In a press release dated April 9th, CONADI (the Chilean government’s Indigenous development corporation) announced that it would invest approximately US$350,000 in Mapuzungun language courses (the language of the Mapuche people) in the Araucanía Region. The funding would operate much like a block grant and would go “directly to the communities, without intermediaries” according to Deputy Director Germán Riquelme Reuss. Reuss also stated that the goal was to have Mapuche language and culture taught in the traditional way by an elder with knowledge of those things.
In total, more than 120 Mapuche communities and associations will receive funding. The programs will be designed and carried out locally by the communities. There are two caveats that communities must meet in order to receive funding: first, the instruction must include 140 hours of teaching (completed over the course of six months); and second, classes must include at least ten students between the ages of 3 and 29 in order to promote language among Mapuche youth.
According to Marcos Ancavil Curiqueo, an instructor from the Mapuche community of Manuel Millañir, “This is an excellent initiative by CONADI because our language was being lost, and it is an opportunity for us to come together and unite as a community.”
The funding for this language project comes out of a national effort to promote Indigenous languages throughout the country. In 2012, the Chilean government committed more than US$900,000 to language revitalization, and this year funding was increased to over US$1.3 million.