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Ethnogenesis and Cultural Identity Among the Colla Groups of the Atacama Range

  • Date Submitted: 11/05/2010 05:24 AM
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Regional Museum of Atacama
                                                                                                              Copiapo, Chile


Daniel Quiroz[1] and Yuri Jeria[2]

The law 19253 [so-called Indigenous Law], created by the CONADI (National Corporation of Indigenous Development), recognizes in its first article, nine ethnic groups in Chiles: mapuche, aimara, rapanui, atacameña, quechua, colla, diaguita, kawashkar y yamana.

The presence of the colla as an ethnic group turned into a big surprise, not only for the ordinary people, but also for the experts, historians and anthropologists. In the Larraìn erudite work [1987] the colla group is not mentioned at all. It neither appears in the different study text made for the elementary and secondary school.

The first anthropology data about the “Chilean colla” come from a text that is going to be made up from a point of departure and based on a source of backgrounds: “Título para Profesor de Estado en Castellano” (a degree exam to Spanish Teacher) developed by C. Rojas [1976] concerning to the “magic colla world”, mainly based on interviews had with Mrs. Damiana Jerónimo. The information provided by Rojas is the first systematic rapprochement to the knowledge about the named regionally collas. This text provides, undoubtedly, an exotic vision of customs and strange ceremonies which provoke comprehension and liking.

Between 1993 and 1995 the DIBAM (Direction of Libraries, Files and Museums) funded an investigation project whose goal was to get some data about the adaptation of the populations who inhabited scattered in the valleys gullies, and watering places in the range of Atacama [Castillo, Cervellino & Quiroz 1994, Cervellino, Castillo & Quiroz 1995, Cervellino & Castillo 1996].In the course of this project we get a variety of data about the ethnic construction processes that colla...


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