Mapuche Non-Binary Utopias

Antonio Catrileo Araya, Constanza Catrileo Araya, Malku Catrileo Araya, Alejandra Carrión Lira, and Manuel Carrión Lira, artists from two Mapuche families, gathered in 2016 and since then formed the Catrileo+Carrión Community, dedicated to research investigative practices and multidisciplinary creation.

Weaving Memory

Kimün, Mapuche knowledge associated with witral (weaving) comes from the memory of the Catrileo lof (community). Antonio, Constanza, and Malku have taught us that weaving is more than a technique with symbolic value. It is really a process of political recovery of memory that can interrupt multiple processes of dispossession, because it emphasizes the discourses of hybrid cultures, interfering with white superiority, which in countries like Chile operate through the erasure of any trace of indigeneity or Afro-descendance. The process of learning from witral (weaving) is accompanied by dreams (pewma), visions (perimontu) and, above all, by the need to create community. Through learning witral (weaving), our community has recovered the Mapuche knowledge of our own families and communities. Because for us, weaving, which is an ancestral technique, is accompanied by another being, and another temporality. It is a point of access for communication with our ancestors. So, initiating connections through witral (weaving) removes the memory of shame and omission from the narratives of kin that seek to obscure stories of migration, poverty, and anti-indigenous discrimination. Witral (weaving) not only exposes our colonial wounds, but also accords us possibilities to imagine how to form other worlds, with other rhythms, weights, tension, colors, and programming logic, since weaving is also a form of programming.

Chile: A New Constitution and Indigenous Sovereignty

We await real transformation of the epistemological conditions in the construction of the Chilean nation-state. We dream of an end to prison institutions, the police, and borders. We hope that the new Constitution will not only recognize the indigenous peoples as existent and not obsolete, but as sovereign, autonomous, and capable of self-governance. This is a very radical idea, but imagining this underlines our love of community, since for us the best Constitution would be one which would allow us to build something different. It is important to rethink Chile, but that is not all: we also want to think about Chileyem’s provocation, in other words, Chile is already gone; something else is yet to come.

Reclaiming Ancestry

The way that indigeneity is understood is very limited, and we want to question and discuss that with other people, because indigeneity is not necessarily determined by the recognition and laws established by nation-states. We do not believe that to be the only way of being indigenous. We would like to propose other solutions for indigenous communities with whom we have been connected, who have recognized us, and with whom we can reclaim our memory so as not to be forgotten. Where our agency does not have to be mediated solely through Chilean politics to determine whether we are or are not indigenous, a process that is based on being pure-blooded. Because for the nation-states, indigeneity is seemingly something that disappears over time and ends up being coopted by national identity. We are peoples who have been living for thousands of years, and changing tradition is essential to our survival. Our indigeneities are looking and walking toward the 21st century. The discrimination and stereotypes that have been made about us need to be transcended.

Anna Azevedo is a journalist, filmmaker, and scholar of the visual arts with a focus on processes of re-employment of the image and decolonization of contemporary art.

Translation: Sara Hanaburgh