Chile rediscovers the Mapuche

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By Malú Sierra

So surprised!

It is as if we Chileans had just found out that the Mapuche exist. That they are a people. That they have a language and their own indigenous worldview that is opposite to ours in space and time. That they inhabited this territory long before us, that they are our ancestors and that we should respect them. Listen to them. In the midst of this era of greed, where human beings depredate natural resources, they are the ones who can remind us of the ancient pact of universal reciprocity with mother earth. I give to you, you give to me. But we deceive her and we deceive ourselves by extracting from her until the last breath. Drying her up, drilling her, mistreating her.

The Mapuche do not aspire to be millionaires. There will be some. But each one with his ruka and each one with his land, they work to live and not live to work. They have a lot to teach us in these times of crisis where the neoliberal model is beginning to expire.

Don Anselmo had four hectares, he cultivated one and left the others to rest. The judge arrived and asked him why he didn't produce on all of them.

- What do I do with what I don't need?

- You build a silo and store it.

- And what am I going to do next year then?

Work is not a burden but a part of life. 

We don't know them. We don't understand them. Nor do we care for them, especially now that war has finally broken out in Arauco.


 Malu Sierra is author of the books "Mapuche Gente de la Tierra" and "Un Pueblo sin Estado."Malu Sierra is author of the books "Mapuche Gente de la Tierra" and "Un Pueblo sin Estado."


For very few it is a surprise. It was coming. Dispossessed of their lands by the Chilean State, reduced to ten percent of their native territories in the so-called "Reductions." These ugly, lazy, drunken, annoying little Indians, who have to be silenced with the government's special forces and weapons of war. What did they expect? The times have changed. The president of the convention that will draft the new constitution is a Mapuche woman, Elisa Loncón, who is recognized by tyrants and trojans, even if it is to their regret.

In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of the European invasion, I published my book Mapuche Gente de la Tierra (Mapuche: People of the Earth), republished in 2001 and 2010 under the title Un Pueblo sin Estado (A People without a State). Democracy had returned to Chile and I could choose where to work in the "media" but I preferred to dedicate myself to the indigenous peoples that continue alive. I traveled and lived with them without anyone's support. I printed and published the books on my own, creating an imprint. Not many people were interested in them. I imagine that I will never recover the money I invested, but it opened up a world for me that exceeded all expectations.

They are a people and that's enough. Chile is a plurinational and multicultural country and that enriches us. It would be good to teach Mapudungun in schools. A language of poetry.

The author, Malu Sierra, is a journalist, author, and co-founder of the Chilean magazines Paula, Hoy, Cosas y Caras.



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