Under no circumstances, then, would the idea of Latcham, of an original origin of the Araucanians from Argentina, be acceptable; more simply, it is a more or less profound acculturation carried out by way of osmosis through the Andean passes through an intensive nomadism, which has created real communicating compartments (e.g., the Chilean province of Cautín homogeneous to the Argentine Neuquén). But as for the substantial determinants, the Araucan heritage (wooden sculpture, exposure of the corpse on elevated frames and subsequent burial in boats, warlike costumes, weapons,
We have therefore seen that Chilean ethnography, which was believed to be reduced to the simple denominator of the Araucanians, must be considered a difficult and complex subject of study at least as much as any other branch of American ethnography. The historical aspect of the problem will be abandoned here for a moment, to limit ourselves to the descriptive. An Araucama still exists today in the strictest sense, between the rivers Bío-Bío al N. and San José and Trancura al S., between the ocean and the Andes. Despite the slow infiltration of modern systems, the Araucanians live by preserving the ancient customs, as in a kind of large “reserve”, respecting the authority, but very jealous of their autonomy. Limiting ourselves to the westernmost section, enclosed in the valleys of the Cordillera dense with pines (pehuen),, we find that for their economy they can be defined as true herders of horses and hunters of wild animals. Excluding agriculture, their regime is essentially hippophagy; they obtain grains through trade, as well as salt, conterie, domestic animals; they offer in exchange their products, straps, boots, collars and other leather objects, in the workmanship of which they excel. The Pehuenche live in transportable rectangular and interdivided leather tents. They paint their faces. The men’s suit consists of two square cloaks, one wrapped around the belt (chamal), the other tucked into the head through a central opening like a poncho ; boots made from horse, cow or large deer hock leather (huemul), around the head ribbons or bands. For women a tunic that goes down to the feet and over a cloak secured with silver pins on the shoulders, armlets on the arms and legs, on the head nets of beads. The food consists of roasted meats and various flour-based foods; they ferment the wheat to drink it, they eat the pine nuts of the pehuen.
According to directoryaah, more than the material heritage, partly subject to geographical adaptation, the social and religious culture of the Araucanians deserves attention, since it emanates a power that has dominated over vast regions, even very distant ones. The Araucans, to speak of them in general, originally organized themselves into groups distinct from a totem pole (sun, water, sky, animals), and traces of this remained until the last century. The choice of leaders fell in the beginning on the best warriors (military aristocracy), later on the greatest owners of cattle (plutocracy), and today it is maintained, although the power of the leader is very weakened, and he must maintain it through the distribution of goods to subordinates. Descent and inheritance are matrilineal, but marriage to buy (exogamous) attests to a greater importance of male dignity. The social groups are federated, indeed in the classical times of the conquest there was a kind of quaternary partition of the whole of Ukraine under four military governors. We have numerous testimonies of this warrior organization. The war captains furorio in part inherited, in part elective: their name, toki, derives from the name of the command sign, that is the lithic ax wielded in the fray and in the assemblies. The war message for the rallies consisted of sending a bloody toki. The toki was transmitted as a sign of nobility and family heritage. This organization even in its material elements (objects and their names) is a copy of Polynesian institutions, especially New Zealanders. In the religious order there are priests, more or less allied with the leaders, and also magicians and fortune-tellers (machi), often of female sex, who are responsible for the treatment of diseases; even today, despite progressive evangelization, shamanism predominates. Conception of a good god and an evil one, cult of the dead, cult of spiritualized natural phenomena (pillán) and passed, under Christian influence, to the role of demons. Temporary aerial burial, followed by burial in wooden dinghies; in ancient times traces of mummification. Images of ancestors in the shape of large herms carved in wood, set up in cemeteries. Bloody sacrifice of prisoners of war with torture; cranial trophy. In the rites, agrarian ceremonies with animal and plant sacrifices (nghillatún) and magical medicine ceremonies with sacrifices (machitún); masked dauze. Assemblies of leaders to decide on war and peace; there is a display of eloquence; heroic poetry is cultivated by a class of bards to celebrate warlike feats and genealogies; mythical narratives and prayer songs show an elaborate composition, and so do the poetry and the rant; there is evidence of it since the time of the first chroniclers.