A History of Pride and Preservation
Mapuche territory traditionally extended from the Aconcagua Valley in the north of Chile, all the way down to the Chiloé island in the south and over to the Argentine Patagonia in the east. Before the arrival of Spanish conquerors, Mapuche survived by hunting small animals and fishing.
As the Mapuches prepared the capital city in order to attack the Spaniards, Lauturo was assassinated by a member of a related indigenous tribe. Disheartened, the Mapuches did not follow through with the attack and returned home to defend their frontiers. It was based in the inspiration of Lauturo’s strength that the Mapuches continued to fight for their territory for hundreds of years. Today, Lautaro remains a figure that is recognized by both indigenous and non-indigenous Chilean people for his bravery and cunning in his struggle to defend the freedom of the Mapuche people.
In 1881, as a part of the Peace Agreement signed between the Mapuche people and the Republic of Chile, indigenous land was wholly redistributed, leaving many Mapuche communities with land that was mountainous and unproductive. Further exacerbating this inequity, while the government made land grants to Colonists of between 40 and 400 hectares, Mapuche families on average received just 6 to 20 hectares of land.
Today, thanks to pressure from Chilean indigenous groups as well as international agencies that promote the rights of indigenous peoples, Chile has advanced towards national recognition of the cultural diversity of all of its inhabitants, striving to preserve languages, customs and religious traditions. Recognition is now given to the ancient cultural ways and traditions while the fight continues for equal rights and opportunities for indigenous individuals within the larger society.
Source: Compiled from the Institution's own books and knowledge.