We are in Adkintuwekura (Piedra del Águila), Nahuelbuta National Park, spiritual sanctuary of the Mapuche people in the Biobío region of Chile. Piedra del Águila is exactly in the Biobío region, although most of the park and its administration are in the Araucanía region.
In high schools in that area of Chile the Mapuche culture is spoken of in the past tense (“it was”): It is unacceptable to speak of a culture that breathes and walks the streets in the past tense.
In these photographs we see a lawentuchefe in her traditional dress. Lawentuchefe, for the Mapuche people, is the one who has the power to heal through plants.
She performs a personal prayer to Chaw Ngünechen, the creator god, in the nguillan mawún [dawn ceremony] ritual. She asks for an end to the violence against her people, repressed by the Chilean state.
During these days when the photographs were taken, We Tripantu or wüñoy Tripantu, the most sacred festivity of the Mapuche people, is being celebrated in southern Chile. It is the celebration of the Mapuche New Year, which coincides with the southern winter solstice.
The lawentuchefe also asks for all of Chile, since we all build and inhabit this beautiful territory. She talks about how her people forgot their roots; even their language was forgotten at some point. On her knees she asks that the new generations do not forget their history and that they feel proud of their ancestral culture, demonized and turned into “terrorist” by capitalism and the neoliberal system implanted in Chile.
With this series I try to validate the Mapuche people’s struggle to recover their territory. The land is an essential part of their spirituality. I show the connection that these people still have with their beliefs.