Since 4 October 2022, a rewe has been left alone. Those of us who work with the Mapuche people in the social sciences have often heard about pu rewe and pu machi. If there is an extensive academic literature that warns that certain Mapuche knowledge should not be disseminated to the wrong people, this literature has not always managed to convey clearly what pu rewe are. For example, something that is not an altar has been translated as an altar. That is why today, when in the face of certain conflicts, distorted and offensive information is circulating, it is essential to bring to the general public the explanations given by the pu machi themselves, some of whom have been separated from their pu rewe both in Chile and in Argentina. It is in this context that they must now publicly explain what this separation entails and the consequences it brings. For this reason, a group of professionals preoccupied by the urgency and seriousness of this situation decided to share a text that will help to clarify certain concepts, and to do so we will begin by transcribing the expressions of some authorised referents.
In the last autonomous parliament convened by different Mapuche Tehuelche ancestral authorities that took place in the city of Bariloche on 26 and 27 November 2022, the machi Cristóbal Tremigual Lemuien concluded the two-day conversation by referring to the urgent context in which the rewe and the machi of the lof Lafken Winkul Mapu found themselves. He then expressed that,in this meeting, knowledge was exchanged and ordered.
The machi says:
To know what we are going to talk about, what we are going to demand based on our kimvn, from our Mapuche rakizuam, from our Mapuche philosophy, what we keep in the lonko, in the piuke we have to materialise it in an argument and we are going to have to adapt in a certain way to the winka form, but thinking that this is also going to leave a precedent for the future. We are not the only ones, more people are coming later on. One day we are going to finish, we are not going to be here any more, and we have to leave something for those who follow us. We have to generate a real dialogue with the Winkas, with the people who have the power to make decisions. The words that have been said today are all very important, very valuable, from lonko, lawentuchefe, they are the basis of our philosophy, what our ancestors said. And we have to give value to that, because the winka is not going to give value to it. That is what we have to explain today to the winka, with words that they also understand. To explain why it is necessary for the machi to return to the rewe, why the lof is important, why the territory is important, why the lafken is important… We know that what we are living today is not a whim; it is not just an idea in our heads. There is a more profound reason, which is not only political, it is the main basis of our People.
Within this framework of openness, collectively agreed upon in the face of the urgent situation and shared preoccupation, the machi of the lof Lafken Winkul Mapu and the other women detained added their explanations.
Pu rewe are the Mapuche people&’s own spaces. Some are erected for each kamarikun or collective prayer. But the machi's rewe is different, because it is always there. It is not an altar that is visited from time to time. It is a pvllv, a newen, a force that is linked to the machi who carries out her mapu lawen work there. The people who are in treatment with the machi and the communities that come to the place to be linked to this rewe are also linked to it.
Every rewe is a living being that must be cared for, accompanied and nourished. It is the same as caring for and maintaining a person or human being. The chemamvll that indicates the place cannot be left alone and the machi must live there to be able to support, talk to and protect it. In the summer, pu rewe renew themselves and their pu lawen. The machi must be there to renew her energy and that of the people linked to that rewe.
In the territory of the lof Lafken Winkul Mapu, in the old days, before the "conquest of the desert", people lived there, because that place provided living conditions. There was a machi rewe right there. But then came the dispossession by the State and the Church. That space was in the look to be Christianised and trampled on for economic gain. That space is still in the look today because it hinders the purposes of tourism.
With the dispossession, the rewe was left sick, like a person without care, like a tree whose top has been cut off. But its root could not be removed it. It still had force, it remained alive, but it remained in a situation of illness.
When the machi of the lof Lafken Winkul Mapu raised that rewe again, the greatest preoccupation was to restore it from the handling and transgression it had suffered historically because it was still alive, it still had its force. That rewe grew again from its roots.
That rewe can never be removed from there, because if you remove it, you kill it. Those of us who make up the machi's lof are in charge of safeguarding it because we were born with that commitment as Mapuche. The placentas of our pichikeche who were born in the lof are also buried there; that is the tuwvn that binds them for life to that territory and to the rewe that orders it. Our struggle arises from these binding commitments.
But now the space of the rewe has become very contaminated. A lot of hatred and genocidal thinking has entered the rewe through tear gas and gunfire. Now it has to be cleansed of all that. If not, it would be a setback for all those who managed to regain their health in that rewe and were able to balance themselves and stand up there with FORCE. It would be a setback for the people, but also for the communities that reconnected with that rewe. That is why the rewe needs to be made lawen. As it is a living space, it needs to be cared for and remediated.
They are preoccupied because we are women and we are imprisoned with our pichikeche, and they are concerned about our health. We say that the health that is first in danger is that of the rewe, the mapu and the kujfikecheyem. That is why we are all in danger.
In addition to the women&’s explanation, there is the explanation of machi Cristóbal, who has been accompanying the uprising of this rewe and the machi of the lof Lafken Winkul Mapu for several years.
We are the survivors of a very complete Mapuche society that existed in the past, with the way of being and organisation that it had in the past. All the Winka that came from outside did a lot of damage to our society. As well as the existence of machi in the territories, in some parts it disappeared, in other parts it was hidden and almost disappeared.
The Mapuche people believe that the person, the human being, does not rule alone here on this earth, that there are spiritual FORCES superior to us that rule life, that rule the earth, that regulate everything that exists… and also human beings and within that, human beings, the che, some have to fulfil certain roles on earth.
The authorities of our People are not appointed just like that. There are requirements to be fulfilled that go beyond the person and have to do with the spirituality of our people. And this is how the machi or machi have a spiritual calling, so to speak in English. They are chosen to carry out work on the land, and their work consists of maintaining, recovering the balance… And that balance has to do not only with human beings but also with what exists, with nature, with the mapu, with the land, with the ixofillmogen, with the diversity of life that exists in it. The different elements of nature are part of the machi, and the machi is part of them, or the machi. So he is also an intermediary or a rangiñelwe as she says in Mapuche. A rangiñelwe between the spiritual beings and the people because, through them, through the machi or the machi, these forces speak.
Our role as machi is to walk in the territories that require us, that need us, and to give lawen. We treat individual or collective illnesses or illnesses of the territory, because the Mapu also gets sick.
In any case, this is not the first time that various ancestral authorities have had to publicly explain matters that are not only very sensitive, but also of a private nature. They have done so every time pu machi are detained and separated from their pu rewe. Four years ago, the machi Jorge Quilaqueo also explained the urgency of protecting the rewe of the machi Celestino Córdova before the Chilean Congress.
This struggle, which until now had been about territory and demands, is now becoming a spiritual struggle. So, we ask that the Chilean state make a gesture of nobility towards nature, that they grant us this heritage because we are the spirit of nature. It is very likely that this machi could suffer very serious consequences as a result of what is happening.
For this reason, the same machi Celestino Córdoba, as well as the machi Francisca Linconao and the machi Millaray Huichailaf, detained by the Chilean state and separated from their pu rewe, also argued publicly and on different occasions about the need and urgency of being able to return to their territories to renew their respective pu rewe, and thus avoid the serious consequences that a weakened rewe has for the Mapuche people.
As social scientists committed to intercultural policies, we understand that there can be no more legitimate explanations than those expressed by the Mapuche people, their ancestral authorities and those who are linked to them. They have already clearly warned us of what is at stake, which is why we declare that it is imperative that Machi Betiana and her people return to the Lafken Winkul Mapu rewe. No state authority can legitimately protect from the Mapuche themselves a rewe that belongs to them.