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Tehuelche people (Chile and Argentina)

Patagonians / Aónikenk

Last modified: 2017-11-17 by antónio martins
Keywords: tehuelche | patagonian | aónikenk | arrowhead (blue) | queupü | antieco (julio) | stick figure |
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[flag]
image by António Martins, 14 Jul 2004


See also:

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Presentation of the Tehuelche people

It should be noted that the word "Tehuelche", itself a Mapuche language word, may be spelled "Tewelche" or "Tewelce" using the more recent orthographic trends among Hispano-Amerindian circles. The actual autonym is, in the near-extinct Tewelche language, "Aónikenk".
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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About “Mapuche-Tehuelche”

What is the nature of such an alliance? Perhaps a political and cultural gathering, akin to those of Quechua and Aymara, commonly opposing the dominant, Spanish-descent culture? According to ethnolinguistic maps of Ethnologue.org, the Tehuelche live mainly in northeast Santa Cruz province (AR), south of Chubut and quite far away from the main Mapuche populated areas, which are concentrated in Chile’s regions VII, VIII, IX, X and XI and in the argentine province Neuquén. Still according to Ethnologue.org, Mapuche and Tehuelche belong to distinct language families (resp. Araucanian and Chon).
António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

Although Chubut and Neuquen do not have a common border, they are very close. So the Mapuche from Neuquen are close to northern Chubut. In the western part of Chubut there are both Mapuche and Tehuelche.
Francisco Gregoric, 16 Jul 2004

On the question about this hybrid branding of this flag as "Mapuche-Tehuelche", the English Wikipedia articles at on Tehuelche and Araucanization give additional clues: Nowadays Tehuelche are recognized as such using only non-linguistic traits, as their language is all but extinct (4 native speakers as of 2006), having been replaced in the last ~100 years by Welsh, Spanish and mostly Mapuche (the Araucanization process).
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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About the Tehuelche Flag

Julio Antieco, one of the leaders of the native American communities had the idea to have a flag to represent his people. The design was an idea from him.
Francisco Gregoric, 16 Jul 2004

At the Endepa on line almanach there is another reference to the adoption date of this flag:«September 7th: creation of the Mapuche-Tehuelche flag in Chubut», Chubut being in argentine Patagonia. (Also mentioned in ScorpionShops website.)
António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

El Diario de Madryn [x9u07], reports the celebration of the Flag Day by the Mapuche-Tehuelche people and explains the origin of the flag as follows. The flag of the Mapuche-Tehuelche was designed by Julio Antieco, born on 19 July 1929. Antieco’s mother language is Mapuche but he studied Spanish at school. He did his compulsary military service in the the second battalion of Regiment 21 of the mountain infantery of Bariloche; on 22 October 1950, he climbed the Lanin volcano with other Argentine soldiers. Having realized that he had had no Mapuche symbol to stick on the top of the mountain as required by the mountaineering tradition, Antieco decided to consult his Mapuche brothers to design a flag. In 1987, the process was started but not all Mapuche communities agreed to join it. The first meeting took place in Trevelin and Antieco was commissioned to draft a flag proposal. The flag uses the yellow and blue colours, the traditional colours used in Mapuche camarucos (assemblies).
Ivan Sache, 15 Sep 2007

An article online as post 58th of blog Winka [x9u06], yet another account of the origin of this flag, mostly in agreement with the article from El Diario de Madryn [x9u07]. On it there’s a photo showing an exhibition panel labelled creacion_bandera (direct link; text unfortunately too small to read) with i.a. an image of the flag in a very long ratio (some 1:20). This article does not stress the warlike significance of the arrowhead symbol (queupü: «traditional hunting tool»).
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

In Flag Report [frp] was published in 1999 an statement of the Organización de comunidades mapuche-tehuelche (Coordinadora Mapuche-Tehuelche), that give the meaning of the flag: the blue is for the upper “land” with the forces of the air, wind, sun…; white mean snow, that is benefical for the agriculture (after a winter wit snow, a summer with green pastures); the yellow is for tehuelche land. The arrow is because this people remain in war until that obatin justice. This arrow will be expelled from the flag when full rights are recognized to the Tehuelche.
Jaume Ollé, 22 Jul 2004

It is hard not to wonder about any common trait between this flag and the 1810-1814 flag of Chile.
António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

I come across variations of the arrowhead shape itself, envolving different representations with a socket for the arrow shaft and other naturalistic additions; the color shades present almost no variation, not even the“difficult” dark yellow color, which doesn’t show as orange or some such:

Despite its joint naming and even the locally official status of this flag, this is not used as the Argentine Mapuche flag, as opposed to Chilean use, for there is evidence of use of the kultrun Mapuche flag also on the Argentine side of the border.
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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Official use

The triband blue-white-yellow with an arrowhead is the Bandera de las comunidades indígenas de la Provincia del Chubut (flag of the indigenous communities of the Province of Chubut). Although the idea of this flag was a “private one” of the groups, nowadays this flag is an official flag in the (Argentine) Province of Chubut. It is regulated by a provincial law (no.4072 - 1995).
Francisco Gregoric, 16 Jul 2004

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Future Tehuelche flag

[flag]
image by António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

In Flag Report [frp] was published in 1999 an statement of the Organización de comunidades mapuche-tehuelche (Coordinadora Mapuche-Tehuelche), that this arrow will be expelled from the flag when full rights are recognized to the Tehuelche.
Jaume Ollé, 22 Jul 2004

Neither text (nor El Diario de Madryn [x9u07] nor Winka [x9u06]) mentions the putative removal of the arrowhead as reported in [frp], upon a sought independence of the Tehelche people/territory.
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

The design is certainly the same as the first Chilean flag used before 1814. The reason why it is used by native American groups is that apparently the design would have been used by some native American tribes in late 19 Century. In those times the tribes used to move freely from one side of the Andes to the other. It is possible that in that moment, someone from Chile gave them the idea to use that historical Chilean flag.
Francisco Gregoric, 16 Jul 2004

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Version with lettering

According to the article in El Diario de Madryn [x9u07], the middle white stripe is charged with the transcription of the name of the people.
Ivan Sache, 15 Sep 2007

Is this supposed to be the arrowhead? I’m almost sure it doesn’t, short of a writing system that spells "Tehuelche" / "Patagonian" etc. as "➤" or "➙" (which I never heard of). I could find on line no photographic evidence of a version of this flag other than the naturalistic arrowhead, namely of the one with writing on the white stripe as reported by El Diario de Madryn [x9u07].
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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Stylized arrowhead design

[flag]
image by António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

The chart [tra01b] includes a Mapuche-Tehuelche flag (thus captioned) which is a strikingly modern looking triband of blue, white and golden with a blue arrowhead on the middle stripe. It is credited «from a drawing provided by Miguel Castillo-Bascary».
António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

In real flags the length of the arrowhead is shorter.
Francisco Gregoric, 16 Jul 2004

I could find on line no photographic evidence of a version of this flag other than the naturalistic arrowhead, namely of the one with highly stylized, long quadrangular arrowhead as depicted in Gustavo’s chart [tra01b] and other secondary sources).
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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Stick figure design

[symbol]
image by António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

Another Tehuelche symbol is used (without context of explanation) on a webpage about the Chubut province, along with Welsh (draig) and Mapuche (kultrun) symbols: It is a dark blue square with a red shape made from square blocks, roughly 6×7 (red: (1,1)-(1,2), (1,6)-(1,7), (2,2)-(2,6), (3,4), (4,4), (5,1)-(5,7), (6,1) and (6,7)). No flag use of this symbol known to me. (Direct image link, labelled "SIMBOLO_TEHUELCHE").
António Martins, 17 Sep 2007

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Historical Tehuelche flag use

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Historical Tehuelche flag

[flag]
image by António Martins, 14 Jul 2004

An interesting interview with an elderly Mapuche lady includes flag references (my translation from Spanish):

We Tehuelche have a flag, which is white. There are reports about that flag in a cheiftain parlament in Genoa, Chubut, in 1869. Musters, an English explorer who was present, mentions it. In that parlament gathered the chieftains Casimiro, Orkeke, Hinchel and my grandfather Juan, according to Musters, in his book Life among the Patagonians; in that meeting it was decided that they would not ally with Calfucurá to attack Bahía Blanca.
As for the Tehuelche flag, we suppose that the motive of its adoption was that, been keen travellers, »the Tehuelche« found that a white flag granted them free pass and »thus« adopted it as their emblem; it is after all a symbol of peace and unity. We use it »hoisted« under the Argentine »national« flag.
António Martins, 14 Jul 2004 and 14 Nov 2004

This last paragraph seems to be a product of modern day wishful thinking: Not only the described reaction to the truce flag contradicts the reality of its usage (then and now, there and everywhere), as also the adoption circumstances as described seems tohave a flaw of circular reasoning.
António Martins, 14 Nov 2004

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Use of the Argentine flag by Tehuelche

An interesting interview with an elderly Mapuche lady includes flag references (my translation from Spanish):

The Tehuelche (Patagonian) cheiftain Casimiro took with him everywhere the Argentine flag, it presided the »Mapuche« parliament sessions. »« The great Tehuelche chief Inacayal had a»n Argentine« national flag waving by the side of his tent, »« recieved as a gift from Perito Moreno to »the chief’s« son Utrac.

António Martins, 15 Jul 2004 and 14 Nov 2004

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