'Seduced Indians'? : Mapuche political and military participation during the Restoration of Fernando VII. Chile, 1814-1825

Jo Crow, Juan Luis Ossa Santa Cruz

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Abstract

This article analyses the military and political participation of the Mapuche people during the early years of Ferdinand VII’s second reign, mainly between 1814-1825. It is part of a larger scholarly discussion about the causes and consequences of the Restoration of the monarchy in Chile, focusing on the interventions of various Mapuche territorial units at the south of the Biobío River. The central hypothesis presented here is that the Mapuche strategy of shifting alliances explains the relatively long duration of the war in Chile -and, therefore, of the Restoration- when compared with other areas of South America where disputes with the royalists
were largely settled by the end of the 1810s. The sources indicate that during the so-called “War to the Death”, Araucanía underwent a complex process of negotiation between the main Mapuche caciques and regular military officers. In accord with the latest historiographical contributions to this debate, this paper concludes that Mapuche leaders participated actively and
strategically in the negotiations. In other words: they had a sophisticated political agency and were not simply conditioned by royalist and/or revolutionary authorities. This article is divided
into four sections. The first section focuses on the 1793-1810 period and outlines the state of the relations between Mapuche communities and Spanish colonial authorities in the build-up to
the first proclamation of independence. The second section tackles the Mapuche participation in the war that ravaged the Central Valley within the broader context of Ferdinand VII’s restoration. The following section discusses the negotiation mechanisms both between Mapuche leaders and royalist and between Mapuche leaders and revolutionary factions during 1817- 1823. It was during the “War to the Death” that the internal divisions within Mapuche society became exposed, with some leaders and their communities supporting the royalists and others
the revolutionaries; supporting, in some cases, both sides at the same time or shifting their allegiances from one side to another as the conflict played out. Then, the epilogue provides further
evidence of this flexibility as it analyses the Treaty of Tapihue of 1825 which, under the government of Ramón Freire, brought the guerrilla war in southern Chile to an end. This treaty, signed at Tapihue, offers us a clear insight into the problems derived from the early organisation of the independent Chilean Republic, as well as the fluctuating, pragmatic ways in which the Mapuche people dealt with the new political reality.
Translated title of the contribution'Seduced Indians'? : Mapuche political and military participation during the Restoration of Fernando VII. Chile, 1814-1825
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)39-58
Number of pages20
JournalRevista Universitaria de Historia Militar
Volume7
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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