There were three different groups that were trying to conquer Mapuche. The first one was Inca, who did conquer Northern Chile between the 12th and 14th century. The Mapuche sent them packing though, which has started the warrior tradition. The latter one led to prestige, wealth and polygamy.
After that, Spaniards came in 1530s. Their guides were Inca. There were two attempts before they actually managed to conquer the Mapuche. This time many people were killed. Nevertheless, the Mapuche have learned how to utilize horses and started to put together a calvary. They also took Spanish weapons and also learned how to use it. At the end of all they made a treaty. As soon as Chileans acquired their independence from Spain in 1817, they had a negotiation with Mapuche and gave them land. But the European immigrants have changed everything, once they started to pour in and Mapuche started losing lots of land. In addition to that, between 1850 and 1880, the Chileans also attempted to take over Mapuche land. The Mapuche were fighting back, using all available resources.
In 1866 Chileans came up with a law which made Mapuche land public and it could be sold now. In 1884, the nation went into the reservations as they have lost the majority of their land. This led to social instability and blooming diseases that killed many people. At this point the culture was threatened. The Indian Law was passed in 1927, saying that the Indian people could purchase their own land and keep it. Though it has never been fully implemented.
So between 1927 and 1961, the Mapuche has lost more land yet and tripled their population. This led to disease and starvation.
The first law that actually helped Mapuche was passed in 1970, but in Pinochet came and destroyed them in 1973 as he took more land. The 1980s kept being filled with violence and stealing the land of Mapuche.
Finally in 1984, the AD-MAPU was formed to preserve and maintain the culture of Mapuche and called for the legislation that would recognize the indigenous rights. In 1988 Patricio Aylwin formed the policies that decreased the violence and brought some positive changes into the lives of Mapuche. But in 1990s it got even worse yet due to the fact that the government now has teamed up with capitalist companies from abroad. Many Mapuche people ended up in jail and were treated very poorly by the racist police.
The nation has never been recognized by the government of Chile and their rights have always been ignored. Most of Mapuche nowadays do not have a chance of getting an education and the language of Mapuche – Mapudungun – is also dying.
The Law which protected the indigenous population was established in 1993. The Law is supposed to:
- Recognize the rights of Mapuche;
- Guarantee the protection of water and land;
- Introduce bilingual and multicultural education;
- Prohibit discrimination.
- Consulting the Mapuche on all issues concerning them.
Unfortunately, this law is not being followed. We will discuss the current situation that Mapuche people are facing and what stops them from developing as nation in one of our next blog posts.