By Luciana Peker
Today Moira Millán, Mapuche, mother of four children, with five court cases under her belt for roadblocks and one more for having occupied fiscal land for six years in what was the land of her ancients, she fights against the Goliath of the market . But he is not scared.
Her pride made the difference, when she was able to leave the scornful looks of the school and the mirror made her not only beautiful but charged with a silenced sense. Today Moira Millán, Mapuche, mother of four children, with five court cases under her belt for roadblocks and one more for having occupied fiscal land for six years in what was the land of her ancients, she fights against the Goliath of the market . But he is not scared.
«For me appliances are little games. In Buenos Aires I spend my time playing with the beaters. We cannot live without the river, the trees, the stones, the medicinal herbs. But the things that the consumer society offers are dispensable.
The black dress –so intense that it has to distill blue as her mother and grandmother taught her– speaks of her, even if one cannot read it. She is going to tell that her kupan (dress) has only one tight shoulder because she is married and that the geometry of the fabric counts for her, although she has to tell it, that she lives as a couple and that her tupu (silver brooch) also reflects the signs of her life like motherhood.
A life that began in a town in Bahía Blanca feeling different and now, at 35 years of age, in the Mapuche community Pillan mahuiza (sacred mountain), in Corcobado, Chubut, claiming that difference, wearing his dark complexion in black and counting on the fabric also its geometric life. She has four children: Violeta (11), Juan Ernesto (10), Llanka (6) and Rantuy (4), each one is special - in order of appearance - for being the first, for being the only boy, for having had her alone of all loneliness on the edge of the river (and on the edge of the helplessness of single mothers) and, finally, for having lived it happier in the company, this time, of a life partner. She also has five court cases for roadblocks, another for usurpation for living for six years in fiscal land and she likes to call herself a warrior of the land.
Her name is Moira Millán and she is a member of the Frente de Lucha Mapuche y Campesina. She says: "We are the ones who fight against the Goliath of the moment and we are the ones who have no voice." It is true that her voice has little echo, of that essential echo in modern life - television - which she has been dispense with for fifteen years. But it is also true that his voice, which now also sings or blows ancestral instruments to make Mapuche music, and comes to Buenos Aires to make himself heard, is also the voice of someone who has something to tell and does not want others to continue telling it for she. In her voice is her story, which is also, like the knots in her dress, the story of the Mapuche people that she wants to tell, a story in which women did not take a back seat, nor was sexuality a sin, nor was the family of a Type only. A story where the land belonged to them. And that it does not want to continue being only synonymous with the past.
–How do you combine your struggle with Mapuche philosophy?
–From the Mapuche perspective, when you led a life of equality with nature, you did not die but you transformed yourself. My mother passed away in 2002, I was blocking the road and she, who was already disabled, stayed with my children. She was very supportive of my fight. I was coordinating the roadblock against the auction in Patagonia and against mining. We were 50 Mapuches and, at that moment, it was very bad for us. She got seriously ill and it rained and rained, but since she was my mother, the Civil Defense did not look for her. When I arrived it was late, although we managed to speak and she cried. I felt that she was going to die because she was a very strong woman, not to cry. I went to take care of my children so that she could be admitted. And that night he died. I am left with that enormous pain. I wondered if the fight was worth it because we are losing so many beings we love and so many things that are happening to us along the way. But all my life, every time I faced the police, the army, those who protect the interests of those who are looting us, I always felt the strength of my grandmother. And when my mother died, the consolation was that she joined that other spirit to accompany me. Nowadays there are condors in my house, it is very rare for condors to go down where the people are, but every time we do a ceremony or go to the cemetery to talk to my mother they appear. Always. So I am convinced that she turned into a condor. And it is very strong for me. I know that she is there. Now we are fighting against six dams that they want to place in the area and with which that whole place - 11 thousand hectares of land - would remain 60 meters under water. Also the cemetery where my mother is would be under water. We are fighting so that this does not happen. And I know that she is there accompanying us. That is the vision that the Mapuche people have. We feel part of this nature, part of this land. For this reason, our struggle is very different from others. We do not fight only about how the cake is distributed, which is the discussion between the left and the right, but we also do not agree with the ingredients that make up that cake. We want to make a new, different bread. We do not want the Repsol plant to ask for work, it is not about the privatization or nationalization of oil exploitation, but rather that this exploitation stops polluting and killing the earth.
- What is your life model?
–I haven't had a television for fifteen years. Appliances are little games for me. It's nice to have fun for a little while, but there are things that seem funny to me. But the things that the consumer society offers are expendable. What is poverty? People have to go back to earth. I was born in Bahía Blanca and now, in the countryside, I have become the happiest person in the world: I live in a material house that is going to become the first Mapuche autonomous school. We cannot continue asking the State because welfare is the worst cancer. But what is the use of continuing to denounce the sale of land if no one wants to go to the land?
- What are they denouncing?
–One of our least heard complaints is that Marcelo Tinelli bought 2,500 hectares in Río Persei, which is 13 kilometers from the city of Esquel, in Chubut. It is a place that does not have a telephone or transportation, it is lost in time, forgotten, but it is heavenly. Some villagers were happy because, for example, the light reached them. But in the Trafipam lagoon there are security people who do not even allow you to go to the lagoon. It also has a tourist megaproject to install the most important ski center in Latin America on the hill. People were told that they are going to live in the place and that they are going to be part of the tourist landscape. So many people agree. But that project is going to have a great environmental impact. In addition, while the businessman builds mansions and closes the place, people do not have even more firewood in the winter. Then that place that belonged to the collective use of the land and the inhabitants is lost. While the Mapuches, in many places, such as Lago Puelo and Corcobado, we continue to claim for our right to collective land ownership titles.
- Would you like to see more models of indigenous women in the media?
- Being a woman is difficult in our society, not to mention being an indigenous woman. There is a model of a woman, a mother, a wife. But Mapuche women should not seek to be top models or occupy spaces for objectifying and selling our image. You have to transcend that. I wear my ancestral clothes that are reflecting the purity of the people because the color black represents purity and, the old women say, it has to be so intensely black that it flashes blue and everything has to show my philosophy and my spirit. For me that is being well dressed and not being in the latest fashion. The consumer society is also exacerbating sexuality. While the Mapuche people have lived fully, without the need for psychotherapies and what do I know, their sexuality.
- In the Mapuche worldview, sexuality has less repression than in Judeo-Christian societies?
- The Mapuche people do not have any repression. That comes with the conquest, when Christianity brings all the repressive part. In principle, there is no image of daddy-mommy-kids, boys are not owned by parents, but belong to the whole community. Nor is there the issue of fidelity, but respect for our own nature.
- What has been the place of women in Mapuche history?
- The Mapuche people have ancestrally had a very egalitarian gender relationship, with gender equality. There was never a specific role for men that women could not fulfill. We could be priestesses (machis), commanders or warriors. We always had a voice and a vote and we were the transmitters of wisdom with the children. The philosophical thought of our people has been to respect nature and this includes the nature of each one of us, even the choice of the partner depends on that nature. There are men who need more than one woman to be able to feel complemented (you have to decolonize to understand what I am saying because you cannot see it from a sexual perspective), this is called polygamy and it was practiced in the Mapuche community. But there were also polyandry: machis women who could have more than one husband and not because of an erotic question, but because of a spiritual complementarity. There was diversity and not a heterosexual and monogamous hegemonic model. Just as in nature there is diversity in animals, plants and flowers, neither can it be required that all human beings be the same. In that sense, there was a very important respect for women. But when Judeo-Christianity arrives, it breaks with all that and imposes the machismo that has been internalized in our communities, although not as an ancestral cultural element, but as a result of colonization. In the communities, all women go through stages of abandonment, family violence, a very marginal situation. Even so, living with that oppression, Mapuche women have a visibility in the struggle and a very large role. I feel supported by the Mapuche men. And currently in the communities there are in a role equivalent to chiefs, both women and men. I believe that the Mapuche people have a lot, from their ancestral wisdom, to contribute in a new society. And that machismo cannot be destroyed if we do not rethink society as a whole.
–How do indigenous women suffer discrimination?
- Discrimination is suffered by all women who do not meet the physical type imposed by fashion culture. But I believe that we should not look for a more just socio-economic model, but rather a new society in which one of the priorities is tenderness. I dream of a world where tenderness is possible. www.EcoPortal.net
* Luciana Peker
Published in Basque Diaspora. The Basques of the International Basque Diaspora Association share the claim of the Mapuche people in defense of their identity, their language, their culture and their territory taken over by the violence of Invading Armies: Free the Mapuche Political Prisoners!