The pride of the children who promise the Mapuche flag: “It is a very great emotion”

I’m anxious, very nervous“, recognizes Taiel, 9 years old. This Wednesday she will present the Mapuche flag at the event at school 232 of Ingeniero Huergo. Between June 19 and 24, Mapuche communities will celebrate We tripantu, the Mapuche new year that takes place on the winter solstice. The festival coincides with Flag Day for the anniversary of the death of Manuel Belgrano. In recent years, More and more fourth grade students, instead of promising the Argentine flag, decide to present the emblem that represents them, the Wenufoye (Mapuche flag).

These episodes used to be recorded only in intercultural schools inserted in rural contexts of Río Negro. Today the Mapuche cultural demand crosses borders and beyond the children who present their flag in the 18 intercultural schools, this year they will join another 20 students from Ingeniero Jacobacci, Viedma, Bariloche, Los Menucos, Maquinchao, General Roca and Cervantes.

Lucía Antipan is Taiel’s mother and assures that since the boy was aware of the promise of the flag in fourth grade, he knew that he wanted to present his emblem. “It is a very great emotion. For our community, the fact that Taiel can do it freely is to represent each one of us who couldn’t do it”, acknowledged the 33-year-old woman.

He remembers that he attended a religious school: “We were the little black heads. Living on a farm and having a Mapuche surname, they looked at us strangely. We were discriminated against for a long time. We weren’t going to say that we were Mapuche.”

When they grew up, the four Antipan brothers formed the Antu Mapu community, along with four other families. “Little by little we strengthened our knowledge. And what is happening now with Taiel opens new paths and further strengthens our culture,” said Antipan.

Taiel is 9 years old and will present the Wenufoye at school 232 of Ingeniero Huergo. Photo: courtesy

Since 2012 Río Negro has been committed to intercultural:

Dianela Gallardo, representative of the Río Negro Intercultural Bilingual Education Team, assured that they provide support to schools that require it. “Intercultural schools arise as a proposal or need of a community inserted in the territory. This project is worked on with the school and the contents proposed by the Mapuche community are linked,” the teacher summarized.

This modality was implemented in 2012. At that time, there were 9 schools in rural locations. Over the years, proposals emerged to implement intercultural education in urban institutions. In fact, today the project for a General Roca secondary school is being evaluated.

At the same time, the modality began to receive support of the teaching union and institutes of teacher training (in the third year of training, the subject of interculturality is taught).

Aukan, attends school 86, and this is how he drew his flag. Photo: courtesy

The 18 intercultural schools Distributed throughout the province, they have an intercultural teacher who addresses the school’s curricular areas and a master craftsman who promotes cultural practices such as weaving, leather, stone, and the meaning of the territory, among others. “The curriculum is crossed by interculturality and the community is an active part of the work at the school”Lagos said.

He recognized that June is the time when the Intercultural Education team must be most present in the territory since there are many children who want to present Wenufoye in fourth grade on June 20.

“There is a whole protocol for presenting the flag. At the event, the Wenufoye must be carried by the student or by members of the original community and its meaning, the year of creation, the colors and the symbols are explained. Prior to the event, workshops are held with the children so that, when the Wenufoye enters, they understand what it is about.”Lagos specified.

He admitted that The demand is increasing. Generally, the community authorities themselves convey the needs. “Before, our organization provided a lot of advice on strengthening identity. Today, that is already instilled. The new generations come with that force of defense of territories and rights, the fruit of what our elders left us. There is a cultural strengthening (there is even research on Mapuche medicine and Mapuzungun),” he noted.

He warned that this cultural strengthening “does not mean that racism does not exist in society. In fact, days ago the proposal of a legislator was known so that the Mapuche flag is not displayed in public buildings. However, there is much more strength in young people and in indigenous communities who are more aware of their rights.”

The fight not to go back in the conquest of rights

With great pride, Jaime Carriqueo, from Paso Córdoba, says that the youngest of his sons, Aukan, will present the Mapuche flag at school 86 in the rural area of ​​General Roca. His younger sister, 7 years old, and his best friend decided to accompany him as bodyguards.

“We experienced a workshop with the two fourth grade classes and we talked about the flag, the meaning of its colors and the symbology. We brought instruments and we told them what it means to have a flag other than the light blue and white one. The children have a lot of fun with these activities,” described Carriqueo.

He said that the presentation of the Wenufoye began in the 90s when a school in Allen proposed a fifth-year student as the standard bearer for his excellent grades. The young man accepted but clarified that he would carry the Mapuche flag that represented him. “This is how it began with the presentation of the flags in the Rio Negro schools. These children grew up. Today they are teenagers and many are moving into adulthood,” he stated.

Today – continued – We live in a time very different from the one we lived in and much more different from the one our parents lived in. They had to silence their language and their identity. “The school was very rigid, authoritarian, with many prohibitions.”

His mother, he said, was born in the countryside in Mencué and at that time, the language was not spoken. “My grandmother spoke a mixture of Spanish and Mapuzungun. But at school you couldn’t talk. Today, however, the institution is open to our proposals. It’s a matter of asking to speak. We are experiencing a setback with the proposals that a couple of legislators intend to carry out (the ban on the flag), but we are going to continue raising our flag,” she said.

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