According to simplyyellowpages, the remains of the ancient indigenous population today gravitate mainly in the central and southern region of the country, south of the Bío-Bío river, gradually descending to the canals of Tierra del Fuego. However, it would be difficult, starting from the current one, to reconstruct the disposition of the ethnic groups as it was at the time of the Spanish conquest. Thus also the cultural heritage of the indigenous people, as it is today, bears the traces of intense internal and external perturbations, among these the subsequent acculturations to the Peruvian model, of which the last, in order of date, was that due to military occupation by the Inca of the Chilean lands north of the Maule, besides other acculturations with the Argentine plain, the influence of the Spanish colony and, in general, of the White civilization.
If we are going to enumerate the main cultural areas, starting from the north, we find towards the interior, and on the top of the massif today barren, the area of the ancient culture of Atacama, flanked on the adjacent coast by that of the Chango, quite distinct. Completely disappeared, the Atacameña culture owes its reconstruction to the archaeologists Boman, Uhle and Capdeville, who managed to assign it a fairly high artistic development, especially in ceramics, distinguishing various stages, of which only the last is dependent on civilization Peruviana degl’Inca, while the anterior ones are more closely related to the Chincha phase of Peru and the Diaghita of Argentina. On the other hand, the culture, which has survived in part, is very poor and primitive., humble fishermen who come as far as Copiapó and whose heritage consists mainly of rafts of various species, skins of seals, reeds and wicker, very rough earthenware, nets of seal intestines; they salt the fish and meat of the few goats they own, and roughly carve the wood. We have few traces of the indigenous coastal populations of the remaining Pacific coast, but abundant information is found on the residents of the far south of the country, the Chono and the Maritime Fuegians (Alakaluf and Yamana), of which we will speak more extensively under the heading Fuegians.
As for the vast intermediate area, that is to say the whole territory of Chile between Copiapó and the Chiloé island, we find an apparently homogeneous cultural layer whose most salient character, such that it impressed from the earliest times of the conquest, is the unity of spoken indigenous language, which is the language called Araucana or, less improperly, Mapuche. From this linguistic unity it was easy to infer ethnic unity, and in fact the Spaniards created the idea of a “people” or “nation” which, by extension, the name of Araucano (see Araucani) adapted.
In the past the Araucano was spoken of as an originally homogeneous people, which then differentiated by anthropogeographic adaptation to the various regions of the country (mountains, woods, plains), and it was stated that, through the mestizos derived from it (rotos), was the source of the physiological and psychological inheritances of the current Chilean population. In recent years, a violent reaction has arisen against this view, and the Latcham judiciously warns that in the veins of Chilean mestizos there is no Araucan blood, that is, of tribes that remained in perpetual state of war with the colonizer, but rather the sedentary and mythical Spikes., residents at the time of the conquest the flat region between the Choapa and the Itata, that is precisely of those indigenous people who were immediately absorbed by the Colony. According to the Latcham, the Araucanians in the strict sense were an immigration that slightly preceded the Spaniards, and in any case the last contingent, semi-barbarian, arrived on the Chilean territory, for whose infiltration it was divided and separated into two sectors. Picunche al N. e Huilliche to the South. dell’Araucania proper. This change of address certainly offers some interest, because it encourages us to research more minutely what the historical position of the Araucanians was and to clarify the two questions of human contingents and cultural heritage, among which Latcham does not show that he has entirely avoided the confusion. So far the Latcham. Certainly, the difference between the residents of the flat lands north of Araucania proper, who live off agriculture, and the hunter-shepherds of this district, followed to the south by another agricultural area, is not without significance. It is true that the Araucani proper have remained apprentices in terms of ceramics, while they abound in tools and bowls of worked wood, who learned metallurgy on the spot.
But the picture changes if we consider the life of the group. Nomads and fighters, their society is set up for war and plunder; less advanced in the arts of the sedentary peoples that surround them, they nevertheless dominate them and impose on them their own scheme of society, of hierarchy and even the material symbols of power; moreover their ceremonies and their magical rites, together with the tales of deeds, spread throughout the territory reaching as far as Patagonia. In this game of civilization and domination it would remain to be seen whether the Mapuche language, assumed to the agricultural sedentary peoples of the plain, or to the warrior lineages recently established in Araucania. Latcham defends the first of the two hypotheses, based on the fact that mountains, rivers and places in Chile all have words in the Mapuche language as their name, without traces of an older one. It can be observed that the toponymy of much of the Pampas and Patagonia is also made up of Mapuche words, and this does not at all prove that this was the first and only language spoken in those regions.