Mapuche mapuče, a self-designation, from mapu land + če people
First Known Use: 1855
Most numerous group of Araucanian-speaking South American Indians (seeAraucanian), who live in the central valley of Chile. They are noted for their 350-year struggle against Spanish and Chilean domination. In the 16th–18th centuries they learned to use horses in battle and united over great distances to fight Spanish incursions. After Chile gained independence in the 19th century, the government settled them on reservations. In the 1980s the reservation land was transferred to individuals, but their rights have become endangered by debt accrued to support their traditional, non-intensive agriculture.