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

Machi Millaray Huichalaf, on the shore of the Pilmaiquen River, on the sacred spot Ngen Mapu Kintuante that will be flooded if the third project of a dam is built. Besides her role of mediator between the dead and the living, the Machi is also the community doctor. She visits this place often to find medicinal herbs. On January 30th 2013, Millaray got arrested after a search warrant, accused of holding weapons and hiding 6 people who were also accused of setting a house on fire. She will be held in protective custody for the next 6 months.

Patricia Roxana Troncoso Robles (a.k.a. "La Chepa") at her house in Temuco. Patricia is a former Mapuche political prisoner. She was sentenced to 10 years of jail for having started a fire considered as an act of terrorism. Following the Anti-terrorist law, promulgated during the dictatorship government, the witnesses of the accusation were hooded and their voices were distorted. On 2007 she spent more than 100 days of hunger strike, asking for the release of all the Mapuche political prisoners, the demilitarization of the territory and the annulment of the Anti-terrorist law.

At Patricia Roxana Troncoso Robles's house, former Mapuche political prisoner. Her 3 year-old daughter was born when she was in prison.

Machi Millaray Huichalaf's house, in the Roble Carimallin community, where the search warrant took place and she got arrested on January 30th 2013.

Ema Yolanda Veramar, 65 years-old, mother of nine children. She is the oldest woman of the Roble Carimallin community. Yola always live there. She says she has the gift to heal through medicinal plants. She says, "one day a man came by to ask me to sign a paper in favor of the third dam construction, on the Pilmaiquen River. I didn't sign. I've known this river forever. I collect my medicine out of it. Since I was a little girl my mother took me to the Ngen Mapu Kintuante (Mapuche's sacred spot). My mother is buried right on top of that place.

Luis Navarro talks to his daughter Ailin inside his house on the city of Llanquihue, in the region of Los Lagos. On the wall, a portrait of Victor JAra, a popular Chilean singer and song-writer, assassinated during the coup of Pinochet on 1973. "I used to be an activist, just like any revolutionary man. Today my political struggle is based on the mapuche world view. Five years ago, I decided to recover that identity. By reading Hector Llaitul's book (political prisoner and mapuche activist) I became aware that I have always been Mapuche.

Inner wall of Luis Navarro's house in Llanquihue. The painting represents a tree with Osorno volcano behind. It was made by Luis older daughter who studies in Santiago de Chile city.

Luis Navarro sails on a little boat nearly every day to a native forest. He is an unofficial park ranger. "The mapuche struggle is directly related to the environment preservation", he says.

Cristobal, son of Luis Navarro, at the entrance of their house. Behind him, the mapuche flag and two "trutrucas", traditional mapuche instruments. Luis says "We have rebuilt our culture together with my son. He plays the trutruca better than I do."

Luis Navaqrro and his son Cristobal on the Maullin River, heading to a native forest where Luis works as an unofficial park ranger. "Cristobal joins me on every trip and every activity related to our Mapuche identity."

Luis Navarro places the prawn traps on the Maullin River, near by Llanquihue.

A wire fence was set in the middle of a forest in order to maintain the surveillance of the hydroelectric dam on Pilmaiquen River, currently held by Enel Company, Green Group.

First hydroelectric dam built on the Pilmaiquen River. It is currently being utilised by Enel Company, Green Group. There is a second dam on this river and a third one has been designed and it will flood on the Ngen Mapu Kintuante, sacred spot for the Mapuche people, where the rogation ceremonies are performed.

A man from the Roble Carimallin community. "If the water disappear and the rivers and the sacred mountains are intervened, the Mapuche people will disappear as well. When the most sacred is in jeopardy, the people will react." This man doesn't want to show his face, afraid of the Chilean state persecution.

A grave of the Mapuche Maihue cemetery, located on the heights of the Ngen Mapu Kintuante, Mapuche sacred spot, that will be flooded if the third dam project takes place. On the Mapuche cosmogony, the spirits of the dead go through the Ngen Mapu Kintuante to the river.

Cecilia Huenupi, 26 years-old, spokesperson of the political prisoners of the CAM (Arauco-Malleco Coordination) in the city of Temuco. She's also the life partner of Ramon Llanquileo, Mapuche political prisoner for the past 4 years and with another 4 years of sentence to do. Cecilia says: "Ramon got arrested under the Anti-terrorist law, promulgated during the Pinochet's dictatorship. That law doesn't allow the accused person to have access to his or her cause for the first six months of the process, and the witnesses of the accusation don't need to give their identities. "

Millaray Huichalaf dresses her 3 year-old daughter Llanka. On this house, a few days after, on January 30th 2013, the carabineers will proceed to perform a search warrant and will arrest her. She will be accused of holding guns and hiding people suspected of setting a house on fire.

Pilmaiquen River. The mist are actually ashes of the Puyehue volcano, Cordon Caulle.

Machi Millaray Huichalaf, on the shore of the Pilmaiquen River, on the sacret spot Ngen Mapu Kintuante that will be flooded if the third project of a dam is built. Besides her role of mediator between the dead and the living, the Machi is also the community doctor. She visits this place often to find medicinal herbs.