Ethnics: native americans in Chile

Chile was home of many cultures before the landing of spanish conquerors. The chilean state recognizes 9 local peoples. 8 continental and 1 polinesic. Nowdays this ethnic groups are about the 5% of the entire population in the country

In this article you will find a brief review of  chilean Native Americans:



This culture was established in the north of Chile such as Perú, Bolivia and Argentina. They settled in the highlands of “Arica y Parinacota” and “Tarapaca” regions. Nowadays there are 48.000 aymaras which conforms 0,32% of chilean population. Its language is the aymara.


They emigrated from Bolivia in the fifteenth century and settled in the Andes at Antofagasta region. Also they brought their typical clothes, traditions and language. The last census showed that there are still 6.000 quechuas in Chile.


This people has its name from the region they inhabited between the desert and the Andes mountain range. They are an important part of the culture of one of the great tourist destinations of Chile: San Pedro de Atacama.

They were great builders. You can admire their famous “Pucarás” (stone constructions to protect their towns) using Incas techniques due to cultural exchange. Also they were the first to extract cooper from “Chuquicamata”, the largest open pit mine in the wolrd.

Atacameño’s language is kunza and nowadays is estimated that 21.000 people comes from that culture.

Colla – Kolla

This small and authentic culture is very unknown and is identified as an Aimara’s kingdom. Located at “Norte Chico”, they where influenced by Incas which use them as soldiers of the empire. Today their descendants are grouped in 9 communities with a total of 3198 members.


belonged to Quechuas they settled between Huasco and Choapa rivers. Diaguitas are known by farm corn, potatoes and pumpkins on their stepped terraces. Nowadays it is the third indigenous town with the largest population today.



This people were the first ones who settled in Easter Island from Polynesia almost 2,500 years ago. They were governed by “Akiris” which were considered as direct descendants of gods. Also the population was organized by families called tribes.

Nowadays you can find over tan 4,600 rapanuis in chilean population.


This culture, from Arauco region, is the best known and which identifies Chilean people. Before spanish conquerors its population was over 1 million of mapuches. They where the main people who resist the invasion and settlements of Spaniards. Cataloged as a warrior people they continue facing the authorities and demanding their rights in the struggle called “Conflicto Mapuche”.


Alacalufes – Kawesqar

This southern indians were located between De Penas bay to the Magallanes strait. This culture goes back more than 6.000 years. They were nomads that hunted otters and seals using their fur for shelter and huts. Nowadays this culture is endangered.

Yaganes – Yamanas

Located between Beagle canal and Cape Horn. This people use to live half-naked in extreme weather conditions. They were nomads who hunted, gathered and fished in their canoes made of bark called “Anan”. Very few survived the European occupation since the XIX century.

Onas – Selknam

They are an Amerindian town that until the beginning of the 20th century lived in the north and center of the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego. originally they were terrestrial nomads, hunters and gatherers. They were persecuted because they hunted the cattle of “landowners” which results in a genocide. Today the descendants of the Ona culture are totally integrated to the western culture, leaving all their customs in the past.


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