Wednesday, December 8, 2010


4.6% out of the whole population are indigenous people in Chile. There are only eight ethic groups recognised under the Law of Indigenous Peoples (Ley Indigena) of 1993. They are Mapuche, Aymara, Atacameno, Quechua, Colla, Rupanui, Alacalufe or Kawashkar, and Yamana people. Mapuches made of of 87.3% of the indigenous population, which Aymaras, Atacamenos and other groups are 7.0%, 3.0% and 2.7% respectively.

The Mapuche people are the largest group of indigenous people in Chile with a population near to half a million of people. They do speaks their Mapudungun language, and their culture are mostly characterised by familiar and religious bonds where defines them as a real nation due to these factors. The Mapuche originated largely from the Mongolian ethnic group whom arrived in America 1000BC and later, they moved away from the Andean subgroup.

The Mapuche believe in a perfect balance of both positive and negative aspects present in every act they do. The positive god, Ngenechen, represents the forces of life, creation and love where the negative god, Wekufu, god of death and destruction.

The Mapuche another word is people of the earth were used to live on
fruits found on earth and through hunting for food. They lived in scattered settlements as far out south as the Island of Chiloé. The Mapuche still continues to have a hierarchical society based on family structures. The women played an important roles in the society as they are the ones who are able to reach out to the gods and their positions is distributed according to the types of forces which they are representing. The women who communicates with the god of life is called Machi, the women who communicates with the god of death are called Kalku. Percussion instruments, wind instruments and wooden whistles are usually played to accompany their rituals.

Before the Spanish conquer, the women have a generally higher status in the family than the men. The children carried the name after the mother and the husband lives with the wife family. However after the Spanish conquer, the status have swopped. The men became the head of the family and the wife stays with the husband’s family even though the children still carries with their mother’s name. The Mapuche does not stay in a village; they spread out in families, up till today and live in a lof, a resident unit. A lof is a group of families that carried the same totem (same family’s name).

Photos of Mapuches:

The Aymaras are the second largest group of indigenous people in Chile. They speak Aymara language, an indoamerican language spoken in the Andean zone. This language belongs to the Jaqi family which is the second most spoken language in Andean area, after Quechua.

The Aymaras consider their habitat as the Andean environment where its origin to their community. They believe in only one reality but have two atmospheres that composes it: the natural environment and the supernatural environment. It is a religious vision where sanctifies nature and legitimates mans position over it.

The Aymaras are the ancient people of herders and farmers that use ancestral techniques. They depend on economic exchanges between producers from higher and lower altitudes. As the higher altitudes producer have abundant livestock but few plantation whereas those producer living in the lower altitude have plenty of plantations such as vegetables, fruits and seeds. As a result it stimulates an intensive trade between herders and farmers for their living.

The Aymara’s society is that the extended family where they inherited the male and the female line is the basic unity of traditional Aymara social organisation. The family consist of a man and his wife, their married sons, daughters-in-law and their grandsons and granddaughters, together with their single sons and daughters. There are two different types of Aymara communities: the Andean Aymara – the traditional community, and the peasant community.

Photos of Aymaras:

Bolivia Aymara Indian Festival

Clck HERE for more information of others indigenous group!

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