In Collipulli, located in southern Chile, two Mapuche high school students were told by school administrators that they could not wear their traditional dress during graduation. On Monday, November 21st, the graduating students came to the school to have graduation photographs taken. Two of those students showed up in traditional Mapuche dress and the school did not permit them to have their photographs taken with their attire and told them they could not wear the dress to the ceremony. In response, the lonko (Mapuche leader) of the community, Víctor Queipul, has gone on record stating that the school’s decision is a case of clear discrimination and that they will consider taking legal action.
The two students who desire to graduate in their traditional Mapuche clothing are both girls, one of whom is the daughter of Queipul. According to various reports, the reaction from the community has been to denounce the school administration’s decision. Specifically, Queipul was quoted as saying, “This director has demonstrated a clear attitude of discrimination and racism, and this situation is one that we are not willing to accept…this situation is a violation of our rights and we will pursue legal means to denounce this serious situation.”
According to the Centro de Políticas Públicas, this is the second time this year that Mapuche traditional dress has been an issue in the context of a school. According to an article on their site, earlier this year some university students wanted to take their final examinations wearing traditional Mapuche clothing but were initially told they could not. After an online campaign and the threat of lawsuits, the university relented and allowed the students to wear their traditional attire.