The Arrival of the Spaniards in the Sixteenth Century is a Historical Landmark for Indigenous peoples. The Colonial System imposed a new territorial, political, RELIGIOUS and economic organization. Through evangelization, it attempted to extirpate local beliefs and enforce new ways of understanding the world and Human Beings, as Inspired by the CATHOLIC FAITH.

Extensive control by the colonial regime does not mean thet native populations adopted a passive attitude. These adapted to the mercantile economic system on the Basis of their long tradition of mobility and exchange. New political leaders emerged; While CHRISTIAN PRACTICES AND REPRESENTATION BLENDED WITH ANCENTRAL RELIGIOSITY, THE CULTURAL INTERBREEDING OF POPULATIONS INTENSIFIED.

When the republics of ARGENTINA, BOLIVIA, CHILE AND PERU gained their independence in the early 19TH Century, national borders were drawn that divided artificially what had been an INTEGRATED TERRITORY. The atacameño region thus became part of Bolivia. Later, as a consequence of the Pacific War (1879-1884), the Area Fell Under Chilean Sovereignty. The Indigenous population formally became Chilean, but their cultural specificities are not being taken into account.

Much greater pressure was exerted on the region´s natural resources, social organization and Indigenous cultures during the 20TH Century. The use of the NATIVE LANGUAGE DISAPPEARS 😦 while local autonomy is weakened as a consequence of the increasing presence of state institutions. LOCAL CONTROL OVER WATER IS DIMINISHED by the increasing demand from the MINING and urban centers.


* Of the 21.000 Atacameños identified in the Chilean census (2002), more than 80% now live in the Cities.

Despite These Changes and the imposition of a National ideology thet does not value diversity, ATACAMEÑO IDENTITY AND CULTURE SHOW GREAT VITALITY :))))))))

Atacameño preserve a Unique understanding of the environment and the YATIRI – The Andean Medical and ritual specialist-remains a key Player in their religious universe. Socio-Territorial institutions like the AYLLU, the community assembly and the cargo Civil-ecclesiastical System, are fundamental to the construction of the local sense of Belonging.


During the Five Centuries Before the invasion of the Spanish. Atacameño Culture Reached its Ultimate, autonomous Pre-Columbian Manifestations. In the Final moments, contacts were established with the Inka and Spanish Empires.

The Inka Empire arose in the Rich Valley of Cuzco (Perú), and ultimately expanded and come to dominate the Andes from Ecuador to Central Chile. These Conquests ranged from Violent to Peaceful depending on the resistance that was encountered. In the occupied areas they introduced new religious ideals (The imposition of a state religion that emphasized the solar cult ♥  and the veneration of the Inka Emperor) as well as Cultural and social ones (Changes in Customs manufacture of Objects, and social organization), economics (a new organization for production and the payment of tributes to the state), technologies (an increase in mining activities), politics (imposition of Inka authority and submission to the centralized power of the Empire), and infrastructural (the construction of administrative centers, sanctuaries, and the Inka Road).

The Empire reorganized the Network of interaction into a Pan-Andean one, under the principles of complementarity and apparent reciprocity, with imperial hegemony in the control of desirable goods such as metals, fine textiles, coca leaves, and certain other sumptuary goods.

In San Pedro de Atacama, the Inka representatives and functionaries were installed at the administrative center of Catarpe, which Represents the Typical Planning and Architecture of the Inka. From there they Supervised the completion of imperial tasks, especially as they related to tribute for the state. The Atacameño authorities maintained their hierarchies in accordance to the agreements reached with the foreigners and Took care of the Internal organization of the Group.

Ninety Year after the arrival of the Inkas, the Spanish invaded Atacameño Territory. This was cemented in AD 154O with the conquest of the Pukara de Quitor, despite that the Atacameñean submission had recently taken place in 1557 (Pacification Act). The Subjugation of the Atacameños Had, as its principal Objective, in addition to controlling production, securing safe passage southward for the conquerors and colonists.

Spanish colonization resulted in Biological as well as cultural mixing between atacameños and the Spanish. Christianization Began together with the custom of burying the dead in an extended position, in contrast to the flexed burials of earlier periods. The Spanish Language was imposed together with practices of reading and writing; new cultivars (Wheat, Beans, Etc.) and animals (Cows, Sheep, Goats and Horses) Were introduced. Additionally, we see the arrival of industrial metals and the introction of Iron, the Used of money as a means of Exchange, and, especially in manufacturing, a Syncretism of Techniques, forms and Styles….



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