5 Ways Mapuche Culture Stays Thriving

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Recently, we wrote about Paola Castillo’s Genoveva, a documentary detailing the prejudices faced by the Mapuche community in Chile. In the trailer, a young girl can be heard saying that she thinks Mapuche people are ugly. The short clip also shows the community battling a longtime problem – asking for the return of their land.

It’s no doubt that this is a community that is still struggling and looked down on in Chile, and as a result they are usually less educated and wealthy than others in the country. But a recent Associated Press report suggests that little by little indigenous pride is making a comeback.

Here are five things that have added to the slow acceptance of the Mapuche community:


Ana Tijoux

Not only did Anita participate in Genoveva, she also wrote the title track for the documentary. At the beginning of her career, she acknowledged her Amerindian roots with “La Rosa de los Vientos.” She rapped, “Estoy orgullosa y tengo sangre indígena/Mejor por que es hermosa, soy una trotamundo.” This is something she has proudly continued to display since then, with songs like “Vengo” and her use of Mapuche flags during concerts.


Mainstream herbalists

Luis Hidalgo

Chile has worked to integrate Mapuche herbalists into its public health system. One hospital refers patients to an herbalist across the street. “I’m not Mapuche but I believe in their culture,” said Elba Soto to the AP. “And I love all of it.”



American brand Voz has teamed up with members of the Mapuche community for clothing inspired by the culture. It’s not too obvious how the profits are split, but the Voz site says that it works with the community in all aspects of the design process. “Focusing on textile creation, print and embellishments, artisans receive authorship credit and royalties for their design contributions,” the site said. While this may still be vague and the exorbitant prices are questionable, it’s definitely better than just stealing from indigenous communities. (Talking to you, Isabel Marant.)



Nowadays, the Mapuche youth is interested in their culture. And with things like a recently launched program focusing on teaching Mapudungun, they are one step closer.




Mapuche stories are actually being told on TV. Besieged: The Other Side of the Conquest, a historical drama called the Mapuche Game of Thrones, tells the story of the Mapuche’s victory against Spanish colonizers in the 1598 Curalaba battle.

Author Pedro Cayuqueo also hosts a CNN Chile TV show, KulMapu, that revolves around Mapuche culture. “The Mapuche today are not just folklore. The Mapuche today are a cultural icon and a pop-cultural icon,” he said. “It makes people in rock, film and gastronomy become interested and stop looking at the Mapuche in a paternalistic way, but as something that’s cool.”