Photo: Patricia Huenuqueo
The UNESCO Memory of the World Programme’s Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (MOWLAC) has recognised the “Set of Documents from the Indigenous Settlement Commission, Law 4 of December 1866” as a Regional Memory of the World Register.
These documents are preserved in Chile at the General Indigenous Affairs Archives, and they belong to the Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena de Chile (CONADI, the Chilean National Foundation for Indigenous Development).
The documents provide an account of the annexation of Mapuche lands by the Chilean government that began in 1884, and they constitute a valuable heritage describing the settling of the indigenous population and the boundaries and registration of their territory.
The archives are a source of essential information for describing the Mapuche people over a period of almost 50 years and allow for historical studies comparing the settling of these people in Chile and Argentina, their kinship ties, descendants, territory and organisation.
These documents also provide a significant testimony of the transformation of indigenous property beginning in the second half of the 19th century and of the influence Europe and the United States had on colonisation and the ethnic, territorial and productive consolidation of Latin American nations.
Patricia Huenuqueo, Head of Chile’s Office of the National Government Archive System and President of the National Memory of the World (MOW) Committee, explained that “This new record is an enormous opportunity to recognise and appreciate our native peoples. As these archives describe the Chilean government’s annexation of Mapuche country over a period of almost 50 years (1884-1939), we see its inclusion in the regional registry as an opportunity to reread history as we know it and renew our understanding of the present time.”