The Resilient Mapuche: A Chilean’s Wonderful Heritage

Chile use to be homed to Indigenous tribes, some of them known to be the Mapuche, Quechua, and Picunche, until Spanish conquerors “discovered” their region. The Mapuche tribes is seen to be the most well-known indigenous tribe that has its significance of history.


            The Mapuche were the one of the originals that live in what is now Chile. Before, Chile used to be farming villages which the Mapuche used for cultivating many veggies and herbs. From the 16th to the 19th century, the Mapuche had to step away from cultivating and learned to strategize for the resistance against Spain, learning to use horses against them and formulating military, political, and economic alliance, unfortunately they have lost that battle and soon after the Spanish settlers began to migrate down to that region. After the Chilean Independence, a law passed that was able for Mapuche people to keep their lands, implying that creditors could not take it aways from them, but during the dictation of Pinochet, creditors gained the ability to raise the price on their land, forcing them to advance the pace of cultivating to pay it off, it soon became difficult skill wise and funding wise to the point that most of them stood to losing their land because of debt.

It is now the 21st century and more than 1.4 million people that are of Mapuche descent reside in Chile, less than 20% of them are fluent in their native tongue, Mapuzungun. Though they have lost their culture, they have never lost their community. Ilongkoes, which are the community leaders, and the machi, respected authorities invested with special healing abilities (similar to shamans), continues to take on the roles that they have in their social structure. Not only that, but they have grown many organizations, such as the Sociedad Caupolican, Federacion Araucana, and Union Araucana. Learning about Mapuche was a fun and informative experience, it has given me a deeper understanding and an open mind to never forget who was here before us. If you want a more in-depth history of the Mapuche tribe, I have many helpful resources that I will put below.

Happy Travels!


Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Mapuche”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 3 May. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mapuche. Accessed 14 May 2024.

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