the Mapuche
community; to insist on recognition of the Mapuche people and respect
for their cultural and ethnic characteristics; to struggle for the return of
usurped lands and an increase in existing lands; and to demand the dissemination of Mapuche culture and language through primary schools,

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 171

and the provision of more educational grants and student residences. The
next day, El Diario Austral ran an interview with Melliln Painemal and
Isolde Reuque, who complained about the lack of resources and educational opportunities available to the Mapuche. Moreover, in response to
the clause in the land division law (Decree-Law 2568) which stipulated
that there would be no indigenous people if there were no indigenous
communal lands, Melliln asserted, The Mapuche people exist, as you
yourselves can see with their majority presence here in the provinces of
Malleco and Cautn. . . . We are talking about a distinct people, with their
own customs and traditions that they want to maintain.82
According to El Diario Austral, the Pinochet regime responded to some
of these criticisms. Despite his previous declarations to the contrary, it
quoted the minister of agriculture asserting that the Mapuche would not
lose their indigenous identity as result of land division; the minister also
promised to deal with the problem and modify the law. In June 1979 the
regime did just that: it passed another decree (no. 2570), which removed
the controversial sentence.83 Ultimately, the story the newspaper told was
of a successful corporatist state that engaged directly with the (nonideological) demands of the CCM; read in this light, the dissemination of its
leaders views via an official outlet becomes less perplexing.
Interestingly, Isolde Reuques testimony When a Flower Is Reborn
makes several positive references to the regional press. In 1980, the CCM
issued a statement protesting against the national plebiscite that the dictatorship had organized for September of that year.84 As Reuque tells it,
El Diario Austral printed the entire document just as we presented it,
with the ten reasons why we disagreed with the whole exercise. And they
didnt just print it in normal type; they emphasized the letters by setting
them off in bold type on a gray background. It was a way of calling attention to the article.85 She also recalls the publicity given to an event that
the CCM organized around the visit of an international human rights
delegation. Well-known public figures came from Argentina, Peru, and
Canada. There were also many (indigenous and nonindigenous) Chilean participants.86 It caused quite a stir and, as a result, the organizations
leaders were persecuted by the military authorities.87 Their pronouncement against the plebiscite was dangerous too: in Reuques words, some
of us were scared, wondering if [we] might not return from one of the
many activities we were participating in.88
So, why did El Diario Austral print all this? Why did it report in a

172 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

seemingly neutral manner on events that were clearly deemed threatening

enough to warrant persecution afterward? In her testimony, Reuque talks
of the dictatorships efforts to discredit the CCM and Ad-Mapu, which
was seen as oppositional despite its legal status. It could use the newspaper to do this. Because El Diario Austral told readers about the complaints and protests against the land division law, and about the CCMs
(and Ad-Mapus) meetings, the government could claim that the movement had freedom of expression. More importantly, the regime could also
marginalize and question the CCMs agenda by giving more coverage to
pro-Pinochet organizations, such as the Regional Indigenous Council,
and their enthusiastic response to the new legislation. This coincides with
Mallons argument that the newspapers praise for the regimes provision
of rural subsidies, health posts, schools, and so forth constituted part of
a government campaign against the CCM.89 Moreover, readers already
knew what the CCM and Ad-Mapu were doing, for these organizations
had an impressive presence throughout the communities of the Eighth,
Ninth, and Tenth regions. A newspaper that pledged to inform people
about the aspirations of the Mapuche could not fail to report on their
activism,90 especially when other (more alternative) news outlets might.
Consequently, El Diario Austral gave the CCM and Ad-Mapu a voice.
But arguably it did so in order to enable the government to control their
activities and put its own spin on what they were saying. In some ways the
strategy worked, but in the long term, press coverage made these organizations more visible, which was crucial to their efforts to gain the attention and support of national and international nongovernmental organizations. It also helped to make them major players in the No campaign
against Pinochet in 1988.

Education under the Military Regime: An Unexpected

(and Unrealized?) Space for Mapuche Culture and Language
The dictatorship considered public schooling a crucial weapon in its campaign against the Marxist enemy. School principals, who had to pass a
test of political suitability, were enlisted to root out any potentially subversive students, and Pinochet personally intervened in the curricular reform process that began in 1980, concerned as he was that teachers should
not be imparting any information with which he did not agree.91 As most
studies on education during this period have highlighted, the main aim

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 173

was to instill obedience in students and fiercely discourage critical thinking and debate. Moreover, everyone had to pledge their allegiance to the
nation on a daily basis, during obligatory ceremonies such as the raising of the flag.92 Existing scholarship on indigenous rights in Chile tends
to follow this thread, arguing that the education system under Pinochet
promoted a destructively assimilationist form of nationalism that allowed
no room for heterogeneous ethnicities or conflicting political opinions.93
Education under the military regime has also been widely and passionately criticized by contemporary Mapuche intellectuals who experienced
it firsthand. Acclaimed poet Lionel Lienlaf, for example, has described
how his schooling made him feel alienated from national society precisely
because it tried to suppress his cultural heritage.94 And Imelcan Marhiqueu, who went into exile in Europe, claimed that the education system
was hostile to the Mapuche students roots and history. Through it, he
learned that he was inferior to the rest of his non-Mapuche classmates,
which led to many psychological traumas and complexes.95
There are, however, several government documents that paint a more
complex picture of the education system during the 1970s and 1980s. The
Regional Archive of Araucana has a copy of a report entitled Mapuche Education Plan, which was signed by the Regional Coordinator of
Education, Mariano Huichalaf, in Temuco on September 26, 1975.96 The
stated aim of the scheme was to bring an end to the marginalization of
the Mapuche by promoting the value of their culture. More importantly,
it recognized the right of Mapuche children to be educated in their native
language. The plan was debated at the First Regional Meeting of Mapuche Teachers, which took place in Temuco in November 1975.97 (Political meetings were outlawed but this kind of occupation-based organizing
was encouraged.) Delegates were in agreement with the objectives laid out
by Huichalaf, buttaking a more skeptical stanceasserted that there
were a number of important problems that needed to be resolved if the
Mapuche Education Plan was to have any chance of success: the lack of
proper training programs, suitable teaching materials, and incentives for
rural teachers.
The government also asked anthropologist Consuelo Valds Chadwick
for her opinions on the project. In July 1976, she submitted a review outlining a number of flaws.98 The emphasis on formal teaching, she said,
meant that the new scheme neglected important aspects of the informal
education children received from their families and communities. She

174 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

criticized attempts to impose literacy training as futile when many rural

Mapuche were in no condition to recognize its benefits; when survival
was based on agricultural production, they could not see the point of
learning to read and write. Additionally, Valds asked why the project
only referred to the Ninth Region, when there were many Mapuche in
other regions, and rejected commonly held assumptions that Mapuche
culture functioned as a homogenous whole. She recommended researchers speak to the Mapuche themselves in order to understand that different
people wanted different things from the education system.
Finally, the scheme was reviewed in the Revista de Educacin in 1978.
By this time, it had become an official teaching program entitled Programa de Educacin Rural Mapuche.99 In this version emphasis shifted
to economic development projects as the most effective way of integrating the Mapuche into national society, but the piece also underlined
their cultural difference as a people. As well as promoting bilingual literacy, it stated that the teaching should be made relevant to Mapuche
childrens local surroundings and life in their community. Notably, there
were more articles about Mapuche culture and history in the Revista de
Educacin during the military dictatorship than there were during the
previous thirty years, and several of these articles represented the Mapuche as an autonomous people, determined to survive in contemporary
Chile. In 1977, for example, it ran a piece by Eliana Duran entitled The
Araucanians, which largely referred to the Mapuche in the past tense
(hence the term Araucanians), but concluded by saying, We are talking
about a group that is culturally different from the rest of the population,
which causes a cultural conflict.100 Somehow, the word conflicttaboo
in official circleshad worked its way into the magazine. The same year
the Revista de Educacin published an item discussing Mapuche students
perceptions of the Chilean education system.101 Most of the interviewees explicitly rejected the ideology of assimilation that they felt schools
were trying to impose. This piece both reinforces the dominant scholarly
narrative (in that it quotes students who felt the education was trying to
suppress their culture) and undermines it, for why would the government
be interested in probing Mapuche views on education if it denied the existence of this cultural collective? Why focus on, and thereby distinguish,
Mapuche views from those of other people?
Six years after the Revista de Educacin first talked about the new
teaching programs, the government published a manual for teachers

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 175

working in rural areas with high proportions of indigenous inhabitants.102

The introduction argued that Mapuche education needed to be studied
from a number of different perspectives, assuming a culturally relativistic approach and acknowledging the limits of the stereotypes traditionally assigned to Mapuche people. Teachers were to encourage Mapuche
children to express themselves freely in class and to talk about their own
culture. They were told not to treat a child as less intelligent than others
just because he or she did not understand a given text. They were also
instructed to show an interest in Mapuzungun.103 Linguistic and cultural
abilities were to be developed via objects and methods that the children
felt comfortable with, and teachers were supposed to talk to the parents
about their aims for their own children and try to incorporate these into
the teaching. Finally, the manual stressed that Mapuche childrens first
day at school was not their first day of learning, for they had already been
learning for five to six years in their community, with their family.104 It
would seem the government had responded to some of Valdss criticisms.
There were, however, still notable limitations to the new teaching program. First, it addressed only Mapuche who lived in rural communities at
a time when at least 25 percent of the Mapuche population lived in Chiles
urban centers. Second, it was limited to primary education. Third, emphasis was placed on socioeconomic improvement and Mapuche peoples
integration into the nation-state. Mapuzungun was to be accepted in the
classroom only as a means to better understand the Spanish language and
the way mainstream Chilean society worked. Mapuche pupils were to be
taught to value their own cultural traditions, in order to develop the confidence and self-esteem needed to progress within the existing system.
The greatest problem, however, if we follow historians such as Sergio
Caniuqueo, was the lack of implementation. The government talked about
special education schemes for Mapuche students, but according to Caniuqueo these were never put into practice.105 It is difficult to know for
sure what happened in the classroom without extensive and systematic
interviewing of students and teachers who lived the school experience of
the 1970s and 1980s in the southern regions (work that scholars have yet to
do). However, given that most existing scholarship on indigenous rights
in Chile, as well as the testimonies of Mapuche people themselves, emphasize the homogenizing and racist nature of education under Pinochet,
and that no one apart from Caniuqueo even mentions these intercultural
projects, it seems fair to assume that Caniuqueos assessment is accurate.

176 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Even on a discursive level the government contradicted itself. It allowed for references to Mapuche cultural difference in the Revista de Educacin, but in other spheres and on other occasions it made statements
such as our Fatherland constitutes one homogenous whole, historically,
ethnically, and culturally (from the Military Junta in 1974)106 and, more
famously, There are no indigenous people in Chile, only Chileans (the
minister of agriculture in 1978).107 Furthermore, the basic premise behind
the Mapuche Education Program ran counter to the general teaching curriculum and state-authorized textbooks. The primary school syllabus, for
example, asserted that divisions that separate groups within the nation
damage the country as a whole,108 and the history and geography syllabus
for secondary-level students referred to Mapuche reservations (reducciones) as mere vestiges of our indigenous past.109
Evidently, official discourse on the indigenous question was inconsistent, even incoherent under the dictatorship. Still, that it was talking
about Mapuche education schemes at all is worthy of analysis. Indeed, it is
critical to understanding the complex, corporatist nature of indigenousstate relations during this period. A brief look at what happened to the
Institute of Indigenous Development (IDI) helps to develop this point. It
was taken over by a military officer, Hctor Vera, soon after the coup, and
most Mapuche representatives who had been elected to manage it in 1972
were purged (due to their involvement in Allendes agrarian reform program) but it continued to function as an institute dedicated to indigenous
affairs for several years. Vera maintained correspondence with Mapuche
community leaders;110 regional newspapers reported on its involvement
in numerous cultural development projects;111 and the government even
made pledges to increase its budget.112 When it was eventually shut down
in 1979, as a result of Decree-Law 2568, and taken over by the Institute for
Agrarian and Livestock Development (INDAP), state authorities claimed
that this had nothing to do with its remit or symbolism (specifically,
its recognition that the Mapuche were a separate people with separate
needs). They merely stated that it was not doing its job very well: the aim
of this reform is to grant those beneficiaries of the Mapuche race the best
cultural, educational, technical, and economic support, via competent
ministerial bodies.113 I do not propose that we take such declarations at
face value. My interest lies in the fact that, whatever it was doing in practice, this is the self-image that the military regime, or at least some people
within the regime, wanted to promote.

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 177

Crucially, this posture provided a concrete basis on which many Mapuche individuals and organizations tried to establish a dialogue with the
regime. We have already seen that when the Mapuche Education Plan
first came to light in 1975 the regional director of education in Temuco
was himself Mapuche, and that the project was discussed at the First Regional Meeting of Mapuche Teachers a couple of months later. The feedback from this meeting was sent directly to central state authorities. A
summary of this feedback was also reproduced by the Mapuche magazine
Pelom in March 1977.114 The same magazine reported on the conclusions
of the National Mapuche Congress that took place in Temuco in 1975:
delegates agreed that Mapuche people had an obligation to act as pioneers in the development and defense of national integrity and unity but
they also demanded an increase in rural credits, strengthening of community organization, access to more lands, creation of a Mapuche school
of dance and music, and funds for the Araucanian Ballet Company.115 This
list of demands was sent directly to Pinochet. In March 1981, the dictator
invited a delegation of seventeen Mapuche professionals to Santiago to
participate in the swearing in of the new constitution. What does this
mean? Pelom asked, in its issue of AprilJune 1981. It means that there
are Lawyers, Doctors, and University Teachers who identify with their
ancestors. . . . It also means that this Government has begun to dignify
the Mapuche race with concrete measures.116 Communications between
Mapuche people or organizations and the dictatorship were much more
constrained than they had been under Allende, when they did not have to
fear police repression for saying something the government did not want
to hear. Nevertheless, there was a small space for dialogue, particularly in
regard to education, and Mapuche people sought to make the most of this

Mapuche organizations such as Ad-Mapu played an important role in
the No campaign against Pinochet in 1988. They also provided crucial
support for Patricio Aylwin and the Concertacin during the presidential
election of 1989.117 Yet, of all the regions, Araucana recorded the highest
vote in favor of Pinochet in the plebiscite and, during the campaigning
before the election, a number of community leaders proclaimed Pinochet Jefe Principal y Gran Conductor del Pueblo Mapuche.118 Pinochet

178 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

proudly accepted this honorary title which, according to local newspapers, was last bestowed upon Jos Santos Quilapn, the infamous Mapuche leader who fought against Chilean troops in the 1860s. Such developments reinforce the two key points elaborated in this chapter: the variety
of strategies adopted by Mapuche society in order to survive the economic
and political restructuring of the Pinochet years; and the inconsistency
and multiplicity of official discourses on identity, even during a military
In February 1989, Pinochet spent a week touring Araucana. El Diario
Austral showed the dictator being given some silver ornaments in Vilcn, kissing a young Mapuche girl who had sung at a public event held
in Lautaro, receiving symbolic gifts after being named Principal Great
Leader in Loncoche, dancing with a Mapuche woman in Pucn, and
accepting the aforementioned title of Jefe Principal y Gran Conductor
del Pueblo Mapuche from a group of Mapuche leaders in Cholchol. He
wore the traditional poncho decorated with symbols of Mapuche power,
proudly brandished the bastn de mando (baton, symbol of authority)
and the piedra de toqui (stone of the war leader) he had been given, and
he sometimes even spoke a few words in Mapuzungun. Pinochet thus
disguised himself asor momentarily transformed himself intoa traditional Mapuche leader, at the behest of real Mapuche leaders. As Andr
Menard has observed, this trasvestismo araucanoflico is rightly derided
as populist, paternalist, and artificial. At the same time, however, Pinochet
was publicly recognizing the distinct historical and political consciousness of Chiles Mapuche population.119 He was accepting the gifts and
titles bestowed upon him by traditional community chiefs, and thereby
acknowledged their authoritative (though subordinated) status as well as
the distinct social organization of Mapuche communities. But he had also
passed legislation to try to dissolve these communities, and even when
performing and endorsing Chiles indigenous identity, he firmly opposed
any ideas of autonomy. In Cholchol, for example, he warned Mapuche
lonkos: it is especially important that you, dignified representatives of the
Mapuche race, do not allow your people to be separated from the rest of
the national community. You are Chileans since before the Republic even
existed!120 We thus come back to the story of openings and constraints.
Ultimately, it is clear that (in its bid to reorganize Chilean society along
corporatist lines) the dictatorship allowed some room for cultural diversity in Chile, but forbade the idea of culture as a site of conflict.121

The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990 179

Such prohibitions were not always successful, however. Many Mapuche activists envisioned culture as a potential site of contestation. The
CCM (and later Ad-Mapu) talked about resistance. At the same time as
they made demands of the military regime, they actively opposed its land
division law of 1979. Moreover, they focused on the revival of cultural
ceremonies as a way of asserting the continuing autonomy of Mapuche
society. These organizations affirmed the cultural and historical difference
of the Mapuche people, but this is not to say they did not experience some
of the same problems or share some of the same goals as other sectors
of Chilean society. They worked in close association with the Catholic
Church and Chilean human rights organizations, andas notedAdMapu played a crucial role in the campaign for democratization in the late
As the renowned poet Elicura Chihuailaf once put it, if 1883 marked
the pacification of Mapuche territory, 1973 marked the pacification
of Chile as a whole.122 Mapuche and Chilean people suffered this time
around. Chihuailaf started writing poetry during the Pinochet years and
he was keen to collaborate with Chilean poets. In 1983, he and Guido Eytel
cofounded a magazine called Poesa Diaria, one of the purposes of which
was to show that civil society was still alive.123 Since re-democratization, several other Mapuche poets have looked back to the dictatorship
as a tragedy confronted by Mapuche and Chilean people together. David
Aniir remembers the sounds of violence and the silencing of literary
voices: Ta-ta-ta-ta-t rattled the machine guns on that 11th of / September 73 when I was two years old / and they murdered a mountain of
poets.124 And in Profeca en blanco y negro, Csar Millahueique crafts a
dreamlike(or nightmare-like) journey through different scenes of Santiago, trying to come to terms with the arbitrariness of having survived the
brutal violence of the Pinochet years when so many others did not. Both
poets have used the written word to broadcast their Mapuche-ness, but
this particular story was one that they shared with nonindigenous people.
Among Chihuailaf, Aniir, and Millahueique there also was (and still
is) a shared rejection of the neoliberal economic program introduced by
the Pinochet regime. They all write of a class-based as well as ethnic-based
struggle for indigenous rights in modern Chile. When it was first created in 1978 the CCM sought to transcend ideological divides, but after
1982 and the revival of leftist parties in the context of anti-regime protests, the non-party perspective lost ground and the Left, particularly

180 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

the Communist Party, took the association toward a role as supporting

players in a political and class struggle whose terms would be set elsewhere.125 The new corporatist laws about social organization established
under Pinochet sought to depoliticize national society. Aided by violent
repression, they achieved their objective for a number of years. As shown
through the mass mobilizations and Ad-Mapus swing to the Left, however, this could only last so long.
The Concertacin governments of 19902010 were keen to use the issue of indigenous rights to distinguish themselves from the dictatorship.
Chile officially became multicultural, and numerous institutions and
projects were set up to defend and promote the nations indigenous cultural heritage. And yet, during the 2000s scores of Mapuche activists were
arrested and charged as terrorists, and three Mapuche were killed in confrontations with the police. As a result, many Mapuche intellectuals have
drawn attention to the similarities rather than the differences between
Pinochet and his democratic successors. Chapter 6 explores the achievements and limitations of multicultural policies in post-dictatorship Chile,
and the continuing tensions between Mapuche class-based and ethnicbased organizing.

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of

Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010

On March 11, 1990, General Augusto Pinochet handed over the presidential sash to Patricio Aylwin, leader of the Christian Democratic Party and
head of the Coalition of Parties for Democracy (Concertacin). One of
the most critical questions facing Aylwins center-left government was
how to deal with the legacy of state repression. The following month, Ayl
win created the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (also
known as the Rettig Commission after its chairman, Ral Rettig). This
commissions mandate was to document and thereby publicly acknowledge the details of all those persons who were disappeared after arrest,
were executed, or were tortured to death during the military dictatorship.1 This step constituted an important break with a dark past when
the state denied and, indeed, tried to cover up its systematic violation of
human rights. The commission also aimed to repair the bitter political divides that had transformed Chile into a nation of enemies.2 In the words
of one of its members, the purpose of truth [was] to lay the groundwork
for a shared understanding of the recent crisis and how to overcome it.3
Undoubtedly, the commissions multivolume report was an important
accomplishment, but it failed to achieve a shared understanding because no single truth could incorporate everybodys experience. The report could never be more than a selective remembering of the atrocities
committed by the Pinochet regime. On the one hand, many survivors
condemned the fact that it only investigated cases of torture resulting in
death.4 On the other, leaders of the Right protested that no official recognition had been given to the conditions leading to the coup.5 The decision

182 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

not to name or judge the perpetrators of the human rights abuses also
sparked great conflict: a large number of people perceived the responsible
state agents as murderers who should be punished, whereas others saw
them as heroic soldiers struggling to eliminate the Marxist cancer and
would only go so far as to admit that some excesses might have been
committed.6 Thus, the Rettig Commission did not so much bring closure
to as intensify the memory struggles over this painful episode of the national past.
Issues of memory and human rights closely interconnected with debates about indigenous rights in late twentieth-century Chile. As Vctor
Toledo Llancaqueo has observed, the plurality of memories that came to
the forefront during the transition to democracy opened up the discursive
possibility for a plurality of peoples.7 Like all Chileans, Mapuche people
asserted their right to memory and historical justice, but in their case the
claim went back much further than the recent repressive past. Ad-Mapu
and other Mapuche organizations started to talk about the states historical debt to indigenous peoples. Aylwin acknowledged this debt when he
signed the Nueva Imperial Agreement with indigenous leaders in 1989,
promising to pursue legal recognition and protection of indigenous rights
if elected.8 And soon after becoming president, he proposed a new indigenous law to Congress. The state, he said, had an obligation to ensure the
ethnic and cultural reproduction of Chiles indigenous populations. This,
as Florencia Mallon asserts, was a new concept in twentieth-century
Chilean political thought.9
The transition toward democratic rule also saw a new Mapuche organization step on to the national political stage: Auki WallMapu Ngulam
(Consejo de Todas las Tierras, or All-Lands Council). Its leaders, who
emerged out of the more radical sectors of Ad-Mapu, refused to sign the
Nueva Imperial Agreement.10 They consulted directly and widely with rural communities, as part of a bid to bypass the traditional political parties
and establish ideological independence, and began to formulate a more
autonomous and militant meaning of pueblo.11 They called for the reconstitution of the Mapuche nation (pueblo-nacin), with its own history,
memory, and territory.
As the 1990s progressed, an increasing number of Mapuche organizations demanded political and territorial autonomy. After explaining
the context and ramifications of such developments, this chapter jumps

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 183

forward to the presidency of Ricardo Lagos (20002006), and explores

the processes by which competing historical truths of internal colonialism have been constructed and disseminated, in order to reflect on both
the achievements and limitations of state-sponsored multiculturalism in
Chile. First, I focus on the Commission for Historical Truth and New
Treatment of Indigenous Peoples (CVHNT), which Lagos established in
2001. I scrutinize the procedures and protagonists involved, as well as the
final reports that it produced. Second, I examine three Mapuche counternarratives that were circulated through journalism, poetry, and academia
in the wake of the CVHNT. Finally, I investigate the endeavors of two Mapuche poets to rework dominant ideas about history and memory from
within state institutions. The material presented in these three sections
provides fresh insights into the intricacies of indigenous-state relations
during the twenty years of Concertacin rule.12 It emphasizes and illuminates the continuing oscillation between negotiation and confrontation (on both sides). It also underscores the diversity of the contemporary
Mapuche movement and shows that, even among its more radical sectors,
Mapuche nationhood does not necessarily mean complete separation
from the Chilean state or refusal to participate in Chilean society.

Challenges and Contradictions of Neoliberal Multiculturalism

Like other Latin American countries that had undergone (or were undergoing) a process of re-democratization after years of authoritarian rule
and that faced the prospect or reality of widespread indigenous demonstrations in the buildup to the quincentennial of Christopher Columbuss
arrival in the Americas, post-dictatorship Chile was officially reimagined
as a multicultural nation.13 A month after he created the National Commission of Truth and Reconciliation, Aylwin set up the Special Commission on Indigenous Peoples (CEPI) to discuss and propose new legislation
on indigenous rights, and in September 1993 his government passed a
new indigenous law.14 This created the Land and Water Fund, for buying
and transferring lands back to indigenous communities, and established
the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI) which
was to be run, at least in part, by indigenous people. The indigenous law
also set in motion some important intercultural education and health
initiatives.15 One of the most oft-repeated words in official documen-

184 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

tation relating to the law was participation; indigenous peoples were

represented as key players in the new democratic Chile of the 1990s.
These developments coincided with a boom in Mapuche cultural production, especially poetry.16 In 1989 Leonel Lienlaf s Se ha despertado el
ave de mi corazn became the first book by a Mapuche author to be taken
on by a major publishing house in Chile.17 Lienlaf was also the first Mapuche writer to win a national literary award, when he was joint recipient
of the Santiago Municipal Literature Prize of 1990.18 Elicura Chihuailaf
was honored with the same award in 1997 for Sueos azules y contrasueos (1995). Lienlaf and Chihuailaf are the best known of Chiles Mapuche
poets. They attend conferences abroad, their verses have been translated
into numerous foreign languages, and their work is extracted in school
textbooks and reproduced in state museums. But they are by no means
the only ones to have achieved academic and popular recognition.
Currently, at least twenty Mapuche writers are carving a place for
themselves in national (and sometimes international) literary circles.19
They are a diverse group, both in terms of the poetry they produce and
in themselvesmale and female, of different generations, with different
territorial roots (Mapuche-Huilliche, Mapuche-Pehuenche, and so on),
bilingual and monolingual, and rural and urban based. But several issues
link them and their work together. First, they all proclaim their Mapuche
origins and often support the Mapuche political movement. The second
unifying theme is the memory of Mapuche territorial independence. Although expressed in many different ways, this is invariably perceived as
an underlying historical truth. In the words of Chihuailaf, In the energy
of memory the land lives on / and through her so too does the blood of
our ancestors.20 Third, they all denounce historic and contemporary state
policy toward the Mapuche. Some are more vehement than others, and in
many cases such denunciations emerge in their public statements rather
than their poetry per se, but during the 1990s and 2000s they have all been
critical of the incongruence between government discourse and practice
with regard to indigenous rights.
State-sponsored multiculturalism in Chile, as in most other Latin
American countries, is neoliberal multiculturalism. It is inseparable from
and severely constrained by the export-driven, free-market economic
strategy that was initiated under Pinochet but also endorsed by the four
Concertacin governments that came afterward. Neoliberalism provides

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 185

space for the decentralization and citizen participation that are central to
new indigenous rights legislation, especially intercultural education and
health schemes. However, it also entails numerous mega-development
projects, such as building freeways and hydroelectric dams, and expanding the forestry industry, which clash with Mapuche demands for land
and resource rights.21 In many cases, such projects threaten the livelihood of people living in the rural communities. Indeed, they sometimes
threaten the very existence of these communitieswhich are, of course,
supposed to be protected by the Indigenous Law of 1993. This contradiction is perhaps best embodied in the conflict over the hydroelectric projects on the Bo-Bo River (Pangue and Ralco) that reached a crescendo in
1997 during Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagles administration.22
Announced plans for several other major industrial and infrastructure projects in Mapuche territories during 1997 made clear government
priorities with respect to development.23 Set against the states official
recognition of the importance of indigenous rights (and thus its obvious hypocrisy) and the proliferation of Mapuche territorial organizations
(protesting against such hypocrisy), the situation soon became explosive.
The resistance strategies of the expanding and increasingly radicalized
Mapuche movement ranged from peaceful protest to roadblocks, land
seizures, and acts of arson and sabotage.24 By the end of the 1990s many
regional and national newspapers were bombarding readers with images
of burned-out forestry vehicles and stick-wielding, masked Mapuche in
the conflict zone of Araucana.
As Julia Paley outlines in Marketing Democracy, opportunities for political participation in post-dictatorship Chile were restricted to those social actors who were well behaved.25 In the eyes of the governing elites and
the right-wing press, some sectors of the Mapuche movement had gone
too far in their dissent. Not only did the Concertacin remove supposed
troublemakers from government (CONADI directors Mauricio Huen
chulaf and Domingo Namuncura, for example, were forced to resign when
they protested against government development plans), but it also sought
to criminalize Mapuche political activism.26 We see this most clearly with
Lagoss decision to invoke (Pinochet-era) antiterrorist legislation in 2002.
From then on, Mapuche activists engaged in violent acts of protest could
be charged as terrorists, tried by military courts, and punished with extreme prison sentences. Such shifts in government policy only served to

186 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

exacerbate the Mapuche conflict. Confrontations between military police and Mapuche protesters escalated; by 2010, three Mapuche activists
had been killed by police.
This, then, is the other fundamental contradiction of neoliberal multiculturalism: the power of the state. Neoliberalism entails a rolling back
of the central state: we see cutbacks in welfare provision, and increased
autonomy for local and regional political institutions. And yet it simultaneously requires a strong state because some of the policies (said welfare
cutbacks, privatization of natural resources, and restrictions on unions)
are unpopular and lead to protests, which the government must suppress in order to secure stability and order. As Charles Hale insightfully
put it, we are not talking about less governance but rather a new form of
Hale distinguishes between two principal indigenous actors in this
new political scenario. The indio permitido (permitted or sanctioned
Indian)in line with recently granted cultural rightsis given a voice
within the state, but only as long as he does not call basic state prerogatives into question (that is, its role as guarantor of law and order). In
contrast, his undeserving, dysfunctional, Other refuses to comply with
the limited rights granted by the state, continues to struggle (sometimes
violently) for political-economic empowerment, and is consequently castigated by the state. This conceptual dichotomy helps to elucidate recent
developments in Chile, not least the fact that so many Mapuche activists have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism. As Hale himself says,
however, the division between the permitted and the prohibited Indian
is not always clear-cut: the indigenous activist-intellectuals who occupy
the space of the indio permitido, for example, rarely submit fully to [the]
constraints imposed upon them.28
Building on Hales last point and on recent work by Yun-Joo Park and
Patricia Richards, which shows how Mapuche workers in the Chilean
state can simultaneously participate in and challenge neoliberal multiculturalism,29 I draw attention to a number of instances where the boundaries between the two ways of being Indian become blurred. Focusing on
the contentious process of memory construction, I show that the Mapuche activists who are invited to participate in government-led dialogues
often articulate quite radical proposals. In other words, they can be unruly even while functioning within the parameters set out by the state. I
also demonstrate that the authorized Mapuche can open up important

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 187

spaces for the more conflict-prone activists. Instead of isolating them,

the authorized Mapuche build bridges that allow the Other to speak
out. And finally, leading on from this, I show that the Mapuche who occupy the position of the dysfunctional Indian also elaborate proposals;
they engage in dialogue as well as protest. In sum, many Mapuche intellectuals-activists shift between the two different ways of being Indian or
play both roles at the same time.

La Comisin de Verdad Histrica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos

Indgenas: A Forum for Debate or a Single Official Truth Telling?
President Ricardo Lagos inaugurated the Commission for Historical
Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples (CVHNT) on January
18, 2001. You are here to help us get to know each other better, he said
to the invited participants, [you are here] to look for the means to express . . . the fact that Chile is made up of different cultures and that all
of them are entitled to a space [here].30 This section investigates some of
the twists and turns that the CVHNT took over the next couple of years.
It details Mapuche criticisms of the proceedings, but also highlights the
importance of the changes that were implemented in response to some of
these criticisms, and the significance of the multivoiced reports that were
published as a result.
In October 2003 the CVHNT presented its final report to Lagos in a
public ceremony held in La Moneda Palace. The first volume was a summary report, focusing on the history of Chiles indigenous peoples and
the commissions policy recommendations. The other three volumes were
appendixes: a detailed study of 413 Mapuche community land titles (and
what had happened to them since they were first granted), the final reports of each working group, and the actas of each plenary session. Overall, the four volumes, based on 126 documents submitted between January
2001 and October 2003, contained 3,161 pages.31
According to the summary report, there were twenty-five core members of the CVHNT: an ex-president [Aylwin], indigenous representatives, congressmen, ex-ministers of state, intellectuals, church envoys,
and businessmen.32 These core members set up three thematic working groups (historical revision, legislation and institutions, and economic and social development) and seven territorial working groups
(on the Aymara, Atacameo, Quechua, Colla, and Rapa Nui peoples;

188 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

urban indigenous people; and the Mapuche in an autonomous commission called COTAM). The groups consisted of anywhere between four
and thirty-eight delegates, with most having about ten to fifteen. When
the working group was small (in the case of the Atacameo people) or
nonexistent (in the case of the Kawsquar and Yagn peoples) relevant
organizational representatives were invited to take part in discussions. In
addition, many external experts were called in to speak with the working
groups. If we also include the technical and secretarial personnel who
helped to manage the process, the total number of people involved directly in the CVHNT exceeded 250.
In theory, such a mammoth operation provided ample space for a
healthy debate about indigenous peoples in Chile. Even a brief glance
at the list of external experts, for example, shows just how wide-ranging
participants origins, party politics, and views on the indigenous question were; they included Mapuche poet Elicura Chihuailaf, UN Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Rodolfo Stavenhagen, right-wing historian Gonzalo Vial, and Juan Agustn Figueroa, a
Supreme Court justice and owner of a large estate who was involved in a
dispute with a local Mapuche community and pushed the government to
charge Mapuche activists with crimes of terrorism. Moreover, on the day
of the CVHNTs inauguration, Lagos explicitly acknowledged that there
was not [just one] official history. Part of [Chiles] strength and value,
he said, was peoples ability to live together, and this is based on the acknowledgment that there are diverse readings of our history.33
The list of core members of the CVHNT, printed on the first page of its
summary report, suggests that Mapuche political activists and academics
(ten of the twenty-five names) were in a strong position to voice their own
historical truths and thereby influence decisions regarding indigenous
policy reforms. There is, however, one problem with the list as published:
at least three of the people named thereinAucn Huilcamn of the All
Lands Council, Galvarino Raimn of Identidad Nagche (Nagche Identity), and Adolfo Millabur of Identidad Territorial Lafkenche (Lafkenche
Territorial Identity)claimed they did not participate in the commission.34 They were invited to take part by Lagos, but refused because they
disagreed with the top-down way in which the commission was constituted.35 According to Millabur, Lagos nominated some of those he wanted
to participate just days before the formal inauguration of the commission.36 Furthermore, the president made it clear that those Mapuche who

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 189

had engaged in violent protest (Hales dysfunctional Indian) were categorically excluded from the proceedings. Violence achieves nothing, the
president proclaimed in his speech of January 18, 2001; for that reason,
the overwhelming majority of indigenous communities . . . have isolated
those people who have turned to violence.37
Lagoss domineering style was a major challenge for the commission.
Several of the Mapuche representatives who were invited to participate
refused, and even those who had agreed to take part argued that without widespread consultation at a grassroots level the project lacked legitimacy.38 In an attempt to remedy the situation, Aylwin entered into
negotiations with Mapuche academics and political leaders, and agreed
on the creation of the Autonomous Mapuche Working Group (COTAM).
This group of Mapuche, most of whom were not part of the original commission, were to produce their own report that would be considered by
the commission and published as part of its final report.39 Prominent participants included Mauricio Huenchulaf (the first director of CONADI,
who was dismissed when he protested against the Ralco project), Jos
Quidel (a teacher at the Catholic University in Temuco and a leader of
the organization Ajarewe de Xuf Xuf), Vctor Caniulln (a machi and a
local councilman in Curahue), and Rosamel Millamn (a member of the
Mapuche Cultural Centers and Ad-Mapu during the 1970s and 1980s, and
at the time of writing a teacher at the Catholic University in Temuco). It
was not just the commission members, however, who authored COTAMs
historical truth. The group organized numerous discussion sessions
and workshops across Argentina and Chile to gather together Mapuche
knowledge from the grassroots.40 This is reflected in the large number of
direct quotations from Mapuche lonkos, machis, and other communitylevel figures of authority that fill COTAMs report. Thus, the dynamics of
the CVHNTs work changed quite substantially.41 It was only the beginning of the construction of a Mapuche truth but, as a result of their
experience, members of COTAM asserted that it was still possible to deal
with profound issues . . . in a decolonized manner.42
COTAMs report, which was more than a thousand pages long, provided a wealth of historical and contemporary data, as well as a detailed
and theoretically engaged analysis of national and international legal developments in indigenous rights. As indicated by the extensive bibliographies and references, it involved a great deal of work. COTAM drew
on the oral and written source material to stress the internal diversity of

190 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Mapuche society. This underlying narrative was particularly pronounced

in the first chapter on religion, but it ran throughout, as the authors incorporated numerous different viewpoints on the events of the past and
the significance of recent government reforms.43 In addition, the report
underscored the coherence and strength of Mapuche territorial organization before Chilean occupation, the long-term presence of the Mapuche
in Argentina, the continuing memories of independence among Mapuche people, the disastrous impact of Chilean occupation on the Mapuche
economy and on Mapuche religious and sociocultural spaces, the real
cultural and historical community versus the legal community reconstituted by CONADI (after the dissolution of communities under the military dictatorship), and the validity of Mapuche customary law. It compared traditional Mapuche philosophies of education and health with the
policies introduced by the Chilean state. It noted the advances made by
new intercultural programs but, overall, was highly critical of the Concertacin, above all for its criminalization of Mapuche political activism.
Ultimately, COTAM presented the CVHNT with an exhaustive account
of colonial oppression, but also of indigenous survival.
Another important contribution to the truth-telling process was that
of the Working Group of Urban Indigenous People. Like COTAM, this
group was not part of the CVHNTs original plan, but Jos Llancapn
Calfucura (urban indigenous councilman and core member of the commission) pressed for its inclusion. Initially, its members were skeptical
about participating in a state-sponsored initiative, given that the same
state was responsible for the shooting of Alex Lemn (a seventeen-yearold member of Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco),44 the use of antiterrorism
legislation against Mapuche activists, and the decision to let the Ralco
hydroelectric dam proceed. Nonetheless, they decided to take part because they saw it as an important opportunity to begin to write [their]
own history.45 Based on interviews with more than six hundred people,
the groups report highlighted the complex nature of rural-urban relations, principally in regard to the Mapuche experience. It told readers, for
instance, of the double discrimination suffered by urban Mapuche from
Chileans and from rural Mapuche, who disowned them or questioned
their Mapuche-ness.46 Despite this, the rural communities remained a
source of inspiration and spiritual strength for urban Mapuche.47 The
report emphasized just how difficult and painful the process of migration
to urban centers was,48 but also made a point of distinguishing between

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 191

forced and voluntary migration, as well as between migrants and firstand second-generation indigenous people born in the city.49 Indeed, one
could argue that the groups report encouraged the reader to rethink entirely their assumptions about Mapuche rural-urban migration. The narrative took the reader back to the Inca intrusions of the fifteenth century,
the Spanish invasion of the sixteenth century, and the Chilean states occupation campaigns during the nineteenth century, to show that the mass
urbanization which occurred in the mid-twentieth century marked not so
much an abandonment of their communities as a return of the Mapuche
to their ancestral territories.50 Spaces that had been theirs were transformed into cities. The Mapuche were now reclaiming these spaces by inhabiting them and asserting their presence through cultural and political
activities. According to the report, a total of ninety-four indigenous urban
organizations were in existence in 2003, compared with only a dozen or
so twenty years before.
The Working Group of Urban Indigenous People made reference to the
Chilean colonization of Mapuche ancestral lands and the subsequent pauperization of Mapuche society, but it did not go into much detail on the
subject. Several Mapuche political leaders, including Aucn Huilcamn,
have condemned the CVHNT for ignoring the pivotal role of the state in
this process,51 and yet this historical truth was in fact outlined in great detail in COTAMs report and, more importantly, in the commissions main
summary report, entitled The Long History of Chiles Indigenous Peoples. This summary stated that the Chilean state expropriated a territory
that did not belong to it and, by opting for [a] forced and violent integration, with the consequent resettlement of Mapuche families onto thousands of small reservesreservations which comprised 500,000 hectares,
a tiny percentage of historic Mapuche territory . . . , instigated a large part
of the present-day Mapuche territorial conflict.52 Like Manuel Manquilef
had done almost ninety years earlier, it underlined the unfairness of the
states distribution of its newly occupied landsthat is, that some particulares were given as much as five hundred hectares, colonos approximately
forty hectares, and Mapuche people approximately six hectares. Those
who were radicados, the summary report said, saw great swathes of their
ancestral territory taken away from them; they were not accustomed
to living in such a restricted space and this greatly affected their lifestyle
and all but destroyed their economic self-sufficiency.53 The attribution of
blame could not be more patent.

192 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

It is also interesting to note that The Long History of Chiles Indigenous Peoples reinforced some of the major points raised by COTAM.
Indeed, several of its passages repeated COTAMs conclusions word-forword. On the other hand, COTAM drew on many works of the scholars
cited and involved in the CHVNTs summary report. In this sense, the
autonomous Mapuche working group was an integral part of the commissions proceedings.
The key difference was that the main CVHNT report stopped at the
moment of the transition to democracy, whereas COTAM brought its
narrative right up to the present. Criticism of Concertacin policy was
thus omitted from the former, which was surely the most widely publicized document to come from the exercise. Nonetheless, it did gather
vital historical documentation that indigenous communities and organizations could use in their present-day struggles, especially in relation to land rights.54 It was also of great symbolic importance. As Pedro
Cayuqueo, editor-in-chief of the Mapuche newspaper Azkintuwe, stated:
This is not just any document. In reality, it is a truly surprising mea
culpa. [It is a] recognition of a history that . . . is more like a long
nightmare of murder, pillage, and discrimination. . . . the report
documents the majority of such tragic episodes. And it does so directly, referring to the occupation as occupation and to the dispossession as dispossession.55
Even Millabur, who refused to participate in the commission, acknowledged that it had some useful outcomes: the fact that it is an official document means that one cannot deny the historical abuse of indigenous
Most Mapuche criticisms were instead directed at the commissions
recommendations regarding the new treatment of (or the new deal
with) indigenous peoples. These included constitutional recognition,
which had been put to congress in the early 1990s and rejected; ratification of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples; increased parliamentary representation of
indigenous people; recognition of indigenous territories; recognition of
indigenous political authorities; the creation of a general indigenous fund;
and the establishment of a council of indigenous peoples.57 Millabur denounced the merely decorative nature of many of the proposals. The
fundamental problem for him was that everything continued to function

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 193

within the logic of the existing structures.58 Cayuqueo claimed that the
mea culpa of the state did not translate into any practical changes. To
his mind, the policy recommendations were no more than additional
painkillers for the same old remedy called integration.59 And Wladimir
Painemal, sub-director of Azkintuwe, complained that the political elites
got bogged down in questions about how to make the system more efficient, before asking themselves who actually benefits from this system.
There had been no major shift in government policy, he said. Instead, the
CVHNT merely illustrated the new rules of Chilean domination.60
Millabur, Cayuqueo, and Painemal are part of the more militant sector of the Mapuche movement and have consistently defended their
peoples right to political and territorial autonomy.61 Their criticisms of
the CVHNT have to be understood in this light. Its recommendations
incorporated some forms of indigenous self-management, predominantly
in education and health care, and some forms of cultural and judicial autonomy, but it did not propose self-government for indigenous peoples.
Millabur was right when he complained that the CVHNT only endorsed
changes within the existing system, rather than an overhaul of that system.
What Millabur and others sidelined, however, when they denounced the
exercise as colonialist because of these limitations, was that many other
Mapuche were not seeking self-government. Members of the Working
Group of Urban Indigenous People, for example, stated that they were
part of the Chilean nation and called for a new legal entity that [worked]
for and [was] made up of indigenous people but that functioned within
the existing legislation.62
President Lagos, like the commissions detractors, had a clear political
agenda: to try to weave the CVHNT into an official imaginary of a harmoniously multicultural Chile. On receiving the final report on October
28, 2003, he proclaimed, We all dream of a shared goal, originating from
our diverse roots which came together hundreds of years ago to forge the
fatherland we have today. He described the report as a common starting
point from which to look back at history and talked of consolidating
our common destiny. And yet the details in the four volumes make it
quite clear that there was no common starting point from which to look
back at history, and certainly no common destiny. The COTAM report,
for instance, quotes Mapuche political prisoner Pascual Pichn Collonao:
They did not imprison us because of the fire in the house of Agustn
Figueroa, as the prosecutor said. They persecuted us, and continue to

194 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

persecute us, for being Mapuche lonkos, for being leaders of a movement,
for being luchadores sociales (social activists) and for being a living reminder of the extermination campaign that has not yet finished.63 Lagos
sought to minimize, or at least to move on from, the history of conflict
when he presented the CVHNT report to the public in October 2003.
Furthermore, he took almost six months to respond to its policy recommendations and even then addressed very few of them.64 As Alfredo Se
guel commented, there was quite simply no new deal.65
The processes involved in and the final outcomes of the CVHNT were
full of paradoxes. The initiative emerged, in part, as a response to the
demands of Millaburs Lafkenche Territorial Identity (in 1999, this organization had insisted on the need for an independent commission of
truth and historical debt to stimulate a rethinking of indigenous policy
in Chile),66 yet the CVHNT did not fully engage with those demands.
Lagos talked of open dialogue, but he sought to restrict the terms of that
dialogue from the beginning. He could not impose his will entirely, however. He could not control the discussion sessions of the working groups,
nor did he have any say in the written reports that they produced (which
repeatedly underscored the states historical debt to indigenous peoples).
And in the end, the CVHNT did make some important recommendations about indigenous policy. The next twist, though, was that most of
these recommendations were ignored by the same government that had
requested them. Finally, there was no consensus about the implications
of the proposals: Aucn Huilcamn denounced them as overtly colonialist and assimilationist;67 Juan Agustn Figueroa, at the other extreme,
warned they could lead to the destruction of a national and unitary
vision.68 Like the Rettig Commission more than a decade earlier, the
CVHNT did not so much bring closure to a historical conflict as trigger
further conflict about how to deal with that history in the present.

The Past in the Present and a Radical Proposal for the Future
As noted, some of the strongest criticisms of the CVHNTs recommendations came from Pedro Cayuqueo and Wladimir Painemal, both of
whom write for Azkintuwe and are members of the Mapuche Nationalist
Party Wallmapuwen, which was created in 2005. Here I analyze the historical truths disseminated by this Mapuche newspaper, by the Mapuche
poet David Aniir, and by the four Mapuche academics who authored

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 195

Figure 16. Front cover of the NovemberDecember 2003 issue of Mapuche newspaper
Azkintuwe. (Courtesy of Azkintuwe editorial team.)

the controversial book Escucha, winka! (2006). All three sources openly
challenged the indigenous rights policies elaborated by the Chilean state
under the Concertacin and, more generally, sought to undermine the
legitimacy of the basic premises on which that state functioned. However,
they did not always operate completely separately of the state (indeed, in
some ways, the state enabled them to increase the circulation and readership of their narratives) and they all sought to encourage communication
and interaction between Chilean and Mapuche societies.
The first issue of Azkintuwe came out in October 2003, coinciding with
the final deliberations of the CVHNT. This was no accident. Azkintuwe
had its own truth to tell: that of a Mapuche nation (Wallmapu), which
historically incorporated large swathes of land on both sides of the Andes

196 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

and which, in the early twenty-first century, continued to fight to defend

its autonomy against the Chilean and Argentine states. On the front page
of the second issue, entitled Comisin de Verdad Histrica: Nuevo Maltrato (Historical Truth Commission: More Abuse), was a photograph of
Lagos magnanimously accepting the CVHNTs report alongside another
of several heavily armed police jostling a Mapuche manan apt illustration of the perceived hypocrisy of government policy (figure 16).
The news items in this issue sought to show that the history of abuse
and discrimination against indigenous peoples documented by the commissions report was still a reality in twenty-first century Chile. The newspaper told of the continuing struggles of the Mapuche political activists
who were being held in prison on charges of illicit association and terrorism.69 After discussing the hunger strikes by Patricia Troncoso and
Jos Cariqueo Saravia, it quoted Jos Nan Curamil, who was serving a
five-year sentence in the prison of Angol: The only truth [I know] is that
more than 250 Mapuche have been charged by the government of Mr.
Lagos; hundreds have been shot and tortured, not forgetting our brother
Alex Lemn, who gave his life fighting for our cause. Lemn was also the
subject of the newspapers final article.70 As narrated by Azkintuwe, the
military prosecutor in Angol remanded Marco Aurelio Treuler, the local
chief of police, to trial for the killing (it was Treuler who fired the shot)
but the military court in Santiago overruled this decision and granted him
immunity. Lemns family were protesting this outcome and appealing to
the national and international community to make sure that the young
mans death was not forgotten. The newspaper also reported on Mapuche
university students protests about the deplorable state of their residences
in Temuco and Padre Las Casas,71 and gave details about the occupation
of the offices of the Municipality of Puerto Saavedra by the Lake Budi
Council of Elders. The latter act was in protest of Lagoss refusal to meet
with them to discuss their criticisms of the local Orgenes program.72 In
the words of one of these elders, Lagos offered dialogue to the submissive
[Indians] and prison sentences to communities that are fighting for their
Azkintuwe sought to keep readers attention focused on the (truth of
the) present at a time when the political elite was trying to relegate the
so-called indigenous problem to the past. Lagos aimed to use the CVHNT
to bring the history of indigenous-state conflict to a close. Azkintuwe, in
contrast, was determined to show that, rather than abating, the conflict

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 197

was actually worsening and it laid the blame for this squarely at the feet
of the state: a crooked justice and penal system, a violent police force, an
inadequate education system, and a president who refused to enter into
a real dialogue (despite all his proclamations to the contrary). Moreover,
the four articles discussed earlier provided a distinctly human angle on
the conflict. They told of the suffering of Mapuche prisoners, the pain and
frustration of Lemns family, the miserable living conditions of Mapuche
university students, and the bitter disillusionment of a group of Mapuche
In all, Azkintuwe offered substantial proof that Lagoss government was
not paying off the states historical debt to indigenous peoples. As presented in this paper, there was no nuevo trato just more mal trato. Subsequent issues reinforced the point, and they did so to an ever-increasing
readership, which included Chileans and Argentines as well as Mapuche.
As Cayuqueo recently stated, Like it or not, we Mapuche are not the
only people living in the Wallmapu.74 Between 2003 and 2008, Azkintuwe
sold more than 100,000 print copies, and in 2009 its website recorded
approximately 30,000 visits each month.75 By that time, the newspaper
was receiving some state funding, which helped to keep the print version
afloat and also supported two new cultural supplements.76 Such a development is not as incongruous as it first seems, and it certainly did not
prevent Azkintuwe from denouncing the states treatment of the Mapuche.
As Painemal explained, Those funds allow [us] to exercise our right to
culture, as a human right, and we can use them to [advance] our objectives as a people.77
The same year that Cayuqueo launched Azkintuwe, Jaime Huenn
published a bilingual anthology of Mapuche poetry entitled Epu mari lkatufe ta fachant/20 poetas mapuche contemporneos (20 Contemporary
Mapuche Poets). As Huenn described it, this was a collective book that
[made] visible both the diversity of the individual poetic ventures . . . and
the correlation between a group of writers who have undertaken an intensive investigation of their peoples linguistic, historical, and ritual core.78
One of the poets published in the anthology was David Aniir, a selfeducated poet from Cerro Navia (a poor neighborhood on the outskirts
of Santiago), who worked as a construction laborer and attended night
school in order to complete an education that he had been denied as an
adolescent. The publication marked an important although not entirely
unproblematic turning point in Aniirs literary career. Before then his

198 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

poetry, which had been hugely successful among the Mapuche youth of
Santiago and was gaining critical acclaim in the more alternative media
circuits, had been disseminated only in photocopied leaflets and on the
Internet. As a result of being published by Ediciones LOM, it was now
being reviewed in the mainstream press.79
Huenn chose to include three of Aniirs poems, the most paradigmatic of which was Mara Juana la mapunky de La Pintana (Mary Jane,
the Mapuche Punk Girl of La Pintana):
You are earth and mud,
you are blood-red Mapuche like that of the stabbed man,
you are Mapuche in F. M. (or rather, Out of this World)
you are the Mapuche girl of an unregistered brand
of the cold solitary corner addicted to that bad habit
your dark skin is the network of SuperHyperArchi veins
that boil over with a revenge that condemns.
Lies ripped the papers to shreds
and infected the wounds of history.
A warm wind from the cemetery refreshes you
while the silver cloud sparks with electric explosions.
Indians with spears rain down,
black rain, color of revenge.
Dark blackness of Mapulandia Street
yes, it is sad to have no land,
crazy girl of La Pintana,
the empire has taken control of your bed.
You are okay, little Mapuche girl
you vomit up the joint of the Cop
and the system which crucified your life in a prison cell.
Lolindia, a racist Cop of the Holy Order
chains up your feet forever
your dreams lead to dissident steps.
Rise up
Mapuche punk girl, you are okay

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 199

The protagonist is a Mapuche punk girl who lives on the periphery of

Santiago. Biologically, she is a real Mapuche (blood-red Mapuche, of
earth and mud), but culturally and geographically speaking, she is an
unregistered brand. She is Out of this World, an alien species in the
city but also too far distanced from her ancestors rural world to return
there. As Mara Jos Barros Cruz comments, she is probably the daughter
or granddaughter of Mapuche migrants.80 The capital city encapsulates
the ugliest of consumer society. La mapunky consumes the worst of the
products on offer (drugs) and is herself consumed as a prostitute (both
could be that bad habit of the solitary corner) and is then condemned
by the police in the name of law and order. Death lurks in the air (a warm
wind comes from the cemetery), and there is a sense that the time for revenge is nighrevenge for the invasion and theft of Mapuche lands (yes,
it is sad to have no land), and for the physical abuse of Mapuche people
(la mapunkys bed and body have been penetrated and violated by the
empire just as Mapuche territory was more than a hundred years ago).
Santiago becomes a battleground and la mapunky is one of the warriors.
Her life story is one of exclusion and repression, but she also symbolizes Mapuche resistance. At the end of the poem, in a mixture of Spanish, Mapuzungun, and urban street slang, the narrator encourages her to
awaken and rise up against the system.
Aniirs poetic evocation of Mapuche life in the city voices some of
the historical truths narrated by the CVHNTs Working Group of Urban
Indigenous People: the history of colonization that led to rural-urban migration; the troubled but nonetheless persistent connection between the
Mapuche in Santiago and those fighting to defend the rural communities
in the south (many of Aniirs cultural projects have been geared to supporting Mapuche political activists imprisoned on charges of terrorism);
the transcultural tensions of urban indigenous life; and the organization
and mobilization of Mapuche people in Santiago. But the poems language
is more resentful and confrontational. Both reinforce Mapuche presence
and survival in Chiles urban centers, but whereas the working group celebrated this, telling of the proliferation of urban cultural and political
associations, many of whom were collaborating with CONADI, Aniir
depicts people out on the street fighting for their rights. His poem talks
not of dialogue but of violent revenge.
This desire for revenge emerges from a history of social as well as ethnic
exclusion. Aniirs historical truth is the poverty of the urban poblaciones

200 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

(poor neighborhoods) and callampas (shantytowns), which were born as

a result of land seizures by desperate, homeless migrants recently arrived
in Santiago.81 This was the experience of Aniirs family, who struggled
along with many other non-Mapuche migrants to carve a place for themselves in the hostile metropolis. As Aniir commented in a recent interview, it was the capitalist systemthe free-market economic model
(introduced with Chilean occupation)that made life very difficult, if
not impossible, for thousands of small peasant farmers and forced people to migrate to cities.82 The violent revenge that he envisages in Mara
Juana la mapunky de La Pintana is directed against the representatives of
this system: the police, the church (the Holy Order), the multinational
companies (the SuperHyperArchitype chains). He supports his peis
(brothers) who are fighting for Mapuche national liberation, but he and
the protagonist of his poem are directly engaged in a struggle that is as
much about class as ethnicity. He does not prioritize one over the other;
both infuse his verses. It is, in part, the centrality of class politics in Aniirs verses that renders him a dysfunctional, conflict-prone Indian, and
yet this is what appeals to many readers and is one of the reasons Huenn
chose to include him as part of the poetic diversity represented in 20 poetas mapuche contemporneos. Interestingly, this project was supported by
CONADIs Indigenous Education and Development Section.83
In February 2002, as Cayuqueo was planning the launch of Azkintuwe
and Huenn was compiling his poetic anthology, the First International
Conference on Mapuche History was held in Siegen, Germany. Two of the
participants were Pablo Marimn and Sergio Caniuqueo, Mapuche activists who had qualified as teachers of history and geography at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco.84 Four years later they published a book
called Escucha, winka! Cuatro ensayos de Historia Nacional Mapuche y
un eplogo sobre el futuro together with Jos Millaln and Rodrigo Levil.
The opening pages were certainly provocative: the introduction began
by attacking Jos Bengoa, renowned ethno-historian, author of the pathbreaking Historia del pueblo mapuche (1985), and member of the CVHNT,
for asserting that most contemporary Mapuche land claims revolved
around the state-granted titles rather than (pre-occupation) ancestral territory, andmore generallyfor writing a history that was motivated by
political interest.85 The authors then directed their criticism at everyone
else involved in the CVHNT: They should know how to practice and
believe in [their role as part of] civil society; [they should not] jump at the

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 201

first invitation to be commissioned by, nor feel committed to the interests

of, an oligarchic state.86 To counter what they saw as the distorted history promulgated by the CVHNT, they embarked on the construction of
a Mapuche History that was more autonomous and independent from
Chilean nationalist historiography. Escucha, winka!, they said, was an appeal by the colonized to other colonized [people], and simultaneously
to the colonizer, with the aim of rewriting History and situating one of the
least listened-to voices within it.87
The first essay, by Millaln, drew on Spanish chronicles from the early
conquest era to reaffirm the existence of a well-established Mapuche society in the mid-sixteenth century. He also sought to prove its continuity
and validity right up to today.88 Chapter 2, by Marimn, dealt with the
last decades of independent life for the Mapuche nation in the nineteenth
century.89 It emphasized the economic prosperity of the Mapuche during this period, as well as the existence of a sociopolitical structure that
helped to control the immense territorial stretches of the Wallmapu.
He noted that the Mapuche were left with only 5 percent of their original
territory after the occupation campaigns, and argued that this loss of land
resources led to the impoverishment of Mapuche society.90 Caniuqueo
(chapter 3) moved on to the twentieth century, when Mapuche history
and sovereignty found itself suspended. He described contact between
winka and Mapuche people from the viewpoint of colonial relations and
stressed that although Mapuche organizations developed various partypolitical alliances during the twentieth century, these were invariably
geared toward achieving favorable conditions for their development as a
People.91 Levils chapter began where Caniuqueo left off1978claiming
that the Mapuche have always articulated a political discourse of national
unity in a territory that currently finds itself subjected to the jurisdiction
of two [foreign states].92 The point of all four contributions is clear: to
underscore Mapuche unity as a nation since precolonial times and the interruption of Mapuche national development by Chilean (and Argentine)
colonial rule.
Escucha, winka! was a significant achievement. As Carlos Ruiz Rodrguez has commented, it represent[ed] an important effort on the part
of Mapuche intellectuality to make themselves heard by the dominant
society and to move away from winka epistemology.93 It drew on many
sources commonly used by existing scholarship, but it reframed them so
as to support a narrative of a people who were once independent and

202 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

wealthy, and who still have memories of this former condition today.
However, herein lies one of its problems as well. The authors attempted to
move away from winka epistemology and traditional historiography, but
they used much of the same source material, followed the same chronological narration and disciplinary standards, and indeed repeated several
of the same concepts. Moreover, although they certainly reframed the
overriding slant of previous historical studies, the content of their chapters had often been written before, not least by the CVHNT. At one point,
for example, Marimn stated, Our oral history teaches us that many
families were not from the places where they were radicados by Chilean
governments.94 The CVHNTs summary report said the same thing. It
also stated that the Mapuche were reduced to approximately 5 percent
of their ancestral lands as a result of Chilean occupation. The emphasis differeda never-ending struggle for national liberation in Escucha,
winka! versus the story of integration (albeit forced and not entirely successful) in the CVHNT summary reportbut much of the content was
very similar. This is by no means a critique in itself, but it is problematic
that the authors did not fully acknowledge the decolonizing endeavors
of others. Escucha, winka! was important, but it was not as innovative in
rethinking history as it proclaimed itself to be.
The innovation is found in the epilogue. Here the authors outlined
their proposal for Mapuche national autonomy, which required a territory, a population, legal instruments, and a state apparatus. The territory
was Mapuche historic territoryfrom the Bo-Bo River to the Chilo
Archipelago (in Chile) and the Pampas and Patagonia from the Cuarto
River to the Negro River (in Argentina). The population would include
people with lands or family relations there, or those who sought to be nationalized. The legal instruments and state apparatus would be based on
a winka-Mapuche co-government, incorporating a Mapuche parliament,
which in turn would consist of traditional Mapuche community authorities, modern political leaders, and professionals.95 The third point is crucial. The authors proposal was not ethno-nationalist, for this would exclude all winka who lived in Mapuche territory.96 Instead, they sought an
interethnic autonomy based on a dialogue among citizens at the grassroots
level.97 The projectto be hegemonized by the Mapuche, according to
Mallons reading98was also a social one: a rejection of neoliberal capitalism as well as Chilean state control. Among other things, this would
involve the nationalization of companies working in Mapuche territory

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 203

and the expulsion of corporations that caused environmental damage.99

Though this discussion highlights no more than the key aspects of the
proposal, what is significant in the context of my analysis is the radical
challenge it presented to the Chilean state. It sought to delegitimize the
states role as arbiter of social relations and guarantor of law and order but,
despite the belligerent tone of the introduction, this aim necessitated dialogue (with Chilean people) rather than violent protest. The book was, after all, produced by a well-known publishing house.100 It was promoted by
Julio Pinto, chair of the History Department at the state-funded University of Santiago of Chile.101 And it was launched in the National Library,
a state institution and the very center of the Chilean academic world. Its
authors appealed to winka society to listen to what they were saying. They
could be confident of some success in this area, given that (as stated in the
acknowledgments) it was at the invitation of winka society that they wrote
the book in the first place. To some extent, then, the book not only sought
dialogue but was also born from dialogue.

The Disruptive Potential of National Monuments and

Regional Museums
The poets Leonel Lienlaf and Csar Millahueique come from different
backgrounds and have distinct writing styles. Lienlaf, who is bilingual
in Mapuzungun and Spanish, grew up in a rural community in Alepue,
near San Jos de Mariquina, and it is this natural landscape which infuses
many of his versesverses that he first started to write when he was confronted with the Chilean secondary school system in Temuco and that
have since earned him much national and international acclaim. Millahueique, who writes in Spanish, grew up in Osorno and has spent much
of his adult life in Santiago.102 His books are perhaps better described as
poetic prose than as poetry per se and, in the case of Profeca en blanco y
negro (Prophecy in White and Black; 1998), delve into the gritty realities of
city life in a captivating, multifaceted way, with scenes of torture, allusions
to the internal machinations of the media industry, and depictions of the
transcultural nature of social communication through modern information technology. Millahueiques work has caught the attention of several
literary critics and was recently included in Huenns 20 poetas mapuche
contemporneos, but overall he has received less press coverage than Lienlaf, and most of his individual publications have been self-financed.

204 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

There are also important similarities between Lienlaf and Millahueique,

however: they share an understanding of poetry as an exercise of memory
and a testimony to the vitality of their people. As Lienlaf proclaims in Se
ha despertado el ave de mi corazn (1989), I will return to say that I am
alive / to say that I am singing near the waterfall / a waterfall of blood!103
Both poets have sought to recapture the pain and anguish of the Mapuche people as they lost their territory and their political independence
during the late nineteenth century, and both make connections between
the history of colonial oppression and contemporary indigenous-state
relations in Chile. In Lienlaf s poem El espritu de Lautaro (The Spirit
of Lautaro) the legendary warrior lives on in the memory of his people:
Lautaro comes looking for me / looking for his people / to struggle with
spirit / with song. And in Oratorio al seor de Pucatrihue (Oratorio to
the Gentleman from Pucatrihue) (2004) Millahueique shifts between the
expropriation of his familys lands in Nolgyegue and the police shooting
of Alex Lemn in 2002. As Eduardo Robledo has noted, one of the overriding themes of this book is the continuity of ancestral suffering.104
According to Jaime Huenn, Oratorio al seor de Pucatrihue was both
a denunciation of historical crimes and an assertion of the power of Wenteyao, spiritual protector of the Mapuche-Huilliche people.105 It is this
religious figure that allows for the reconstruction of memory and the continuation of abuses against indigenous peoples in Chile. Millahueiques
poetry is solemn, sometimes violent, often denunciatory. He is in a sense
the conflict-prone Indian, unwilling to let go of the centuries of repression that his people have suffered and intimately bound up with protests
against neoliberal rule in the present: my poetry is political; I have always related my creative work to politics. . . . I dont believe in art for arts
The poetry of Lienlaf is less direct in its attacks, but he too has been
an outspoken critic of the Concertacins indigenous policy. This comes
across especially clearly in the documentary films he helped to make,
such as Punalka, El Alto Bobo (1994) and Wirarn-Grito (1998), which
denounced the development projects that were (and still are) destroying
the natural environment and uprooting communities in the southern regions.107 Like Millahueique, he has rejected the consensual, harmonious
multiculturalism celebrated by the Concertacin governments. Indeed,
he has categorically stated, I dont believe in integration. I believe in the
coming together of people, but I think that for such an encounter [to

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 205

work] there has to be a just punishmentaccording to the law of reciprocityfor those who have done what they have done.108
Despite their strong antistate discourses, both Millahueique and Lienlaf
have worked in or for the Chilean state apparatus. Since the early 2000s,
Millahueique has been employed by the National Monuments Council
(CMN, a state entity dependent on the Ministry of Education, founded in
1970). For the most part, he has been responsible for the Cultural Heritage
of the Indigenous Peoples of Chile section.109 Lienlaf played an important
role in revising the permanent exhibitions of the Regional Museum of
Araucana in Temuco (completed in 2008) and the Mapuche Museum of
Caete (completed in 2010), both of which are state institutions. In what
follows, I explore the contributions that Lienlaf and Millahueique have
made to debates about memory and history in twenty-first-century Chile.
I argue that the poets works aim to produce not so much an alternative
narrative of the past, but rather a new way of imagining and envisioning
that past. This premise is rooted in the fact that both see their workplaces
as catalysts of living memory as opposed to repositories of dead memory.
In a 2004 article, Millahueique spoke about the link between a peoples
awareness of belonging to a shared history and the strength of their collective identity. Appreciation of ones cultural heritage was crucial to such
consciousness-raising, because it helped one to know oneself, he said.110
Millahueique is particularly interested in indigenous cemeteries. For him,
they are [much] more than a depository of lifeless human bodies. They
constitute a veritable archive of local history. They are symbolic expressions of the values of the communities, which have been constructed
through time and inherited as the foundations of memory. Their particularities allow communities to express their identities and their ways
of understanding life; in other words, by understanding the culture of
death we can comprehend life.111 Part of Millahueiques role at the CMN
has been to try to protect and thereby ensure the survival of indigenous
cemeteries and other indigenous cultural and religious sites. Just as the
lyrical speaker of Oratorio al seor de Pucatrihue concludes his narrative
by focusing on the hope he has for tomorrow rather than the sorrow and
pain of the past, the nature of Millahueiques paid work means that he
concentrates on defending the future of existing indigenous ceremonial
and sacred spaces as opposed to lamenting all those that have already
been destroyed. In this regard, he has more in common with the indio
permitido of proposal than the dysfunctional Indian of protest.

206 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

During the 2000s, the CMN sought to protect indigenous ceremonial

and sacred spaces, and the communities of which they are a part, by declaring them to be national monuments. It was up to individual communities to request this designation of the state. They had to apply to
the CMN and CONADI, who would then send a group of specialists to
investigate and report back to a committee.112 If the committee supported
the communitys petition, the latter was given a legal certificate proclaiming its status as a national monument, which symbolized an act of respect
toward indigenous culture by the state and an acknowledgment of its duty
to defend that culture. In December 2001, the Religious and Ceremonial
Complex in Makewe, Padre Las Casas, became the first Mapuche space
to be formally recognized as a national monument. In February 2002,
the same status was granted to the cemetery and guillatuwe (place where
guillatunes are held) of Mapuche-Pewenche communities in Icalma, Lonquimay, the Mapuche-Pewenche Religious and Ceremonial Complex of
Mitrauqun, and the Mapuche-Williche Religious and Ceremonial Complex of Nolgyegue in Ro Bueno.113
The CMN leaflet publicizing these developments repeatedly stressed
the importance of community participation. Securing the help of the state
was a significant step for the communities, but the best protection came
as a result of the awareness and knowledge of the communities themselves, in terms of the way they care for the material or immaterial values
inherited from their ancestors.114 As noted, the community itself had to
initiate the process and request official recognition of its cultural and religious spaces. And if it was successful in establishing national monument
status, the community had the responsibility to maintain these sites.115
This is how neoliberal multiculturalism is supposed to function, with
indigenous citizens taking responsibility for their own cultural development, while consistently adhering to the guidelines set out by the state.
There is another other side to the story, however. That is the grassroots organization and mobilization stimulated by the CMNs work. Mi
llahueiques department sought to increase political awareness among Mapuche people and communities. It encouraged them to stand up for their
rights and to make themselves heard in official government circles.116 The
certificate that declared a certain part of a given community to be a national monument served as an important political tool when those inhabitants were confronted with development projects that threatened their
way of life and natural environs. The fact that the truth of the communitys

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 207

Figure 17. The rewe and ceremonial space of the Mapuche community of Pedro Ancalef, near Putue, Villarrica. (Courtesy of Csar Millahueique.)

past (the conservation of historical memory and the transmission

of immemorial Mapuche knowledge through cultural and religious
spaces),117 was enshrined in an official government document helped to
protect it against present and future intrusions.
Paradoxically, these intrusions were often promoted by the same state
that pledged to protect the community. For example, in 2005, the Mapuche community of Pedro Ancalef, near Putue, Villarrica, requested that
its Cultural and Religious Complex be designated a national monument
as part of its campaign to prevent the installation of a water treatment
plant there (figure 17). The petition was successful, but the Regional Environmental Commission (COREMA) approved the project regardless
and proceeded with the construction of the plant.118 Thus, one state entity
was working in direct opposition to another: the CMN, or at least one
figure within the CMN, sought to protect the community from what it
considered to be damaging external interventions by COREMA. Similarly, the CMN recognized the thermal baths of Hueinahue as a national
monument at the same time (2009) as state authorities embraced plans
for the Maqueo hydroelectric project in the area.119 According to Millahueiques report, the baths were part of traditional health practices that

208 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

[had] been used since ancient times. The ancient, supposedly respected
and protected by the state, was pitted against the modern, as defined by
the same states neoliberal economic agenda. At the time of writing, the
Maqueo project is on standby. Even if the official documentation does not
help Hueinahue in this instance, it may well do so in the future. At least
it testifies to and forces the state to confront the contradictions between
indigenous rights and neoliberal economic policy.
Lienlaf once stated that when a Mapuche person gives an opinion on
history, they are always told that they dont know anything, that theyre
wrong [or] dont understand.120 He has also been quoted as saying that
museums are only for the dead and buried, not a thriving culture.121 However, the widely published poet has recently shown that his (Mapuche)
opinion on history is valued and that museums can be about living indigenous people as well as their ancestors. Between 2004 and 2008 the
permanent historical exhibition at the Regional Museum of Araucana
underwent a major overhaul. The director, Miguel Chapanoff, described
the new exhibition as daring: future visitors would not confront (the
typical) chronological, unidirectional, and objectifying history narrated
by an anonymous voice; on the contrary, the intention was to present
them with a narrative that provokes rather than tells, proposes rather
than confirms, [and] opens rather than closes.122 This was certainly the
feeling I got when I visited the museum in January 2010. It does not tell
one historical truth, but rather incorporates numerous different sources
to elucidate certain moments or episodes of regional history. Several of
these sources were authored by Mapuche people, and Mapuche advisers
(Lorenzo Ayllapn [Aillapn], Guillermo Rodrguez Paillape, Juan Painemal, Natalia Bart Antipan, and Carmen Gloria Ayllair) were invited to
comment on the new script.123 Lienlaf was contracted to help with the
translation and the coherence of the texts in Mapuzungun, and thereby
added his own version of events to the fragmented history presented by
the museum.
In 2007, the Mapuche Museum of Caete embarked on a similar transformative process. This was largely due to the efforts to Juana Paillalef,
who was invited to be the museums new director in 2001. Paillalef had
many doubts about taking on such a role in a state institution, mainly
because of the states repressive policy toward Mapuche political activism.
However, she was very aware that the new millennium was an exciting
time to work in museums because they were trying to move away from

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 209

Figure 18. Photograph collage, Mapuche Museum of Caete, 2010. (Photo by author,
printed with permission of museum director Juana Paillalef.)

their original colonizing logic. She was also keen to open up spaces for
Mapuche people within regional and national society, and in consequence
to force the dominant society to become more intercultural.124 To this end,
many of her early initiatives focused on bringing local Mapuche communities into the museum, inviting them to participate in public events, and
offering them use of the museum for their own social activities.125 From
the beginning Paillalef also pressured for a radical renovation of the permanent exhibition. The Department of Libraries, Archives, and Museums
(DIBAM) finally agreed in 2007 and sent out a call for proposals. The winning entry was authored by Lienlaf in collaboration with Disea Inventa,
a Santiago design company.
The new exhibition incorporates much of the museums existing collection of artifacts, but they are presented in a very different way. The aim
is to outline the origins, histories, and uses of the individual pieces on
display. Paillalef arranged numerous discussion sessions with Mapuche
elders collecting together their tales in order to assemble histories from

210 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

across [Mapuche] territory.126 The museum team also talked with a large
number of machis about how best to exhibit their ritual practices and sacred objects.127 Lienlaf himself visited many local communities to ask for
their opinions on the script.128 His objective was to construct a collective,
participative history in its most pluralistic form, in keeping with his belief
that he belongs to and is an expression of Mapuche society but does not
speak for it.129 The collage of photographs that greets visitors as they enter
the museum is a pertinent illustration of that objective (figure 18).
There is certainly an underlying narrative at work in the revamped
museum: a story of a trans-Andean Mapuche nation that was invaded by
foreign armies; anddespite this invasiona story of the survival and
renovation of traditional Mapuche culture in the rural communities. But
what stands out most is the vast number of past and present Mapuche and
non-Mapuche people who are incorporated into and speak through the
exhibition. Visitors find poems, letters, and testimonies reconstructing
the Spanish and Chilean invasions of Mapuche territory. There are poster
boards naming and outlining the key demands of the most prominent
Mapuche political organizations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (including those decried as terrorist organizations by the state
and the mainstream media today). The walls and display cases are covered with quotations from contemporary lonkos and Mapuche academics,
Chilean and foreign scholars, historical Mapuche figures such as Manuel
Manquilef and Pascual Coa, and even Spanish chroniclers of the colonial
period. Among other things, they narrate how a ruka is constructed, describe the historical significance of the Mapuche ceramics on display, note
the importance of a Mapuche sport such as palin, and explain Mapuche
views on death.130
By including multiple histories and voices, the exhibit reinforces the
fact that the (re)construction and (re)interpretation of the past is a flexible, open process. Like the cultural and religious sites in Mapuche communities designated as national monuments by the CMN, the Mapuche
Museum of Caete and its displays are conceived of as living spaces.131
Apart from two Mapuche community leaders, all the people portrayed
in the collage in figure 18 are still alive in twenty-first-century Chile.132
There is a recently sculpted rewe on display. There is a room full of tree
saplings. Through interactive technology, visitors can hear contemporary
poets, such as Adriana Paredes Pinda, sing their verses. They can hear Mapuche musical instruments being played and see film footage of weavers

Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism, 19902010 211

preparing wool in their homes. As I have contended elsewhere, the new

exhibition not only offers an alternative historical truth, but it also connects the past to the present and encourages a continued dialogue between the two.133 This is best encapsulated in the words with which Lienlaf
opens the museum narrative: When we speak of our ancestors, we invite
them to be present with us, here and now. In this way our stories unfold
once more. . . .

This chapter brings right up to the present an argument that began in
chapter 1: that it is difficult to classify any indigenous experience as either
cooptation by the state or resistance against the state. Some permitted
Indians employed by the state, such as Millahueique and Lienlaf, have
contested some of the basic prerogatives of that state. Moreover, they have
often given support to and helped to voice the demands of more dysfunctional Indians, such as those Mapuche activists imprisoned on charges
of terrorism. Interestingly, the state itselfeven if only inadvertently,
through the testimonies gathered by the CVHNT or through funding for
the cultural supplements of Azkintuwehas also provided these Indians
with a space from which to speak. Finally, the radical or extremist Indians often offer proposals as well as protest: Cayuqueo has been arrested
for alleged crimes of terrorism, but he promotes dialogue between Chileans and Mapuche through his newspaper Azkintuwe and he is also part
of the Mapuche Nationalist Party Wallmapuwen, which has been trying
to get itself legalized so as to participate in the municipal elections of 2012.
The other main argument of the chapter focuses on history and
memory. What we see emerge here are palimpsests of multiple historical
truths. When Michelle Bachelet received the first mass-produced print
copy of the CVHNTs report in 2009, she proudly declared Chile to be a
democratic system, founded on social consensus and the reconstruction
of historical trust,134 thus reinforcing the dominant narrative in Chilean
historiography. And yet the report was full of stories of violent conflict.
Under her watch Araucana remained militarized and police officers
shot and killed Mapuche political activists with apparent impunity. The
controversial book Escucha, winka! condemned the distorted history
contained in the CVHNT report, despite the fact that the two sources
told much of the same story. The Mapuche Museum of Caete, originally

212 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

named after former president Juan Antonio Ros Morales, has recently
been renamed (in Mapuzungun) after a local Mapuche lonko Juan Cayupi
Huechicura. With the new sign on the wall outside the museum, the history of one man is quite literally written on top of another, just as the local
communities voices are being impressed into the fabric of a museum that
initially ignored them and mainly told a history of a static culture doomed
to extinction. But the new name does not erase the past, for the history of
Ros Morales and the foundation of the museum remains in the official
correspondence held in the museum library.
It is in these processes of truth making (how a new truth comes about,
which people are included and excluded, the circulation and reception of
different truths, the way these dialogue with one another, and so forth)
that we find the messy reality of indigenous-state relations in Chile. That
messy reality includes an ever-increasing diversity of Mapuche political
organizations. Many but not all demand political and territorial autonomy
for the Mapuche nation, and even among the more radical groups there
is little consensus as to what form independence should take. The messy
reality also includes a complex, multilayered state, which has interacted
with Mapuche individuals and organizations in many different ways and
in so doing created another level of competing historical truth claims.

A Defiant History of Difference

In her 2002 article Decoding the Parchments of the Latin American

Nation-State, Florencia Mallon noted a tendency within new Chilean
historiography on subaltern struggles to see interactions between popular groups and the state as repression only, rather than as an articulation
in which each participates in the construction of the other.1 She also,
however, pointed to important efforts to move away from such a tendency. This is exactly what I have sought to do in the preceding chapters.
My long-term analysis of Mapuche cultural and intellectual production
(which is intimately connected with, but not entirely reducible to, Mapuche political activism), and of the Chilean states cultural policies, elucidates the reality of a highly complex, shifting relationship in which Mapuche actors and the state each end up embedded in the other.2 The book
has also probed nonindigenous Chilean cultural and intellectual production in order to show that, alongside a history of racial discrimination that
has been well documented in previous studies on the Mapuche, there exist
multiple attempts (albeit fraught with contradictions) to dialogue with
and understand indigenous cultures.
Ultimately, the material presented in this book, which takes us from
1862 through to 2010, narrates a defiant history of difference. But what
it means for the Mapuche to be different changes according to the historical and political context in which difference is being enunciated, and
who is doing the enunciating. Each of the chapters in this study adds
another layer to an underlying narrative of the internal diversity of Mapuche society, of the larger Chilean society with which it interacts, and of

214 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

the Chilean state apparatus of which both are parts. More pertinently, the
chapters show that Mapuche assertions of difference do not necessarily
entail antagonism, hostility, or violence against the state or Chilean society. Indeed, on many occasions, Mapuche difference has been envisaged
as an intrinsic part of the imagined community that is modern Chile.

Mapuche Activism in Modern Chile: Creative Negotiations

Since the 1860s, Mapuche leaders have engaged with different parts of
Chilean society and of the Chilean political system in myriad different
ways. This book has highlighted many instances of violent confrontation:
military warfare, town raids, and attacks against traveling convoys during the occupation campaigns; illegal land seizures during the 1960s and
1970s; and recent acts of sabotage protesting the increasing number of
mega-development projects in Mapuche territories. It has also revealed
numerous written agreements and communications: correspondence between Mapuche lonkos and Chilean military authorities in the late nineteenth century (penned either by the lonkos themselves or by scribes);
petitions to regional intendants and government figures in Santiago, including the president; and political pacts signed with candidates competing in the national elections. We read of Mapuche leaders participation in a wide variety of rural and urban industries, from the farming
co-operatives set up under Aguirre Cerda and the asentamientos created
in conjunction with agrarian reform in the 1960s and early 1970s to Ford
Motors in Temuco and the bakery industry in Santiago. Nor can we fail
to notice Mapuche involvement in multiple public education initiatives:
new agricultural schools built in Araucana during the 1930s and 1940s;
teaching material on indigenous cultures under the Christian Democrats;
adult literacy campaigns under Allende; discussion of new rural teaching
programs during the Pinochet dictatorship; and intercultural restructuring of museum exhibitions under the Concertacin.
Mapuche people have participated in an array of political forums: parlamentos during the nineteenth century; presidential, congressional, and
municipal elections in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (as both
voters and candidates);3 and plebiscites and truth commissions in recent
decades. They have worked in innumerable state institutions: schools,
universities, regional museums, the National Monuments Council, and
government departments dedicated to indigenous issues, such as DASIN,

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 215

IDI, and CONADI. The historical documentation also underscores longstanding Mapuche contributions to the Chilean artistic, literary, and intellectual scene: scholarly collaborations, translations, theatrical productions, opera performances, verses in and editorship of poetry journals and
anthologies, and essays in print and online newspapers.
The detail of this ongoing story of engagement points to two other
fundamental continuities in Mapuche organizing. First, it reinforces the
internal political diversity of Mapuche society emphasized in previous
scholarship.4 For example, leaders such as Manuel Aburto Panguilef, Martn Painemal, and Melliln Painemal associated with or became members
of the Communist Party, whereas others, such as Manuel Manquilef and
Venancio Couepn, allied themselves with more mainstream or even
conservative political parties. Some were persecuted under the military
dictatorship for their involvement in the UPs radicalized agrarian reform
program, whereas others firmly supported Pinochet. My focus on cultural
and intellectual production has sought to bring to the fore the perceptions
and voices of Mapuche organizers, and to explain their ideological allegiances through individual personal (community, family) circumstances
and in relation to their views on what it meant or means to be Mapuche.
Second, the source material shows how Mapuche people have continually adopted and adapted official government discourses to serve their
own purposes. In the late 1800s many lonkos, such as Venancio Couepn
(II), drew on the legalistic discourse of the liberal modernizing state to
try to protect their lands from criollo estate owners and newly arrived
colonists. Manquilef and Aburto appropriated momentary discourses of
expanding citizenship during the 1920s and 1930s to demand rights, as
opposed to charitable benefits, for the Mapuche people. In the 1940s and
1950s, the younger Venancio Couepn made use of dominant discourses
of development, which coincided with the continental prominence of indigenismo, to call for more indigenous-friendly modernization projects in
Araucana. Even under the military dictatorship, the Mapuche Cultural
Centers were able to use state corporatist discourse to create a small space
for themselves in occupational associations (gremios).
In spotlighting the intricacies of discourse, I build on Karin Rosem
blatts study of the Popular Front years, which demonstrates how popular
mobilization could shape elite projects, particularly at the moment of application.5 Whereas her focus was health, welfare, and labor policies, I
concentrate on indigenous rights legislation and cultural policies. I show

216 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

how, for example, Mapuche organizations used the regional museum in

Temuco to commemorate their peoples resistance against Chilean invasion; Couepn managed to reformulate official emphases on equality of
opportunity in a way that allowed special rights for indigenous communities (such as exemption from taxes); and Csar Millahueique leveraged
new laws on national monuments to try to safeguard Mapuche communities from mega-development projects.
Running parallel to these continuities in Mapuche cultural and political organizing, however, are also some important shifts. This book has
shown that the Mapuche have been making complaints about and demands of the Chilean state ever since their incorporation into that state.
But, clearly, these have become more visible and audible over time, partly
because of rural-urban migration and partly because of popular literacy
acquired as a result of increased access to education. This is reflected in
literary developments, especially in the production and dissemination of
poetry, the most well-known and widely critiqued form of Mapuche cultural expression.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, interested readers had access to Mapuche poetry mainly through Chilean and foreign ethno-linguists, such
as Augusta and Guevara, who transcribed and translated oral narratives
and songs as part of their scholarly studies of Mapuzungun. By the 1930s,
several Mapuche poets (such as Guillermo Igaymn) were publishing
their verses in newspapers in Spanish. In the mid-1960s, the first Mapuche-authored book of bilingual poetry, Poemas mapuches en castellano
by Sebastin Queupul, appeared in Santiagoan initiative financed by
the Christian Democratic government of Eduardo Frei Montalvaand
in 1971, the University of Chile published a second edition of the life story
of the Mapuche poet Lorenzo Aillapn. (This time Aillapn was named
as the protagonist, whereas the first edition referred to him anonymously
as LA). In conjunction with re-democratization and indigenous mobilization across Latin America, the late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed a
boom in Mapuche poetry: writers like Lionel Lienlaf and Elicura Chihuailaf, who came from rural communities but moved back and forth
between them and Chiles urban centers, saw their bilingual verses contracted by mainstream publishing houses, reviewed in the national press,
and awarded prestigious literary prizes. In the 2000s, a greater diversity
of Mapuche authors, including monolingual (Spanish-speaking) urban
migrants or descendants of migrants, are disseminating a wider variety

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 217

of poetry to an ever-expanding readership, through online journals, Mapuche Web sites, and Mapuche print newspapers, as well as renowned
publishing houses. Their work is being analyzed by Mapuche and Chilean
literary specialists, they are publishing collective anthologies of poetry as
well as individual works, and they are, in many cases, far more denunciatory of the Chilean state than previous poets.
To a great extent, these developments in Mapuche poetic production
parallel and thereby help to illuminate the trajectory of Mapuche political
organizing. After military defeat in the 1880s, Mapuche lines of authority became fragmented and atomized, but continued to exist nonetheless.
Many lonkos, such as Manuel Manquilef s father, sent their children to
Chilean schools. As a result of his education in Temuco, Manquilef ended
up collaborating in scholarly studies of Mapuche oral poetry. He also cofounded the first modern ethnic-based Mapuche political organization,
the Caupolicn Society, in 1910. During the first decades of the twentieth
century, the Caupolicn Society and the Araucanian Federation (the latter set up in 1921 by Manuel Aburto, also descended from a prestigious
line of lonkos) affirmed the place of the Indian within the nationjust as
the poets publishing verses in local newspapers didand consequently
promoted alternative visions of that nation. In 1931, Aburto called for the
establishment of an autonomous Indigenous Republic in Araucana, but
even this was supposed to function within a Chilean federalist state.
In 1938, the Caupolicn Society and Araucanian Federation joined together to become the Araucanian Corporation, and its leader, Couepn,
emerged as the most prominent spokesperson of the Araucanian race.
By the 1950s, Couepn was coordinating this ethnic-based organization
from within the state (as director of the Department of Indigenous Affairs, or DASIN). Couepn was the last national-level Mapuche leader
to emerge from within the traditional lines of authority in the rural communities. During the 1960s, the foremost political leaders tended to come
from urban areas (more specifically, from the urban working classes) and
they often prioritized class struggle over racialized discourses of mobilization. Not all Mapuche supported the Left (the poet Queupul, for example,
worked closely with the Christian Democratic government), but a leftist
tendency predominated. The important point here, though, is that close
connections with the state continued.
During the military dictatorship, the Mapuche Cultural Centers (which
later became Ad-Mapu) reasserted the importance of ethnic-based

218 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

organizing. This organization opposed the land division law of 1979 but
also made requests (for cultural funding, educational scholarships, and
the like) of the state. It maintained ideological independence during the
late 1970s and early 1980s, but by 1983 had realigned itself with, and to
some extent been subsumed within, the leftist opposition to Pinochet.
Ad-Mapu supported Patricio Aylwin during the 1989 elections, but a new
group that emerged from Ad-Mapu at this time, the All Lands Council,
developed a more militant autonomist position and rejected the policies
of participation promoted by the Concertacin government. The proliferation of Mapuche organizations during the transition to democracy,
and the increasing involvement of indigenous actors in state institutions,
coincided with the growing recognition of Mapuche poetry. Similarly, in
the late 1990s, the escalating number of political organizations committed
to political and territorial autonomy overlapped with the collective poetic
pronunciation of a Mapuche nation, the diversification of literary styles,
and poets increasingly denunciatory stance vis--vis state policies.
Mapuche cultural production and political activism thus work in tandem with one another. Although the subtleties of the issues sometimes
get lost in the midst of protest activism (for example, the Coordinadora
Arauco Mallecos declaration of war on the Chilean state in 2009), they
emerge loud and clear in the intricacies of the processes via which Mapuche poetry is produced, disseminated, and received. As shown in chapter 6, David Aniir, Leonel Lienlaf, Csar Millahueique, and other poets
may have openly denounced the free-market economic policies and the
antiterrorism legislation of the Concertacin governments, but they did
so in state-funded publications, through projects with regional state museums, or while working for central state institutions. In sum, the tension between protest and negotiation that we detect in Mapuche political
activism (with Aucn Huilcamn attempting to stand in the presidential
elections of 2005, for example), becomes all the more apparent through
an examination of Mapuche cultural environments.

A Multifaceted, Evolving State

The shifting strategies of Mapuche activists cannot be understood separately from the social fabric out of which they emerge. The six chapters
that comprise this book have thus led the reader through key moments
of change in Chilean state policy during the nineteenth, twentieth, and

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 219

twenty-first centuries. First, the military occupation campaigns of the late

nineteenth century, which were directed by a liberal state determined to
impose law and order on and profit from the rich natural resources of
Araucana. We then move on to the centennial celebrations of independence in 1910, when Chile was ruled by an oligarchic establishment that
refused to engage with debates about the social question and the associated spread of working-class radicalism. I discuss the identity discourses
elaborated by Manquilef and Aburto over the next three decades, as Chile
shifted from a parliamentary to a presidential system, and certain sectors of the political and military elite made (albeit limited or short-lived)
attempts to implement some labor and educational reforms.6 Chapter 3
traced the impact of continental indigenismo on debates about the Mapuche question in Chile during the 1940s and 1950s, when the Popular
Front governments of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Juan Antonio Ros Morales,
and Gabriel Gonzlez Videla, and the populist administration of Carlos
Ibez, expanded state services and to differing degrees promoted discourses of participation and social justice. This was followed by an analysis of the spaces created, either purposefully or accidentally, for Mapuche
cultural expression during the decade of agrarian reform (196473) led by
Frei Montalva, under the banner of Revolution in Liberty, and Salvador
Allende, as part of the Chilean Road to Socialism. Chapter 5 turned to the
contradictory ways in which the restructuring of the economic and political system undertaken by the Pinochet dictatorship affected Mapuche cultural politics. And the last chapter drew readers attention to the openings
and constraints of neoliberal multiculturalism under the Concertacin
administrations of 19902010.
My analysis of the historical relationship between the Chilean state
and Mapuche intellectual-activists underscores the fact that the former
has never functioned as one uniform whole. Instead, it must be seen, as
Lessie Jo Frazier asserts, as an arena of struggle in itself involving multiple actors, institutions, and practices of governance.7 I investigate documents pertaining to the National Congress, ministries, state-run schools,
regional and national museums, local government bodies, military officials, cultural agencies, agrarian cooperatives, and departments dedicated to indigenous affairs (DASIN, IDI, and CONADI), and demonstrate
not only how state discourse has changed but also how at any one time
the state has produced multiple, contesting discourses. During the late
nineteenth century, for example, military and political elites proposed

220 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

a number of different plans for the occupation of Araucana and, while

military invasion was underway, army officers spoke about the aims of
conquest and the people they were conquering in highly divergent ways.
Several decades later, during the presidency of Aguirre Cerda, we see one
set of government officials tell Pablo Neruda that Chile was not a country
of Indians! at the same time as another department was in the process
of sending Mapuche leader Couepn to the Inter-American Indigenista
Congress as an official representative of Chile. And under Pinochet, the
Revista de Educacin published Mapuche students criticisms of public
schooling and outlined details of a new teaching program for Mapuche
rural communities during the same year that the minister of agriculture
declared there to be no Indians in Chile, only Chileans.
Rarely, then, is it possible to talk of one unified state discourse on the
indigenous question. Moreover, Mapuche people themselves have always
been part of the state apparatus. They are some of the multiple actors
that Frazier refers to in Salt in the Sand: teachers, school directors, military officers, literacy program monitors, cultural ambassadors, museum
curators, museum directors, INDAP commissioners, directors of IDI or
CONADI, project managers for the CNM, and so on.
Given the multiplicity and diversity of Mapuche involvement in state
institutions and agencies, it comes as little surprise to find that these have
sometimes responded to, or indeed been created as a response to, Mapuche demands. It was Manquilef who proposed and defended the land
division law of 1927. Aguirre Cerdas Commission on Indigenous Issues
was set up to address Mapuche anxieties about land rights. Ibez created DASIN in 1953 because Couepn, who had supported the formers
candidacy in Araucana, pushed him to do so. The indigenous law that
Allende presented to Congress in 1971 was drafted by delegates at the 1970
Mapuche National Congress in Temuco, and the indigenous law submitted to Congress by Aylwin resulted from widespread consultations with
Mapuche communities and organizations. Finally, the Commission for
Historical Truth and New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples, inaugurated
by Lagos in 2001, emerged following increasing Mapuche demands for a
rethinking of state policy on indigenous rights.
To interpret such developments as the result of a transparent dialogue
would however be to miss the reality of power relations in modern Chile.
First, the new policies often conformed to the broader economic parameters laid out by the state: the land division law of 1927 adhered to

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 221

modern capitalist norms regarding individual property ownership; one

of the purposes of DASIN was to increase indigenous communities agricultural productivity for the benefit of the national economy; and the
IDI, established as a consequence of Indigenous Law 17.729 in 1972, was
expected to promote communal farming in conjunction with the agrarian
reform program. More significantly, although the initiatives themselves
were responses to Mapuche demands or were brought about by indigenous people, their end results often fell way short of their original goals.
Manquilef s stipulation that a community needed to be in possession of
the whole extent of its original title before lands could be subdivided was
rarely respected. Aguirre Cerda ignored the proposals of the Commission
on Indigenous Issues regarding agrarian reform. DASIN could not implement many of its proposed projects due to a lack of funds. The indigenous
laws of 1972 and 1993 were substantially modified as they passed through
congress, and Lagos failed to act on the policy recommendations of the
Furthermore, we are also confronted by many instances where political
elites not only failed to engage fully with Mapuche complaints and demands but were actually tone-deaf to them: the Mapuche prisoners tale of
the murder of his wives and children in chapter 1; Aburtos denunciation,
in 1931, of state authorities failure to build any of the rural schools that
his organization had been asking for; Couepns congressional speeches
of the late 1940s attacking the governments ice-cold attitude toward
indigenous peoples; the threats received by members of the CCM who
protested against Pinochets land division law; the community elders of
Lago Budi who traveled to Santiago to talk with Lagos about the Orgenes
project and were turned away. As Mapuche poet and literary critic Jaime
Huenn remarked in a recent interview, more often than not we are witnessing a Mapuche monologue, as opposed to a MapucheChilean state
That the Concertacin governments of the 1990s and 2000s progressed
so slowly on indigenous rights is at least partly attributable to the fact that
Chile has historically been and remains a highly centralized state. Aylwins administration made tentative moves toward decentralization when
it devolved government agencies such as CONADI to the regions, butas
Alan Angell, Pamela Lowden, and Rosemary Thorp notegreat caution
remained about transferring real power or decision-making authority.9
Regional governments, for example, are still appointed by the president

222 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

and even the education reforms of the mid-1990s, which boasted many
decentralizing measures, were designed in Santiago and then filtered out
to the regions. Thus, official discourses of nationhood shifted (to democracy and multiculturalism) but power relations did not. For Julia Paley,
the discourse itself posed problems. According to her recent study on
social movements in Chile, the Concertacins focus on participation
specifically sought to limit the oppositional activity of grassroots organizations, in that those employed in government or in receipt of funding channeled through the state were expected to maintain a climate of
However, even a strong and centralized state does not necessarily
achieve all its aims. As Rosemblatt asserts, state control is only ever partial,11 and Paley herself shows how health activists in the shantytowns of
Santiago have constantly challenged official meanings of participation.
Following this line of analysis, chapter 2 notes how the Caupolicn Society expressly undermined homogenizing discourses of nationhood by asserting the presence of the Mapuche as a distinct people in the centennial
celebrations of Chilean independence, and chapter 5 points to the same
disruptive potential of the CCMs interventions in the public commemorations of the centenary of the fortification of Temuco in 1981. The state
may set the rules of engagement, but Mapuche activists often break these
rules, or challenge their intended implications. Moreover, not only is the
state unable to fully control Mapuche dissent, but in many cases it has also
actually helped to disseminate their dissenting views. Thus, today Mapuche activists use the spaces opened up through official multiculturalism
and its focus on participation precisely to attack the limits of this discourse. For example, by 2010 the director of the Mapuche Museum of Caete, Juana Paillalef could fly the flag of the Mapuche nation (allowed by
reforms in municipal law), refuse to participate in the official celebrations
of the bicentenary of Chilean independence, and openly condemn the
states antiterrorism legislation. The intricacies of the process of change,
as encapsulated in this cultural institution, show just how embedded in
each other Mapuche actors and the Chilean state are.

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 223

Indigenousness in Modern Chile: Dismantling and

Reconstructing Boundaries
This book has testified to the countless spaces through which Mapuche
and (non-Mapuche) Chileans have disputed what it means to be Mapuche and to be Chilean. It has examined the connections between Mapuche indigenous identity and other contested concepts, such as tradition, modernity, progress, and civilization, and drawn out the complex
intersections between race and class, in order to show how the broader
relationship between Mapuche identity and Chilean nationhood has been
continually renegotiated since the late 1800s. Especially intriguing is the
shifting dynamic between essentialist and flexible notions of indigenousness. Overall, my discussion of identity debates suggests the need for further research into the ways in which Chile both fits into and differs from
broader racial paradigms in Latin America, particularly mestizaje and
During the occupation campaigns, Mapuche leaders veered between
presenting themselves as an obstacle to the Chilean nation-building
project and as a crucial part of the same project; there was also a large
gray area in between. After military defeat, a sense of belonging to a specific territory remained strong among the Mapuche. In 1889, Domingo
Couepn referred to Arauco as my nation, but he also pledged loyalty to the Chilean government. Another leader, Millanaw, described his
people as Araucanian Chileans. They were Chileans but different from
other (criollo) Chileans. In sum, loyalty did not necessarily mean subservience, and identification with the Chilean nation did not have to mean
disappearance within it. Furthermore, Mapuche leaders had long since
been appropriating Chilean cultural practices as theirs. Juan Colip, for
example, dressed in European-style clothes and learned to speak Spanish,
and Fermn Trekaman Manquilef (the father of Manuel Manquilef) took
a Chilean wife. Importantly, for them such choices did not entail losing or
shedding their indigenous identity.
Prominent political organizers during the first half of the twentieth
century continued to cross racial boundaries. Manquilef, Aburto, and
Couepn were bilingual, suit-wearing Mapuche, who inhabited both the
rural and urban spheres, and used both the oral and written word. And
yet they simultaneously played to essentialized notions of what it meant
to be Mapuche. Manquilef asserted that his ethnographic studies should

224 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

be read as authentically and legitimately Araucanian because he grew up

in a rural community, spoke Mapuzungun, and had firsthand knowledge
of traditional ritual practices. Aburto promised Chilean audiences that his
Araucanian Theater Company was made up of real indigenous performers (dressed in indigenous clothes, playing indigenous musical instruments) who would give them a unique insight into the ancient customs
of the Araucanian race. And Couepn presented himself to congress as
a genuine representative of the Indians on the basis that he shared a collective historical memory of territorial independence followed by dispossession and exploitation.
All three of them could be described as mestizos, an identity category
that is, as Marisol de la Cadena has shown in her study of Cuzco, Peru,
as unstable as Indian or indigenous.12 Manquilef seems to fit most definitions. As the offspring of a Mapuche father and Chilean criolla mother,
he was a biological mestizo (although his family history reversed the
dominant narrative of mestizaje, which involved Spanish men seducing
or raping Indian women); he was educated, spoke and wrote Spanish, and
lived much of his life in the city (so mestizo by social condition); and he
showed, to quote from Jeffrey Goulds work on Nicaragua, a simultaneous affinity with multiple cultural traditions not completely compatible
with one another.13 Aburto and Couepn were not biological mestizos,
but they appear to fit the social and cultural definitions. None of them,
however, explicitly self-identified as mestizo.
For that reason I do not call them mestizos in the book. Nonetheless,
their cases help to reinforce the diversity of ways in which indigenous
peoples across the continent have engaged with and sought to reformulate dominant narratives of mestizaje so as to reassert the enduring presence of (flexible and essentialist notions of) Indianness. Manquilef promoted a fusion of the two races, meaning of Chileans and Mapuche,
but this was more a political than a racial project, in that collaboration
was supposed to help to build a successful capitalist society. Aburto advocated the possibility of spiritual fusion when he presented himself as
the machi of all Mapuche and the spiritual priest for all of Chile.14 In
Congress, Couepn asserted that the colonial encounter between the
Spanish conquistadors and noble Araucanian warriors led to a biological
and spiritual mixture from which a new fatherland emerged.15 That new
fatherland was Chile, and he was its most authentic representativethe
body and soul of Chile, as one of his campaign posters proclaimed. All

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 225

three subverted official discourses of mestizaje, which, as we saw with the

National History Museum in the 1910s and the history teaching curriculum under Frei Montalva, often sought to erase the Mapuche through a
national project of progress and modernity. They transformed mestizaje
into a mobilizing, reviving force; rather than relegating themselves to
some no-mans-land between Mapuche and Chilean identities, Manquilef,
Aburto, and Couepn proclaimed the possibility of being both at the
same time.16
These three cultural producers and political leaders also provide a
useful window onto the complex intersections between class and indigenous identity. In contrast to Aburto, Manquilef and Couepn were both
wealthy landowners, which might help to explain why they associated
with parties on the Right of the political spectrum. Manquilef was keen
to distinguish between what he saw as civilized and semi-civilized Indians (himself versus the Indians who could not read, did not wear shoes,
lived in squalor, and so forth). He could see no room for these degenerate
Indians in modern Chile. Couepn rarely made such distinctions among
the Mapuche, but he did speak in a derogatory manner of the lower
classes more generally. Both leaders undermined equations between indigenousness and poverty, or assumptions about the connection between
indigenous political mobilization and working-class organizing. During
the 1950s, however, and especially by the 1960s, an increasing number of
Mapuche activistsbuilding on the legacy of Aburto and in line with indigenous organizing elsewhere in Latin Americaassociated themselves
with the Left, and romanticized images of Indianness (principally the heroic Araucanian warrior of colonial times and the long-suffering communal farmer of the present) became bound up in discourses of revolutionary class struggle. Mapuche cultural difference was sidelined within this
struggle but never entirely subsumed. Communist Party member Martn
Painemal continued to talk of a we, referring to the Mapuche race, even
as that we was prepared to make alliances with other rural and urban
workers.17 And, as we saw with Aillapn, Mapuche activists had a clear
understanding of the ways in which the class reductionism of classical
Marxist theory clashed with their cultural and religious traditions.
During the military dictatorship, when class-based mobilization was
brutally repressed, the newly established Mapuche Cultural Centers (and
later Ad-Mapu) made strategic claims to cultural authenticity but their
focus was on transformative action. This is perhaps best exemplified by

226 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

participation in folkloric festivals and by Domingo Colicoys theater

group. Indigenousness (in this case, the idea of a collective, distinct Mapuche pueblo) was a process, a set of building blocks that had to be put
together and thus continually re-created at a grassroots level.
During the transition to democracy, which coincided with mass indigenous protests across the continent as governments prepared to celebrate
the five hundredth anniversary of Spanish conquest, several Mapuche
political leaders began to elaborate a more militant, autonomist sense of
Mapuche-ness. They moved beyond the people or race that Manquilef,
Aburto, Couepn, Painemal, Queupul, Aillapn, and Colicoy evoked,
to proclaim a Mapuche national identity that was separate from Chilean
nationality and, in this context, some of the essentialized images of the
past (of the rural, Mapuzungun-speaking Mapuche, at one with nature)
reemerged. During the late 1990s, which saw a groundswell of protests
against mega-development projects in Araucana, and even more so in
the 2000s, when the government invoked antiterrorism legislation to
suppress Mapuche activists, indigenous Mapuche identity became emblematic of valiant resistance against the powerful landowning elites and
transnational corporations.18 Thus, many Mapuche organizations maintain ideological independence from the mainstream political parties, but
neither their practical struggle nor their identity discourses can be separated from the class politics and the neoliberal system within which and
in opposition to which they are articulated. This comes across remarkably
powerfully in the poetry of David Aniir.
The growing recognition of Aniirs poetic talent is a poignant illustration of the fact that alongside indigenous militants claims of essentialism
there exists a rich imaginary of a diverse Mapuche nation, which incorporates the rural and urban spheres, Mapuzungun and Spanish speakers,
community elders who pass on their narratives according to oral tradition
and young activists who defend their stories in university dissertations
and Internet Web sites. In short, a boundary of (Mapuche) nationhood is
reasserted, but other boundaries are broken down.
Clearly, these multiple, changing articulations of Mapuche identity
do not emerge in isolation from Chilean society and, in most cases, a
Mapuche nation is imagined as part of a pluri-national Chilean state. As
Marisol de la Cadena and Orin Starn recently stated, indigeneity has
always involved enunciation . . . from indigenous and non-indigenous
subject positions.19 This book has investigated both. It has shown that

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 227

many non-indigenous Chileans have refused to value or even accept the

validity of Mapuche difference (be it cultural, ethnic, racial, national, political, or territorial). Remember the ethno-linguist Augustas vilification
of Aburto as anti-Chilean and anti-Christian, Senator Ignacio Palmas
argument that the Mapuche were lacking in culture and so peculiar as
to speak a different language from the rest of Chile (when confronted with
DASINs interventions in the 1950s), and Queupuls poetic evocations of
the indescribable contempt shown toward his people. I have highlighted
Chileans attempts to expunge the Mapuche from modern history: Nicanor Plazas statue of Caupolicn, which was not based on Caupolicn nor
even a Mapuche model; the relegation of indigenous cultures to the prehistoric section of the National History Museum; the Mapuche Museum
of Caetes early portrayals of Mapuche culture in the past tense only;
and the gradual silencing of Rayn Quitrals soprano voice. We also come
across numerous denials of the capacity for Mapuche culture to change
and adapt. Examples are the newspaper report from 1880, which claimed
that Domingo Melin was not a real Indian because he could read and
write in Spanish, and literary critic Ivn Carrascos assertions (in 1971 and
again in the early 2000s) that Queupul was a poet in the process of losing his Mapuche identity. In other words, this study reaffirms a history of
what Mallon has described as racist othering, pretended disappearance,
and dismissal.20
However, it has also pinpointed innumerable stories of engagement
with and attempts to understand indigenous cultures: military officers
recognition of Mapuche customary law in the late nineteenth century;
the awarding of a prize to, and front-page newspaper publication of,
Manquilef s essay on the occupation campaigns during the centennial
celebrations of 1910; congressmens and journalists attendance at the Araucanian Congresses organized by Aburto; Chilean musicians collaborations with and encouragement of Rayn Quitral; Violeta Parras recording of Mapuche songs, use of Mapuche instruments, and reproduction
of Mapuche musical rhythms; Vctor Jaras conversations with Angelita
Huenumn; Carlos Munizagas discussions with Lorenzo Aillapn; Lipschutzs meetings with Mapuche organizations and assertions of a malleable indigenousness that allowed for miniskirts and ponchos; Isidora
Aguirres friendship with Melliln Painemal and the launching of her
play !Lautaro!; and Julio Pintos efforts to publish the controversial book
!Escucha, winka! In many cases, we also see Chilean intellectuals adopt

228 The Mapuche in Modern Chile

Mapuche culture as part of their own heritage. This comes across most
obviously in the works of Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Violeta Parra,
and Vctor Jara. Undoubtedly, there were limitations to the evocations of
a collective we that included the Mapuchea focus on the struggles of
the past rather than the present, an emphasis on marginalization and sufferingbut these musicians and writers creative explorations of Chiles
history of internal colonialism were nevertheless indicative of an attempt
at dialogue that went well beyond self-serving appropriation. They all
challenged official discourses of Chilean exceptionalism, narrated as lack
of conflict or unproblematic absorption of indigenous groups into a homogeneous mestizo nation, and sought to reproduce Mapuche voices so
as to give them more clout on the national stage.
We thus return to discourses of mestizaje, but from the perspective of
Chileans. Mistral and Neruda publicly declared themselves to be mestizo.
Parra laid claim to a Mapuche great-grandmother and Jara celebrated his
morenidad. The development of the concept of mestizaje in these cases,
and particularly of cultural mestizaje, suggests not a purging of indigenousness, but instead an active regeneration of indigenousness as part
of a broader rethinking of Chilean identity. It is no coincidence that Elicura Chihuailaf has recently translated the verses of Pablo Neruda and
the songs of Vctor Jara into Mapuzungun, nor that he and Jaime Huenn
(who publicly identifies as both mestizo and Mapuche) have incorporated
the voice of Gabriela Mistral into their verses, nor that the Violeta Parra
Association is linked to the Support Network for the Mapuche People.
Historical interaction and cultural appropriation have, in sum, always
been two-way processes.
The complexities of the relationship between the Mapuche and the
state, and between Mapuche and Chilean societies more broadly, emerge
through the stories that are told about it. This book has tried to bring
these stories to the forefront of its analysis. Taken together, they convey
a perpetual oscillation between conflict and negotiation; they also show
that it is possible to engage in both courses of action at the same time.
Some of the specifics of official state discourse have changed since rightwing businessman Sebastin Piera was elected president of Chile, but the
broader picture has not. In the first few months after Pieras inauguration in March 2010, a hunger strike led by Mapuche prisoners forced congress to reform the controversial antiterrorist law, although little seems
to have changed in practice and Araucana remains highly militarized.

Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference 229

Mega-development projects continue to threaten Mapuche rural communities in the southern provinces, but one group of protesters was recently
able to use ILO Convention 169, ratified by Congress during the last year
of Michelle Bachelets government, to prevent the construction of a new
(government-sponsored) airport near Temuco.
The postcard discussed at the beginning of this book came from the
Cultural Center of La Moneda Palace. It portrays a rural idyll inhabited
by clichd Mapuche figures of old. An art gallery in the same space is
dedicated to the work of Violeta Parra and showcases the poem Arauco
tiene una pena of the mid-1960s, which shatters any romanticized images of indigenous life in the countryside. Next door is a craft shop that
hosts temporary exhibitions. In 2010, the exhibition focused on Mapuche
silverware. Depending on which poster board you read, it was possible
to come away with a view of Chile as a peaceful, multicultural nation
that celebrates its indigenous heritage, or as a state deeply divided over
conflicts about economic structures, natural resources, and the notion
of indigenous territories. Thus, competing histories of the Mapuche in
modern Chile coexist right beneath the very nerve center of national government. In some senses, the juxtaposition of the postcard, poem, and
exhibition in the Cultural Center of La Moneda Palace could only have
happened in Chile, where the visibility of the Araucanian warrior of the
past contrasts with the constitutional invisibility of the Mapuche in the
present; on the other hand, the competing narratives resemble debates
taking place in multicultural nations throughout Latin America.


asentamiento (Spanish). Agrarian unit or cooperative created as a result

of the agrarian reform law of 1967
colono (Spanish). Colonist, settler
criollo (Spanish). Person of European descent born in the Americas
diputado (Spanish). Congressman elected to the Chilean Chamber of
guillatn (Mapuzungun). Collective ritual ceremony intended to unite a
community and communicate with the spiritual world
hacendado (Spanish). Large landowner
kultrun (Mapuzungun). Painted ceremonial drum
kupulhue (Mapuzungun). Infant carrier
lonko (Mapuzungun). Community leader
machi (Mapuzungun). Mapuche shaman, spiritual healer
machitn (Mapuzungun). Shamanic healing ritual
mapu (Mapuzungun). Earth
palin (Mapuzungun). Sports game, similar to hockey or hurling
radicacin (Spanish). Process of settling Mapuche people onto reduc
ciones (land-grant communities) after the Chilean military occupation
rewe (Mapuzungun). Shamans altar, a step-notched pole carved from
wood that acts as a ladder or stairway between the earth and the spiritual world
ruka (Mapuzungun). Traditional thatch-roofed rural dwelling of the
ttulo de merced (Spanish). Land title granted by the Chile state after the
occupation campaigns in Mapuche territory
toqui (Mapuzungun). War leader

232 Glossary

trapelacucha (Mapuzungun). Silver pendant worn around the neck

trarilonko (Mapuzungun). Silver jewelry fastened around the head
Wallmapu (Mapuzungun). Mapuche nation
winka (or huinca) (Mapuzungun). Foreigner, non-Mapuche Chilean


Introduction: Mythical Objects and Political Subjects

1. Araucanian was a term invented by the Spanish. Many Chileans still use it today
and, historically, so too have many Mapuche. In recent years, however, most people who
self-identify as Mapuche have rejected Araucanian as a racist appellation that was imposed on them by others and seeks to relegate them to the past. For a fascinating analysis
of how the term Mapuche came into being, see Boccara, Guerre et ethnogense mapuche
dans le Chili colonial.
2. The 1992 census recorded a total of 928,060 people who self-identified as Mapuche.
In 2002, the number decreased to 604,349. As Diane Haughney notes, any analysis of
such dramatic shifts has to take into account the change in how the ethnicity question
was phrased. The census of 1992 asked people fourteen years and older, If you are Chilean, do you consider yourself as belonging to one of the following cultures: Mapuche,
Aymara, Rapa Nui, or none of the preceding? (i.e., people could identify as Chilean
and indigenous). The 2002 census omitted the reference to Chilean identity and asked,
Do you belong to some of the following original or indigenous peoples: Alacalufe (Kawashkar), Atacameo, Aymara, Colla, Mapuche, Quechua, Rapa Nui, Ymana (Yagn)
or none of the preceding? See Haughney, Neoliberal Economics, Democratic Transition,
and Mapuche Demands, 45. We also have to acknowledge the different political contexts: the mass celebrations of indigenous Latin America in 1992 (during the quincentenary of Columbuss discovery of the Americas) versus the press onslaught against
so-called Mapuche terrorists in 2002.
3. These are reproduced and discussed in Alvarado, Mege, and Bez, Mapuche: Fotografas de los siglos XIX y XX.
4. The Chilean states effective colonization of Mapuche territory began in 1862 and
concluded in 1883. That territory, as recognized by Spanish authorities during the colonial era, encompassed the lands between the Bo-Bo and Toltn rivers (see maps 1
and 2), although many Mapuche claim it extended much farther. Mapuche people still
represent a large percentage of the population of these regions today (for example, 23.4
percent in Araucana, according to the census of 2002) but they also live in many other
areas of the country, mainly in urban centers. It is important to note that prior to the
Spanish conquest, Mapuche territory (in what is now Chile) extended farther north than

234 Notes to Pages 39

the Bo-Bo River and farther south than the Toltn River. Prior to the Conquest of the
Desert, led by Julio Roca between 1878 and 1880, the Mapuche also controlled vast tracts
of land in Argentina, but my book focuses solely on the Mapuche in Chile.
5. The discourses of mestizaje and multiculturalism are not equivalent. Multiculturalism has replaced mestizaje as the official ideology of nation-building in Chile, as it has
in other countries in Latin America. Multiculturalism is more accepting of plurality and
difference than dominant scripts of mestizaje (which sought to erase indigenous peoples
from the national body politic), but they share a dual quality of being simultaneously
inclusionary and exclusionary. Whereas mestizaje pitted the modern mestizo against
the backward Indian, multiculturalism divides the authorized (moderate) Indian from
his dysfunctional (radical) Other. See Hale, Rethinking Indigenous Politics. I use both
terms here because of the overlaps between them, and because the postcard explicitly
endorses the homogenizing ideal of mestizaje, as I show in the quotation that follows.
6. The postcard was produced by Postales de Chile ( It contained seven photographs in total, five of them by Milet. Unless otherwise noted, all
translations in this book are my own.
7. See Toledo, La mirada de los testigos, in Alvarado, Mege, and Bez, Mapuche:
Fotografas de los siglos XIX y XX, 42.
8. Ancn, El cristal enterrado bajo los pies, in ibid., 8.
9. Coronil, Seeing History.
10. I focus on poetry because this is the best known and most widely commented on
form of Mapuche cultural expression in Chile.
11. For a persuasive analysis of images as instruments of power, see Andermann and
Rowe, Images of Power; and on the potential that words have to transform reality see
Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution.
12. Hunt, New Cultural History, 12.
13. For Latin America, useful works of and on the early 1990s include Alb, El retorno del indio; Stavenhagen, Los derechos de los indgenas; and Van Cott, Indigenous
Peoples and Democracy. Chilean analyses of Mapuche history have proliferated in recent
years. Particularly insightful are those by Jorge Pinto, Andr Menard, and Jorge Pavez
(see bibliography). Menard and Pavez have also made important efforts to compile and
disseminate primary documents relating to Mapuche political organizations and leaders.
14. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 21.
15. Ibid., 235.
16. Ibid., 239.
17. Gendered Compromises by Rosemblatt is a fascinating analysis of health, labor, and
welfare reforms during the Popular Front years; and Salt in the Sand by Frazier explores
the relationship between memory, violence, and state-building in Chile, as seen from the
perspective of the northern frontier region.
18. Park and Richards, Negotiating Neoliberal Multiculturalism.
19. My decision to take this approach was also influenced by Patrick Barr-Melejs excellent work of the early 2000s on Chilean cultural nationalism. By way of literary culture
and public education, he opens our eyes to the role of middle-class reformers (perhaps
Chiles least studied social constituency) during the so-called Parliamentary Republic

Notes to Pages 913 235

(18911925), and encourages us to rethink Chilean nationalism, which had hitherto been
studied mainly in relation to economic and immigration policy. See Barr-Melej, Reforming Chile.
20. I refer to ethnic and racial identities here because intellectuals and political leaders in Chile have used (and often still use) both terms in their public discourses. Ethnicity is often associated with culture, and race with phenotype but, as Marisol de la
Cadena and others have recently demonstrated, racial difference can also be articulated
and understood in cultural terms. See de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos.
21. Hale, Cultural Politics of Identity in Latin America.
22. Kraay, Negotiating Identities, 2.
23. de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos, 3334.
24. Studies I have found particularly helpful include Appelbaum, Muddied Waters;
Appelbaum, Macpherson, and Rosemblatt, Race and Nation; de la Cadena, Indigenous
Mestizos; Gould, To Die in This Way; Grandin, Blood of Guatemala; Larson, Trials of Nation Making; and Mallon, Peasant and Nation.
25. In La Clave, October 11, 1827, cited in Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche.
26. See Earle, Creole Patriotism and the Myth of the Loyal Indian, and Return of
the Native.
27. Lewis, Myth and the History of Chiles Araucanians.
28. As stated in note 5 above, official discourses of mestizaje have been replaced by
multiculturalism, but the integrationist slant remains.
29. On Latin American myths of mestizaje, see M. G. Miller, Rise and Fall of the
Cosmic Race, esp. 126.
30. See the special issue of the Journal of Latin American Anthropology 2, no. 1 (1996).
The quotation is taken from Mallon, Constructing Mestizaje in Latin America, in the
same issue, 171.
31. See de la Cadenas discussion of mestizo identity as a social condition in Indigenous Mestizos. Her study focuses on Cuzco, Peru.
32. I understand intellectual in the wider sense of the term; that is, as a producer of
knowledge and cultural discourse. However, a large number of the protagonists of the
book also fit narrower definitions, as highly acclaimed and widely published writers or
university academics. On scholarly debates about usage of the term intellectual, see N.
Miller, In the Shadow of the State (esp. the introduction and chapter 1); and for an incisive
overview of how different understandings of intellectual relate to indigenous cultural
activists, see Rappaport, Intercultural Utopias. I do not make a distinction between indigenous and nonindigenous intellectuals here, because this book discusses both.
33. Kraay, Negotiating Identities, 10.
34. Bacigalupo, Shamans Pragmatic Gendered Negotiations, 513.
35. To be sure, this is not exclusively a Latin American phenomenon. A large number
of countries across the world have had to deal with conflicting memories of recent civil
war, political violence, and state terrorism. They all feature in the burgeoning field of
memory studies. Neither does the scholarship limit its remit to the recent past; indeed,
the most well known is probably that related to the Jewish Holocaust in Germany.
36. Wilde, Irruptions of Memory, 473.

236 Notes to Pages 1326

37. See, esp., Jelin, State Repression and the Labors of Memory.
38. Stern, Remembering Pinochets Chile, xx.
39. Natzmer, Remembering and Forgetting, 175.
40. Frazier, Salt in the Sand, 50.
41. Rappaport, Politics of Memory, 20.
Chapter 1. Histories of Conquest: The Occupation of Araucana and Its Consequences,
1. Domeyko, Araucana y sus habitantes, 3.
2. Pinto, La ocupacin de la Araucana . . . , 227.
3. Sarmiento, Los salvajes de la Araucana y la dignidad nacional, cited in Leiva, El
primer avance a la Araucana, 22.
4. Mallon, Decoding the Parchments, 4546.
5. Leiva, El primer avance a la Araucana.
6. See Pinto, Crisis econmica y expansin territorial . . .
7. The occupation campaigns therefore occurred during the Liberal Republic (1861
91). Prez was the first Liberal Party president. Federico Errzuriz Zaartu (187176),
Anbal Pinto (187681), Domingo Santa Mara (188186), and Jos Manuel Balmaceda
(188691) followed. The Liberals civilizing and modernizing project overlapped with
(and was surely influenced by) developments elsewhere in Latin America, particularly
Julio Rocas Conquest of the Desert in Argentina and Porfirio Dazs frontier wars against
the Apache and Yaqui peoples in northern Mexico.
8. See, for example, Lewis, Myth and the History of Chiles Araucanians; Earle,
Return of the Native, and Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche.
9. Galdames, Estudio de la historia de Chile, 43840.
10. Encina, Historia de Chile, 258.
11. Gobierno de Chile, Ministerio de Educacin, Programa de historia y geografa,
educacin media (March 1982): 138.
12. It told this story until the early 2000s when the museum exhibition underwent a
major overhaul. See Crow, Narrating the Nation.
13. This approach to the colonization of Araucana coincided with political elites
representations of Chile as the most orderly and stable country in Latin America. See
Collier, Chile: The Making of a Republic, esp. chapter 7.
14. Mallon, Decoding the Parchments, 43. As Mallon notes, this interpretation of
national history was generally shared by conservative and liberal historians, Marxists
and non-Marxists.
15. For an excellent overview of developments in Latin American postcolonial theory
since the early 1990s, see Moraa, Dussel, and Juregui, Coloniality at Large.
16. Mallon provides a useful summary of Chilean historiographys responses to the
military regime in Decoding the Parchments, 4344. See also Grez and Salazar, Manifiesto de historiadores, on the controversies surrounding the incorporation of this period
of history into the official teaching curriculum.
17. Pinto, La ocupacin de la Araucana, 247.
18. For example, several new editions of Moesbachs Vida y costumbres de los indgenas

Notes to Pages 2632 237

araucanos were published by Pehun in the 1990s and 2000s, and are available in bookshops across the country. The informant, Pascual Coa, is now recognized as the author
of the text and the title, which appears in Spanish and Mapuzungun, is Testimonio de un
cacique mapuche.
19. Santa Maras speech was published in El Diario Oficial on June 1, 1883.
20. Sergio Caniuqueo, El siglo XX en Gulumapu, in Marimn et al., Escucha,
winka!, 151.
21. Villalobos, Tres siglos y medio de vida fronteriza, 62.
22. Ibid., 64.
23. Villalobos, Breve historia de Chile, 152.
24. It is also frequently included in school textbooks. See, for example, Mndez Montero et al., Historia, geografa y ciencias sociales, 180.
25. Cited in Navarro, Crnica militar, 92.
26. Ibid., 104.
27. Ibid., 361.
28. The letter was reproduced in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 163.
29. Ibid., 155.
30. Letter dated ca. 1880, reproduced in Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 760.
31. Letter dated January 9, 1861, in ibid., 337.
32. Ibid., 47980.
33. Ibid., 69899.
34. Ibid., 705.
35. Ibid., 170.
36. The correspondence reproduced by Pavez contains many complaints from caciques about delays in payment, and several requests to increase the salary or to add other
family members to the government payroll.
37. Quoted in Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 265.
38. Cited in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 99.
39. Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 446.
40. Navarro, Crnica militar, 246.
41. Ibid., 248, 255, and 251, respectively.
42. Testimony cited in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 74.
43. According to Navarro, the Mapuche who attacked Collipulli and Curaco left at
least eighty people dead, including women and children (see Crnica militar, 322).
44. Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 275. It is the second edition of Coas memoirs (1936, with Moesbach identified as author) that I cite throughout
the book. Coa is often referred to as a Mapuche cacique, or lonko, but actually he was
not a community leader.
45. Cited in Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 296. Imperial, renamed Carrahue
in 1882, is about twenty miles from the contemporary Chilean town of Nueva Imperial.
46. Ibid., 287.
47. Ibid., 297.
48. Ibid., 296.
49. Navarro, Crnica militar, 178.

238 Notes to Pages 3240

50. See Jos Manuel Pintos 1869 report to congress, referenced in Bengoa, Historia
del pueblo mapuche, 213.
51. Cited in Navarro, Crnica militar, 27071.
52. Ibid., 19495.
53. Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 39.
54. Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 287.
55. Cited in Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 223.
56. Espedicin a ielol, El Araucano, Lebu, July 23, 1881.
57. See Navarro, Crnica militar, 346.
58. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 186.
59. Informe de la Comisin de la Verdad Histrica, 1:319.
60. For a broader analysis of this museums shifting representations of the Mapuche
see Crow, Narrating the Nation.
61. Gobierno de Chile, Historia y Ciencias Sociales, 41.
62. Chihuailaf, Mongely mapa i pullu.
63. Ciudad-Temuco in Se ha despertado el ave de mi corazn.
64. Crow, Mapuche Poetry in Post-Dictatorship Chile, 225.
65. Cited in Lara, Crnica de la Araucana.
66. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 89.
67. Cited in Navarro, Crnica militar, 339.
68. Cited in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 69.
69. Navarro, Crnica militar, 251.
70. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 206.
71. Ibid., 23132.
72. Quilapn to the prefect of religious missions, Friar Estanislao M. Leonetti, dated
July 16, 1869, in Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 460.
73. Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 484.
74. Navarro, Crnica militar, 118.
75. Ibid.
76. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 323.
77. Venancio Couepn to Gregorio Urrutia, September 15, 1877, cited in Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 653.
78. See Morales, Poder mapuche y relaciones con el estado.
79. In Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 271.
80. Cited in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 129.
81. In Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 273.
82. Ancn, prologue to Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 17.
83. Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 284.
84. In a letter to central authorities dated August 12, 1882, the governor of ImperialToltn complained that this leaders payment had been delayed, and urged that this be
rectified immediately given the important role being played [by Neculmn] in the
pacification of Araucana. Archivo Regional de la Araucana, Libro registro de comunicaciones enviados por el Gobernador de la zona entre el Imperial y el Toltn (1882).
85. Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 129.

Notes to Pages 4046 239

86. Ibid., 156.

87. Los indios, El Araucano, April 24, 1881.
88. Indios, El Mercurio, March 23, 1881.
89. Navarro, Crnica militar, 325.
90. Significantly, not all lonkos of the nineteenth century knew how to write. A number of the people whom I have cited in this chapter, such as Mangin and Coa, did not.
The first had lenguaraces who both translated and wrote down what he said; the second
told his life story through the Capuchin missionary Moesbach.
91. See Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche; Lewis, Myth and the History of Chiles
Araucanians; Earle, Return of the Native; Boccara and Seguel-Boccara, Polticas indgenas en Chile.
92. Sater, Andean Tragedy, 44.
93. Los indios, El Araucano, April 24, 1881.
94. El cacique Colip, El Mercurio, May 3, 1879.
95. Quin gan las batallas? El Mercurio, February 19, 1881.
96. This quotation from Navarro relates to an incident that took place in 1867. Soldiers had just arrived in Toltn, where there was a meeting between Chilean military
leaders and local caciques. As narrated by the military historian, the colonel in charge
told the caciques that his troops were there to defend them from the troublesome, rebellious Indians. One cacique replied that they were grateful for such considerate offers of
help, but that they were sufficiently strong and valiant to defend their lands themselves.
When the colonel insisted, this leader cried No! No! Go, Colonel, leave with your men,
do not humiliate us any longer by intruding on to our land. According to Navarro, the
soldiers, who were witnesses to everything that was going on could not help but be
moved by these laments, which were expressed with such tenderness and integrity. See
Navarro, Crnica militar, 144.
97. Ibid., 132.
98. Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 18.
99. Cited in Navarro, Crnica militar, 363.
100. According to the new exhibition at the Regional Museum of Araucana in
Temuco, the Agency of Colonization was set up in Europe in 1882 to encourage people
to migrate to southern Chile. It was the Dutch, Italians, and Swiss who most enthusiastically embraced such an opportunity. As related by one Dutch settler, Each family
received a pair of oxen and a cart, an ax, and a rifle to defend themselves from the indigenous people. This particular family was given a plot of land 7 km from Gorbea; it took
them a year (cutting through the vegetation) to reach it.
101. Caniuqueo, El siglo XX en Gulumapu, in Marimn et al., Escucha, winka! 152.
102. Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos, 286.
103. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 238.
104. See Martnez, Comunidades y redes de participacin mapuche.
105. Len Solis, Araucana, 138.
106. Alvarado, Mege, and Bez, Mapuche: Fotografas de los siglos XIX y XX, 113.
107. Bez and Mason, Zoolgicos humanos, 41.

240 Notes to Pages 4753

108. See Edwards and Hart, Photographs, Objects, Histories, for a fascinating discussion about the physical presence and materiality of photographs.
109. Cited in Bez and Mason, Zoolgicos humanos, 40.
110. Ibid.
111. Mason, Lives of Images, 21.
112. Bez and Mason, Zoolgicos humanos, 40.
113. Deniker, Sur les Araucaniens du Jardin dAcclimatation de Paris, 669.
114. Len Solis, Araucana, 165.
115. Martnez, Comunidades y redes de participacin mapuche, 196.
116. Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia de Cautn, 18921975, vol.
12, Oficios Despachados, October 28, 1901.
117. Cited in Pavez, Cartas mapuches, 792.
118. Letter dated June 9, 1896, reproduced in ibid., 8012.
119. Informe de la Comisin de la Verdad Histrica, 1:313.
120. See Serrano, De las escuelas indgenas.
121. Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 61.
122. Cited in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 74.
123. Manquilef, Las tierras de Arauco!, 15.
Chapter 2. Renewed Struggles for Survival: National Festivities and Mapuche Political
Activism, 19101938
1. From this point, the Mapuche lived on land-grant communities known as
2. Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises, 2832.
3. The official process of radicacin lasted from 1883 until 1929.
4. Menard and Pavez, El Congreso Araucano, 224.
5. Luis Orrego Luco, Hechos y notas, Selecta, October 1910, 250.
6. Sucesos 419, September 18, 1910.
7. Boletn del Congreso Nacional, Sesiones estraordinarias, September 17, 1910, xiii.
8. Cien aos despus, El Mercurio, September 18, 1910, 3.
9. El problema de las habitaciones obreras, El Mercurio, September 2, 1910, 3.
10. See El Centenario de los nios pobres, El Peneca, October 2, 1910, 1; and El Ferrocarril of September 18, 1910. The latter ran an advertisement on its second page that
depicted a woman pleading with her husband to give up this habit, because it brings us
nothing but ruin.
11. Gonzales, Imagining Mexico in 1910, 496.
12. Gazmuri, El Chile del centenario, 19.
13. Gazmuris book provides a helpful introduction to the politics of those intellectuals he describes as ensayistas de la crisis, in each case reproducing one of (or an excerpt
from) their key works. The authors of the literature of national decline included Emilio
Rodrguez, Enrique MacIver, Alberto Edwards Vives, Nicols Palacios, Tancredo Pinochet le Brun, Guillermo Subercaseaux, Alejandro Venegas, Francisco Antonio Encina,
Luis Emilio Recabarren, and Agustn Ross Edwards.
14. Skuban, Lines in the Sand, xiv.

Notes to Pages 5359 241

15. There was supposed to be a plebiscite in 1893, to decide whether Arica and Tacna
(territories taken by Chile from Peru during the War of the Pacific) were to be part of
Chile or Peru, but it was constantly postponed. In 1929 the two governments signed the
Treaty of Lima (without holding the plebiscite), which returned Tacna to Peru and kept
Arica as part of Chile.
16. Alegra and Nez, Patrimonio y modernizacin en Chile, 74.
17. Letter dated July 16, 1910, Archivo Regional de la Araucana, Fondo Intendencia
de Cautn, Oficios Despachados.
18. Orrego Luco, Hechos y notas, Selecta, October 1910, 250.
19. Arte en Chile, El Mercurio, September 18, 1910.
20. Dorfman, Who Are the Real Barbarians?
21. Fiestas del centenario, El Mercurio, September 11, 1910, 17.
22. Homenaje de la Colonia Francesa, El Mercurio, September 18, 1910, 21.
23. Sucesos, September 22, 1910, n.p.
24. See, e.g., front page of El Mercurio, September 16, 1910.
25. El centenario en Temuco, La Prensa, September 18, 1910, 2.
26. Correspondence dated September 13, printed on the front page of La Prensa,
September 16 issue.
27. By nontraditional I mean the first organizational body that did not revolve around
the traditional power structures of the rural community.
28. La poca, September 2, 1910, cited in Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 143.
29. Sociedad Caupolicn Defensora de la Araucana, La poca, September 11,
1910, 3.
30. La Sociedad Caupolicn, La poca, September 14, 1910, 23.
31. Las fiestas patrias en Temuco, La poca, September 17, 1910, 1.
32. The writing competition was also part of Temucos centennial celebrations. Manquilef s was the only submission for the category Episodes in Araucanian History related to Independence. The jury found fault with many aspects of it, but decided nonetheless to award it a prize. See La sublevacin de 1881, La poca, September 18, 1910,
33. Earle, Return of the Native, 155.
34. Mor, El Museo Histrico, Zig-Zag, June 27, 1914.
35. Comisin Central del Censo, Poblacin indgena segn el censo de 1907.
36. See, e.g., letter dated March 18, 1914, Archivo Regional de la Araucana, Fondo de
la Intendencia de Cautn, Oficios despachados, vol. 80.
37. See, e.g., Sierra, Un pueblo sin estado, 46.
38. The idea was long-standing, but it received the imprimatur of science only during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. See Graham, introduction to Idea
of Race, 4.
39. Augusta, Lecturas araucanas, vii.
40. Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 5.
41. Augusta, Lecturas araucanas, vi.
42. Ibid., v.

242 Notes to Pages 5967

43. Lenz, Estudios araucanos, ivv.

44. See Diccionario etimolgico de las voces chilenas, published in 1910.
45. Guevara and Manquilef, Historias de familias.
46. Zig-Zag, January 22, 1910.
47. Zig-Zag, January 1, 1910.
48. Monumento raza araucana, La poca, September 18, 1910, 2.
49. Manquilef, Comentarios, 1:12.
50. Ibid., 14.
51. This information is available on the Web site of the Chilean National Congress
52. Manquilef, Comentarios, 1:56.
53. Ibid., 15.
54. Alb, Andean People in the Twentieth Century, 788.
55. La poca, October 26, 1910, cited in Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 143.
56. Pavez, Mapuche i nutram chilkatun, 35.
57. Mallon, La doble columna, 72.
58. Lenz, preface to Manquilef, Comentarios, 1:4.
59. Lenz, El arte de traduccin, 241.
60. Mallon, La doble columna, 64.
61. From the available historical documents, it would seem this was the school of the
(Anglican) Araucanian Mission of Quepe.
62. Manquilef, Comentarios, 1:67.
63. Ibid.
64. Manquilef s testimony in Guevara, Las ltimas familias, 109.
65. The Law of Compulsory Primary Education was finally passed in 1920. Two useful
outlines of education reform in Chile are Labarca, Historia de la enseanza en Chile; and
Jobet, Doctrina y praxis de los educadores representativos chilenos.
66. Ramn Barros Luco (191015) and Juan Luis Sanfuentes (191520).
67. La poca, April 26, 1911, cited in Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 139.
68. Donoso Romo, Educacin y nacin, 126.
69. La poca, July 26, 1910, cited in ibid., 12627.
70. Construccin de la Escuela Industrial y Asilo Fiscal de Indgenas de Temuco,
Archivo Regional de la Araucana, Fondo Intendencia Cautn, 18921975, Oficios Despachados, vol. 62, September 5, 1910.
71. Manquilef, Comentarios, 1:40.
72. Manquilef, Comentarios, 2:176.
73. Ibid. 192.
74. Ibid., 193.
75. Transculturation was coined by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz (Contrapunteo
cubano, 1947) to replace the more reductive concepts of acculturation and deculturation.
76. Arguedas, Pginas escogidas, cited in Sandoval and Boschetto-Sandoval, eds., Introduction to Jos Mara Arguedas, xxiii.
77. Manquilef, Las tierras de Arauco!, 23.
78. Bacigalupo, Shamans Pragmatic Gendered Negotiations, 513.

Notes to Pages 6871 243

79. Manquilef, Las tierras de Arauco!, 8.

80. Ibid., 11.
81. Law 4169 was eventually approved, in August 1927.
82. Quoted in El Diario Austral, September 11, 1926.
83. As Mallon notes in Descolonizando la historia mapuche, 95 percent of Mapuche
people did not know about the law.
84. Cited in Menard and Pavez, El Congreso Araucano, 227.
85. Manquilef, Las tierras de Arauco!, 31.
86. A avanzada edad dej de existir cacique indgena, La poca of Loncoche, May
24, 1952, 1.
87. Menard, Destinos del archivo mapuche, 13; Sociedad Mapuche Proteccin Mutua, El Diario Austral, January 5, 1919, 5.
88. Aburto proudly recounted the important role that these two relatives had been
given in the pacification of Araucana, insisting that they never permitted indigenous
people to act disrespectfully toward the government. See Una entrevista con don Manuel Aburto Panguilef, El Mercurio, January 20, 1923.
89. Manquilef s first school was the Araucanian Mission of Quepe, but after a brief
tenure there he attended a state school in Temuco. On the states indigenous education policy in Araucana during the nineteenth century, see Serrano, De las escuelas
indgenas. On the Araucanian mission of Quepe, see Menard and Pavez, Mapuche y
90. In his manuscripts of 1938, 1940, and 1942, for example, Aburto made repeated
references to not being able to eat due to a lack of money. (Aburtos papers are located in
the Liwen Center for Mapuche Studies and Documentation, Temuco.)
91. Menard and Pavez have reproduced the minutes of some of the congresses in
Documentos de la Federacin Araucana.
92. I am extremely grateful to Pedro Marimn at the (recently relaunched) Liwen
Center for Mapuche Studies and Documentation in Temuco for giving me the opportunity to read Aburtos manuscripts.
93. Menard, Escribir, surcar, delirar, 2.
94. On Aburtos strategic appropriation of La Araucana see Crow, Negotiating Inclusion in the Nation.
95. La matanza de Forrahue, La Voz de Loncoche, August 28, 1912; Horroroso asesinato en Liumalla, La Voz de Loncoche, June 1913.
96. La Voz de Loncoche, September 6, 1916, cited in Donoso Romo, Educacin y
nacin, 118.
97. For a broader perspective on the role of performance in the negotiation of identities, see Fusco, Corpus Delecti; Mendoza, Creating Our Own; and R. Miller, Carriacou
String Band Serenade.
98. La funcin de costumbres indgenas, La Voz de Loncoche, December 6, 1916, 2.
99. Velada teatral indgena, El Diario Austral, December 23, 1916, 4.
100. Quoted in Compaa Araucana de Loncoche, La Voz de Loncoche, January 19,
1917, 2.

244 Notes to Pages 7277

101. Sociedad Mapuche Proteccin Mutua, El Diario Austral, January 5, 1919, 5.

102. Pradenas, Teatro en Chile, 248.
103. Gran reunin de indgenas, La Voz de Loncoche, April 14, 1917, 3.
104. Sociedad Mapuche Proteccin Mutua, op. cit.
105. In Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la Federacin Araucana, 93.
106. Ibid., 94.
107. Ibid., 97.
108. Despite the Law of Compulsory Primary Education, the government only really looked to expand schooling in urban areas. This did not change until Eduardo Frei
Montalvas Christian Democrat government came to power in 1964.
109. Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 50.
110. We know of at least three such occurrences: in 1929 (Santiago), 1930 (Caldera),
and 1935 (Quelln).
111. Aburto, diary entry for December 20, 1938, 320; in Liwen Center for Mapuche
112. Menard and Pavez, El Congreso Araucano, 216.
113. El Diario Austral, December 1, 1921, cited in Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas,
lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 84.
114. At the congress of 1926 Aburto reiterated that these were the rules, as recorded
in the statutes of the Araucanian Federation. See Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la
Federacin Araucana, 72.
115. Ibid., 77.
116. El Diario Austral, December 16, 1924, cited in Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 39.
117. Bengoa, Historia de un conflicto, 204.
118. Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la Federacin Araucana, 89.
119. Ibid., 77.
120. See, e.g., Aburto, diary entry for December 25, 1938, p. 341.
121. In Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la Federacin Araucana, 102.
122. Cited in Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuch
es, 87.
123. El Diario Austral, July 8, 1926, cited in ibid., 4041.
124. In Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la Federacin Araucana, 102.
125. Ibid., 103. On Communist Internationals policy in Latin America, see Ching
and Pakkasvirta, Latin American Materials in the Comintern Archive, and Becker,
Maritegui, the Comintern, and the Indigenous Question in Latin America.
126. Aburto, diary entry for August 9, 1938, pp. 2627.
127. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche, 39596.
128. See Menard, Manuel Aburto Panguilef.
129. Crow, Negotiating Inclusion in the Nation.
130. Las ciencias antropolgicas en el Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Noticiario Mensual, no. 56 (March 1961).
131. Ibid.

Notes to Pages 7784 245

132. I say reemergence because this was the kind of national imaginary that the Chilean state promoted in the early independence years.
133. Chihuailaf, Poesa mapuche actual, 3640.
134. The poetry of Igaymn, Painemal, and Quilaqueo can be found on Web sites
such as and For the quoted poems from
Igaymn and Painemal, see Jaime Valdivieso, Historia y poesa mapuche, November
14, 2003, available at
htm. Quilaqueos work is cited in a Web page on Mapuche poetry:
135. For a helpful overview of state-led industrialization policies in Latin America see
Thorp, Progress, Poverty, and Exclusion.
136. Painemal, Vida de un dirigente mapuche.
137. Ibid., 46.
138. Menard and Pavez, Documentos de la Federacin Araucana, 91.
139. Aburto, diary entry for August 30, 1938, pp. 6768.
140. Aburto, diary entry of August 10, 1938, pp. 3031.
141. Ibid., 3536.
142. For the entire array of organizations and their leaders, see Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches.
143. Estatua de Caupolicn, El Diario Austral, November 26, 1939, 3.
144. Solemne ser inauguracin de monumento a Caupolicn, El Diario Austral,
November 23, 1939, 23.
145. Estatua de Caupolicn, El Diario Austral.
Chapter 3. Caudillos, Poets, and Sopranos: Articulating Mapuche Identities on the
National and International Stage, 19381964
1. For a useful overview, see Baud, Indigenous Politics and the State.
2. Knight, Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo, 82.
3. Cited in ibid., 77.
4. Larran, Identidad chilena, 23233.
5. Crow, Recreating National Icons, and Debates about Ethnicity, Class, and
6. Marc Becker makes a similar point for Ecuador: Politically, indigenismo has not
been as strong a force in Ecuador as in Mexico and Peru, but the intellectual presence
of this ideology has been felt culturally (Clark and Becker, Highland Indians and the
Modern State in Ecuador, 254). The difference between indigenismo in Chile and in Ecuador is that the latter context has been given more attention in existing scholarship on
the subject.
7. Mistral returned to Mexico in the late 1940s, but much less is known about that
8. Juan Dzazpolus Elgueta, Rayn Quitral, La flor de fuego, available at the pera,
Siempre Web site, (accessed April 2010).

246 Notes to Pages 8488

9. See, esp., Mistral, A la mujer mexicana and El tipo de indio americano (1932).
The second is available at
10. Cited in Feinstein, Pablo Neruda, 168.
11. Rochfort, The Sickle, the Serpent, and the Soil, in Vaughan and Lewis, eds., Eagle
and the Virgin, 54.
12. Couepn once said to the Chilean National Congress: The Red Skins found
a Franklin Delano Roosevelt . . . and the Indians of Mexico found a Lzaro Crdenas.
. . . God willing, my fatherland will also bring to power superior men who can ensure the
Indians live and prosper happily in the future (Cmara de Diputados, August 3, 1949,
cited in Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 209).
13. Daz du Pond, Cincuenta aos de pera en Mxico, 121.
14. According to Hugo Mndez, the title of the magazine was eventually changed to
Noticias de Chile. See Pablo Nerudas Mexican Experience, 9.
15. Neruda, Nosotros los indios, 273.
16. En Huichahue se abrir escuela para Indgenas, El Diario Austral, March 16,
17. In March 1940, Alfredo Catrileo, representative of the State Department of Cooperatives, toured the southern regions, informing people about the new law and setting
up Farmers Committees, which were then supposed to organize the local cooperatives.
See Realiza jira dando a conocer Ley de Cooperativas Agrcolas, in El Diario Austral,
March 16, 1940, 7.
18. The actas of the commission were published in El Diario Austral, October 14, 1941,
8. See also Bengoa, Historia de un conflicto, 17475.
19. According to Jean Grugel, the Popular Front was really the first government that
was able to present itself as being nationally representative. See Populism and the Political System in Chile, 174.
20. Para una raza mejor y ms fuerte se ha creado nueva organizacin, El Diario
Austral, November 1, 1939, 11.
21. Barr-Melej, Cowboys and Constructions, 57.
22. Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises, 4041.
23. Sosa, Conciencia y proyecto nacional, 142. See also Drake, who cites the U.S. Department of State view that the Popular Front was a government of the provinces against
the capital (Socialism and Populism in Chile, 231).
24. This museum was created by state decree on March 12, 1940.
25. Lo que deber ser el Museo Araucano, El Diario Austral, February 12, 1940, 6.
26. Schneider, El Museo Araucano, 21.
27. Ibid.
28. Ibid.
29. Betty Kirk, A Meeting on Indians, New York Times, April 14, 1940.
30. Stavenhagen, Indigenous Peoples and the State.
31. Cited in Barr-Melej, Cowboys and Constructions, 54.
32. See Foerster, Clavera, and Vergara, Memorias de la labor de la Direccin de
Asuntos Indgenas de Chile, 5.
33. This term refers to the states efforts, beginning in 1938, to incorporate and

Notes to Pages 9095 247

simultaneously neutralize popular organizations and leftist parties. These were given
a platform from which to speak within the state on the basis that they not push too
far (Aguirre Cerdas government, for example, included the Communist and Socialist
34. Even the briefest glance at El Diario Austral of Temuco during this period indicates a widespread concern about the lack of roads and consequent isolation of rural
35. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 173; Bengoa, Historia de un conflicto, 177.
36. Grugel, Populism and the Political System in Chile, 175.
37. Collier and Sater, History of Chile, 252.
38. El Diario Austral, March 1, 1949, cited in Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas,
lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 201.
39. By this point, the Araucanian Corporation had approximately three hundred regional groups, and in December 1948 organized a mass rally of more than fifteen thousand Mapuche people in Temuco. See Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y
organizaciones mapuches, 2079.
40. Grugel notes that, in voting for Ibez, peasants voted for the first time against
the wishes of the landlords. See Populism and the Political System in Chile, 178.
41. Vergara, Foerster, and Gundermann, Instituciones mediadoras, 73.
42. See Horan, Santa maestra muerta; N. Miller, Recasting the Role of the Intellectual; and Olea, Apuntes para revisar una biografa.
43. On Neruda as national icon, see Ruiz Valenzuela, Neruda en su centenario.
44. See, e.g., Concha, Gabriela Mistral; and Valdivieso, Seores y ovejas negras.
45. Fiol-Matta, Queer Mother for the Nation, 68.
46. Surez, Neruda total, 81.
47. Neruda, Surgen los hombres (The Men Rise Up), Canto general.
48. Neruda, Toqui Caupolicn (War Chief Caupolicn), in Canto general.
49. In the words of Desmond Rochfort, the muralists provided pictorial affirmation
of Indian valor, nobility, suffering, and achievement, which they set against a revived
black legend of Spanish oppression (see The Sickle, The Serpent, and the Soil, 82).
Nerudas poetic, textual narrative complements the muralists pictorial affirmation.
50. Neruda, Lautaro, in Canto general.
51. Wilson, Andes: A Cultural History, 197.
52. Siqueiross own words, cited and translated in Rochfort, The Sickle, the Serpent,
and the Soil, 5051.
53. Pratt, Women, Literature, and National Brotherhood, 66.
54. Neruda, El corazn de Pedro de Valdivia (Pedro de Valdivias Heart), Canto
55. Knight, Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo, 77.
56. For a more detailed analysis of Chihuailaf s translation of Neruda, see James Park,
Poetics and Translation in Todos los Cantos.
57. Chihuailaf, Todos los cantos/Ti kom vl, 12.
58. I consider Mistral after Neruda because Poema de Chile, my main interest here,
was published after Canto general.

248 Notes to Pages 95104

59. Mistral, Msica araucana, La Nacin (Buenos Aires), April 17, 1932, 8689.
60. Dawson, From Models of the Nation to Model Citizens, 284.
61. Pratt, Women, Literature, and National Brotherhood, 67.
62. N. Miller, Recasting the Role of the Intellectual, 140.
63. Fiol-Matta, Race Woman, 516.
64. N. Miller, Recasting the Role of the Intellectual, 14344.
65. Fiol-Matta, Race Woman, 516.
66. Ibid., 498.
67. Marchant discusses mestizaje as a problematic construction in Latin America
because of its reliance on rape. See Marchant, Atpicos, etc. e indios espirituales
(quotation on 34).
68. Antillanca and Loncn, Entre el mito y la realidad, 19495.
69. Chihuailaf, Todos los cantos/Ti kom vl, 12.
70. For further detail on the contradictory, shifting nature of their representations of
the Mapuche see Crow, Recreating National Icons.
71. Apart from her U.S. citizenship and recent death, we know very little about Ruth
Kindley. Some historians, including Pablo Marimn and Jos Bengoa, have spoken to her
about Couepn, but she led a very private life and rarely spoke about herself.
72. Marimn, Couepn en el Parlamento de 1947, 17172. According to Jos Ancn, Couepns family owned four hundred hectares of land. See Ancn, Venancio
Couepn, 209.
73. Haughney, Neoliberal Economics, Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands,
74. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 178.
75. Bengoa, Historia de un conflicto, 184.
76. See ibid.
77. Ibid., 149.
78. El Diario Austral, March 4, 1945.
79. Palacios published his famous book Raza chilena in 1904, but new editions were
printed throughout the twentieth century, and we know from Manquilef s Comentarios
that Mapuche leaders were familiar with it. As narrated by Palacios, the Chilean nation
was grounded in the racial mixing between Spanish of Gothic (northern European)
origin and brave, strong, noble Araucanian warriors. Manquilef quotes from Palacios
on several occasions in order to reassert the glorious history of his warrior ancestors; it
is likely that Couepn had read Comentarios.
80. Again, the terminology is similar to that of Palacios.
81. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, November 25, 1947, 86162.
82. Ibid., 861
83. Ibid., 862.
84. Ibid.
85. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, December 17, 1947, 1189.
86. Ibid.
87. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, November 25, 1947, 862.
88. Ibid.

Notes to Pages 104111 249

89. Ibid., 861.

90. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, December 17, 1947, 1189.
91. Ibid.
92. Couepn, like state authorities in Chile, Mexico, and the United States, referred
to the indigenous problem, but he made it the governments problem too and, indeed,
an issue of national as opposed to simply regional or local consequence.
93. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, December 17, 1947, 1189.
94. Ibid., 1190.
95. Ibid.
96. Ibid., 1192.
97. Ibid., 1193.
98. Ibid., 1195.
99. Marimn, Couepn en el parlamento de 1947, 159.
100. The decree creating DASIN was signed on April 25, 1953.
101. Grugel, Populism and the Political System in Chile, 181.
102. Vergara, Foerster, and Gundermann, Instituciones Mediadoras, 73.
103. Thanks to the efforts of Alejandro Clavera, Jorge Vergara, and Rolf Foerster
these are now available online at the Laboratorio de Desclasificacin Comparada Web
104. See Foerster, Clavera, and Vergara, Memorias de la labor de la Direccin de
Asuntos Indgenas de Chile, 2 (report for 1953).
105. Ibid., 11 (report for 1956).
106. Ibid., 5 (report for 1954).
107. See, e.g., ibid., 6 (report for 1954).
108. Ignacio Palma, speech in the Cmara de Diputados, August 25, 1953, cited in
Vergara, Foerster, and Gundermann, Instituciones mediadoras, 74.
109. Marimn, Couepn en el parlamento de 1947, 157.
110. El concierto popular de Rayn Quitral, El Diario Austral, March 2, 1940, 3.
111. Ibid.
112. Pea Muoz, Los cafs literarios en Chile, 105.
113. Dzazpolus, Rayn Quitral.
114. See Hoy 6, no. 280 (1937), 19.
115. Indian Singer Acclaimed, New York Times, August 1, 1937, 38.
116. Ibid.
117. Pea Muoz, Los cafs literarios en Chile, 105.
118. From the song El copihue chileno.
119. Pea Muoz, Los cafs literarios en Chile, 107.
120. Inter-American Reviews: Chilean Travels, Modern Music 20, no. 4 (1943), 271.
121. Revista Musical Chilena, no. 43 (1950), 116; Modern Music 20, no. 4 (1943), 271.
122. New Statesman 97, no. 2494 (1951), 38.
123. Franck, Rediscovering South America, 218. Dame Nellie Melba (born Helen Porter Mitchell) was an internationally renowned opera singer from Australia.
124. Rosenthal, Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden.
125. Cited in Dzazpolus, Rayn Quitral.

250 Notes to Pages 112120

126. Pea Muoz, Los cafs literarios en Chile, 107.

127. Ibid., 108.
128. Ibid.; and Benavente, Estrellas espectrales, 15.
129. Pea Muoz, Los cafs literarios en Chile, 108.
130. Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises, 182. This was not to say that women always
benefited from the Popular Front reforms. To the contrary, Rosemblatt shows that men
were continually prioritized over women, just as urban sectors were prioritized over
rural. There were, nonetheless, some important openings for women at this time.
131. Letter written in 1954, cited in Horan and Meyer, This America of Ours, 240.
Chapter 4. Revolutionary Transformations and New Representational Challenges,
1. Munizaga, La vida de un araucano, 62.
2. The Agrarian Reform Law of 1967 allowed for the expropriation of estates of more
than eighty basic irrigated hectares (BIH). By 1970, approximately 2025 percent of the
eligible lands had been redistributed to peasants via asentamientos.
3. Chile received more aid per capita from the United States during the 1960s than
other country in South America (Kirkendall, Paulo Freire, Eduardo Frei, Literacy
Training, 690).
4. See Loveman, Struggle in the Countryside; and Correa, Molina, and Yez, La Reforma Agraria.
5. The full speech of December 21, 1970, is available in English in Cockcroft, Salvador
Allende Reader.
6. See Steenland, Agrarian Reform under Allende. By 1973, Allendes UP government
had expropriated almost 100 percent of estates of more than 80 BIH, as well as a number
of smaller farms.
7. See Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood (esp. chapter 4), El siglo XX mapuche, Barbudos, Warriors, and Rotos, and Descolonizando la historia mapuche.
8. Ruiz and Samaniego, El Gobierno de Eduardo Frei Montalva, 4.
9. See Correa, Molina, and Yez, La Reforma Agraria; and Austin, State, Literacy,
and Public Education.
10. Cited in Corvaln, El gobierno de Salvador Allende, 28.
11. Cayuqueo, Tiempo de esperanzas, Azkintuwe, July 28, 2008. Available at www.
12. Other prominent historians of Mapuche society, such as Jos Bengoa, support
Mallons argument. See Historia de un conflicto.
13. Correa, Molina, and Yez, La Reforma Agraria, 208. According to these authors,
129,420 hectares were expropriated by the Agrarian Reform Corporation (CORA) and
68,341 hectares were recuperated as ttulos de merced by the Commission for Restitution
of Usurped Lands.
14. Becker, Indianists and Leftists, 12.
15. Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 250.
16. Ibid., 251. It is no coincidence that Painemals organization hailed Aburto as one
of the most important Mapuche heroes of the past

Notes to Pages 121125 251

17. Declaration of Principles (1953), cited in ibid., 251.

18. Painemal recalled Neruda attending one of the associations meetings in his memoirs. See Foerster, Vida de un dirigente mapuche, 83.
19. Foerster and Montecino, Contiendas, lderes y organizaciones mapuches, 251.
20. Painemal to the governor of Cautn, March 15, 1955, Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Comunicaciones Recibidas, vol. 110, 17375.
21. Foerster, Vida de un dirigente mapuche, 8081.
22. As Christian Martnez has noted, between 1883 and the early 1960s the leadership [of the Mapuche movement] was constituted fundamentally by the lonkos of the
land-grant communities. See Comunidades y redes de participacin mapuche.
23. See Mallon, Descolonizando la historia mapuche, 6, and El siglo XX mapuche,
180. The corridas del cerco were exclusively Mapuche; the tomas de fundo usually involved
Mapuche and non-Mapuche peasants (see Carvajal, A desalambrar, 34).
24. In Carvajal, A desalambrar, 54. One of the leaders of the Peasant Revolutionary
Movement (MCR), Felix Huentelaf, told a similar story: People would raise money to go
to the courts and talk to the judges [responsible for indigenous affairs] . . . theyd return
and say it went well, the judge was receptive [to our demands] and they will probably
give us our lands back in half a year or so. I grew up listening to this, and when you
miristas arrived we still hadnt got our lands back (quoted in ibid., 24).
25. Ibid., 55.
26. Discurso de S. E. el Presidente de la Repblica, in Gobierno de Chile, Subsecretaria de Educacin, Reforma Educacional, 8.
27. Collier and Sater, History of Chile, 312.
28. Lipiante quoted in Austin, Dilogos sobre estado y educacin popular, 140. See also
Austin, State, Literacy, and Public Education, 49.
29. Gobierno de Chile, El programa de ciencias histricas y sociales: Comentarios
y sugerencias, 69.
30. Ibid.
31. Gobierno de Chile, Programa de ciencias histricas y sociales. Enseanza media
(1968), 7880.
32. Gobierno de Chile, Programa de ciencias sociales. Enseanza bsica, 118.
33. Gobierno de Chile, Programa de ciencias histricas y sociales. Enseanza media
(1969), 67.
34. Ibid., 71.
35. Ibid., 75.
36. Ibid., 76.
37. Ibid., 88.
38. The suggested text was El mestizaje y su importancia social, published in Acta
Americana in 1944.
39. Rosenblatt, La poblacin indgena y el mestizaje en Amrica.
40. Ibid., 20.
41. Ibid., 118.
42. Bello, Intelectuales, indgenas y universidad en Chile, 115.
43. See, e.g., Huichan of Temuco, 1964.

252 Notes to Pages 125136

44. See Gong, February 13, 1970.

45. Queupuls biography was provided on the back of Poemas mapuches.
46. Antillanca, Cuminao, and Loncn, Escritos mapuches, 3032 (quotation on p. 30).
47. Carrasco, Sobre un poema mapuche de Sebastin Queupul, El Diario Austral,
July 11, 1971.
48. Antillanca, Cuminao, and Loncn, Escritos mapuches, 3032.
49. Carrasco, Sobre un poema mapuche.
50. Carrasco, Poetas mapuches en la literatura chilena.
51. I met and spoke with Queupul in the National Library, Santiago, on September
8, 2003.
52. Coronado, Andes Imagined, 89.
53. Crdenas and Gonzlez, Conozcamos a nuestros museos, 24.
54. Brousse to Antonio Millape, February 3, 1971, Archivo del Museo Mapuche de
Caete, Oficios Despachados, 1971.
55. Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias, June 28, 1966, 131746.
56. Maillard, Mege, and Palacios, Museos y comunidad, 57, 79.
57. For more detail on past exhibitions in this museum see Crow, Mapuche Museum
of Caete.
58. Marileo, Recuerdos de infancia de un Mapuche de la provincia de Arauco, Boletn del Museo Mapuche de Caete 3 (1987), 912.
59. Fairley, La Nueva Cancin Latinoamericana, 10910.
60. According to her daughter Carmen Luisa Parra (who is quoted in Rodrguez,
Cantores que reflexionan, 16667), Violeta often talked of having a bisabuela india.
61. Morris, Canto porque es necesario cantar, 118.
62. Ibid., 119.
63. Fairley, La Nueva Cancin Latinoamericana, 109.
64. See Torres, Cantar la diferencia, for a detailed, well-informed analysis of Parras
musical innovations. For more on the indigenous influences apparent in the two songs
analyzed in this chapter, see Gonzlez Rodrguez, Estilo y funcin social, 1025.
65. Parra, El libro mayor, 15.
66. Cnepa, Violeta Parra and Los Jaivas.
67. Show bloat, The Guardian (London), May 30, 1975.
68. Ibid.
69. Taffet, My guitar is not for the rich, 93.
70. Cited in Parra, El libro mayor, 126.
71. Vctor Jara Foundation, Presentacin, in V. Jara, Canto libre/Lliz ulkantun, 7.
72. J. Jara, Victor, 91.
73. V. Jara, Canto libre/Lliz ulkantun.
74. Chihuailaf, Canto que ha sido valiente, in ibid., 10.
75. J. Jara, Victor, 193.
76. Ibid.
77. Ibid., 194.
78. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 168.

Notes to Pages 137140 253

79. Aproximacin a una definicin de Arte Mapuche Contemporneo,, posted on July 30, 2009.
80. For example, Francisco Tureupil Huentelec was one of the leading figures of
Temucos Crculo de las Fuerzas Armadas; Pedro Miliman Antilef was director of the
state secondary school in Pumalal, Pitrufqun; Samuel Quilaqueo Paillamil was president of the parents association for the state school in Molonhue; and Nepomuceno
Paillalef was the regional director (for Cautn) of the Institute of Agrarian and Livestock
Development (INDAP).
81. Mapuche campesinos constituted more than 90 percent of the delegates in Lautaro.
See Steenland, Agrarian Reform under Allende, 149.
82. See ibid., 204; Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 111; and Mallon, Barbudos,
Warriors, and Rotos. These radical groups supported but were not part of the UP
83. Letter dated March 10, 1971, Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia
de Cautn, Oficios Recibidos, 19701976, vol. 329.
84. A copy of the letter is stored in the same file cited in n. 83, but it is undated. We
can assume it is from 1971, as it comes between other letters dated 1971.
85. Letter dated January 7, 1971, in ibid.
86. Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia de Cautn, Oficios Recibidos, 19681970, vol. 272.
87. Letter dated December 30, 1970, in ibid.
88. Letter dated December 16, 1970, in ibid.
89. Convocatoria al Segundo Congreso Nacional Mapuche, November 5, 1970, in
90. For example, Lipschutz attended the Foro Indigenista organized by the Universidad de Chile, the Instituto Indigenista de Chile, and the Araucanian Corporation in
June 1959, and presented a paper entitled La comunidad y el problema indgena en
Chile. According to Lipschutz himself, more than 150 Mapuche caciques participated
in the meeting.
91. Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz, 188.
92. See La muerte de una bruja, based on Lipschutzs report about the murder of
Antonia Millalef, who was accused of witchcraft, in El perfil de indoamrica, 28896.
93. Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz, 190.
94. Crow, Debates about Ethnicity, Class, and Nation, 32527.
95. Lipschutz, unpublished ms. of 1972, cited in Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz,
96. Ibid., 13536.
97. Lipschutz, Marx y Lenin en Amrica Latina, 124.
98. Ibid., 133, 138.
99. On February 13, 1969, Lipschutz coauthored an article with Gregorio Rodrguez
and Luis Sandoval in El Mercurio entitled Cambios culturales en la vida social de los
mapuches. This was a direct response to an earlier piece in the same newspaper: Cultura indgena desaparecer antes de 10 aos en Chile (February 5, 1969).
100. Lipschutz, Marx y Lenin en Amrica Latina, 125.

254 Notes to Pages 140146

101. Ibid., 128.

102. See Lipschutz, Rodrguez, and Sandoval, Cambios culturales; and Marx y Lenin
en Amrica Latina, 12829.
103. Lipschutz, Rodrguez, and Sandoval, Cambios culturales.
104. Soto, Neruda y Lipschutz.
105. Neruda, Nosotros los indios.
106. Allende was invited to the scholars home to celebrate his ninetieth birthday in
1973. See Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz, 63.
107. Mensaje de su Excelencia, el Presidente de la Repblica. Cmara de Diputados,
Sesiones extraordinarias, May 19, 1971, 2783.
108. Ibid.
109. Moesbach, Vida y costumbres de los indgenas araucanos.
110. Quinchavil, quoted in Carvajal, A desalambrar, 38.
111. Landau managed to get the interview because he knew people on Allendes staff,
and because his leftist sympathies were already well known due to a previous documentary film FIDEL, which was screened in Via del Mar in 1969. As summarized by
Landau, I think he figured I would not screw him (Landau to Crow, April 2011).
112. Interview of January 31, 1971, accessible at
113. Art. 70 of Indigenous Law 17.729, promulgated on September 15, 1972.
114. Berglund, National Integration of the Mapuche; Austin, State, Literacy and Popular Education.
115. Austin, State, Literacy, and Popular Education, 170.
116. Ibid.
117. Lipschutz, unpublished ms. of 1972, reproduced in Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz, 136.
118. Art. 1.3 of Indigenous Law 17.729.
119. Crow, Debates about Ethnicity, Class, and Nation, 32930.
120. Mallon, Descolonizando la historia mapuche, 78.
121. Reproduced in Cockcroft, Salvador Allende Reader, 6672.
122. Mapuche communities do not constitute a communal economic venture; rather,
the cultivation and ownership of the land is individual and family based. . . . This reality
is of the utmost importancethe production itself, economic decisions, and the use of
the produce revolve around the family. See Mensaje de su Excelencia, 278688.
123. Ibid., 2789. Allende was seemingly responding to a report by anthropologist
Bernardo Berdichewsky, which stated that it was necessary to fight against the pettybourgeois, minifundista spirit of the Mapuche in order to avoid the atomization of
landownership. See Berdichewsky, Antropologa aplicada e indigenismo, 88.
124. Aylwin (2001), cited in Richards, Pobladoras, Indgenas, and the State, 128.
125. See, e.g., La comunidad y el problema indgena en Chile, in Lipschutz, El perfil
de Indoamrica, 124.
126. This ties in with what Mallon says of the MIRs civilizing project in Barbudos,
Warriors, and Rotos, 11.
127. Quoted in Carvajal, A desalambrar, 65.

Notes to Pages 147153 255

128. En marcha el Instituto de Desarrollo Indgena, La Nacin, September 15,

1972, 6.
129. Mensaje de su Excelencia.
130. See, e.g., Juan de Onis, New Chilean Political and Economic Policies Generate
Conflict, New York Times, January 18, 1971, 3; and Lewis Duguid, Indians Take Over
Farms in Chile, The Guardian (London), February 3, 1971, 3.
131. Morris, Canto porque es necesario cantar, 123.
132. Berdichewsky, Alejandro Lipschutz, 64.
Chapter 5. The Pinochet Dictatorship: Conflicting Histories and Memories, 19731990
1. Dorfman, Heading South, Looking North, 8.
2. Junta de Gobierno de las Fuerzas Armadas y Carabineros de Chile, Bando No. 5,
September 11, 1973. Available at
3. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 145.
4. Informe de la Comisin Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliacin, 1:384.
5. Ibid., 385.
6. The Informe de la Comisin Verdad Histrica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos Indgenas lists the names of all 136 victims in vol. 1, p. 374.
7. See Correspondence in Anthropology News 15, no. 4 (April 1974), 67.
8. In chapter 4 (When the Hearths Went Out) of Courage Tastes of Blood, Mallon
describes 197390 as years of repression, physical punishment, hunger, and terror for
the community of Nicols Ailo; Hale and Millamn speak of a specific policy toward
the Mapuche and an onslaught of cultural-political aggression (Cultural Agency and
Political Struggle, 287); Ray asserts that September 11, 1973 marked the return of the
stamping boot for the Mapuche after the temporary improvements . . . of Allendes
popular government (Language of the Land, 124). See also Sierra, Un pueblo sin estado,
222; Bengoa, Historia de un conflicto, 243; and Richards, Pobladoras, Indgenas, and the
State, 128.
9. Minister of agriculture, quoted in El Diario Austral, August 23, 1978.
10. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 185.
11. Hale and Millamn, Cultural Agency and Political Struggle, 287.
12. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 174; Richards, Pobladoras, Indgenas, and the
State, 128; Haughney, Neoliberal Economics, Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands, 58; Stern, Battling for Hearts and Minds, 216.
13. This story appears in the detail of some previous scholarship. Stern, for example,
refers to Oscar Manquilef, an indigenous mayor of Nueva Imperial who was a firm supporter of Pinochet during the plebiscite of 1988 (see Battling for Hearts and Minds, 351,
358). Bacigalupo quotes from several machi who praised what they saw as Pinochets
strong leadership qualities (see Shamans of the Foye Tree). And Mallons Courage Tastes
of Blood tells of the political rivalries in the community of Nicols Ailo during the Pinochet years. This detail, however, is rarely brought to the forefront of the analysis.
14. See, e.g., Kunstman Torres and Torres vila, eds., Cien voces rompen el silencio;

256 Notes to Pages 153157

Martin and Moroder, Londres 38, Londres 2000; and Comit Memoria MAPU, Ausentes
15. Jelin, Los trabajos de la memoria, 7.
16. As Collier and Sater noted, Pinochet broke the record for length of tenure among
Chilean rulers. See History of Chile, 359.
17. For more on corporatism in Chile see Drake Corporatism and Functionalism
in Modern Chilean Politics. In the context of Latin American military regimes more
generally, see Philip, Military Institution Revisited, and Wiarda, Corporatism and Comparative Politics.
18. Drake, Corporatism and Functionalism in Modern Chilean Politics, 116.
19. Cited in Spooner, Soldiers in a Narrow Land, 163.
20. See, e.g., CODEPU, Una experiencia privada de investigacin, 126.
21. Ibid., 129.
22. One man of the Asentamiento Fundo San Pedro recalled being herded together
with other workers, as well as their families, into a cellar of that estate, which was transformed into a torture center. Another victim recalled being taken to Lake Lleu Lleu with
seventy other people from his community; they were repeatedly submerged in the lake
while their families were forced to watch (ibid., 12324).
23. For brief but useful overviews of the militarys counter-agrarian reform see Brass,
Latin American Peasants, 190; and Collier and Sater, History of Chile, 36667. For more
extensive analysis, particularly from the perspective of Mapuche communities, see Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, chapter 5; and Correa, Molina, and Yez, La Reforma
Agraria, chapter 3, 24392.
24. Collier and Sater, History of Chile, 36667.
25. On Decree-Law 701 of 1974, see Haughney, Neoliberal Economics, Democratic
Transition, and Mapuche Demands, 5758.
26. Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 125.
27. On June 12, 1974, the director of the IDI, Hctor Vera Granizo, wrote to the intendant of Cautn, explaining why it was too difficult to divide indigenous lands. This
was in response to a request received from members of the Dumulef Curivil community.
On July 17, he wrote to Antonio Lefipan, Ramn Huichatuero, and Arturo Antilaf of the
community of Nolberto Lefipan, saying that he lamented having to deny them permission to divide their lands, but that it was still against the law (Archivo Regional de la
Araucana, fondo Oficios Recibidos, 1974).
28. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 89; and La doble columna, 74. In many cases,
as Mallon herself comments, this is not what actually happened with Manquilef s law; at
least, it did not involve the restitution of any significant amount of land.
29. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 190.
30. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 183; see also Courage Tastes of Blood, 176.
31. Letter dated September 14, 1973, Archivo Regional de la Araucana, Intendencia
de Cautn, fondo Oficios Recibidos, 1973.
32. Letter dated September 24, 1973, ibid.
33. Letter dated September 20, 1973, ibid.

Notes to Pages 157164 257

34. Caniuqueo, El siglo XX en Gulumapu, 172.

35. Letter sent September 14, 1973, cited in Caniuqueo, El siglo XX en Gulumapu,
36. Ibid.
37. All these letters can be found in the Archivo Regional de la Araucana.
38. Hale and Millamn, Cultural Agency and Political Struggle, 287
39. Trasciende fronteras: III Festival Mapuche, El Diario Austral, January 15, 1979, 7.
40. La visita del Presidente a Villarrica y Loncoche, El Diario Austral, March 23,
1979, 6.
41. Ochenta guerreros mapuches en el desfile de hoy, El Diario Austral, September
18, 1980, 5.
42. This spectacle never materialized. The following day El Diario Austral reported
the disappointing news that the group was not able to participate because they were not
sufficiently prepared.
43. Mapuche resistance against Spanish colonial rule was central to official imaginings of a Chilean raza militar. According to Jorge Ochoa, school texts under the military
regime portrayed the Mapuche as the first inhabitants of the geographic region that
would be called Chile and presented them as strong warriors, whose bravery would be
inherited by the future inhabitants of the country. See La sociedad vista desde los textos
escolares, 79.
44. Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 110.
45. Ibid., 115.
46. Ibid.
47. Mallon, conversation with Reuque, in ibid., 112.
48. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 175.
49. Ibid., 11213.
50. CODEPU, Una experiencia privada de investigacin, 126.
51. Les dieron alcohol a los mapuches, Las ltimas Noticias, April 7, 1984, 29.
52. Hale and Millamn, Cultural Agency and Political Struggle, 287.
53. As Collier and Sater have asserted with political parties banned, with the law
courts shamefully acquiescent, with society-wide surveillance, the only institution able
to retain a more or less independent profile was the Catholic Church (History of Chile,
54. Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 109.
55. Santos Millao, for example, was arrested and badly beaten several times.
56. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 174; Stern, Battling for Hearts and Minds, 217.
57. Lincoir, Domingo Colicoy, Director Regional de Orgenes, 21.
58. Cited in Carrasco, Iturralde, and Urquillas, Doce experiencias de desarrollo, 134.
59. Cited in Pradenas, Teatro en Chile, 440.
60. Aguirre explained that this was how the play Lautaro! came into being in her
prologue to the published version.
61. See Lautaro! de Isidora Aguirre se presenta este fin de mes, El Sur, September
19, 1982, 22.

258 Notes to Pages 164171

62. Revista de Educacin 97 (1982).

63. Aguirre, Lautaro!, 106.
64. Aguirre, prologue to Lautaro!, 7.
65. Quoted in Pottlitzer, Game of Expression under Pinochet, 8.
66. Lautaro! de Isidora Aguirre se presenta este fin de mes, 22.
67. See Abel Carrizo: Lautaro no es leccin de historia, El Mercurio (Valparaso),
May 20, 1982, 21.
68. See Ana Mara Josefina, A tablero vuelto se da Lautaro! en Via, Las ltimas
Noticias, May 23, 1982, C11.
69. Hoy se estrena en Santiago Lautaro! de Isidora Aguirre, El Sur, April 7, 1982, 22;
Cantos mapuches despidieron a la autora de obra Lautaro, La Nacin, May 1982, B11.
70. Josefina, A tablero vuelto.
71. Ibid.
72. On December 11, 2006 (the day after Pinochet died) the organization Reporters without Borders paid homage to sixty-eight media workers who were disappeared
or murdered during the dictatorship. See,20085.html.
73. CODEPU, Una experiencia privada de investigacin, 136.
74. En Pillanlelbn: 61 detenidos en reunin ilcita, reproduced in ibid., 137.
75. Reunin con indgenas sostendr el ministro en biblioteca municipal, September 8, 1978, 3; Abierto dilogo con dirigentes mapuches, September 9, 1978, 3; Mapuches tienen un concepto claro respecto a nuevo ley, October 8, 1978, 11; Hubo dilogo
directo del gobierno-mapuches, March 24, 1979; Mapuches plantean sus problemas al
presidente, August 10, 1982; all in El Diario Austral.
76. See, e.g., Las comunidades apoyan nueva ley indgena, September 2, 1978; and
Amplio apoyo a nueva ley indgena, October 5, 1978.
77. In Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 122.
78. He published Pequeos poemas de amor in 1979 and Mi mundo nio in 1982.
79. Emilio Antilef: El prodigio araucano, El Diario Austral, March 3, 1981, 4.
80. Emilio Antilef: Un poeta de 9 aos, El Diario Austral, January 31, 1982, 5.
81. Indgenas desean conocer modificaciones de su ley, January 29, 1979. See also
Integrantes de 20 comunidades mapuches se renen el viernes, January 24, 1979. Both
in El Diario Austral.
82. Orientacin y recursos han faltado al mapuche, January 30, 1979. El Diario Austral also reported on the communities that refused to divide their lands: Mapuches no
quieren dividir sus tierras, July 21, 1981; and Mapuches de Pelehue no dividirn sus
tierras, July 23, 1981.
83. Junta del Gobierno Militar, Recopilacin de decretos leyes, vol. 75, June 13October
26, 1979.
84. The plebiscite called for the approval of a new constitution.
85. Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 120.
86. Ibid.
87. Ibid., 12021.
88. Ibid., 120.

Notes to Pages 172177 259

89. Mallon, conversation with Reuque Paillalef, in When a Flower Is Reborn, 122.
90. 50 mapuches acudieron a cita de Selva Oscura, El Diario Austral, March 21, 1979.
91. Pilar Vergara, Entrevista a Pinochet, El Mercurio, June 1, 1980, D1.
92. See, e.g., Ochoa, La sociedad vista desde los textos escolares.
93. Austin, State, Literacy, and Popular Education, 25253; Berglund, National Integration of the Mapuche, 84; Kellner, Mapuche during the Pinochet Dictatorship,
18894; Rupailaf, Las organizaciones mapuches, 73; Ochoa, La sociedad vista desde los
textos escolares, 79.
94. See interviews with Lienlaf in La poca, September 2, 1990, and El Metropolitano,
July 8, 1999.
95. Marhiqueu, Outlawed Society, 30.
96. Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia Cautn, Oficios Recibidos,
97. Primer Encuentro Regional de Profesores Mapuches, November 2628, 1975,
Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia de Cautn, Oficios Recibidos, vol.
98. Consuelo Valds Chadwick, Repuesta a una solicitud, July 1976 (found in the
archive of the Regional Museum of Araucana in Temuco, Fondo Intendencia Cautn,
Oficios Recibidos, 1976).
99. Readecuan programas educativos para Aymaras y Mapuches, Revista de Educacin 69 (1978): 6667.
100. Duran Serrano, Los Araucanos.
101. Sotomayor and Prez, Cmo percibe el mapuche al escuela?
102. Seplveda Gastn, Rodrguez, and Varas, Programa de Educacin Rural Mapuche.
103. Ibid., 16.
104. Ibid., 19.
105. Caniuqueo, Siglo XX en Gulumapu, 2045.
106. Junta del Gobierno, Declaracin de principios del Gobierno de Chile, 36.
107. The ministers remarks were first quoted in El Diario Austral, August 23, 1978, 3.
108. Gobierno de Chile, Programa de historia y geografa. Educacin bsica, 100.
109. Gobierno de Chile, Programa de historia y geografa. Educacin media, 136.
110. See correspondence in Archivo Regional de la Araucana, fondo Intendencia de
Cautn, Oficios Recibidos, 1974.
111. On one initiative involving Mapuche silversmiths in Temuco, see El Diario Austral, June 28, 1977, 2.
112. See Junta del Gobierno Militar, Repblica de Chile 1974.
113. In El Diario Austral, March 23, 1979.
114. Poltica Educacional Mapuche, Pelom 4, March 1977, 11. The director of the
magazine, which was published in Traigun, was Sergio Liempi Marin.
115. Conclusiones del Congreso Nacional Mapuche, Pelom 4, March 1977, 14.
116. Profesionales mapuches invitados por el presidente, Pelom 10, 1981.
117. Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn; Haughney, Neoliberal Economics,
Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands.
118. Gonzlez and Lpez, El pueblo mapuche, 3541.

260 Notes to Pages 178183

119. Menard, Destinos del archivo mapuche, 45.

120. Gonzlez and Lpez, El pueblo mapuche, 41.
121. Pratt, Overwriting Pinochet, 154.
122. Chihuailaf, Recado confidencial.
123. Editorial, Poesa Diaria 11 (1990).
124. Aniir, Al chancho, in Mapurbe: Venganza a raz, 901.
125. Stern, Battling for Hearts and Minds, 217. On the politicization of Ad-Mapu see
also Reuque Paillalef, When a Flower Is Reborn, 14349.
Chapter 6. Claiming Historical Truth in the Era of Neoliberal Multiculturalism,
1. Art. 1 of Supreme Decree No. 355, April 25, 1990.
2. Constable and Valenzuela, Nation of Enemies.
3. Jos Zalaquett, quoted in Grandin and Klubock, Truth Commissions, 3.
4. The Rettig Commission listed approximately 3,000 victims. The Valech Report of
2003 (officially the report of the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and
Torture) stated that at least 29,000 Chileans were tortured by agents of the military dictatorship. In August 2011 another 10,000 victims were added to that list.
5. Wilde, Irruptions of Memory, note on 48283.
6. Ibid.
7. Toledo Llancaqueo, La memoria de las tierras antiguas, 69.
8. The two-page document is available at
doc_details/21-acuerdo-de-nueva-imperial-1989.html. For an analysis of the agreement
from a Mapuche perspective, see chapter 6 of Isolde Reuque Paillalef s testimony When
a Flower Is Reborn, esp. 18292.
9. Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood, 186.
10. The All-Lands Council condemned the Nueva Imperial Agreement as yet another
attempt by political parties to co-opt the Mapuche (ibid., 18081).
11. Ibid. See also Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 18687; and Haughney, Neoliberal
Economics, Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands, 7175.
12. Four governments comprised this period: Patricio Aylwin (Christian Democrat,
199094), Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (Christian Democrat, 19942000), Ricardo Lagos
(Socialist, 20002006), and Michelle Bachelet (Socialist, 200610).
13. There is a rich scholarship on the link between democratization and the recognition of indigenous rights in Latin America. For contrasting approaches see Brysk,
From Tribal Village to Global Village; Van Cott, Indigenous Peoples and Democracy, and
Friendly Liquidation of the Past; and Yashar, Contesting Citizenship in Latin America.
14. The history of Indigenous Law 19.253, including reports from CEPI, debates in
Congress, and the final document, can be found on the Web site of the Library of the
National Congress (
15. The Programa de Educacin Intercultural Bilinge (EIB) was not officially
launched until March 1996, but certain elements were incorporated into teaching practice from the early 1990s, and it was underlined as one of the priorities of the new indigenous law in 1993.

Notes to Pages 184188 261

16. Vicua, introduction to l: Four Mapuche Poets, 17.

17. It was published by Universitaria in Santiago.
18. He shared the prize with Armando Uribe.
19. According to Jaime Huenn there are at least twenty writers with individual publications, and approximately sixty more with unpublished works in progress. See Gngora
and Picn, Poesa Mapuche.
20. Chihuailaf, An deseo soar en este valle, in Sueos azules y contrasueos, 4043.
21. Rodrguez and Carruthers, Testing Democracys Promise, 3. On forestry companies see Haughney, Neoliberal Policies, Logging Companies, and Mapuche Struggle
for Autonomy.
22. See Haughney, Neoliberal economics, Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands, 99155.
23. Ibid., 122.
24. Willem Assies, prologue to Aylwin and Yez, El gobierno de Lagos, 21.
25. Paley shows how the Concertacin expressly sought to limit the possibilities for
dissent in Chile, not just for indigenous activists but for social movements in general.
Organizations receiving state funding, for example, or organizers employed in government were expected to maintain a climate of consensus.
26. See Namuncura, Ralco represa o pobreza? and Mella Seguel, Los mapuche ante
la justicia.
27. Hale, Rethinking Indigenous Politics.
28. Ibid.
29. Park and Richards, Negotiating Neoliberal Multiculturalism.
30. Lagos, Discurso de se Excelencia el Presidente de la Repblica con motivo de la
constitucin de la Comisin Verdad y Poltica del Nuevo Trato entre el Estado, Sociedad
y Mundo Indgena en Chile. This was included as an appendix to vol. 1 of Informe de la
Comisin Verdad Histrica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos Indgenas (hereafter CVHNT).
31. The 126 documents are listed in Informe de la CVHNT, 1:60512.
32. Lagos, Discurso de su Excelencia, in ibid., 1:575.
33. Lagos, Discurso de su Excelencia, 1:576.
34. According to Jos Aylwin, Huilcamn and Raimn signed the final report, despite not having participated in its elaboration, but Millabur never endorsed it. (See
La Poltica del Nuevo Trato, in Aylwin and Yez, El gobierno de Lagos.) According
to Ral Rupailaf, who worked as a technical adviser to the commission, they all initially
agreed to contribute, but on arriving in Santiago for the inaugural ceremony had second
thoughts. The documents produced by the CVHNT show that Raimn ended up taking
part in many of COTAMs sessions, although always with a highly critical perspective.
Huilcamn did not participate in the working-group sessions but did hold discussions
with the executive. Millabur did not take any part in the proceedings. (Personal interview with Rupailaf, July 7, 2010.)
35. See Eduardo Moraga, Visiones del acuerdo sobre pueblos indgenas, El Mercurio, November 10, 2003.
36. Ibid.

262 Notes to Pages 189193

37. Lagos, Discurso de su Excelencia, 576.

38. See Alfredo Seguel, Crnicas de desencuentros, in Aylwin and Yez, El gobierno de Lagos, 130; and Moraga, Visiones del acuerdo.
39. Informe final de la Comisin de Trabajo Autnoma Mapuche (COTAM), in
Informe de la CVHNT, vol. 3.
40. Ibid., 3:569.
41. Millabur criticized the CVHNTs failure to represent the bases and Toledo Llancaqueo claimed that it gave no voice to the victims, but the COTAM report quoted
extensively from the statements of hundreds of Mapuche people, from all different parts
of Chile and Argentina, within and outside of the Mapuche political movement, including activists who had been held in prison on charges of terrorism.
42. Informe final de la COTAM, 570.
43. For example, the report talks about the variety of foreign churches that Mapuche
people have joined since the arrival of Catholic and Protestant missions. On the subject
of customary law, it outlines the different proposals for Mapuche autonomy that have
emerged since the transition to democracy. It also reveals the conflicting views on the
sacrifice of Jos Painecur (a young child) following the earthquake in 1960.
44. Lemn was shot in the head during a confrontation with police on November 7,
2002. He died in hospital five days later.
45. Informe final del Grupo de Trabajo Indgenas Urbanos, in Informe de la
CVHNT, 3:517.
46. Ibid., 3:521.
47. Ibid., 3:517.
48. Ibid., 3:522.
49. Ibid., 3:517.
50. Ibid., 3:518.
51. Comisin de Verdad Histrica, El Diario Austral, October 29, 2003, B3.
52. La larga historia de los pueblos indgenas de Chile, in Informe de la CVHNT,
53. Ibid., 1:326.
54. It provided detailed information on the ttulos de merced granted by the state during the radicacin process, but often usurped by private interests in the aftermath. It also
corroborated the violent atrocities suffered by Mapuche people: the massacres, the marking of skin, the expulsion of whole communities from their homes (see ibid., 1:35455).
55. Editorial in Azkintuwe, no. 2 (December 2003), 2. The newspaper is available at
newsstands in Santiago, Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno, Buenos Aires, and other cities. It is
also accessible on line at
56. Cited in Moraga, Visiones del acuerdo.
57. Propuestas y recomendaciones, in Informe de la CVHNT, 1:477523.
58. In Moraga, Visiones del acuerdo.
59. Editorial in Azkintuwe, no. 2 (2003), 2.
60. W. Painemal, Los cdigos del neoindigenismo del estado, Azkintuwe, no. 2
(2003), 22.

Notes to Pages 193201 263

61. Millabur belongs to Lafkenche Territorial Identity, and Cayuqueo and Painemal
to the Mapuche Nationalist Party Wallmapuwen.
62. Informe final del Grupo de Trabajo Indgenas Urbanos, 3:531.
63. Ibid., 3:1219.
64. He also avoided circulating the report. It was available on the Internet but there
was no mass-produced print copy. In 2008 Bachelets government remedied this by
sponsoring Pehuns publication of the first volume. The other three volumes were provided on a compact disk which came included. There were two more print runs in March
and September 2009. Bachelet pushed for copies to be made available in mainstream
bookstores and provided to all state schools in the country.
65. Seguel, Crnicas de desencuentros, 131.
66. Toledo Llancaqueo, La memoria de las tierras antiguas, 75.
67. Comisin de Verdad Histrica, op. cit.
68. Cited in Moraga, Visiones del acuerdo.
69. Presos polticos movilizados, Azkintuwe, no. 2, (2003), 3.
70. A un ao de su asesinato por carabineros, Alex Lemn, presente! in ibid., 24.
71. Coordinadora de Hogares Mapuches: Temuko Resiste, in ibid., 57.
72. The elders had traveled to Santiago to meet with Lagos.
73. Cayuqueo, La fuerza de Lafkenmapu, in ibid., 18.
74. See Los periodistas y colaboradores del peridico mapuche Azkintuwe evalan
sus seis aos de trabajo, posted on on September 26, 2009 (last accessed August 4, 2011).
75. Ibid. Today it claims 50,000 monthly visitors.
76. Yekintun, on indigenous cinema and media from across Latin America; and Zapilkan, on Mapuche academic, literary, and oral storytelling.
77. Interview with Painemal published on on March 9, 2010.
78. Huenn, Presentacin, in 20 poetas mapuche contemporneos, 7.
79. In his biography, printed on the inside cover of his subsequent collection,
Mapurbe, Aniir expressly referred to himself as a cultural activist rather than a writer
or poet, and emphasized all his other (music, video) projects. Jos Ancn also alludes
to the poets dilemmas in his prologue to Aniirs book. See Algunas impresiones, in
Mapurbe, 18.
80. Barros Cruz, La(s) identidad(es) mapuche(s), 34.
81. Ancn, Algunas impresiones, 1011. In the case of Poblacin Intendente Saavedra
in Cerro Navia, where Aniir still lives today, the land was first invaded in 1967.
82. Quoted in Ana Muga, Mapurbe, Azkintuwe, no. 14 (2003), 16.
83. See the acknowledgments in 20 poetas mapuche contemporneos.
84. Marimn has been a member of Ad-Mapu, We Kintun, and the Coordinacin de
Organizaciones e Identidades y Territoriales Mapuche. Caniuqueo has participated in
the last two organizations also.
85. Introduction to Marimn et al., Escucha, winka!, 11.
86. Ibid., 13.
87. Nota de Advertencia, in Marimn et al., Escucha, winka!, 10.

264 Notes to Pages 201206

88. Millaln, La sociedad mapuche prehispnica, in ibid., 19.

89. Marimn, Los mapuche antes de la conquista militar, in ibid., 53.
90. Ibid., 116, 121, 125.
91. Caniuqueo, Siglo XX en Gulumapu, 129 and 172, respectively.
92. Levil, Sociedad mapuche contempornea, in Marimn et al., Escucha, Winka!,
93. Book review in Revista de Historia Social y de las Mentalidades 11, no. 1 (2007): 169.
94. Marimn, Los mapuche antes de la conquista militar, 54.
95. Epilogue to Marimn et al., Escucha, winka!, 255.
96. Ibid., 259.
97. Ibid., 264.
98. Mallon, El siglo XX mapuche, 190.
99. Epilogue to Marimn et al., Escucha, winka!, 267.
100. Ediciones LOM.
101. As series editor, it was Pinto who first commissioned the book for LOM.
102. The area today named Osorno was part of Mapuche territory preSpanish conquest, but not part of the territory recognized as autonomous by the Spanish colonial
authorities or by Chilean authorities in the early independence years.
103. The poem is titled Volver (I Will Return).
104. Eduardo Robledo, Oratorio al seor de Pucatrihue, El Siglo, September 3,
2004, 17.
105. Huenn, La obra de Csar Millahueique, Pluma y Pincel, no. 185 (June
2005): 52.
106. Mi poesa es poltica: Entrevista a Csar Millahueique, by Jos Osorio, posted
on, March 4, 2007.
107. Lienlaf is the voice of these films; it is his poetry that we hear as we watch the
shocking images of destruction.
108. Quoted in Sierra, Un pueblo sin estado, 70.
109. This section was created in 2001 to bring the institution in line with the indigenous law of 1993. Information on Chiles indigenous cultural heritage used to be
available on the National Monuments Councils (CNM) Web site, but at the time of
writing (January 2012) Internet users can read nothing about it. No longer highlighted
as a distinct element of the CMNs work, the sections place within the institutions aims
and objectives is precarious. The same can be said of Millahueiques current role in the
CMN, which is why I have written this section of the chapter mainly in the past tense. I
am investigating these recent changes and the motives and rationale behind them, but
they fall outside the time frame of this book.
110. Millahueique, Comentarios sobre patrimonio cultural, 4.
111. Ibid., 5.
112. Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales, La Memoria de Chile, 2.
113. Ibid., 610.
114. Ibid., 2.
115. Ibid., 5.
116. Ibid., 11.

Notes to Pages 207219 265

117. Ibid.
118. See the report of the Coordinacin de Comunidades en Conflicto Socioambiental, produced in July 2009, available at
119. Protests against the Maqueo hydroelectric project, which was to be financed by
the Norwegian company SN Power, were reported on June 23, 2009, on Full article available at
120. Quoted in Sierra, Un pueblo sin estado, 70.
121. Quoted in Antillanca, Cuminao, and Loncn, Escritos mapuches, 118.
122. Chapanoff, Nueva museografa, 31.
123. Lorenzo Ayllapn is the same literary and political figure referred to in the opening pages of chapter 4. I have used a different spelling of his name here to conform to the
museum documentation. In the republished testimony of 1971, his name was printed as
Lorenzo Aillapn.
124. Paillalef, Revisar la multiculturalidad, 373.
125. See for details of these activities.
126. Menares, Mora, and Stdemann, Primera exploracin etnogrfica, 9394.
127. Ibid., 94.
128. El Museo Mapuche de Caete avanza en su modernizacin, January 15, 2010,
available at
129. Margarita Cea, Cuando la poesa es mapuche, Anlisis (August 1319, 1990): 39.
130. I discuss the new exhibition in more depth in Mapuche Museum of Caete.
131. Menares, Mora, and Stdemann, Primera exploracin etnogrfica, 13.
132. The photographs were taken by Felipe Durn between 2004 and 2010. All the
people were involved in some way in the renovation of the museum exhibition.
133. Crow, Mapuche Museum of Caete.
134. Informe de la CVHNT, 1:5. It was Bachelet and not Lagos who was responsible
for mass-producing the report.
Conclusion: A Defiant History of Difference
1. Mallon, Decoding the Parchments, 48.
2. Ibid.
3. Of course, this participation has been affected by changing regulations as to who
is allowed to vote or stand for election. For example, literacy requirements meant that
uneducated rural and urban workers did not have the right to vote until 1970.
4. See esp. Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche; Foerster and Montecino, Organizaciones, lderes y contiendas mapuches; and Mallon, Courage Tastes of Blood and El siglo
XX mapuche. Insightful contributions on contemporary Mapuche politics include Bacigalupo, Shamans of the Foye Tree and Pragmatic Gendered Negotiations; and Haughney, Neoliberal Economics Democratic Transition, and Mapuche Demands.
5. Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises.
6. Barr-Melej provides an excellent overview of the cultural politics of the Parliamentary Republic (18911925) in Reforming Chile.
7. Frazier, Salt in the Sand, 5.

266 Notes to Pages 221227

8. Gngora and Picn, Poesa mapuche.

9. Angell, Lowden, and Thorp, Decentralising Development, 3.
10. Paley, Marketing Democracy, 12.
11. Rosemblatt, Gendered Compromises, 267.
12. de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos.
13. Gould, To Die in This Way, 10.
14. Cited in Menard, Manuel Aburto Panguilef, 7.
15. Speech of November 15, 1947, in Cmara de Diputados, Sesiones extraordinarias.
16. I concentrate on the most prominent political figures here, but my study has
pointed to many other Mapuche of the twentieth century who challenged dominant
racial dichotomies: Rayn Quitral through opera music, for example, or Sebastin Queupul through poetry. Like the political leaders, they asserted indigenous difference while
also staking a claim to Chilean citizenship. They acted as mediators or translators of
Mapuche identity, and in their mediations and translations created new visions of that
17. On indigenous participation as Indians in leftist movements in Ecuador and Guatemala, see Becker, Indians and Leftists; and Grandin, Blood of Guatemala.
18. We could say something similar of Aymara identity in Bolivia during the mass
demonstrations of the early 2000s. Of course, the Bolivian experience is very different
from that of Chile: 62 percent of Bolivians self-identify as indigenous, it has an indigenous president today, and its new constitution recognizes the country as a pluri-national
state. Nonetheless, there are some important overlaps in the imagery, and of course, in
the connections between indigenous rights and protests against neoliberal reforms. On
neoliberal multiculturalism in Bolivia, see Postero, Now We Are Citizens.
19. de la Cadena and Starn, Indigenous Experience Today, 23.
20. Mallon, Decoding the Parchments, 52.


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Aburto Panguilef, Manuel, 12, 15, 52; and

the Araucanian Theater Company,
7172, 76, 224; connections with the
Left, 7677, 93, 120, 140, 215; as machi,
224; political decline of, 79; proclamation of an Indigenous Republic, 76, 217;
on the Ranquil massacre, 136; resistance
to privatization of indigenous lands, 70;
support for Ibez, 77. See also Araucanian Congresses; Araucanian Federation
Ad-Mapu: creation and constitutional
recognition of, 163; in El Diario Austral,
172; and indigenous identity, 22526;
network of, 153; and the No campaign,
177; and transition to democracy, 182,
218. See also Mapuche Cultural Centers
Agrarian Labor Party, 90
Agrarian Reform, 6, 16; Mistral on, 96, 113;
under the Popular Front, 86, 88, 221;
under the Christian Democratic government, 117, 118, 124, 250n2; under Popular
Unity, 117, 118, 119, 13839, 142, 14445,
250nn6; changes under Pinochet, 152,
15556. See also Laws
Agrarian Reform Corporation (CORA),
145, 158
Aguirre, Isidora, 16466, 227
Aguirre Cerda, Pedro (Popular Front
government of), 5, 7879, 8688, 96,
219, 220

Aillapn Cayuleo, Lorenzo, 116, 208, 225,

Alessandri, Arturo, 15, 51
Alessandri, Jorge, 108
Allende Gossens, Salvador, 12; death of, 149;
interview with Saul Landau, 142, 144, 145,
254n111; on Mapuche activism, 117, 145,
146, 148; on Mapuche landownership,
14142, 254n122; relationship with Lipschutz, 141, 254n106; signing of Cautn
Pact, 120, 124. See also Popular Unity
(Unidad Popular)
All Lands Council, 182, 188, 218, 260n10
Ancn, Jos, 4
Angol, 22, 26, 28, 60, 196
Aniir, David, 17, 179, 197200, 218, 226,
Antilef, Emilio, 16970
Araucanian Congresses, 70, 7276, 227. See
also Aburto Panguilef, Manuel; Araucanian Federation
Araucanian Corporation, 79, 85, 90, 100,
217, 247n39. See also Couepn Huenchual, Venancio
Araucanian Federation, 70, 7274, 75, 76,
7980, 217. See also Aburto Panguilef,
Manuel; Araucanian Congresses
Araucanians, 1, 233n1
Araucanian warriors, 1, 10, 23, 42, 102,
16970, 199. See also Caupolicn; Lautaro
(warrior); Michimalonco

282 Index

Arguedas, Jos Mara, 67

Augusta, Felix Jos de, 59, 76, 95, 216, 227
Aylwin, Patricio, 177, 181, 182, 187, 189, 221
Azkintuwe, 17, 193, 19497, 211
Bachelet, Michelle, 211, 229, 263n64
Bacigalupo, Ana Mariella, 7, 12
Barr-Melej, Patrick, 86, 23435n19
Barros Arana, Diego, 24
Bengoa, Jos: on the Araucanian Federation, 75; on Couepn and the
Araucanian Corporation, 101; Historia
del pueblo mapuche, 6, 25; Mapuche
criticisms of, 200; on reservation system, 48; on violence of the occupation
campaigns, 32, 34, 37
Bolivia, 23, 26, 31, 38, 266n18. See also
War of the Pacific
Caniuqueo, Sergio, 157, 158, 175, 200201
Crdenas, Lzaro, 85, 101, 246n12
Caupolicn: Chilean nationalisms appropriation of, 10, 46; Mapuche peoples
identification with, 32, 122, 140; in
Nerudas poetry, 9294; in Parras music, 134; statues of, 5456, 8082
Caupolicn Society: amalgamation with
Araucanian Federation, 7980, 217; in
celebrations of Chilean independence,
57; and Chilean nationhood, 61, 63,
217, 222; on education, 6566, 72;
foundation of, 57, 217; on Mapuche
communal lands, 79; on Mapuche cultural traditions, 67. See also Manquilef
Gonzlez, Manuel
Cautn Pact, 120, 122
Cayupi, Jos, 79, 81
Cayuqueo, Pedro, 119, 192, 193, 194, 197,
Chihuailaf, Elicura, 12; and the CVHNT,
188; on the military coup, 179; on
Mistral, 99, 114; on Neruda, 9495, 99,
114; on the occupation campaigns, 35;
reception of, 184, 216; on Jara, 13536

Chilenidad (Chilean nationhood): under

Aguirre Cerda, 8688; contesting visions of, 15; founding narrative of, 10,
166, 224; and Latin America, 123; and
Mapuche autonomy, 183, 222, 223; in
Mistrals poetry, 97; and modernity,
52-53; and the New Song movement,
119. See also Historiography; Identity;
Independence of Chile; Indigenous
Mapuche identity; Multiculturalism
Christian Democratic Party, 108, 181. See
also Frei Montalva, Eduardo (Christian
Democratic government of)
Colicoy Caniuln, Domingo, 16364, 226
Colip, Juan, 4344, 223
Comas, Juan, 124
Commission for Historical Truth and
New Treatment of Indigenous Peoples
(CVHNT), 17, 183, 221; Autonomous
Mapuche Working Group, 18990,
192; on education, 49; inauguration of,
18788; Mapuche criticisms of, 19293;
on the occupation campaigns, 22, 34,
36; outcomes of, 194, 221; Working
Group of Urban Indigenous People,
19091, 199
Communist Party: and Aburto Panguilef,
7677; and the CCM/Ad-Mapu, 179
80; formation of, 51; under Gonzlez
Videla, 90; Mapuche support for, 120,
215; and Neruda, 93, 114
Coa, Pascual (testimony of), 32, 33, 39,
46, 142, 210, 237n18
Concertacin: criticisms of, 190, 192, 204;
during elections of 1989, 177; electoral
victory of, 181; indigenous rights and
governments of, 180, 18285, 195, 214,
218. See also Aylwin, Patricio; Bachelet,
Michelle; Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Eduardo;
Lagos, Ricardo
Confederation of Araucanian Societies,
157, 168
Constitution (of Chile), 51, 163, 177
Couepn (I), Venancio, 30

Index 283

Couepn (II), Venancio, 3637, 3839,

Couepn Huenchual, Venancio, 12,
16, 215; as caudillo-like figure, 90; as
director of DASIN, 1068, 109, 216, 217;
education and early career of, 99100;
at the First Inter-American Indigenista Congress, 8788; and Ibez, 106;
and the Left, 12021; in the National
Congress, 1016
Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco, 119, 190,
Coronil, Fernando, 4
Decadentismo, 53, 24041n13
De la Cadena, Marisol, 224, 226, 235n20
Department for the Defense of the Race
and Enjoyment of Free Time, 5, 8687,
Department of Indigenous Affairs (DASIN), 5, 90, 1068, 122, 214, 221
Department of Libraries, Archives and
Museums (DIBAM), 209
Domeyko, Ignacio, 19
Dorfman, Ariel, 5556, 150, 155
Drake, Paul, 154
Education, 5, 6; (increasing) access to, 86,
117, 123, 216, 244n108; bilingual literacy
schemes, 143, 174; under Frei Montalva,
12225; and indigenous identity, 45,
64, 125; intercultural education, 183,
185, 190; Mapuche demands for, 6466,
7273, 79, 105, 138, 171; Mapuche
Education Plan, 17375, 177; Mapuche
experiences of, 38, 49, 69, 100, 126, 173,
196, 197; Mapuche teachers, 173, 177,
200; in Mexico, 84; Ministry of Education, 126, 128, 164, 166, 205; PCII on,
104; Public Education Commission, 61.
See also Department of Indigenous Affairs (DASIN); Institute of Indigenous
Development (IDI); Laws; Pinochet

Ercilla, Alonso de, 10, 23, 44, 54, 66, 95

Eytel, Guido, 179
Federation of Chilean Workers (FOCH),
Figueroa, Juan Agustn, 188, 193, 194
Fiol-Matta, Licia, 91, 97, 98
First Inter-American Indigenista Congress (PCII), 8788, 93, 95, 98, 101,
1034, 107
Foerster, Rolf, 6, 48, 100, 120
Frazier, Lessie Jo, 8, 14, 219, 220, 234n17
Frei Montalva, Eduardo (Christian Democratic government of), 12, 24, 112,
117, 118, 145, 147, 216. See also Agrarian
Reform; Education; Laws
Freire, Paulo, 123
Freire, Ramn, 38
Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Eduardo, 112, 185
Galdames, Luis, 24
Gonzlez Videla, Gabriel, 83, 88, 90, 113,
Gorbea, 56, 239n100
Gould, Jeffrey, 224
Grove, Marmaduke, 16, 5152, 62
Guevara, Toms, 2526, 33, 34, 5960,
95, 216
Guillatn, 58; at the Araucanian Congresses, 74, 75; government permission
for, 138; as narrated by Manquilef, 62;
organized by the Mapuche Cultural
Centers, 161; protection of, 206; as sung
by Parra, 13132
Hale, Charles, 9, 152, 159, 186, 189
Haughney, Diane, 7, 100
Historiography: and Chilean exceptionalism, 25, 228, 236nn13; Mapuche
nationalist, 200203, 210; Marxist, 123;
of occupation campaigns, 2326; of
Pinochet dictatorship, 152, 236n16; of
subaltern struggles, 213
Huenchulaf, Mauricio, 185, 189

284 Index

Huenn, Jaime, 197, 198, 200, 203, 204,

Huilcamn, Aucn, 188, 191, 218,
Ibez, Gen. Carlos: authoritarian regime
(19271931), 16, 51, 77; creation of
DASIN, 5, 90, 220; rise to power of the
General of Hope, 90; second presidency, 83, 89, 106, 108, 114, 219
Identity: scholarly debates about, 913;
Latin American, 84. See also Chilenidad (Chilean nationhood); Indigenous
Mapuche identity
Igaymn, Guillermo, 78, 81, 216
Independence of Chile, 15, 99, 222; centenary of, 5257
Indigenismo: in Chile, 84; continental
institutionalization of, 8788; definitions of, 8384; and developmentalism,
100101, 1067, 108, 215; and Marxism, 85, 93, 99; Mistral and Neruda
as proponents of, 82, 99; as official
ideology in Mexico, 84, 95; shifts in
and diversity of, 94, 113
Indigenous Mapuche identity, 16, 17,
102, 11213, 130, 135, 22334; and class
struggle, 115, 13637, 13941, 147,
22526; as collective, 74, 15759, 205;
Ivn Carrasco on, 12728; and the
land, 62, 91, 9293, 14446, 171; and
modernity, 101; performance of, 7172,
7475, 110, 16364, 178, 224; shifting
notions of, 4446, 6869, 99, 11112,
128, 140, 223
Institute of Agrarian and Livestock Development (INDAP), 137, 145, 176
Institute of Indigenous Development
(IDI), 5, 14243, 145, 176, 219, 221
Intellectual(s), 11, 235n32
Inter-American Indigenista Institute (III),
88, 124. See also First Inter-American
Indigenista Congress (PCII)

Jara, Vctor, 16; death of, 149; dialogue

and identification with Mapuche, 131,
135, 137, 227, 228; narrating the Mapuche struggle, 119, 13435, 136, 147; and
New Song, 11819, 130; representing
Mapuche culture, 131, 147
Knight, Alan, 83, 85, 94
Lagos, Ricardo, 17, 183, 185, 18789,
19394, 196
La Moneda Palace, 3, 147, 187, 229
Larran, Jorge, 84
Latcham, Ricardo, 77
Lautaro (town), 62, 178, 253n81
Lautaro (warrior): in Aguirres play,
16465; in Lienlaf s poetry, 204; Mapuche identification with, 32, 122, 140;
in Nerudas poetry, 9294; in Parras
music, 133; in public commemorative
events, 160; state appropriation of, 46
Laws: of Compulsory Education (1920),
242n65, 244n108; Law 6362 (1940) on
Small Farmers Co-operatives, 86, 88;
Manquilef s Law 4169 (1927) on indigenous lands, 68, 156, 220, 221, 243n81;
Decree Law 2568 (1979) on indigenous
lands, 152, 15556, 171, 176; Indigenous
Law 17.729 (1972), 14144, 145, 147,
149, 220, 221; Indigenous Law 19.253
(1993), 183, 185, 220, 221, 26061n14;
antiterrorism legislation, 18586, 190,
218, 222, 226, 228. See also Agrarian
Reform; Education
Lebu, 33, 40, 42
Lemn, Alex, 190, 196, 197, 204, 262n44
Lenz, Rodolfo, 5960, 61, 6364, 95
Liberal Democratic Party, 61, 68, 70
Lienlaf, Leonel, 203; criticisms of the
Concertacin, 204; on education, 173;
on the occupation campaigns, 35; reception of, 184, 216; work in museums,
205, 20811

Index 285

Lipschutz, Alejandro, 17, 119, 125, 147; after

the coup, 149; and Allende, 141; on indigenous identity, 140; intellectual collaborations, 14041; dialogue with Mapuche,
139, 146, 227, 253n90; involvement with
legislation, 141, 144
Loncoche, 69, 71, 72, 75, 138, 160, 178
Los Angeles, 45
Machi (shamans): Aburto Panguilef as,
224; at the Araucanian Congresses,
7475; at the CVHNT, 189; in Lecturas
araucanas, 59; Manquilef on, 67; and
Mapuche identity, 140; in museums, 210;
in Parras music, 132
Machitn (shamanic healing ritual), 66, 132
Mallon, Florencia, 7, 8; on the Araucanian
Corporation, 100; on Chilean historiography, 213; on El Diario Austral, 168,
172; on land reform, 152, 156, 157; on
Manquilef, 6364, 213; on Mapuche
autonomist claims, 202; on Mapuche political activism and the Left, 117, 118, 121,
136, 144, 151; on re-democratization, 182
Manquilef Gonzlez, Manuel, 1516, 52,
215; Comentarios, 62, 63, 66; education
and career of, 4950, 6162, 64, 6169,
156, 215, 217; on land reform, 6768, 220,
221; and mestizaje, 22425; and official
discourses of progress and modernization, 4950, 61, 63, 65, 69, 225; relationship with Caupolicn Society, 57, 68,
100; and transculturation, 67. See also
Mapuche Cultural Centers (CCM), 153;
activities organized by, 161, 171, 222; and
corporatism, 154, 163, 171; creation of,
16263; in El Diario Austral, 17072;
and Mapuche cultural autonomy, 179,
225; and party politics, 17980, 21718;
protests against land reform, 170, 172,
218, 221. See also Ad-Mapu
Mapuche lands: before occupation by

Chilean state, 67, 201, 202, 23334n4;

and forestry companies, 107, 15556,
185; illegal expropriation of by colonos
and hacendados, 63, 68; land takeovers
by Mapuche peasants, 117, 122, 151, 155;
post-occupation land-grant communities (or reservation system), 46, 48, 52,
68, 191; ttulos de merced, 146, 187. See
also Agrarian Reform; Laws; Memory
Mapuche Museum of Caete, 12830,
205, 20811, 21112, 222, 227
Mapuche Nationalist Party Wallmapuwen, 194, 211
Mapuzungun language: at the Araucanian Congresses, 74, 75; authorities
understanding of, 158, 162; loss of, 121;
and Mapuche identity, 62, 140, 224,
226; and Mapuche Museum of Caete,
212; and (Chilean) New Song, 131;
poetry in, 125, 12627, 199, 203; public
performance of, 162, 178; teaching in,
141, 143, 16869, 175; transcription of
and translation into Spanish, 5960,
61, 6364, 216; translation (of Chilean
texts) into, 64, 94, 135, 228
Marchant, Patricio, 98, 248n67
Maritegui, Jos Carlos, 93
Marimn, Pablo, 100, 200
Melin, Domingo, 29, 30, 31, 34, 45, 227
Memory, 9, 17, 183, 211, 234n17; conservation of, 59, 2067; Elizabeth Jelin on,
153; living memory, 205, 210; memories
of Mapuche territorial independence,
140, 184, 190, 2012, 224; memory
struggles, 1314, 182, 186; national, 56;
poetry as exercise of, 35, 204
Menard, Andr, 52, 70, 73, 79, 178, 234n13
Mercurio, El: anti-indigenous sentiment
of, 41; during Allendes government,
14849; during centennial celebrations
of Chilean independence, 53, 54, 56;
El Mercurio S.A., 167; on Juan Colip,
43, 45; on occupation of Araucana,

286 Index

22, 3132, 40; regarding the War of the

Pacific, 42
Mestizaje: Chilean intellectuals self-identification as mestizo, 137, 228; contested
narratives of, 1011, 4546, 63, 67, 113;
Mapuche leaders and, 102, 22325; in
Mistrals literary discourse, 84, 85, 98;
and multiculturalism, 3, 223, 234n5;
in teaching curriculum, 12324. See
also Chilenidad (Chilean nationhood);
Mexico: centennial celebrations of independence in, 53; Chilean intellectuals
in, 8485, 86, 91, 93, 97; indigenismo
in, 83, 84, 95, 103; mestizaje in, 84, 124;
Mexican muralists, 92, 93. See also First
Inter-American Indigenista Congress
(PCII); Crdenas, Lzaro
Michimalonco, 86
Migration, 16, 78, 144, 216; CVHNT on,
19091, 199; experiences of migration to Santiago, 7879, 110, 116, 128,
200; and Mapuche community lands,
15657; and shift in Mapuche political
organizing, 121; in teaching curriculum, 124
Milet Ramrez, Gustavo, 13
Military occupation (of Mapuche territory), 15; consequences of, 23, 4650,
201; elite debates about, 20, 22, 220;
Mapuche resistance against, 3032,
37, 3940, 44; Mapuche support for,
2930, 3839, 40; in museums and
teaching curriculum, 2425, 3435, 87;
official narratives of, 26, 34; poetic representations of, 35, 204; Villalobos on,
2627; violence of occupying forces,
3236. See also Coa, Pascual (testimony of); Neculmn, Juan de Dios;
Historiography; Memory; Saavedra,
Gen. Cornelio; Urrutia, Gen. Basilio;
Urrutia, Gen. Gregorio
Millabur, Adolfo, 188, 192, 193, 194,

Millahueique, Csar, 179, 2038, 211, 216,

Millamn, Rosamel, 152, 159, 189
Miller, Nicola, 96, 97
Mistral, Gabriela, 16, 82, 83, 101, 134; on La
Araucana, 95; Mapuche responses to, 98,
99, 114; in Mexico, 84; as national icon,
9091; party politics of, 11415; Poema de
Chile, 9599. See also Agrarian Reform;
Indigenismo; Mestizaje; Mexico
Movement of the Revolutionary Left
(MIR), 117, 122, 138, 146, 151, 15455
Multiculturalism, 3, 6, 9, 14, 17, 223, 234n5;
in Bolivia, 266n18; contradictions of
(Chilean) official discourse, 18486; and
democracy, 183, 222; Mapuche criticisms
of, 204. See also Mestizaje; Neoliberalism
National Association of Indigenous
Peoples (ANI), 120
National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI), 5, 215, 219; creation of, 183; and decentralization, 221;
Indigenous Education and Development
Section, 200; and Mapuche communities, 190, 206; Mapuche directors of, 185,
189; work with Mapuche organizations,
National History Museum, 24, 34, 58, 225,
National Monuments Council (CMN), 17,
2058, 210, 214, 216, 264n109
National Peasant Council, 137
Natural History Museum, 77, 78, 87
Neculmn, Juan de Dios, 3940
Neculmn, Manuel Antonio, 61
Neoliberalism, 18485, 202, 204, 2068.
See also Multiculturalism; State
Neruda, Pablo, 16, 64, 82, 228; and the
ANI, 121; Canto general, 9194, 122, 134;
and the Communist Party, 93, 11415; as
consul-general in Mexico City, 86, 220;
during Gonzlez Videlas government,

Index 287

113; and Lipschutz, 141. See also Indigenismo; Mestizaje; Mexico

New Song movement, 16, 11819, 13037,
147; repression of, 149, 159. See also
Jara, Vctor; Parra, Violeta
Nueva Imperial Agreement, 182
OHiggins, Bernardo, 30, 56
Paillalef, Juana, 2089, 222
Painemal, Antonio, 29, 40
Painemal, Martn, 12021, 215, 225
Painemal, Melliln, 16263, 164, 171, 215,
Palacios, Nicols, 102, 240n13, 248n79
Paley, Julia, 185, 222, 261n25
Parlamento of Hipinco, 2728
Parra, Violeta, 16, 11819, 13034, 137, 147,
227, 229. See also New Song movement
Pavez, Jorge, 29, 30
Peru, 53, 93
Petit, Pierre, 4647
Piera, Sebastin, 228
Pinochet, Gen. Augusto: in Araucana,
160, 178; arrest of (in London), 13. See
also Pinochet regime
Pinochet regime, 6, 17; corporatist policies of, 15354, 215; counter agrarian
reform enacted by, 155; dealing with
human rights abuses of, 18182; denials
of ethnic diversity, 153; education under, 24, 149, 154, 17277; Mapuche letters to, 15859; No campaign against,
172, 177; plebiscite of 1980, 171; protests
against, 163; seizure of power, 150; as
represented in El Diario Austral, 178;
repression of Mapuche activism, 150,
15152, 15455, 163. See also Agrarian
Reform; Laws
Plaza, Nicanor, 5456, 227
Popular Unity (Unidad Popular), 16,
117, 119, 133, 137; bilingual literacy
initiatives under, 143; last days of, 150;
Mapuche interactions with, 138. See

also Agrarian Reform; Allende Gossens, Salvador; Education; Institute of

Indigenous Development (IDI); Laws
Pratt, Mary Louise, 93, 96, 99
Puerto Saavedra, 32, 39, 91, 116, 161
Queupul Quintremil, Sebastian, 12528,
140, 216, 217, 227
Quilapn, Jos Santos, 31, 3638, 178
Quitral, Rayn, 16, 82, 83, 8485, 10913,
Radical Party, 16, 79, 83, 90
Ranquil Confederation, 136
Rappaport, Joanne, 14
Recabarren, Luis Emilio, 93
Regional Environmental Commission
(COREMA), 207
Regional Museum of Araucana (previously Araucanian Museum of
Temuco), 24, 3435, 87, 125, 205, 208,
Rettig Commision (or Truth and Reconciliation Commission), 13, 152, 18182
Reuque Paillalef, Rosa Isolde, 12, 156, 157,
161, 171
Revista de Educacin, 164, 174, 176, 220
Revolutionary Peasant Movement
(MCR), 11718, 138
Richards, Patricia, 7
Ros Morales, Juan Antonio, 83, 88, 129,
Roca, Julio, and Conquest of the Desert,
Rosemblatt, Karin, 8, 11314, 21516, 222
Rosenblatt, Angel, 124
Saavedra, Gen. Cornelio, 24, 99; Mapuche leaders letters to, 2931; painting
of, 2628; on violence of occupation
campaigns, 33
Santa Mara, Domingo, 25, 30, 34, 39
Santiago: in Aniirs poetry, 197, 199;
centennial celebrations in, 52, 54, 56;

288 Index

early Mapuche organizations in, 79. See

also Migration
Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino, 19
Siqueiros, David Alfaro, 92, 93
Socialist Party (PS), 77, 120, 154
Spanish Civil War, 93
Spanish conquest, 35, 191, 201, 210, 226;
Mapuche resistance against, 86, 92, 94,
16465, 224, 257n43
Special Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (CEPI), 14, 183
State (Chilean): centralized nature of,
8, 23, 22122; and civil society, 1213;
civilizing mission led by, 15, 26,
34, 45, 65, 110; creation of the Province of Arauco, 19; historical debt to
indigenous peoples, 182, 194, 197; and
neoliberalism, 2068; presence in
Araucana, 23, 46
Temuco, 48; in Antilef s poetry, 169; Araucanian Federation in, 75; Araucanian
Theater Company in, 71; celebrations
of Chilean independence, 54, 5657,

160; centennial celebrations of foundation of, 161; Liceo de Temuco, 100; in

Leonel Lienlaf s poetry, 35; memorial
arch in, 151; new school for Mapuche
students in, 66; and statue of Caupolicn, 8081. See also Cautn Pact
Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
See Rettig Commission
Unidad Popular. See Popular Unity
United States, 101, 1046, 117, 131, 250n3
Urrutia, Gen. Basilio, 24, 29, 38, 44
Urrutia, Gen. Gregorio, 24, 28, 36, 38, 43
Vasconcelos, Jos, 84
Vicua Mackenna, Benjamn, 24, 41
Villalobos, Sergio, 2628
Villarrica, 22, 24, 46, 16061, 207
War of the Pacific, 23, 2627, 42, 241n15
Women. See Aguirre, Isidora; Mistral,
Gabriela; Paillalef, Juana; Parra, Violeta; Quitral, Rayn; Reuque Paillalef,
Rosa Isolde

Joanna Crow is lecturer in Latin American studies at the University of

Bristol. She has published in such journals as the Bulletin of Latin American Research, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, and Journal of
Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.

The University Press of Florida is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University System of Florida, comprising Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University,
Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University,
New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University
of North Florida, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida.