Southcentral Chile and southwestern Argentina
The Mapuche of Chile, along with other indigenous populations, have regularly mobilized in protest, but have received disproportionate attention from the State, which has criminalized their political and social requests. The reason for the Mapuche’s protests is that there exists conflict between them and the Chilean State, which José Aylwin, professor at the Universidad Austral de Chile and CICADA researcher, proposes is due to their insufficient political power. He further argues that this situation stems from the lack of protection of indigenous rights, particularly to their rights to their land and natural resources, as they are being confronted with growing extractive projects on their land.
“As in other parts of the continent, indigenous peoples of Chile have undergone cultural assimilation policies and territorial dispossession, driven first by colonial authorities and later by republican governments.”
Aylwin’s research has been focused primarily on the policy level, exploring the content and recommendations of various reports that have been published since the late 1990s and early 2000s. These reports were published in response to the growing national and international interest in the lack of recognition and protection of indigenous rights in Chile, the effects of development projects on the lands of these peoples and the reaction of the Chilean government to indigenous social protest.
In order to effect proper wildlife management, wildlife conservation projects must be culturally appropriate. The Mapuche have partnered with geographer Thora Herrmann, a professor at L’Université de Montréal and a CICADA academic partner, in search for appropriate forms of wildlife management. Their work especially focuses on felids, such as the kodkod cat and the puma.
“Understanding and managing wildlife is also about understanding and managing societies. […] [L]ocal stories can be used to reveal human-animal relationships, and to illuminate some of the underlying causes of human-wildlife conflict.”
–Values, animal symbolism, and human-animal relationships associated to two threatened felids in Mapuche and Chilean local narratives (2013) – Thora Herrmann, Elke Schüttler, Pelayo Benavides, Nicolas Gálvez, Lisa Söhn and Nadja Palomo