The Mapuche of Chile

Mapuche’s are some of the indigenous tribes of Chile.

When I was in Pucón, we visited a Mapuche village to learned more about the indigenous people of Chile, some customs, history and current struggles. One of the women there explained facts, customs, cultural aspects of the Mapuche. One of the difficulties of touring in Chile is that the tour was in Spanish, so I had prestar mucho atención. If I didn’t, everything would turn into gibberish again.

An elder explaining the customs, traditions, culture of the Mapuche. One point that stood out was the significance of thanking Mother Earth.

An elder explaining the customs, traditions, culture of the Mapuche. One point that stood out was the significance of thanking Mother Earth.

From what I could understand, there is a large emphasis on natural elements in their world. The Mapuche people make sure to thank the world around them on a daily basis. The colors they wear, as well, show respect to this. For example, in the picture of the Mapuche woman, each color she is wearing represents something different: azul for the sky and water, verde for the earth, rojo for the blood and bravery of their people.

Once at the Mapuche village started with a drink common to the Mapuche made of trigo, azucar, y agua. Before taking a sip, we were instructed to pour some to the Earth, thanking nature.

Inside the Mapuche house for Once – teatime. The meal consisted of coffee, wheat cutlets, breads, salsas and honey.

Inside the Mapuche hut, a large room filled with more or less 15 mesas to fit our group of about 80, we sat. Our meal consisted largely of wheat. In front of us, we were presented a spread of different items. One plate resembled breaded chicken cutlets, but were instead wheat cutlets.

A Mapuche woman who served coffee, explained its preparation process. She later bagged the roasted wheat so that I could make the coffee independently.

A fresh salsa and honey accompanied the meal as condiments along with a coffee that I later bought to bring along with me. As I learned, it is made from roasted wheat and contains a “pulp” or “grain” in the liquid.

More seriously, the Mapuche people are in deep conflict right now with Chile. According to the Mapuche village and my tour guide, they are fighting to keep their ancestral lands while being pushed away. The Chilean government, from what I understand, is denying them their full identity.

prestar mucho atención – To pay a lot of attention to, to focus

azul – blue

verde – green

rojo – red

trigo – wheat

azucar – sugar

agua – water




One comment

  1. Thank you for writing of the Mapuche – my family emigrated during the genocide against the Mapuche in the 1880’s – to San Francisco – good to hear the ways the people are keeping…

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