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The ongoing struggle for recognition

For indigenous Mapuche people in the Temuco region of Chile, the political and social situation has been conflict-ridden for years. The claim for recognition of their rights as an indigenous group, of their culture and traditions are at the centre of their struggle. Conflicts between Mapuche people, settlers and the state of Chile have increasingly led to riots, making empowerment and commitment to peace all the more important.

A project team of Connexio’s partner church, the Methodist Church in Temuco, organises workshops for Mapuche people to provide information about their rights and obligations and to offer professional support for people who have experienced violence. The creation of spaces to preserve traditions of indigenous Mapuche people also contributes to respect for Mapuche culture. Fairpicture visual creator Tamara Merino was on site. In the following, she portrays four members of the Mapuche community, telling stories of local knowledge and skills, resilience and agency.

Client

Connexio develop

Date

May 2022

Visual Creator

Tamara Merino

Location

Temuco, Chile

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While indigenous Mapuche people in Chile are continuously dealing with many difficulties, Fairpicture visual creator Tamara Merino captured how they still maintain their cultural identity.

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Client: Connexio develop
Visual Creator: Tamara Merino
Date: May 2022
Location: Temuco, Chile

Passing through this life

Laura Yesenuo Alchao Alchao (30) embraces her mother, Laura Margarita Alchao Hinostroza (57), who has cancer. Mapuche people see death as the door to another life and are not afraid to leave their physical body. Laura Margarita Alchao Hinostroza is the "Machi" of the community, the spiritual and physical healer, who represents an intermediary between the Mapuche world and the supernatural world. She watches over the wellbeing of the community.

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The power of nature

Juana Melillán (64) believes in the energies and power of plants. She takes good care of a piece of native forests on her land, where she grows numerous medicinal plants that serve for different illnesses and psychological and/or emotional purposes. She hugs a native tree to get rid of negative energies.

Client: Connexio develop
Visual Creator: Tamara Merino
Date: May 2022
Location: Temuco, Chile

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These are such important stories to tell! For me it was a very beautiful and emotional work – I am very happy to have met such beautiful people and that I can tell their story.

Tamara Merino, Fairpicture Visual Creator

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Client: Connexio develop
Visual Creator: Tamara Merino
Date: May 2022
Location: Temuco, Chile

Ancestral crafts and skills

Laura Caniullán (41) has been working with clay for over 25 years. Her mother, also a Mapuche, taught her the craft when Laura was a child. She is part of a group of Mapuche women who work ceramics in a traditional way, guided by the crafts made by their ancestors. They all sell their handicrafts at fairs dedicated to art and culture and some also sell them online.

“Being Mapuche is something beautiful, it makes me proud to know that I come from something ancestral. Everything I do related to my culture satisfies me, makes me feel happy and feel part of a community.” – Laura Yesenuo Alchao Alchao (30).

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