On Saturday, September 10th, the Argentinian government returned 9,475 hectares (more than 23,000 acres) of land to the Tehuelche and Mapuche communities living new in Las Heras (located in the northern portion of the Santa Cruz province). The agreement was adopted by the Consejo Agrario Provincial and copies of the agreement were provided to the Governor and Mayor in a ceremony on September 10th that saw the transfer of land come to fruition.
At the ceremony Governor Daniel Peralta was quoted as saying, “We’ve taken a giant step in answering the claims of those who live in Santa Cruz.” Peralta recognized the importance of Indigenous peoples by calling them “the very roots of our culture.” Furthermore, the Governor indicated that in addition to the land, programs would be available to “improve the communities’ quality of life.”
Historically, the Mapuche and Tehuelche peoples were occasional enemies, but now there are communities throughout Argentina where the two peoples live and work together — including in the fight for their rights. In total, it is estimated that there are approximately 6,000 Tehuelche people in Argentina, while there are more than 100,000 Mapuche in the country.