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(əroukän`ēən), South American people, occupying most of S central Chile at the time of the Spanish conquest (1540). The Araucanians were an agricultural people living in small settlements. They are classified into three major cultural subdivisions, the Huilliche, the Picunche, and the Mapuche, the last being the largest group. The known history of the Araucanians begins with the Inca invasion (c.1448–c.1482) under Tupac Yupanqui, but Inca influence was never strong. Against the Spanish under Pedro de ValdiviaValdivia, Pedro de
, c.1500–1554, Spanish conquistador, conqueror of Chile. One of Francisco Pizarro's best officers in the conquest of Peru, educated, energetic, somewhat less cruel and avaricious than his fellow conquerors, Valdivia obtained permission from Pizarro to
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 the Araucanians offered resistance, notably under LautaroLautaro
, c.1533–57, leader of the Araucanians in their nearly successful attempt to reconquer S central Chile from the Spanish. He was captured by the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, but escaped and returned to his people in 1553, when they began the struggle for
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 and CaupolicánCaupolicán
, d. 1558, leader of the Araucanians who fiercely resisted the Spanish conquest of Chile. He attempted to carry on the reconquest begun by Lautaro and won a victory over the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia.
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, and their stout fight was immortalized in the epic by Alonso de Ercilla y ZúñigaErcilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de
, 1533–94, Spanish poet. In Chile (1556–63) he fought against the Araucanian, and while there he began the epic poem La Araucana, considered the finest Spanish historical poem.
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. They were successful in protecting S Chile and by 1598 had destroyed almost all Spanish settlements S of the Biobío River. Their struggle continued intermittently in the 17th–19thth cent. in a series of uprisings, sometimes ended by treaties that recognized native control. In the early 1860s a Frenchman sought to establish a Mapuche kingdom but was ousted by Chilean forces. White immigration southward brought on the war of 1880–81, which ended with Araucanian submission. As much as 90% of the Araucanian population died during the Chilean conquest of their lands. Earlier, especially at the beginning of the 18th cent., Araucanians fleeing white encroachment had gone across the Andes into Argentina. Capturing wild horses, they became wanderers on the plains and absorbed the PuelchePuelche
, name for various hunting groups of nomadic Native Americans who roamed the Argentine Pampa, hunting guanaco and rhea. Little is known of the Puelche prior to the 18th cent.
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. Gen. Julio A. RocaRoca, Julio Argentino
, 1843–1914, general who became president of Argentina (1880–86, 1898–1904). Minister of war under Nicolas Avellaneda, he crushed (1878–79) the Patagonians, bringing the wars against indigenous peoples to a close and opening the
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 subjugated them in his campaigns (1879–83). The Araucanians, who number around 1.5 million in Chile and 200,000 in Argentina, are divided between assimilated urban dwellers and those who retain many of their traditional ways. Some of them began in the late 1990s to campaign for the return of forest lands in N central Chile that were once theirs; there have been instances of violence on both sides. The Chilean government has undertaken to secure some lands for the Mapuche and improve living standards, but the rural Mapuche of S central Chile remain largely poor and tensions have continued.


See L. C. Faron, Hawks of the Sun (1964) and The Mapuche Indians of Chile (1968); M. I. Hilger, Huenun Ñamku (1966); E. H. Korth, Spanish Policy in Colonial Chile (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(self-designation Mapuche), people constituting the bulk of the Indian population of Chile. Population, more than 300,000 (1961 estimate). They speak Spanish and the Araucanian language. Their chief occupations are farming and cattle breeding. Catholicism is the religion of a sizable number of the Araucanians, but old religious ideas have also been retained. Before the arrival of the Spaniards the Araucanians occupied all of the territory of what is now called Chile. The struggle between the Araucanians and the conquerors and colonizers lasted for more than 300 years. The present-day Araucanians are concentrated in the southern section of central Chile; a considerable number of them live on reservations.


Narody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For the 16th to 17th century Araucanians, the transition from initial contact to widespread organized resistance was marked by local centralization of political power at the lof (local patrilineal community) and regua (multi-patrilineal communities) levels but regional non-centralization at the ayllaregua (multi-regua at the regional scale) and butanmapu (multi-ayllaregua at the interregional scale) levels (Zavala 2011).
(5.) In particular, see Almeida, Reimagining the Transatlantic, 1780-1890: Tim Fulford, "British Romantics and Native Americans: The Araucanians of Chile," SiR 47, no.
(29) On colonial-indigenous relations along the Southern Andes, see Tom Dillehay and Jose Manuel Zavala, "Compromised Landscapes: The Proto-Panoptic Politics of Colonial Araucanian and Spanish Parlamentos," Colonial Latin American Review 22 (2013): 319-43.
It is not surprising that this should have been the case with the Incas or even the Aztecs, but few historians have observed the widespread invocations of Araucanian heroes during the independence wars that occurred even in Peru, the epicentre of "Incanesque" rhetoric.
Juan Ignacio Molina, a Chilean Jesuit, wrote a history of Chile that exalted the courage of the Araucanians (today called Mapuches), who never surrendered to the Spanish.
Questions of genre are a productive point of departure for her second chapter, in which Fuchs brings together two works narrated from the viewpoint of eyewitnesses who present a sympathetic view of the conquered: Alonso de Ercilla's La Araucana, valued by Cervantes for its dignified representation of the conquered Araucanians of Chile, and Gines Perez de Hita's Guerras civiles de Granada (1595 and 1604), which narrates internecine warfare among the Moors before 1492 and the uprising of the Moriscos of the Alpujarras in 1568, another kind of civil war.
Of course, when the Dutch actually tried to unite with the Araucanians of Chile, they failed miserably.
They call themselves tsoneca, which means the humans; tehuelche, the name given to them by the Araucanians (Mapuche), means humans of the south.
Moreover, the Ranqueles had been heavily influenced by Araucanians migrating from the south and west.