Mapuche : the reconstruction cycle
In less than two centuries, the Mapuche territorial space has been reduced to 5% of its original surface. The natural environment is at the root of the ancient culture of these people. They therefore consider the dispossession of an ancestral territory as a confiscation of what defines their identity. For years following the rural exodus, many Mapuche people concealed their language and cosmogony in order to avoid social segregation. But starting in the nineties, the new generations understand returning to their territory will enable them to rebuild their identity.
Millaray Huichalaf is the 23 years old mother of Little 3 years old Llanka. She returns to her ancestors’ land with her father in 2008, at the border of Los Rios and de Los Lagos. “I’m a machi of my comunity, my role is to reestablish a balance people lost through medicinal plants.” Being machi also means being the link between the members of the comunity and their ancestors. Today, the building of a third hydrolic dam on the Pilmaiquén river threatens to flood the Ngen Mapu Kintuante sacred area. Millaray Huichalaf wants to protect the area where she regularly goes and asks her ancestors pieces of advice about the well being of her comunity. On January 30th 2013, a unit of the PDI (the Chilian Judiciary Police Force) burst into her house and place her under arrest. Six other people who were with her in her house at that time are charged with setting the fire of a house in the Los Rios región and placed in custody. Millary declared: “ as a machi I am ready to pay the price for the defense of my land, water and all the Mapuche spirituality.”
Luis Navarro is 44 years old. He lives in Llanuihue, near Puerto Montt with his wife Celestina, his 12 years old son Cristobal and his 2 years old daughter Ailin. In the eighties, he becomes a left wing activist. He’ll then be considered as a trustworthy figure in his neighborhood. Five years ago, whilst he already is closet o the Mapuche struggle, he decides to recover his identity. “After Matias Catrileo’s death (Mapuche activist killed by the Police), I started hearing about cosmogony, a strange term for me at the time. I wasn’t at ease with my identity. My last name is Levillanco, I am huilliche lafquenche (name given to the Mapuches of the South).” Little by Little, Luis rediscovers elements of his culture and teaches them to his son. “They left us with no land, no spirituality and no language.” He joins in the ceremonies , protects the biodiversity of ancestral Woods. “The Mapuche struggle is directly linked to the preservation of an ecosystem.” Cristobal understands and silently agrees. His father almost treats him like a friend, a peni: “Cristobal comes with me in all my travels linked to our Mapuche identity. We rebuild our cultura together. We only did a slight detour to meet the monster (talking about the Chilean society) and now we’re back.” Produced with Sub.coop