Between an Operetta and an Indian Drama

23rd August 2010 06:00 | By Alain Bernard

The 150th anniversary of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia has permitted discussion about the Mapuches.

 Autour de Philippe d'Araucanie, à Tourtoirac.  PHOTO ARNAUD LOTH
Philippe of Araucania, in Tourtoirac.  Photo ARNAUD LOTH

Willing dignitaries with coloured scarves and sparkling decorations; a flag of Araucania on top of the graves: people dressed in exotic clothing; a French television company filming to satisfaction: nothing was missing from the celebrations of 150 years of the Patagonia Kingdom on Saturday at the cemetery of Tourtoirac, by the tomb of Orélie-Antoine de Tounens.   

Tounens, a modest lawyer from Périgueux, born in Chourgnac-d’Ans, who founded this Kingdom of dreams in 1860 in the extreme south of Latin America, was never really supported.  Without the calamitous expedition to Mexico, would Napoleon III have embraced this plan?

Abandoned by all

Apart from the help of the Perigord Freemasons, Tounens ended up abandoned by everyone after the comings and goings between France and Chile.  Yet, he himself, had pressed to proclaim himself King, over the Mapuche Indians between Chile and Argentina.

On Saturday, for St. Rose of Lima, the traditional festival of the Royal House of Araucania and Patagonia, the prince Philippe had invited Jean-François Gareyte.  Gareyte is a historian whose research on Chile could prove that Tounens was pursued because of the danger that he represented towards the Mapuches who were susceptible to revolt.

The Museum in Tourtoirac

These Mapuches, more than a million in numbers, are at least in Chile, victims of repression and arbitrary arrests.  Alain Deschamps, former teacher from Périgord who knows South America well, expresses his thoughts on Saturday: “It only touches the surface of habitual drama for Indian minorities.  We must make the Mapuches known!”

It became a royal operetta with sovereign co-operation a long time ago in Montmartre.  Therefore, Araucania Patagonia is called to plead for the Indians’ cause, including an informative tool the “Mapuche Portal”.

She is also in the process of moving her collections of Chourgnac-d’Ans to Tourtoirac, next to the Royal Araucanian chapel.  A building which now only waits to be invested in and the prince Phillipe of Araucania proudly distributes postcards of the new museum.


Dordogne · Tourtoirac

Source: Sud Ouest


Translated by: Chynna Gray
Mapuche International Link

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