Araucanians, an Indian nation inhabiting the provinces of Arauco and Valdivia, Chili. The name is derived from the Indian word auca, meaning frank, or free. As offering the most successful example of Indian self-government in the presence of the European races, the Araucanians are of interest to the philosopher and the ethnologist. The chief authority with regard to them is "Molina's History of Chili," of which an English translation was published at Middletown, Conn., in 1808. Five different poems have been written by Europeans upon their patriotic struggles against the European invaders. The best are the Araucana of Alonso de Ercilla, a Spanish knight of the 16th century, who took part in the wars he describes, and the Puren Indomito of Alvarez de Toledo (Paris, 1862). The Araucanians were first invaded by the Spaniards in 1537. Valdivia founded many settlements in their country, which with their founder were destroyed in 1002. In 1641 the marquis de Baydes made a treaty with their chief, but in 1665 war commenced again, and lasted at intervals until 1773, when Spain at length acknowledged the independence of the Araucanians, and allowed them to maintain an embassy at Santiago de Chili. In the contest between the mother country and the Chilian colonists, they preserved a strict neutrality.
Schmidt-meyer visited them in 1820, and published his "Travels into Chili, over the Andes," in 1820-'21. Mr. Edward Reuel Smith, of the U. S. astronomical expedition in Chili, published "The Araucanians, or Notes of a Tour among the Indian Tribes of Southern Chili" (New-York, 1855). - The territory of Arauco has been from time immemorial divided into four vu-thanmapus or uthalmapus, or provinces, each presided over by a magistrate called a toqui; these four provinces correspond to the natural divisions of the country, viz., the maritime province, the plain province, the province at the foot of the Andes, and the province in the Andes. Each of these is divided into five illarehues, ruled by an apo-ulmene, and each illarehue is further subdivided into nine rehues or townships, over each of which presides an ulmene, or head of a clan. The symbol of a toqui is an axe of porphyry or marble; of an apo-ulmene, a staff with a silver head and a silver ring round the middle; of an ulmene, the same without the silver ring round the middle. All of these dignities are hereditary according to primogeniture. No regular tribute or any predial service is payable by the clan to the ulmene, by the ulmenes to the apo-ulmene, or by the apo-ulmenes to the toqui.
In time of war, however, military service is acknowledged as the most sacred of duties. The four toquis, or governors of provinces, form the grand council of the Araucanian federation, presided over by one of its own members, the grand toqui. This council decides on war and peace, and on emergencies calls together the general assembly. At this diet, every toqui, apo-ulmene, and ulmene may attend; it chooses the commander-in-chief from among the four toquis; but if none of them are qualified, then from the diet at large. The levy is made by the ulmenes upon their several clans. The army consists of both cavalry and infantry. The toqui Cadeguala was the first who established a regular body of cavalry, in 1585. The diet is held in a large plain which lies between the rivers Biobio and Dunqueco. The religion of the Araucanians is akin to their political institutions. Their Supreme Being is the great toqui of the universe; he has his subordinate ulmenes to look after details. These are, the god of war, the beneficent god, the god of mankind, and others. Guecubu is the god of evil. The celestials exact no tribute from their subjects here below; therefore the Araucanian builds no temples nor idols, supports no priests, and rarely offers sacrifice.
After the death of the body, the soul goes into paradise, a region which lies on the other side of the Andes. Their religion, in other respects, resembles other primitive creeds. They hate the Spanish language, and their toquis, though well acquainted with it, will never use it on any public occasion. They make a foreigner take an Araucanian name before he is allowed to settle among them. . A missionary, when preaching to them, is often interrupted in the midst of his discourse, if he commits a blunder. The Araucanians are stoutly built, and of moderate height. Their complexion is olive, and lighter than the other South American Indians; they have a round face, low forehead, short, broad nose, small, fiery eyes, small lips, and long head. The women do all the home and field work; the men hunt, fight, and tend the flocks. They live in wooden or reed plastered houses, well built, and often 60 feet by 25 in s'.zo, not in villages, but in the centre of their plantations. They raise wheat, maize, and barley, peas and beans, potatoes, cabbages, and fruit, as well as flax, and keep numbers of cattle and horses. Before the arrival of the Europeans they wove ponchos and coarse woollen cloths of very good workmanship. Their language is very wide-spread, and had nine recognized dialects.
It was spoken from lat. 25° S. to Cape Horn, and eastward to Buenos Ayres. The best grammar is the Chilian grammar of Febres (Lima, 1765; Santiago, 1846). Molina's account has been accused of exaggeration, and may be compared with the works of Gilj, Havestadt, Falkner, etc. - In 1861 a Frenchman named De Tonneins, having ingratiated himself with the tribes, was proclaimed king of Araucania under the title of Orelie An-toine I. He was soon at war with Chili, and was captured in January, 1862, on Araucanian territory. The arrest was pronounced illegal, but the Chilian government held him some time as a lunatic, permitting him finally to go to France, where the validity of his regal title was formally recognized in the course of a lawsuit. He published Orelie-Antoine Ier, roi d'Araucanie et de Patagonie, et sa captivite au Chili (1863). He afterward returned to Araucania, and in 1869-'70 was again at war with Chili; but in 1871 he was once more in France, and began publishing an official Araucanian journal at Marseilles, striking medals, establishing orders of knighthood, etc.
He left in Araucania a deputy, one Planchut, who soon usurped the regal title.