Chile 2014: A Glimpse into the Mapuche Culture

by Lindsay Cox

Dinner in the RukaRuka Kimun was built for educational purposes in the style of a traditional Mapuche home. Historically, families in a Mapuche community would get together and form task groups to complete various parts of the construction – cutting straw, logging, preparing food for the workers – all was done using local materials, sometimes prepared far in advance.

We dined in the Ruka while we chatted with Curi, our guide, who is also a wood carver who creates traditional Mapuche statues. During our tour, we also visited the native forest of Cerro Ñielol, where we learned about medicinal plants and herbs still in use in Mapuche medicine.

Studying native plants in ChileTo end the day, we visited the greenhouses of a Mapuche women dedicated to collecting and cultivating the seeds of native plants in order to prevent their extinction. It was a fascinating glimpse into one culture’s intimate relationship with its surroundings.

Next up: An overnight hiking trip to El Cañi nature preserve.

Follow all the adventures from the 2014 Landmark College Study Abroad Program in Chile by subscribing to this blog now.

All photos courtesy of Piedrosa Obrera del Arte (Nayade)

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