November 26, 2014
In the Argentine province of Neuquén, Mapuche communities have proposed a draft law that includes the concept of ‘interculturality’. The topics addressed include recognition of Mapuche culture and Mapundungun as an official language, intercultural bodies at the community level, as well as intercultural education and an institute to train intercultural teachers. These proposals are designed to include the Mapuche culture in society, and to improve the living conditions of indigenous people, and all citizens, in the region.
Below is a translation of an article published in Spanish by Diariamente Neuquen:
Some Mapuche communities handed a proposal over to the vicegovernor Ana Penchen for the debate of the Ley de Educación, during a meeting that took place in Zapala, which shows the political will to incorporate the concept of “interculturality” in future legislation.
The proposal was drafted by Mapuche communities from the areas of the Centro, Norte, Pehuenches, Huiliches, Junín y San Martín de los Andes, Picunches and Confluencia, and the meeting was hosted by the Cultural Centre of the Fortabat foundation.
Among the proposals submitted are the following: intercultural education as a means to raise awareness about diversity and value other cultures; recognition of Mapundungun as official language of the province; recognition of Mapuche culture; presence of the “Wenu foye” (a Mapuche symbol) in all the schools of the province; inclusion of Mapuche yearly recurrences and celebrations in the school calendar; and an intercultural body with public servants elected by the communities.
Also, the Mapuche proposal calls for the creation of an institute for the training of intercultural teachers and for the inclusion of “Mapuche culture” as a compulsory subject in their training.
“We have been trying to get closer for four years and we are starting to communicate to draft the best piece of legislation possible with free participation to improve the quality of life of all the inhabitants of Neuquen,” said Pechen.
The legislature’s President explained that the process would not finish on 10 December 2015, but instead continue under the succeeding legislators. She only asked that they keep away from violence and not from speaking up.
Pechen also proposed to the Provincial Council of Education, as an authority, to periodically meet the Mapuche communities and asked the communities to likewise respect the population that is not of Mapuche origin.
The communities said they do not wish to resort to justice in order to obtain respect for their rights, and rather reclaimed dialogue as the most important tool. Furthermore, they asked to be considered as an indigenous people and requested a free consultation that respects international standards.
Member of Parliament Silvia de Otaño, who took part in the meeting with lawmakers Rodolfo Canini and Pamela Mucci, emphasised that there is a permanent invitation to discuss the provisions, and that all directors of the CPE were convened and all the indigenous communities’ documents were received with the greatest respect.