f: I’ve been very impressed by your parents’ story; each of them had such a
di√erent experience. Your mom was from a very prosperous family, but with
her stepbrother’s problems they lost everything. Your father was from a more
impoverished family and he had to leave home to find work, among other
things as a muledriver (arriero). They started living together without court-
ing, and at first faced real economic hardship. Yet your mother’s silent
strength really kept it all together. What e√ect did this experience have on
you growing up?
It’s really hard to be sure what a√ected me the most, what guided me or
gave me strength, values, or charisma inside my family, because a Mapuche
family is a whole. It’s true that within that whole my mother came from a
family of famous caciques, like they say here in Chile, from the Mapuche
aristocracy, the Paillalef. This lineage waged many battles with the Chilean
army in 1810, during the Independence wars. Later they gave some of their
land to the Chilean state in order to found cities; Pitrufquén is an example.
My father’s family, on the other hand, the Reuques, are not a cacique lin-
eage. They worked for the caciques, which is why they’re called konas. My
grandfather was a kona, so obviously my father is a kona. But he came to
occupy the position of cacique when nobody else wanted to take it, because
he’s hardworking, honest, and persevering, and because he’s always wanted
better for himself and his family. Through his support for his family, his
children, he’s taught me the value of perseverance and family unity.
In the wealth of night-time conversations, I’ve learned we’re a family that’s
su√ered economically, with very little land. During the time my mother
lived in her mother-in-law’s house, her relationship with my father’s family
wasn’t the best. I think this happens in every family when wealth marries
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