As with every human activity, the mapuche people also continue to evolve and develop in different ways, according to their environment and the context around them, looking for symbols that reflect their unique and local identities. Just like a Chilean person from Santiago is not the same as a person from Puerto Montt, the mapuche communities share common customs and traditions, but they have also created, adapted or integrated different and singular aspects of their contexts into their culture.
On the previous pages, we have shown various aspects of mapuche people which are common to them no matter the geographical areas where they live. In the next section, we will describe ways in which local mapuche people have created their own identity by either having their own flag, that represents their community, or by using a different musical instrument that distinguishes their music from other groups.
On page 5 of this book, you were shown the Mapuche Flag called Wenufoye, which was created in 1992 after a call carried out by the Council of All Lands. Apart from the Wenufoye, other flags were created on that date to represent the different mapuche territories in Chile, such as the Williche (willi=south, che= people) flag (fig 1).
Apart from the williche flag (fig. 1), you can see how the local identity is symbolised in the flag of the General Council of Chiloé, and the flag of the mapuche-williche people of Osorno.
The mapuche banjo or bandio
As with the flags, the mapuche also have slowly incorporated a musical instrument into their daily life – the banjo.
The banjo was introduced in America by black slaves coming from Africa in the 17th century to what is now the United States. It was originally made of a half pumpkin covered by leather to which a wooden neck and strings were attached. This instrument became part of American folk music in the middle of 19th century. At that time, the pumpkin had been changed for a ring covered with a patch of rawhide on one side. The result of this was a mixture of a percussion and string instrument having a neck to which metal frets were added.