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Mapuche Pitek, Emily
The Mapuche have traditionally inhabited south-central Chile. The Mapuche were incorporated into the Chilean government through a reservation system established in the 1880's (Faron, 1960). Despite this reservation system and contact with missionaries, the Mapuche religion remained un-Christianized (Faron, 1964:199). The religious beliefs involve a variety of supernatural beings, including a supreme god, regional deities, deified ancestral spirits, and the spirits of the recently deceased, which are the Mapuche's closest connection to the realm of the supernatural. Religious practitioners are either shamans (machis), who are generally benevolent, lead rituals, and practice medicine, or witches (kalkus), who are generally evil and are involved with malevolent spirits and practices. The most important religious ceremonies among the Mapuche are Ñillatun and Awn. Ñillatun is an agricultural rite for general protection and prosperity, and Awn are funeral rites, which are important for getting souls of the recently deceased to the afterlife. Because religious beliefs are integrated with Mapuche society, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with the society at large. This entry focuses on the Mapuche living in the vicinity of Temuco, Chile, around the time of 1950.
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