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The peoples that preexisted us

Which villages inhabited Patagonia in the time of the Conquest of the Desert? Who did Julio Argentino Roca's company face?


Since 1823, in the time of   Martín Rodríguez ,  most of the governors of  Buenos Aires , as well as the successive presidents of the nation, decided to send  campaigns to the desert . Little was known about the inhabitants of the south and we still ignore much about them. The destruction caused by   Julio Argentino Roca   and his predecessors would lead to completely losing very old ethnic lines. Therefore, he overlooked traditions, ways of life and beliefs of which today hardly remains.

At the  3rd Day of History of  Patagonia  in  San Carlos de Bariloche   (held in November 2008), the graduates  Ana María Albornoz  and Graciela Montero  established the definitive name of the cultures that populated southern  Chile  and  Argentina  from 1541 onwards.

According to what was expressed in those days, an envoy of the Spanish crown called Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago de Chile in 1541, seeing that the area was already occupied by several  pre-existing villages . For that year, the native tribes of “ Nueva Extremadura ”, that is, the current republic of Chile, were divided into three independent communities.

The  Reche,  a word meaning  “true man” ; the  Moluche  , translated as  “warrior man” (or possibly “man come from the west”) and the  Aucas  ,  which would be something like “free men”. 

These denominations were used for at least three centuries. They formed interchangeable groups and  families  of warriors with mixed unions.

It is very particular to see how, as  Albornoz  and  Montero  continue to say, the three groups, despite their differences,  “are currently recognized as the Mapuche people” .This identification process is called “ ethnogenesis ”. It would be the emergence of a people through the grouping of previous ones.

It is so complex and so little we know, that it is only feasible to say that it arises as a response to an external stimulus. In the present case, it would be the attempt to conquer the present south of  Chile  by the host of Valdivia.

This so-called “ ethnogenesis ” led to the assembly of the Reche , the Moluche and Aucas in pursuit of the creation of a force of resistance to the European invader. 

However, the chronicles tell that in 1821, Governor   Martín Rodríguez   met with the  Mapuche chiefs  , who retired during the process of founding  Tandil .

 What were the Mapuches doing there if they had conformed in Chile?  Probably the territorial dispersion to which many villages in  Araucania were exposed, ended up turning them into expansionists. They searched for territories across the Andes. They arrived in  Argentina  after a complex search that took at least two centuries.

Isabel Hernández in “ The masked identity: the Mapuches of the Toldos”  (EUDEBA - Buenos Aires, 1993), explains how this relocation process created  an   indigenous trade empire enabling links between cultures far away  ,  in the territories that would later be called Chile and Argentina .

In addition, a quote by Guillaume Baccara in the work of  Albornoz  y  Montero  clearly summarizes this circumstance: “ It should be noted that at the time of the process of 'pacification of Araucania 'in Chile, the Argentine armies had carried out the so-called Conquest of the Desert, ending the networks indigenous transcordilleran commercials and ending the existence of the  pan-Mapuche area ”.

Consequently, the foregoing means that from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, there was a territory of influence and expansion of these peoples that led them, even, to  Buenos Aires .

Publication Date: 08/09/2019

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By: Martín 08 September, 2019

Muy instructivo. Aveces hay gente que dice cosas por decir pero definir a los pueblos indios como preexistentes me parece lo mas correcto. Muy instructivo

By: JO 08 September, 2019


By: Marta San Martín 09 September, 2019

En respuesta a

Me interesa mucho el tema. Gracias, profesor

By: carlos 08 September, 2019

nuestro patrimonio olvidado y a veces desconocido

By: Jony 08 September, 2019

Importante aporte Gracias!

By: Luis Fuentes 10 September, 2019

1. Sería importante destacar que el área pan-mapuche es denominada "Wallmapu" por los propios mapuche, territorio que incluye "Puel Mapu" (actual Argentina) y Ngulumapu (actual Chile). 2. Hay registros desde el siglo XVI sobre el movimiento -principalmente comercial- de los mapuche entre ambas naciones, por lo que no se trataría de que escaparon de un lado hacia otro durante las campañas militares del Siglo XIX. 3. El principal líder mapuche en tiempos de paz es el lonko. Cacique fue un término otorgado por los españoles que a su llegada se encontraron con los caciques, jefes indígenas taínos dominicanos, y aplicaron esa denominación a todos los líderes indígenas de América. 4. Sin lugar a dudas los mapuche son preexistentes a la llegada de los españoles. En los museos chilenos existen objetos con clara identidad mapuche que bordean los 3 mil años de antigüedad.

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