Bariloche is one of the main tourist towns in Argentina. It’s a major skiing town with breathtaking hikes and views. Best known for it’s craft beer, chocolate, and architecture, it’s often referred to as the Switzerland of Argentina. However, this claim, while not entirely false, is very misleading.
Bariloche is also home to many communities of mapuche people, one of the many indigenous peoples of South America. They were displaced in the 19th century during a military campaign and many landed around Bariloche.
The main part of the mapuche culture is to connect body, soul, and earth. But, massive oil, factory, and tourist companies have taken control of the land. The companies have the money, and many of the mapuche people have been left in poverty, leaving one side to be heard over the other.
One of my classes had the pleasure of talking with many mapuche people. We discussed traditional music, language and intercultural education. They also mentioned their battles with big businesses, the state, and climate change.
A lot of these issues are very similar to what is occurring to Native Americans. Although they are constantly trying to amplify their voices and fight, very few people are truly listening. And, on top of that, they’re attempting to maintain their culture in a world that dismisses it. So, let this be a sign for you to take a step back, listen, and learn a little bit more about Native American culture in your area.