From the ground: Mapuches. Argentina-Chile. SDG16. EN

In search of the "good life" of the Mapuche people

P. Mario Bússolo, cmf.

Coordinator of the work with the Mapuches

Close to the Wetripantu, the new year of the Mapuche people where everything is renewed, where with the sunrise another cycle is born, the kimûn (wisdom) expands and the energies of the diversity of existing lives are renewed, and where the seed dreams of another tree, I share with you the simple gestures of a project that is visible in the Patagonian plateau in southern Argentina.

As a JPIC team (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation), of the Claretian community of life in shared mission, for more than three years we have been carrying out a link and joint work with several Mapuche communities of the area. The note of this commitment is based on a path shared with the Mapuche people, where the worldview, language and art flourish and impose themselves as an expression of determination and autonomy in a country where discrimination and the denial of their identity and rights are commonplace. 

We have the joy of being part of ancestral ceremonies such as Pichi Nguillatum, the Wetripantu or the Kamaruko, acts that allow one of the most remarkable gestures of communion with the ancestors and nature, also the community experience as an original people. We understood that these spaces, so important to them and to us, were the door to other dreams made concrete in time.

The Mapuches. Their Language

Another activity was the meeting of a group of women who were interested in learning the Mapuche loom, an admirable fabric for its beauty and communication of wisdom. It is a space where the authentic and decisive presence of the same artisan woman who, with her newen (strength), makes the community grow and transforms social life. Until now they continue to meet in a small village called Mamuel Choique, where there is an original community.

We have implemented history and worldview workshops open to the Mapuche communities and other inhabitants with a more regional approach looking for the origin of the families. Soon after, we formalized a one-year workshop on Mapuche language (Mapuzungun) and history endorsed by another study center such as Cefyt (Center for Philosophical and Theological Studies), first for adults and then for children from the town where we live, Ingeniero Jacobacci. We also attend rural primary schools sharing workshops on worldview and language for the educational community. The proposal was consolidated until a workshop was formed for the study and sharing of experiences for half a year, organized by the JPIC team and a National University. Here the axes that were dealt with were the care of the "Common House" in the light of the Laudato Si, the Mapuche worldview, history and language.

With sincerity and dedication, we always tried to make their culture visible and to make it known as a messenger of Good Living, without imposing anything on our Church, since the full and good life for a society wounded by selfishness and consumerism is born from their womb. We continue in this path helped by the area of Solidarity and Mission of the Claretian Congregation. 

On the other hand, in articulation with other organizations, Mapuche communities and individuals of the area, we are involved in the "defense of water and territory", against an extractive project of gold and silver. The company Patagonia Gold is in an exploration process about 80 km from our town, and where Mapuche communities live, with the aim of plundering the non-renewable natural goods with the consequent destruction of the land and the uncontrolled use of water, necessary and fundamental for the sheep production and the life of the rural inhabitants.

Strategies to raise awareness and make this injustice visible, such as assemblies, festivals and meetings at the local and provincial level to plan legal and advocacy actions, are permanent in our political agenda. This is also supported by the "Churches and Mining" network, an ecumenical space that seeks to respond to the challenges of the impacts and violations of socio-environmental rights caused by mining activities in the territories where we live and work.

Interview to Jorge Pinto. Mapuches

The joy and richness received from our native peoples is overwhelming, their lifestyles and struggles in such an adverse and conflictive context, do not cease to provoke the dynamics of service and a shared path with our brothers and sisters of the pre-existing peoples in these lands.

P. Mario Bússolo, cmf

Coordinator of the work with the Mapuche
Translated with (free version)

P. Mario Bússolo cmf