In the grand assembly, the great General Military Leader Pelantaro of Puren in front of all those tribal chiefs, as a hero and leader, gave an incredible discourse. It’s something that I am so proud of just by reading it, not only proud of being from Puren, but also proud of the martial blood that runs through my veins and proud of knowing that our root was there on this day.
This discourse was related by the pastor Juan Barba, who was a prisoner and later, friend of Mapuche.
The conqueror of Curalaba went forward in lameness until he stayed between Catilebo and Guaiquimilla, his new alliances with their heads lengthening and watching attentively, Pelantaro lifted and waved his spear and began his discourse calmly and by easy stages. One after another he greeted ceremoniously through the names of those commanders of their respective domains (corresponding to those 4 grand divisions of the Mapuche people in its most traditional territory: the western spring water of the Andes between its river Bio Bio and Tolten), who have answered his call and taken votes. And he sent the greetings also to their fathers and brothers, women, sons, relatives even animals in his honorable invitation.
The melodious eloquence of the commander-in-chief began from tracking back the origin of the race. “From then on in this land”, he said: “the serpent Cai-Cai raised the flood and the serpent Treng- Treng invited the Mapuche to climb onto the top of its back. Those who were swollen by the flood were transformed into fishes. While those were saved by covering their heads with wooden pots by shouting ‘kai-kai’ and responding ‘treng-treng’ ”.
Pelantaro imitated the falling of water-drops with soft movements of his small hand fingers. And his thick lips, with undulations, imitated the music of raining, with his right hand to the beat, expressing his gratitude to the sacrifice of Treng-Treng. “Those saved Mapuche got off from the back of the serpent when the flood receded and lived and bred in quite a long period of time. Because Mapuche are sons and owners of the land before the historical memory. And in those forests, they abide by those rules of his clan (social regulations and values required in the Mapuche tribe, the characteristics of moral, religious, spiritual and judicial of its territory space), learning to treat those plants as a little brother, because they are pure and doesn’t have unpleasant odor without a need to take baths like Mapuche, they just carry fragrance. When we beat them, they can’t even defend themselves, but if we treat them with love, they can cure our diseases and give us food, sorghum, wheat straw for our dwellings, firewood for our kitchen ranges and thin sticks for our weapons. That’s why Mapuche wait a long time to eat them or prepare for his chicha wine. With them, when those fruits are mature, the Mapuche plant those trees with gratitude in order to let them take those seeds afar and reproduce new branches.
When we have the necessity to cut an old tree, we’ll plant a new small one in its place, and if the old tree is bearing fruits, we’ll plant two. We teach our children to respect those flowers, because they also have lives and only can we pick flowers that are already open and begin to fall. We also learn from our ancestors, who have taught us that those animals are also our brothers like us, so we learn to comprehend their voices to see if they’re sad, sick or tired, and admire their customs, because those male animals don’t rape those female animals and those females don’t accept the male in their pregnancy. They’ll have their cubs in spring when the forest is in thriving vitality, and these animals would not drink our chicha wine even if they are thirsty to death, nor eat our pepper or anything they shouldn’t eat although they have suffered from hunger and thirst. Because of these, those animals are better than Mapuche. And they won’t launch surprise attack one after another, and they kill only due to necessity, and won’t attack if they are not being attacked. They give us their meat, blood, fur, fat, milk, bones from the moment those foreigners brought them onto this land. Those horses are also our friends and transport us from one side to another and the bull lock pull the plow harrow to plough our farmlands.
So the Mapuche, following the teachings and instructions of their tribe, never beat those animals at random or kill those female animals who can bear cubs. They won’t eat the meat of an animal during its estrus. And if we indeed need to kill an animal to eat, we need to use a big stick to knock it out first before bloodletting, so those animals know that we are their brothers and sisters, and won’t flee away from us, rather, they come to serve for us. When the above-mentioned flood subsided, those first batch of Mapuche have also learnt to construct their thatched cottage near the river bank, and learnt to understand the water and the secret of those creeks and to dig deep holes and to be friends of water and to take care of it and to maintain it always clean.”
“Like this, the life continued generations after generations in quite a long period until one day, the news came. They said: ‘The Picunches from the north launched an attack suddenly to us, and they attacked our compatriots encountered in road, and drove them away from their indigenous base camp, and several of them don’t speak mapudungun.’ So,those Mapuche gathered an army to defend their land, and marched to the frontier to wait for a surprise attack along the riverside of Maule where they surrounded the army camp of those soldiers who were led by the brother of the 13th Huascar of Inca Empire from Peru, and fought hard till the dawn of the next morning, and the army from Cuzco was utterly routed, with some of their Picunche guides shoot dead by archery and others by spears. The Maule river was in total red by the blood. Wasn’t like this? The river never had this color before. The Mapuche defeated the enemies and made the land in peace, until one day, they said, ‘the slender-billed parakeet flew down from the Andes, and the sun was covered by green sandstorm’, foreboding ‘there are more to come’ ”.
“Our ancestors said ‘the Spanish sent again the bluebottle fly (to transmit the smallpox virus)’, so they asked the diviners and were told that ‘the prodigy is inauspicious, and shall have much more sufferings’. So those tribal chiefs and rich natives and military leaders had a conference, like we have this time, with those discussions and discourses continued varies days. Later they sang, danced, they had banquet and feast, also had prayings to the God Nguenechen. They’ve done all that they could to be fully prepared and alarmed. And they had the reinforcements from Nuble city and the Itata River and Reinoguelen too. They saw those incredible fighters covered with a leather armor that weren’t be pieced by the sword. They were extremely stunned in a shudder of horror, and those military leaders of the reinforcements dared not to march forward. ‘We will wage a life-and-death struggle with those (winkas) thieves and intruders’, the Mapuche military commander pledged. In this way for the first time, those Mapuche fought with those Spanish militants who were smelly, arrogant and brutal. Almargo, was the Spanish ruler who sent them to investigate and detect our territory. The battle was dreadful and miserable, hard and cruel. Our grandmas cried over those deceased martyrs. Although those cunning intruders brought smallpox virus by their tenderloin, the dogs of those intruders were so big and strong as pumas, despite of their refine weaponry, with their cannons roaring deafeningly making us horrified and throwing us off our guard, our Mapuche army marched on foot, with neat queue, calmly and bravely, armed with bows, arrows and spears, killed 2 intruders and several of their horses. In this battle, the enemy forces and their animals suffered heavy causalities. Their captain Gomez de Alvarado had to set off with his cavalry in a hasty retreat in the bloody madness of the Mapuche and the lightening of Pillan.”
“10 years later, those Mapuche suffered the invasion of Valdivia’s intruders. The enemy force reached the Bio-Bio river, 2000 Mapuche army forces swam across the river in the very night to launch a strike to those Spanish enemies. At that moment, those Spaniard were constructing wooden rafts, then were alarmed and retreated in succession. While our Mapuche soldiers moved back to the trenches of the Andalien river in the darkness. And this time those Mapuche knew well to use spears to form a wall to defend those enemy cavalry, and used thick sticks to defeat them thoroughly. For the first time, Valdivia had to give up this land and nearly lost his life. Our 4 Cavalry Squadrons again charged forward in the stronghold of Penco, but at that moment, suddenly appeared the smallpox virus brought by those Spanish army through bluebottle fly, causing our ancestors to lose their morale, and a total chaos within the army. One star fell down in the battlefield (a leader died), and the intruders played full use of this fatal illness to make Mapuche army be powerless to resist and they slipped into our squads and killed many our soldiers. Worse still, they arrested 400 Mapuche soldiers as their prisoners-of-war. Valdivia ordered: ‘Chop their right hands and noses, let their clan to bury their mutilated body parts. They will surrender quietly.’ Nevertheless, it turned out just the opposite. Mapuche witnessed their compatriots and family members back home with deformed limbs, were filled with righteous indignation: ‘Out of the love for our land, we’ve paid a high cost. If the land needs blood to irrigate, it’s more worthwhile of using the blood of those intruders.’ For revenge, those tough warriors and locales served as hidden spy in the enemy camp. This race never surrendered. They said: ‘Let us be the prisoners of those Spanish, only by taking this risk can we master their states, know how to raise and train those animals, employ their advanced weapons, then discover their weak points and destroy them.’ Our ancestors also added: ‘This time our army shall be much stronger, with sharper weapons, and a more intelligent way to kill the enemy’. In Arauco, they marched from Penon by building rock barriers. Those great military leaders again had a grand meeting and elected the strongest, most indomitable and resourceful, courageous and valiant warrior Caupolican as their leader, with his bloody spear towards the battleground. Soldiers swarmed from all sides, crossing the valleys and rivers, beaches and forests to unite together in anxiety. Unfortunately, this time, those commanders of the intruders hailed for their war trophies with a bonfire lit, the good harvest friend of Mapuche, when Caupolican was betrayed by the traitor, and died a grim death in Canete. Nevertheless, later, Lautaro led his brothers won tremendous victories one after another, forming a cavalry. They released a couple of Spanish prisoners to swap them for sniffer dogs. Because Mapuche also needed big dogs in the battlefield. The life went on like this, and always there were new intruders and generated new military leaders and heroes, elites and tribal chiefs. In the village, numerous women were taken away violently by those Spanish intruders, many children and crops of the harvesting time were all dead , left abandoned, and still some were dead of smallpox brought by the Spanish hidden in steans. Countless Mapuche were taken to gold washing field and died of tiredness and torture. Lautaro has gone and Spanish chopped the head of the hero, however, in the memory of Mapuche, those heroes will be remembered , respected and admired forever. Time goes by and this piece of land is full of vigor.”
“I am the Pelantaro!”
“I’m the victor of Curalaba, I defeated Loyola and beheaded his head to sacrifice to our martyrs. The land on which I was born is composed of 4 Mapuche divisions. Today we get together with our southern Huilliche brothers, who came here from the most advanced and promising land. We expect the favorable timing to accumulate all strength to form an unprecedentedly indomitable army in history to launch a strike. We’ll march slowly and closely to our destination step by step to grab those horses and draught animals of the Spanish army and burn their pastures. We’ll never ever allow the Spanish king to trample on any inch our land to his heart’s content. We should defeat those extremely brutal Spanish enemy forces no matter how strong they are. These people showed off their trophies that were seized from Mapuche. The self-conceited troops are doomed to fail. Therefore we shall forever punish severely those domineering, and we’ll make them never can be aggressive or swollen with inordinate arrogance any more. We should terminate their vicious greediness to win the out-and-out peace. We’ll make those defiant man from Castille who snatched our women and children work for us, and their women serve in our house, brew chicha and bear children for us. It must be like this.”
Pelantaro will never go afar, and will continue teaching and inspiring us and boosting our morale in each and every fighting. His instructions, “the self-conceited troops are destined to fail”, still ringing in our heads, remaining fresh in our memories. We should be all ears and learn from his shining example and follow his footsteps and carry out his behest, and shoulder the responsibility to square the blood debt, facing with those challenges bravely to overthrow the oppressors by using reason and justice, wisdom and talent to smash those unjust phenomenons.
Sharing with my friends an episode of our historical memory with full admiration.
Diego Ancalao Gavilán
Source: Book Mapuche Child between 2 Nations Page 30
Pillan is a powerful and respected male spirit in Mapuche mythology. According to the legend, the Pillan are good spirits, but they can allow the wekufe to cause disasters with drought or flood, earthquake or diseases. The Autu is the most powerful Pillan, who governs the others. In Mapuche tradition, a man that follows the laws of the admapu can also be a pillan after death. The pillan have been described as the spirits that live in the wenu mapu (a spiritual world of god), and those that inhabit the earth generally live inside the volcanoes. The accompanying female spirits of the pillan are the wangulen spirits. The name Pillan was used by Chilean ENAER to name their 2-seat trainer aircraft, the T-35 Pillan.
Pelantaro or Pelantaru was one of the toquis of Paillamachu, the toqui or military leader of the Mapuche people, during the Mapuche uprising in 1598. Pelantaro and his lieutenants Arganamon and Guaiquimilla were credited with the death of the second Spanish Governor of Chile, Martin Garcia Onez de Loyola, during the Battle of Curalaba on December 21, 1598.
(In Mapudungun: Lef-Traru “swift hawk” ) Lautaro (1534-April 29, 1557) was a young Mapuche toqui who achieved reverence for leading the indigenous resistance against Spanish conquest in Chile. Lautaro began his career as a captive of Pedro de Valdivia but escaped in 1551. Backed by his people he was declared toqui and led Mapuche warriors into a series of victories against the Spanish, culminating in the Battle of Tucapel in December, 1553 where Pedro de Valdivia was killed. The outbreak of a typhus plague, a drought and a famine prevented the Mapuche from taking further actions to expel the Spanish in 1554 and 1555. Between 1556 and 1557, a small group of Mapuche commanded by Lautaro attempted to reach Santiago to liberate the whole of Central Chile from the Spanish rule. Lautaro’s attempts ended in 1557 when he was killed in an ambush by the Spanish. Today Lautaro is revered among Mapuche and non-Mapuche Chileans for his resistance against foreign conquest, servitude and cruelty.
(Caupolican meaning “polished flint or blue quarts stone or kall fulikan in Mapudungun”), he was a Mapuche toqui, or war leader of the Mapuche people, who led the resistance of his people against the Spanish conquistadors who invaded Chile during the 16th century. His rule as toqui lasted roughly from 1553 to 1558 AD. According to tradition and the writing of Fernando Alegria, Caupolican was of a grave countenance and was blind in one eye from childhood. He fought from his youth on against the Spanish conquistadors. He was elected toqui of the Mapuche people, as Lautaro’s successor. Caupolican led many famous wars. At last in the battle of Antihuala (on the 5th of February, 1558), he was captured, when he was in the process of preparing a counteroffensive. He was taken before the veteran Alonso de Reinoso, who condemned him to die by impalement.
Caupolican is considered by many to have been a very fierce warrior and is recognized for his exploits in all of Chile by the naming of streets, theaters, parks and monuments in his honor.
Pedro de Valdivia
Pedro Gutierrez de Valdivia or Valdivia (April 17, 1497-December 25, 1553) was a Spanish conquistador and the 1st royal governor of Chile. In 1540 he led an expedition of 150 Spaniards into Chile, where he defeated a large force of Indians and founded Santiago in 1541. He extended Spanish rule south to the Bio-Bio river in 1546 and later as the governor in 1549. He founded Conception in 1550. He was captured and killed in a campaign against the Araucan Indians. The city of Valdivia and the metro stop of Pedro de Valdivia in Santiago are named after him.
Benjamin Vicuna Meckenna (August 25, 1831-January 25, 1886) was a Chilean writer, journalist, historian and politician. He was born in Santiago and the grandson of General Juan Mackenna, hero of the Chilean War of Independence. In 1856, Vicuna Mackenna graduated as a lawyer from the University of Chile. He was an elected national senator for a 6-year term, in 1872 was also appointed mayor of Santiago. He represented the intellectual class of South American elites.
The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of present-day Patagonia. The collective term refers to a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who share a common social, religious and economic structures, as well as a common linguistic heritage as Mapudungun speakers. Today the collective group makes up over 80% of the indigenous peoples in Chile, and about 9% of the total Chilean population. They are particularly concentrated in Arauco. Many have migrated to Santiago area for economic opportunities.
The Mapuche is used both to refer collectively to the Picunche (people of the north), Huilliche (people of the south) and Moluche or Nguluche from Arauccania.
The Mapuche traditional economy is based on agriculture, and their traditional social organization consists of extended families, under the direction of a lonko or chief. In times of war, they would unite in larger groupings and elect a toki or toqui (meaning axe, the axe bearer or military leader) to lead them.
The Araucan Mapuche inhabited at the time of Spanish arrival at the valleys between the Itata and Tolten rivers. Some Mapuche mingled with Spanish during colonial times, and their descendants make up the large group of mestizos in Chile.
Archaeological findings have shown the existence of Mapuche culture in Chile and Argentina as early as 600 to 500 BC.
In the history of Mapuche, there are several famous wars and military leaders (toquis) worth of mentioning, such as: War of Curalaba and War of Tucapel, etc. The famous and brave toquis include: Lautaro, Pelantaro and Caupolican, etc.
Mapuche language is spoken in Chile and to a smaller extent to Argentina. The two living branches are Huilliche and Mapudungun. Linguistics estimate that only about 20000 full-fluency speakers remain in Chile. In recent years, the language has started to be taught in rural schools of Bio-Bio, Arauco and Los Lagos regions.
Central to Mapuche cosmology is the idea of a creator called Ngenechen, who is embodied in 4 components: an older man, an older woman, a young man and a young woman. They believe in worlds known as the Wenu Mapu and Minche Mapu. Also, Mapuche cosmology is informed by complex notions of spirits that coexist with humans and animals in the natural world, and daily circumstances can dictate spiritual practices. The most well-known Mapuche ritual ceremony is the Ngillatun, “to pray or generally prayer”. These ceremonies are often major communal events that are of extreme spiritual and social importance. The main groups of deities or spirits in Mapuche mythology are the Pillan and Wangulen (ancestral spirits), the Ngen (spirits in nature) and the wekufe (evil spirits). Central to Mapuche belief is the role of the machi (shaman). The machi performs ceremonies for curing diseases, warding off evil, influencing weather, harvests, social interactions and dream-work.
Like many cultures, the Mapuche have a deluge myth (epeu) of a major flood in which the world is destroyed and recreated. The myth involves 2 opposing forces: Kai Kai (water, which brings death through floods) and Tren Tren (dry earth, which brings sunshine).
One of the best-known arts of Mapuche is their textiles. The Mapuche are known for the textiles woven by women, which have been goods for trade for centuries, since before the European encounter. A measure of importance of weaving is evident in the expectation that a man would give a larger dowry for a bride who was an accomplished weaver.
In the later half of 18th century, Mapuche silversmith began to produce large amounts of silver finery. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Mapuche silversmith activity and artistic diversity reached its climax. The design were associated with philosophical and spiritual concepts.
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