Infancia Mapuche “Una cruel realidad” – Mapuche Infancy, a cruel reality.


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As I listen to the declarations made by Mapuche children, I could not stop thinking about the comments made by one of my girlfriends.  ‘There are no political issues in Chile now, all of that stupid stuff was left in the past’.

Chile is a strange place; it has beautiful landscapes and amazing mountains, all so enchanting.  The people; good and bad as in any other place but Chilean people I thought as a naive child, were all so kind and giving.

This morning I was watching a video on YouTube, entitled Infancia Mapuche “Una cruel realidad”’ – Mapuche Infancy, a cruel reality.

A little girl asked her brother Manki to play with her.  She looked about 7 years old and the brother about the same age.


There is nothing out of the ordinary that a little girl would ask her brother to play, however I continued to listen to the video and to my disbelief the little girl asked her brother to play ‘el paco y el Mapuche’ – the cop and the Mapuche.

The brother agreed and they started to run in the beautiful golden grass.  As the girl ran the brother followed.  The next frame in the video left me in shock.  The boy pointed his fingers towards his sister’s back and proceeded to make a sound with his lips; ‘pssh, pssh’ as they both ran and enjoyed them selves with laughter.  He was shooting at his sister, while she ran in front of him calling out ‘andate paco’ – go away cop.


The beautiful green landscape with its mountains as the backdrop to a dramatic re-enactment of the cruel and disheartening reality lived by these children.

As a child I played with my dolls, in the suburbs of Santiago in Chile.  These children play ‘the cop and the Mapuche’ under the golden sun of a beautiful afternoon.  Has my country of origin changed that much?  Why have these children opted to play such a game?

I left Chile when I was 12 years old.  I had heard about the Mapuche but it was never a topic taught at school.  The history I knew started when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in what is now known as Chile.  I never questioned this history.  What was there before?  I began to ask this questions as I learnt about the Aborigines in Australia.

I am now learning about the Mapuche customs, their culture, their way of life and their struggles but when I came across this video I could not believe what these Mapuche children have to live with on a daily basis.

I do not know if the country has changed but I do know that I have changed.  I have grown up and opened my eyes to the real Chile.  A country with blood running from the Andes mountains all the way to the Pacific ocean, from the north of Arica to the south of Punta Arenas.  And in between these places, there are people trying to survive, like the Mapuche.

My friend is not interested in issues such as this, for her the ‘political stuff’ ended when Chile became a democracy again, back in the nineties.

These Mapuche children are traumatised and scared by what they are watching and experiencing at their doorsteps.  I wish I could do more.


Video:  Infancia Mapuche “Una cruel realidad”

Accessed Friday July 27, 2012

Uploaded by ‪WallmapuVision on Aug 12, 2011

Imagenes recopiladas de un reportaje de CANAL 13 – Contacto 2010. Muestra la cruda niñez con la que crecen los niños mapuche a causa de fuerte represion policial en las comunidades mapuche.

Produce: El diario Wallmapu

Images: snapshots taken from Infancia Mapuche “Una cruel realidad”


The Mapuches & Chile’s minor change in its anti-terrorist law


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In 1991 Chile made a minor adjustment to its Anti-Terrorist law No 18,314 , which caused a major impact on the Mapuche in particular.  The adjustment deleted any ‘political connotations’ from its legislation and defined the act of terrorism as a form of violent crimes, in which arson was included.

Mapu Star

Mapu is the word for land in Mapudungu, the language spoken by the Mapuche.

The Mapuches were using arson as a form of retaliation against non-Mapuche landowners and multinational forestry companies who occupied Mapuche territories, when in fact that land had once belonged to the Mapuches.

The Mapuches argue that this law was selective when applied and it targeted the Mapuches.  By incriminating Mapuche people under the anti-terrorist law, the Chilean legal system used ‘relaxed procedures’ and allowed anonymous witnesses to charge and incarcerate Mapuches.  Bail was not an option under the anti-terrorist law and subjected Mapuches to lengthy detention prior to their trial.

Source: International Commission of Jurists, “Assessing Damage, Urging Action: Report of the eminent jurists panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: Criminal Law – Definitions in law of terrorism”, (2009) 125.  Accessed July 12, 2012.

A poem, The Mapuches, an Artwork & a Ruca


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I presented the Ruca to my Experimental Writing class last week, Tuesday 27 April 2012.

The artwork is a representation of the poem written by  Elicura Chihuailaf, En Este suelo abitan las estrellas.


This is the artwork:


Title:  Ruca

Size:  250 X 300 X 100mm

Materials:  Stoneware white clay, string, aluminium wire, recycle timber & tin cans.


This is the moon.


I made this circle in a ceramic dish I am working on for another artwork.  It’s melted glass, melted at a temperature higher than the recommended temperature 850°C.  Because the temperature was too high, the glass shrinks and the holes are formed.

The Mapuche, a Poem and an Artwork


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The artwork so far.

In previous posts I have discussed the following issues:

These posts have visited issues that affect the Mapuche people and how I will be making an object or a series of object to represent the poem written by Elicura Chihuailaf, entitled ‘En este suelo habitan las estrellas’.

I will be trying to answer some of the question listed below , to show that the Mapuches are disadvantage in more ways than one in Chilean society.

  • Is Chile or Chilean society ashamed of the Mapuches?  Or are they ashamed to be known as Mapuches?
  • Does Chile or Do some people in Chilean society, see the Mapuches as inferior?
  • Would people in Chilean society rather be associated with other cultures such the German, Italians, Yugoslavians?
  • Do people look for their roots in European cultures as a way of saying that they are ‘white’?

The way in which I will be representing this negative attitude by Chilean society will be by covering the stars with a mask.


Image A

The mask will be made from pieces of wool taken from an old brown woolen vest that I bought in Chiloe, in the south of Chile.  The colours and the appearance of the wool are often associated with ‘being indigenous’ in Chilean society.

As you can see in Image A, the bottom tips of the stars are just showing below the mask.  I want the stars to be seen.  I want the viewer to be able to recognise that the stars are hidden under the woolen mask.  Thus giving the viewer a hint, a sign, to enable them to read the artwork like I want it to be read.


Image B: Lana Chilota

I will only be adding maybe 5 covered stars because I would like to believe that the number of racist people in Chile are only a hand full.

ill treatment of the Mapuches & discriminatory anti-terrorist law No. 19.027


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Mapuches incarcerated

The artwork continues to develop.  The sketch above shows on the ground the stars in much the same way as I had it in ‘The thought process & the Mapuches’ published on April 1, 2012.  In contrast to the sketch on ‘The thought process & the Mapuches’ some of the stars are now standing on barbed wire.

The barbed wire

These stars standing on the barbed wire represent the Mapuche people who are incarcerated due to Chile’s unfair and discriminatory anti-terrorist law No.19.027 introduced in 1984[1] by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The Mapuche and the Mapuche extremists

Unfortunately there are some Mapuche extremists who are frustrated and angry at the way the Chilean government has dealt with the Land Rights issues.  These Mapuche extremists stage land occupations and have been known to damaging private property and arson[2].  I urge you to note that although the majority of the Mapuche population shares the same frustration as the extremist, they go out onto the streets and conduct peaceful protests without doing any harm to property or any one else.

The Anti-terrorist law – La Ley Anti-terrorista.

This anti-terrorist law does not discriminate; women, minors and men are all trialed under the same law.  This is an outrage.  In Australia this would not happen.

Towards the end of 2010, 52 Mapuches were incarcerated, 40 of them were charged for terrorist crimes and serving sentences of up to 10 years.  The Observatorio Ciudadano’s lawyer Matías Meza-Lopehandia argued in court that for the term “terrorism” to apply these Mapuches would have to have showed “disregard for human life” yet there were no fatalities during their demonstration[3].

Unlike the harsh anti-terrorist law applied to the Mapuches in a court of law, a policeman who shot and killed a young activist by the name of Matías Catrileo was only charged with a two years suspended sentence in a military tribunal[2].

“The current anti-terrorist law is a modified version of the one that was introduced by the military government of Pinochet in 1984. Law 19,027 was originally designed to pursue armed political groups involved in kidnappings, attacks on police stations and assassinations. It is Chile’s most draconian law: it doubles the normal sentences for some offences, makes pre-trial release more difficult, enables the prosecution to withhold evidence from the defense for up to six months, and allows defendants to be convicted on testimony given by so-called ‘faceless’ witnesses, who are permitted to appear in court behind screens, invisible to the defendants and the public.”[4]


ill treatment of the Mapuches in Chile.

The stars also represent the ill treatment of the Mapuches in Chile.

The Mapuche people are protesting and standing up for their rights, their land.  They want their land that was taken from them, to be given back.  The Mapuches go out onto the streets with their families, women and children, holding banners, playing their musical instruments, such as the one on this photograph, the Kultrun.  They protests against international companies that are now occupying Mapuche land.


This is a very complex issue facing the Mapuches and the burden on the Chilean government.  There are many scholarly articles, documents from organisations (listed below), news paper if you would like to read more.

  • Amnesty internacional
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

Take for example an article by Jalisco Guadalajara, issued by the on Thursday April 5, 2012.

The article concentrates on 2 Mapuche women; one was holding her child while she got hit by the Chilean policeman and the other a younger woman who was arrested  The article also shows the violent and abusive behavior of the police.

There is video evidence showing the bashing of the woman holding the child and the inappropriate treatment of both women by Chilean police.  The article mentions their charges as: public disorder, unlawful treatment of a police officer and damage to public property.

The interesting fact about this article is that the video was accepted by the Chilean court of law as evidence, not the norm by any means[5].

[2] Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) The Hague, Netherlands.  Submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Universal Periodic Review: Chile

[3] Pamela Sepulveda, ‘Discrimination directed against the Mapuche Indians’, Global Research, February 12, 2010.  Accessed April 9, 2012.

[4]  Accessed April 6, 2012.

Para parar la olla


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Para parar la olla

As my idea develops, I am starting to narrow down the meaning of my artwork; or what I want the artwork to say.  It’s interesting how it takes me quite a few steps to get to where I want to go with the artwork and then when a viewer stands in front of the artwork, they decide what the artwork is saying to them.

The intension of the artist is often not known unless the viewer reads the ‘Artist Statement’.  In this blog my intensions are developing towards an end product, which is an interpretation of the poem ‘En este suelo habitan las estrellas’ by Elicura Chihuailaf.

The sketch below is from this week interpretation of the original poem ‘En este suelo habitan las estrellas’ however this interpretation takes the artwork a step further as I try to explore issues that effect the Mapuches in the every day.


Issues affecting the Mapuche people:

  • they are hungry,
  • they are poor,
  • living in appalling conditions.

Poverty amongst Mapuches

According to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) 34.8% of 1.3 million Mapuches live below the poverty line in an area known as Bio Bio. In this area 52.3% of Mapuches are considered poor and marginalised[1].

A study entitled ‘Poverty and Inequality Among Ethnic Groups in Chile’ published in the World Development journal; it states that the wages for a Mapuche in 2006 was $1093/hr pesos in comparison with $1557/hr pesos for a non-indigenous person, “a reduction of nearly 30%”[2].

Unlike the original artwork or the straight interpretation of the poem posted on the 1st of April entitled ‘The thought process & the Mapuches’, this artwork is becoming more complex with the introduction of social issues affecting the Mapuches.

The artwork

The stars and the water drops are now hanging from the top as one.

In the centre of the picture, there will be an aluminium cooking pot upside down.


The meaning of the ‘cooking pot’ – La Olla

‘Para parar la olla’ is a common phrase used in Chile.  In English you could say that it phrase can be translated as ‘to enable the pot to stand up’, meaning: to enable the pot to stand on its base the pot needs to have food inside to be able to cook it.

As I was growing up in Chile ‘Para parar la olla’ and many other phrases where used to give a double meaning or to refer to every day life in a more or less sarcastic way.

In other words, if the pot is not sitting on its base and it’s facing down, the pot does not have any food in it and consequently the family in that house hold would not have money to buy food to eat.  The people are hungry.

Where the cooking pot idea came from: 

When I went back to Chile for a holiday in 1984 with my parents.  There was still a lot of unrests in the streets of Santiago due to the political situation Chile after the military coup in 1973.

I began to notice a banging sound/noise at the same time every afternoon at approximately 7pm.  One night I heard the noise and I asked my untie about the noise.  She informed me that every night the housewives go out in front of their houses and they proceeded to bang on the empty cooking pots as a sign of discontent with the government.  This gesture was a protest to inform the government their dissatisfaction with high unemployment which directly affected their families because they don’t have money to buy food and they are hungry.  Thus; there is no food para parar la olla.

[1]  Submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Universal Periodic Review: Chile.  Accessed April 7, 2012.

[2] Agostini, C., Brown, P., Roman, A., Poverty and Inequality Among Ethnic Groups in Chile. World Development 2010, Vol. 38, No. 7,  1036–1046.

Down my throat you go.


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Down my throat you go.

Longin for your juice…I wait.

I feel it.  I’m almost there…

Up, up, up___BANG!

The explosion takes me there.


I had to make an object and the theme was Lightness.  I had saved empty table packaging which I used to create this artwork.  The writing was spontaneous in class when the teacher gave us 5min to write something about our work.

The thought process & the Mapuches


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The images on this page are original images taken my journal.

This is my original sketch interpreting the poem, ‘En este suelo avitan las estrellas’ by Elicura Chihuailaf.


The stars are growing from the bottom, the ground.  The small things hanging from the top are drops of water coming down from the sky.  The circular shapes in between the stars and the water drops, are our ancestors.


Here I am translating the Spanish poem to English and at the same time interpreting the meaning of the words.


This a Mind Mapping image.  David our teacher told us that there is a software that will help you do mind mapping.  It is called: FreeMind and it’s a free mind mapping software.

You can go and read about this here


Mind mapping is such an incredible tool to use.  When I started drawing lines, here and there, I began to think of other ideas.  Gradually my initial idea was developing.


Another thought I had was that when water evaporates, it turns into clouds and the clouds are our ancestors that are no longer with us because they are dead, but at the same time they are here because they are in the sky as clouds.


My idea has now jumped from being a traditional classical poem to viewing or examining the issues that are affecting the Mapuche people today.  In this image I have drawn spoons standing up.  These represent the Mapuche people on the earth and they are hungry.  They are poor, living in appalling conditions.

This has made me question my ancestors, my family and the people that I know.  The poem by Elicura Chihailaf is valid if we lived in a make believe society taken from a fairy tale book.  I don’t mean to criticise this great author or the beauty and rich historical value of the Mapuche culture but when I look at my family and where we came from…there is no place, no family record that states that I am Mapuche.

Both of my family surnames are Spanish names; Marin Torres, but I don’t look Spanish.

My family, my relatives and the people I knew in Chile and here in Australia use the word ‘indio’ as a derogative word when referring to the Mapuche people.  They might not realise that what they are saying is putting down the Mapuche  people.  Phrases such as ‘you are showing your feather’ (estas mostrando la pluma) is a direct discriminatory phrase to say that you are acting just like a Mapuche.  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

I try and try to understand Chilean society and these terms but the only way to understand it is by knowing that Chile is a society based on your ‘class’.   There are the rich white people and poor, darker people.  There is no middle class.  And the Mapuches are classified by its society as being inferior.  What a whole lot of garbage!

I would like to explore these issues in my work. There are a lot of people in Chile who:

  •  are shame to be known as Mapuche
  • The Mapuches are considered as being inferior
  • The Mapuches are poor and live under the poverty line, they are unskilled
  • Unfairly treated by the government
  • They are incarcerated for speaking up for their human rights
  • They are incarcerated for protesting

So far I have made these:


These are the water drops.  Made from white stoneware recycle clay.


These are the stars.  Made from Stoneware recycle clay.


En este suelo habitan las estrellas. Experimental Writing


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Last year I was introduced to the idea of concepts in an artwork.  To me this is an idea or a story that I have to tell though my object in Ceramic Studios.  It is not as simple as it sounds.  A lot of research goes into building up from the initial idea.

For this project in Experimental Writing Elective, I have to tell a story through my object, installation, etc.  More or less the same techniques that I have been doing in Ceramics Studio but this time I started with a poem that was written by Elicura Chihuailaf.   From this poem I have to create an artwork that will tell the same story as the poem but in a non written text.  I can not use text or paper as this is known to be the traditional way of ‘writing’.

Elicura Chihuailaf is a poet and writer who was born in Quechurewe, from the Araucanía region in Chile, 1952.

His speciality is telling stories in his dialect Mapudungun, which is the language spoken by one group of original dwellers of Chile before the Spaniards took over in the 16th century, the Mapuches.  The Mapuches are the largest group of original dwellers of an area in the south of Chile known Araucanía.

I decided to research the Mapuches so I can begin to understanding the history of my country Chile as well as to have a better understanding, appreciation and support for the Mapuches as my ancestors.

Elicura Chihailaf is a Mapuche and belongs to the Mapuche Nation.  He studied obstetrician/gynaecologist at the University of Concepción, but he was not allowed to practice his profession during the dark years in Chile[1].  I assume that the dark years he refers to in his book are the years surrounding 1973, when the there was a military coup lead by Augusto Pinochet and the CIA where they took over the government lead by Salvador Allende[2].

Elicura Chihailaf is a university lecturer and a member of the Chilean Academy of the Language.  In addition he is a member and the Secretary General of the Association of Native Writers who have forced academic critiques to take notice of the rich literature of the Mapudungun that has always being a part of Chile, but has been denied[3].

All his poems are first written in Mapudungun and then he writes them in Spanish.  There are many videos of Elicura on Youtube, where you will be able to listen to his poems and verses.

I have chosen to work with the following poem entitled:

  • Tvfaci mapu mew mogeley wagvben in Mapudungun
  • In Spanish the title is: En este suelo habitan las estrellas
  • and in English the title would be: In this soil inhabited by the stars

Tvfaci mapu mew mogeley wagvben (Mapudungun)

Tvfaci mapu mew mogeley wagvben
Tvfaci kajfv wenu mew vlkantuley
ta ko pu rakiduwam
Doy fvta ka mapu tañi mvlen ta komv
xipalu ko mew ka pvjv mew
pewmakeiñmu tayiñ pu fvcakece yem
Apon kvyeh fey tañi am -pigekey
Ni hegvmkvleci piwke fewvla ñvkvfvy.

The translation in Spanish is:

En este suelo habitan las estrellas

En este suelo habitan las estrellas.
En este cielo canta el agua
de la imaginación.
Más allá de las nubes que surgen
de estas aguas y estos suelos,
nos sueñan los antepasados.
Su espíritu -dicen- es la luna llena.
El silencio, su corazón que late.

When i found the poem in Spanish the translation was already done from Mapudungun.  This poem was taken from his book entitled El Invierno su imagen y otros poemas azules, 1991 (Winter’s image and other blue poems).

I have translated this poem to English to be able to make my artwork.

In this soil inhabited by the stars

In this soil inhabited by the stars

In this sky, sing the waters of imagination

Beyond the clouds that rise

from this water and this soil

Our ancestors dream of us

Their spirits – say – it’s the full moon

The silence their beating heart

Now that my poem has being translated I have to begin to understand what the writing is telling me.

In this soil inhabited by the stars

The soil for the Mapuches is their land.  So when it says that this soil inhabited by the stars, it’s referring to the Mapuche people living on this earth now.

In this sky, sing the waters of imagination

The Mapuche people live in the south of Chile in an area referred to as La Araucanía.  View map.


The Araucania is an area where there is a lot of rain and the more modest houses have tin roofs.  When it rains, there is a lot of lightning.  The sky singing is the noise the water makes when it hits the tin roofs.

Beyond the clouds that rise from this water and this soil, Our ancestors dream of us.

Our ancestors that are no longer here on earth (because they are dead) are in between us, who are still left on this land.  Our ancestors are amongst us, they are with us.

Their spirits – say – it’s the full moon

Our ancestors are telling us that they are the full moon, and the silence of the night, their hearts beating.  Their hearts that are still alive.

[1] Elicura Chihuailaf, De sueños azules y contrasueños,  Libros de Iggdrassil, 2002.