Regional Museum of Atacama
ETHNOGENESIS AND CULTURAL IDENTITY AMONG THE COLLA GROUPS OF THE ATACAMA RANGE
Daniel Quiroz and Yuri Jeria
The law 19253 [so-called Indigenous Law], created by the CONADI (National Corporation of Indigenous Development), recognizes in its first article, nine ethnic groups in Chiles: mapuche, aimara, rapanui, atacameña, quechua, colla, diaguita, kawashkar y yamana.
The presence of the colla as an ethnic group turned into a big surprise, not only for the ordinary people, but also for the experts, historians and anthropologists. In the Larraìn erudite work  the colla group is not mentioned at all. It neither appears in the different study text made for the elementary and secondary school.
The first anthropology data about the “Chilean colla” come from a text that is going to be made up from a point of departure and based on a source of backgrounds: “Título para Profesor de Estado en Castellano” (a degree exam to Spanish Teacher) developed by C. Rojas  concerning to the “magic colla world”, mainly based on interviews had with Mrs. Damiana Jerónimo. The information provided by Rojas is the first systematic rapprochement to the knowledge about the named regionally collas. This text provides, undoubtedly, an exotic vision of customs and strange ceremonies which provoke comprehension and liking.
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Between 1993 and 1995 the DIBAM (Direction of Libraries, Files and Museums) funded an investigation project whose goal was to get some data about the adaptation of the populations who inhabited scattered in the valleys gullies, and watering places in the range of Atacama [Castillo, Cervellino & Quiroz 1994, Cervellino, Castillo & Quiroz 1995, Cervellino & Castillo 1996].In the course of this project we get a variety of data about the ethnic construction processes that colla groups were experiencing in the beginning of the nineties.
There are, among the material we got, three interviews carried out between September 29 and October 1º, 1992 in the Copiapo ranges with Esteban Ramos in Montandón, Zoilo Jerónimo in Potrerillos and with Pedro Jerónimo in the El Jardín gully.
In this investigation we want to carry out, employing those interviews and making use of other kind of information [newspapers cuttings and some “colla texts”], a reflection about the colla ethnic construction processes and table an idea of the named “colla identity”, considering that we were, maybe in different ways, privileged witness of this process.
¿WHO ARE THE COLLA?
The CONADI web page establishes that the colla “make up an ethic group emerged by a mixing of peoples from Bolivia that took up the northwest provinces of Argentina and then move through the Range hillside between the XV and XVI centuries” [Conadi 2001]. According to the data we have there are not accurate numbers, nevertheless there are about 1000 colla people living in different locations, mainly urban but also rural places of the Atacama region. [Conadi 2001].
The “official” definition of colla gathers the investigations carried out in our country until nowadays. The most of the published texts agree that the current so-called colla are descendent of families that emigrated from the argentine northwest at the end of the XIX century or at the beginning of the XX century: “a group of families from Argentina [areas of Belén, Tinogasta, others] and the south of Bolivia, settle in the El Jardín gully, between the Potrerillos and El Salvador mining centers. They are the auto named, that nowadays are more than 60 families”. [Cervellino, 2001; cf. Castillo, Cervellino & Quiroz 1994, Cassssigoli & Rodríguez 1995, Manríquez & Martínez 1995, Molina & Correa 1996, 1997, Gahona 2000].
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In the web page www.serindigena.cl, developed by the Area of Native Cultures of the Division of Cultures belonging to the Ministry of Education, appears a “clear” definition of “being colla”:
The colla people inhabits in the north area of Chile, in watering places and gullies of the range of the province of Chañaral [Atacama Region], between the cities of Potrerillos, El Salvador, Diego de Almagro and Copiapó. The kolla arrived to Chile in two periods: first, in the last stage of the Tiwanaku Empire, in the X century; a second emigration is produced from the Argentinean northwest and coincide with the Pacific War, at the end of the XIX century. The most part of the kolla arrived from Tinogasta and Fiambala, with a high migratory rate between 1880 and 1890.
Currently, the territory inhabited by this people comprises the Andean foothills and the Andes Range and some part of the high Andean plateau of the Chañaral and Copiapó provinces in the third region. Their most important demarcations are: the Quebrada de la Encantada in the north and the Copiapó River in the south, an area with a nomadic environment that is located at an altitude of 2.000 and 4.000 meters.
The celebrations and rituals are carried out inside the culture but the marriages only occur between them. The kolla spiritual world is similar to the aymaras. Their main ancestral believes are related with the Pachamama, the Mother Earth, which produces life and organize the human life. She knows when, how and why things must happen. The ceremonies are carried out by a yatiri, a learned person who has been chosen by the spiritual powers, the yatiri knows this election in a dream, to heal diseases, carry out begs and ceremonies. The rituals are carried out mainly in the hills, in the higher places. The yatiri begs for the support and the welfare of the community. The kolla commemoration dates are related with the agropastoral cycles, as the indigenous New Year at the end of June. [Mineduc 2001].
This text constitutes a synthesis which represents the result of a decade of colla ethnic construction.
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The first paragraph is constitutes a bridge between the current populations that live in the Atacama ranges, and which are descendents of trans-Andean emigrates who have lived more than one hundred year in the area, with archeological populations that arrived one thousand years ago. This bond can not be archeologically proved, but in this process it does not have any worth.
In the second paragraph, a continuous territory is defined, with clear established frontiers, an elemental matter in the contemporary recognition of the ethnic entities that allows developing a process of claim of territories in an effective way.
In the third paragraph a world vision is developed, connected with something knower: the aimara spiritual world, unknowing the contributions of the European mixed race “the marriages only occur between them” allows connect the colla communities with relationship groups and with this the circle can be closed
We can compare this definition with one developed for the Argentinean Collas If we can talk like this]
The special process occurred in the northwest of Argentina make this colla culture not be a purely indigenous race but a mixing one that allows located it in the native camp, not only for their cultural history but for their insertion in the national and regional context. Like this the colla begins to differ themselves from the rest of the northwest mixed race, settling mainly in scattered settlements in the Puna zone, the Humahuaca gully and some part of the Calchaquìes Valleys.
Nonetheless, the collas are the true bearier of the traditional Andean lifestyle, through the maintenance of many cultural patterns such as the height shepherdess and the potato and maize agricultural economy; the harvest of carob and salt; the construction of housings: the traditional medicine and the prophecy techniques; the musical instruments erques, quenas, pinkullo, sikus and cajas; the worship to the Earth Mother and countless beliefs, rituals and social practices; the ancestral piety, in short, beyond of being designated by the new official religion, has coexisted with it, in a new way that has been redefined as popular piety. [Rumbojujuy 2001].
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The investigations carried out in Argentina are related to different ways to see the existence of the colla group, to different styles of interpretation of the data. According to ENDEPA (National Group of Indigenous Pastoral) , the collas that inhabits in Argentina, “puneños and their descendants, some quebraderos and all the other population of quechua-aymara origin” would be about 170,000 people.
In one hand we have those investigations which “see” the collas as a new ethnic group, “synthesis of diaguitas and omaguacas diluted definitely, of apatamas and groups of quechua and aimara origin from Bolivia”, are then, “the inheritor ethnic group of the native inhabitants of the northwest, consolidated throughout the XIX century [Frites, 1971]. It is curious how the European contribution is disown in this mixed race: the collas are, in conclusion, “part of the no integrated mixed race mass in the urban centers”, those who inhabit in the hills [Frites 1971].
In the other hand we have those investigations which question the continuity of the colla culture joint to the quechua and aimara cultures and the Andean nature of their culture, underling their European indigenous mixed race profile. [Isla 1992, Lozano, 2000].
The ethnogenesis word, as many others used in the anthropology and other disciplines, is a Greek term that combines tennos, which means “the other populations”, with genesis, which means “development”. The term ethnogenesis is used, therefore, to talk about the origin of populations, mainly those that are different from us .
The ethnogenesis can be understood as the slow formation of an independent community, different from others, but related with them Roosens 1989].The formation in the population of a sense of self-recognition is considered, mostly, the base of this process. This ethnogenesis processes involve obligatory an “ethnic reaffirmation by means of the cultural reappropiation and reinvention.”
The ethnicity, this sense of self-recognition, is the product of the intercultural contact which at the same time, make up the interaction of the mentioned contact, by means of the selection of certain “contrast emblems” in front of others [Dietz 1999]. As Bourdieu [1991: 231], the typical thing of the symbolic logic is to transform in absolute differences of “all or nothing”, the infinitesimals differences”. The ethnicity is an aspect of the social relationships between leaders who consider themselves as culturally different from other groups and with them, they have minimal irregular interactions” [Eriksen 1993: 12]
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This absolute and routined differences agree in an identity source in order to delimit a “we” and “others” and promote an ethnogenesis process: “the matter that before had been monotonous praxis, now is converted to give an explicit politic of identity” [Dietz 1999]. This way a cultural identity is made up through a complex process of etnogénesis.
FROM THE POTRERILLOS HUASOS CLUB TO THE COLLA CULTURAL CENTER
As has been shown, the colla “problem”, from an ethnic dimension, was no a problem in the eighties: “the aymaras, atacameños and collas constitution, as ethnic actors with a consciousness of ethnic identity and requires that question to the society and the government, represent […] a historic innovation” [Gundermann 2000]. In the Atacama region, the word colla is used to name the people who inhabited in “the hills”, using the existing resources and manage to survive, the knowledge they had about the flora, fauna and paths that went through the Atacama ranges.
Zoilo Jerónimo, one of the leaders of the movement for the recognition of the colla as an ethnic group in the nineties, refers about one of their remembers: “He is colla, of course, his mother, with all her resources, lived like one in the hill, there you go the bases [Zoilo Jerónimo 1993].
Even the term “live like one” refers to an unspecific way of life: remembers us that it is more important to live as a colla that being a colla [We can not avoid to mention that the word colla was also used to designate to the Potrerillos inhabitants in a regional context].
At the end of September 1993, at his home in the Montandón Railway Station, Mr. Esteban Ramos told us about Potrerillos:
You know, I do not understand the colla word, where it comes from. In this place, the old people were Chilean, Bolivian, and Argentinean; they were a set of families that were from those places. I always talk like this with people but none tell me why. The people in the south name them huasos, “the huasos of the south”, and the people in the north, the northern people, called them “collas. I always name the people of this place, the people of Potrerillos “colla”, if they have born here, although the family is from the south, [Esteban Ramos, 1993]
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Mr. Esteban Ramos states that the colla means in the north the same the huasos are in the south. This statement has more than one sense. The Potrerillos Huasos Club is, unquestionably, one of the main organization example subsequent colla communities. The brothers Salomón and Zoilo Jerónimo had an important participation in that club:
Salomón has the documents of the “collita” legal entity, that and the huasos club are the same thing, but we do not have the legal entity documents of the club, but in both there are the same people. Salomón and I are involve in the club, for this Independence Day I invited my relatives since we need signatures to get the document for the “collita” [Esteban Ramos, 1993]
Mr. Esteban thinks the homonym colla/huaso matches with a similarity in the life style, since they share “a life in the countryside”. The colla were breeder: “all the old people were only breeder; they had donkeys, coats, mules, horses, lambs and even llamas as the Jerónimo family as I told you, all kind of animals except bovine. Muleteer “my father was pioneering, he worked with a wagon and my mother worked preparing the meal for the people who worked with the wagons”. Miners “then he started working in the Inés Chiica mine in the gold peak and some were farmers: “they sowed maize, gourd, and all were crushed” [Esteban Ramos, 1993, Pedro Jerónimo, 1993]. They also hunted foxes, chinchillas, guanacos and vicunas. Later we will discuss some aspects of the colla life style.
When Zoilo Jerónimo  defines “being a colla” he can not avoid saying “the colla has a large worth, the colla is “huaso”, he is a horses and mules trainer; he can do anything”.
The creation of the CEPI (Special Committee of Indigenous Peoples), under the government of Patricio Aylwin [1990-1994] provoked the reappearing of the indigenous topics and a discussion about their appropriateness in the Atacama Region. Like this, at the end of the eighties, in the bosom of the Potrerillos Huasos Club, begins to appear a concern between the Jerónimo brothers, so they decided to participate in the National Meetings of Indigenous Cultures, organized by the CEPI.
This concern was promoted and caused through the lend support by many people and institutions interested in emphasize the colla indigenous nature and like this, include them in the Indigenous Law, which was going to be enacted, the actions of some politics in the area, such as the Senator Ricardo Nuñez were highlighted . In the interviews of 1993, always appears the name of the senator’s wife as an “instigator” of the colla movement, even she supported the financing to carry out some ceremonies.
This mutual interesting, between the collas and the Chilean State, end in the incorporation of the “colla” in the Indigenous Law.
For the El Salvador people, Mrs. Damiana Jerónimo was an important personage, known by everyone. Her piety will be the threads that will allow match some cultural pieces, which would be hardly connected in other way [Rojas 1976]. The conversations with Mam Damiana allows glimpse the simultaneous existence of ceremonies connected to the Andine world, such was said and the “vilancha” (a colla common party) [Cervellino 1993, Gahona 2000], and the catholic religious celebrations, as the “Virgen de la Candelaria” [Rojas 1976].
From the conversations we had with Pedro Jerónimo, brother of Mam Damiana, we got some data that allow contextualize the validity of this ceremonies. For Mr. Pedro Jerónimo, Mrs. Damiana knew the ceremonies, about the candelaria blossom “because she was devote of the saints, we have never been evangelical people, we have just believed in the saints, in Our Lord and in the Virgin. When we had a lot of herd, we flowered; we put flowers in their ears. I do not know the pachamama ceremony, but the vilancha I do, but it was before us, who knows how the old people made it” [Pedro Jerónimo 1993]. To Mr. Pedro the Andean ceremonies “were matter of the older people”, they were devotes of the saints”.
Zoilo Jerónimo tells us that his interest rose twelve years ago, when the elementary school of Potrerillos “make up a work, to compete in the region, related to the race values. The kids were looking for people to support them and they interview me, they asked me who I was, how I was born, how I had been bring up, which were my food, which were my natural resources, how my family got money, all that appears in this investigation, they got the first place”. [Zoilo Jerónimo, 1993]. To help to carry out this investigation allowed him to order his knowledge, “his resources”. The same he told the kids, he told in the indigenous population meetings organized by the CEPI.
The second step was the creation of the Colla Cultural Center and its legal authentication: in Copiapó we are processing the legal entity, we are 40 people older than 18 years old, but as a race we have more than 100. We have good values, good visions, for these reasons we have to join and organize, and like this we can say many things, to say what we feel” [Zoilo Jerónimo 1993].
We organized a blossom and a branding to the herd in 1992, with the support of regional people and some organizations. Zoilo Jerónimo was organizer of the ceremonies “there are totally sacred acts, in the blossom the things given by the nature and God are valued, is the time to give tribute, the offering is very common, it is in the sacred Holy Scripture, in all the religious laws there is the tribute. In the tithe, the best animal is offered, the moist meat; the other pieces are given to the workers. These are, more or less, the things we try to search” [Zoilo Jerónimo 1993]
During 1995 the Potrerillos Colla indigenous community is recognized, mainly composed by the Jerónimo-Escalante family, whose goal was “carry out a job of collective recovering of the colla sociocultural practices [Paño 1997]. The same year the Paipote Colla Community is constituted and in 1996 the Río Jonquera Colla Community is constituted too. These were the first colla registered communities in the Law 19.253.
THE COLLA: HUASOS OR GAUCHOS
One of the most interesting matters that always appear around the colla ethnic description is related to the relationships with the groups which inhabits in Argentina which are larger.
The colla, especially in the area of Potrerillos, come mainly from the Argentinean northeast: the name of my grandmother was Eudosia Berazay, but I do not remember the name of my grandfather, only his last name, it was Ramos, so the name of my father is Jesús Ramos. All they came from the other side of the range, from Fiambalá, near Tinogasta, of Palo Blanco. They came riding [Esteban Ramos, 1993]. The Jerónimo family was “from the north of Argentina, particularly from the Salta Valleys and from Potrero Grande. They came with their animals and even with llamas and with them came the little Mrs. Damiana Jerónimo” [Esteban Ramos 1993]. To Zoilo Jerónimo , “the remarkable values we have are from Argentinean legacy.
Although Zoilo Jerónimo recognizes that many of the colla values are “from “Argentinean heritage” and his grandparents came from Argentina, he can make a distinction between the “colla” and the “cuyano”.
I have many friends for example Aróstica and Del Río Jorquera who have the same history from our, they come from Argentina, but they are not of the “coya” race, but of cuyanas races They are huasos, breeders of animals and miners, there are resourceful people, handcraft people, and even I was told to make some ponchos, they are beautiful [Zoilo Jerónimo 1993]
He does not consider them of the same “race”, but they do the same things as them, even some things such as the ponchos are better.
Mr. Pedro Jerónimo talks about the constant journeys to Argentina, his relatives in Saujil, Tinogasta, Fiambalá, and Palo Blanco; and about the goods they exchanged:
You leave here in the morning and in the midday you arrive to Fiambalá. We carried the coat leather, shovels, ointments, menthol; the people bought many of those. They also bought Chilean shovels because the Argentinean shovels were so bad, they were used. Those things we sold, and with the money we bought the supplies, they were cheap, the sugar, flour, everything to cook, we also bought clothes, the money was enough. [Pedro Jerónimo, 1993].
The Trans Andean bonds are a current matter in the talks about the colla world.
THE COLLA COMMUNITIES
After the inscription of the Potrerillos and Paipote communities in 1995, also were registered Río Jonquera y sus Afluentes in 1996, Pastos Grandes and Sinchi Wayra in 1998 [González 2000]. In December 2001 there were five communities legally registered: Diego de Almagro, Sinchi Wayra, Pastos Grandes, Comuna de Copiapó y Río Jorquera y sus Afluentes. These communities came from three different geographic areas with collas: Tierra Amarilla, Diego de Almagro and Copiapó, all of them were dominated by settlements in the urban areas. In 2002 a division in the Río Jonquera Community was produced and two new communities rose: Wayra Manta Tujsi and Pacha Churicay.
These communities main goal is, undoubtedly, “the recovering of lands and water” [Paño 1997], although, their histories are different [Paño 1997, González 1997, 2002].
THE TEXTS AND BEING A COLLA
The main of the authors concerned about the ethnicity phenomenon, highlight the worth of the written texts in the ethnogenesis of the human groups who try to differ themselves in a cultural way [Eriksen 1993, Dietz 1999].
When we talked with Zoilo Jerónimo in 1993, and we asked him about some written texts he showed in the Indigenous Cultures National Meetings, organized by the CEPI, he answered that “he did not carry written documents; he carried crafts, sample board, marai (in mining, a big stone where the mineral is grinded), iron things, but they were in small size, I left the real ones [Zoilo Jerónimo, 1993].
In this four pages text, González first raises the problem of the cultural continuity. He traces the kolla population origin to “the final stage of the Bolivia Tiwanaku Empire, a great Andean Inca civilization” [2000: 1] and describes a series of stages that reveal that the current colla of Copiapo are the descendants of the colla manor between 1000 and 1100 A.D. [2000, 1-2]. In addition, he gives to the existence of the colla in the region, a historical depth and locates it in the XVIII (although all the data we have, locate it at the end of the XIX century and at the beginning the XX century.
Second, he is concerned to demonstrate his relevance to the colla world, point that an ancestor, was president of the Muleteer Labor Union in 1912 which is considered the first colla organization. This was Santos Gonzalez Vallón. He also created the Sinchi Wayra Community which is made up by the “ayllu” of the González Vallón-Quispe.
Third, he puts the kolla as an object of the Military Government of Chile from 1973 and like this “they were cornered where they lived […] often the military men went around the range, abusing the woman such as the Quispe sisters who sacrificed themselves, offering up their lives to the Pacha” [González 2000: 3].
In fourth place, he point these communities “have live historically in their Andean habitat and owning to socioeconomic pressure, the majority descend to the cities o settlements […] nowadays our population has recovered gradually the practice of our culture. The ceremonies, carnivals, rituals, the tributes, “dulce mesa” (a table served on the floor as a tribute to the Pachamama) and the new years are being slowly consecrated in some communities” [González 2000: 4]
According to González [2002: 1], the native colla of the third region are not in extinction, they have just kept their traditions privately, even they avoid their own children inherit this culture”. González names this idea his “general hypothesis” as part of the text he signs as Oscar Pacho-Kolla González, ethnographer [sic]. Oscar Pacho-Kolla González named himself not just as “ethnographer”, but also as “hill spirit”, , “the amauta” (person who taught the nobility children).
THE COLLA ETHNICS MARKERS
The collas have chosen a set of ceremonies that act as ethnics markers: the branding, the blossom, and the vilancha among others. For instance, in the daily “La Cuarta” of june 28, 2002, appears the following sentence: “due to the celebration of the Indigenous
Peoples Nacional Day the colla carried out brandings and blossom:
COPIAPO. – With branding and blossom of herd, a ritual where the animals are decorated with multicolor wools and marked in the ears, the members of the colla group, that inhabits in the Andean foothills area, celebrated in the park El Pretil the Indigenous Populations National Day.
It was a beautiful traditional celebration, full of colors. It was carried out by the colla managing director of the Río Jorquera town, Zoilo Jerónimo. First, the leader thanked to the Pachamama (mother earth) and begged for a best year not only in the abundance of the harvest or the increase of the animals, but also in the joining of all the indigenous populations, including the diaguita that nowadays does not appear as a recognized ethnic group in the Indigenous Law.
Later, the colla women with the Atacama governor Yasna Provoste Campillay who has diaguita ancestry, and the SEREMI (Ministerial Regional Secretary) of Planning and Coordination, Claudio López Klocker, got in a coat farmyard able in the place and began the ceremony.
The first ritual consists of brand the animals in the ears to distinguish who is the owner. Whereas the blossom is related to the animals’ life cycle, for this, multicolor wool ornaments are made up, and are put in the animals ears.
This a collective celebration carried out in the countryside where the young collas can felt in love and find couple.
There was also a tasting of traditional food, such as embers bread, mate, churrascas (bread fast made in a grill) roasted coat, nuts, dried figs and raisins. Also a handcraft trade fair was presented to the public, there the presence of the diaguitas that came from the Alto del Carmen town was show off. Some multiethnic organizations that take in pascuenses, aymaras and mapuches, descendants were joined too. There were canticles and dances which were celebrated by the public that was in the place.
The intendant use the opportunity to confirm the next handing of 8,900 hectares of lands to the colla ethnic group in the Atacama Region, this allows them to solve the goats fodder problem during the winter which have food difficulties. Claudio López added that this land handing to the Copiapó, Pastos Grandes and Sichi-Wayra towns is the recognition to the colla culture and to the concrete actions of integration that the regional government is carrying out.
In an occasion, when the colla community of Copiapo [Estación Paipote], gained a Fondart project, they celebrated the vilancha or pay inka and also the branding and the blossom:
The colla carried out worship to the Earth Mother in a town chosen by the ancestors, with food and typical dresses.
In the Bolo area, in the Quebrada de Paipote, the Colla Community carried out the Pay Inka ceremony or Inca Carnaval whose goal is to keep their rituals and traditions in pursuit of the welfare of the population, town, animals and land.
The “Ceremonial Table” was constituted during the celebration that began at 00:00 hrs. There the animal chosen by the community was consecrated and then sacrificed with the arrival of the “New Sun” and whose heart was given alive to the pacha mama or mother earth. Later the “Blossom Carnival” and the “branding of the new animals”, these rituals allow, according their traditions, increase the number of animals and strengthen them.
On that occasion, Juan Pérez Bordones, the head of the community said that “as a colla population we feel very proud to have gained a Fondart project since it helps us to keep the traditions, unify the different colla communities and turn us into a population” also he insisted in the joining that must exist between the different colla communities of the region and likewise he highlighted the work carried out by the Education Ministry of Atacama and of the Culture department of this organization and for the concern and support to the native peoples . [Mineduc 2002]
These ceremonies are the media through the colla show themselves to the rest of the regional society as a different body.
THE COLLA AND THE RECOVERING OF THE LANDS
Since 1994 a process of fiscal lands transfer to the colla communities has been developed. In 1997 the Investigation Group TEPU was commissioned by the Conadi to do an investigation where appears the first territorial legal action for about 50,000 hectares to three indigenous communities: Potrerillos, Paipote and Río Jorquera [Molina and Correa 1995, 1996]. Then a geodesic study was also commissioned to the INAS Ltda in 1996. This study establishes an available surface of 45,000 hectares.
The 2002 the transfer of about 9,000 hectares was determined, these were split into 1,279 hectares for the Diego de Almagro Community, 1,608 for the Sinchi-Wayra, Pastos Grandes communities and the Copiapo Municipality, and 6,108 for the Río Jorquera Community.
In the pages of the daily “La Cuarta” of Santiago, on June 18, 2002 it is emphasized the handing of about 6,000 hectares to the Rio Jorquera Community.
COPIAPO. – A meeting was carried out in the head office of the colla ethnic group of the Río Jorquera area. In this meeting the community was informed about the general arrangements contained in the transfer decree of fiscal lands, the conditions of the handing of 6,108 hectares, and also the prohibitions and protections that the Indigenous Law grants.
A lot of leaders of institutions related to the matter were preset in the meeting, leaded by the Regional Ministry of National Goods, Rodrigo Rojas together with thirty members of the colla ethnic group of Río Jonquera, an area where inhabit about130 families.
It was informed that the lands transfer is by way of community for all the cases and they will constitute hereditary lands with all the rights, uses, customs, and active and passive easement, free of mortgages, prohibitions, interdictions and litigation.
Accoring to the Direction of Frontiers and Boundaries, the properties are attached to the legal regulations currently in force of the frontier areas: the community must allow the SAG (Agricultural and Cattle Service) order sanitary measures to animals and fields in risk due to the Argentinean frontier. Likewise, the benefit community, owning to the dry ecosystem fragility and the vulnerability of the agro forestry resources, must allow the concerning institutions implement and use the necessary measures for the resources.
The handing prohibits cutting down the trees and native shrubs, also they must protect the fauna wild species such as the vicuna, guanaco, chinchilla, viscacha and piuquén, among others.
The indigenous lands can not be alienated, seized, taxed or acquired by legal principle, except among community or indigenous people of the same ethnic group. Neither can be let, handed over in commodate nor transferred to third people in use, possession or administration.
The corresponding folders were handing, these contain all the records, which are explained, about the transfer of fiscal lands. And also some questions about water and hunt asked.
The managing director of the Río Jorquera colla community thanked for the meeting and said that they are not interested with any action against the regional authorities since they think the good conversations they have had until now, have resulted more advantageous that an aggressive attitude.
The last sentence said by Zoilo Jerónimo, now in the Río Jonquera Community, is quite significant, since is the reflection of a division that is being producing now among the colla communities
For instance, Pablo Segundo Escobar, also a “representative of the colla indigenous community of the Rìo jonquera y sus Afluentes” said even though they have had advances the last years as a result of the leader’s effort, the government “anti-indigenism” problem persists [Bravo 2001]:
The Indigenous Law arrangement which indicate that when a matter about us is discussed, must be present at least “one brother of the community”, is not observed- he reported. Moreover, we face a constant discrimination from the government servants […] but from the thousand hectares that exist, they just want to give us 600, and that is inadequate to suckle our livestock mass which is the biggest in the III Region with forty thousand heads. We will be obligated to put a coat over other one and in short time, they will die by hungry. And the collas too”,
As a way to protest they tried to take the head office of the Copiapo Regional Manager’s office with the support of other indigenous organizations. This attitude is shared by other leaders, such as Oscar Pacho González, chosen as Coordinator of the Indigenous Matters of the Kolla Native Communities Council, who in a press conference on April 26, 2002 indicates:
I am colla; I am not Chilean, since we have different thoughts, actions, ceremonies, and religiosity and until the government does not give back our lands, I will never consider myself as a Chilean […] this is a gibe because we will have to teach the coats to walk in line […] we are willing to take extreme measurements, since we know we are able to stop the regional economic development and to carry out this we will block roads and more. [El Chañarcillo, 27 de abril del 2002], we will rebel against the State and everyone who damages the ancestral rights we have in this country. El Atacama, 27 de abril del 2002].
Both feelings represent alignments in favour or against some government departments: Pacho González against the Conadi and favored by the Health and Education Ministry and Zoilo Jerónimo favored by the Conadi. These two men have provoked a breaking between the communities, but Pérez Bordones wants to play it down:
I appreciate the steps carried out by the education and health sector in the support to the resurgence of the colla people. We have worked well with them and they have encourage us to go ahead y achieve certain goals. There are not discords among the diverse communities but there are discussions. With the good participation of the communities we demonstrate the joining, reliability that exists among the communities to work, carry out things, handcraft, etc. [Mineduc 2000]
THE COLLA PEOPLE BETWEEN ETHNIC AND ESTHETIC:
About fifteen years ago, the Colla People focused their ritual life around the devotion of La Virgen (de la Candelaria and others whose pictures were placed in certain gullies, such as in Paipote).
Some people can affirm behind this activity is hidden the ancient Pachamama worship (equivalence Pachamama/Virgen).
Probably something like this existed. Nowadays, the Colla People can just see in the Aymara world a door for “returning again” to the past and from that point, their “returned” identity will take shape. The Pachamama worship was considered the best beginning. And perhaps, because of this, it has been left the Virgen worship aside in discursive terms, although not in practical terms.
In front the dark outlook that blocks their native condition, the Colla People realize they must be different in an extreme and evident way. Some of them travel the way back, looking at the past, looking at the ancients, such as Jerónimo, and transform the Virgen worship into the Pachamama worship. This can be considered a main piece that we could call the “Colla new age” and which is present from nine or ten years ago keeping a more “conservative” profile, well, if that word can represent it exactly. This generates a direction that clearly we would describe as ethic, that inside of it, we looking for contents and ritual able to bring us closer to the Earth and developing a new relationship philosophy in harmony with it.
Others choose for “parody”, aiming at an esthetic orientation. Thus, the first thing is highlighted is the emerging Colla’s dances and the searching for new “traditional” clothing, different from what Colla people wear at present. Some of them wear blankets and feathers and dance such as “rain dance”, a clearly reminiscence of the North American “far west”. The women of Jorquera River wear long tight black dresses, with a headscarf. This new “ethnic livery” is in disagreement with what ethnic orientation sector has kept, whose look for the differentiation trying keeping and increasing the value of the “traditional clothing”, the flowered dress (from China), with headscarf and straw hat. This was publicly pointed out by Leonidas Jerónimo (Sister’s Zoilo): the genuine Colla clothing is this, and any other is just an invention of some people. ”
Later of the esthetic differentiation, a new ritual ethos it was assumed from the arriving of a Bolivian Inca elder and the “priestly ordination” of three Inca elder in Cuestecilla in 2002. From that moment, we can talk about a progressive aymarización in the Colla rituals and adopting new forms, with names inspirited in Quechua and Aymara. Since 2003, characters identified as Spiritual Guides in some communities, were called “Yatiris”, as the case of Mrs. Jesús Cardozo, of the Comunidad Comuna de Copiapó, where it already has included the figure of Inti, mixing it with emblems that use iconography of the natives from the west of North America as main pieces. Most of the Colla communities have been added gradually to this current. Here it rise the interest and necessity of exploring in detail the diverse ways, and esthetic and ethic alternatives in the ethnogenesis process (or re-ethnification) of Colla people.
Undoubtedly this topic is not ended. There are discussions, not only among the Colla People, but also among the experts, about the past, present, and future of the Colla Communities. It makes sense, thinking about the “history true” of the Colla People, just as it was defined in a document that points out “this belongs to the official version of the Final Inform of the Subgrupo de Trabajo Pueblo Colla, of the Grupo de Trabajo Pueblos Indígenas del Norte” of the Comisión de Verdad Histórica y Nuevo Trato (2002):
1. OUR DEFINITION
We define us as the people from the heights, the snow, the cold and the puna. We are the native Colla people from the third region in Chile.
2. OUR ORIGIN
The Colla people are native from this territory, which frontier zones were not invaded by Spanish empire or during the creation of the Republics. We have always been an Andean people.
3. OUR EARLY TIMES
Throughout our early times we had our own language, which is unknown to us at present. In the religious-spiritual matter, the Pachamama play a role of integration of all energy. We believe in Spirits Guides such as Sun Dad and Moon Mum. In our territory we built oratories and cairns. We believe in souls and spirits. Before any activity we take, such as trip or harvest, offerings are presented lighting “oil lamps”, which use animal fat as fuel. Every November 1st we celebrate “The Spirits and Souls Day”. Today is June 21th and we celebrate the “Renewal of the Year”. We have religious men and women who cure diseases and deliver babies. There is a close communication with the nature and its forces: stars, animals, water.
With regard to family, the marriage agreed by parents in advance, it is carried out by people belonging to various family groups.
One of the principles that determined our behavior and which our ancestors taught us, is this that prohibit children seeing an animal sacrifice since they were delayed in the learning process of how to speak. The same was prohibited to pregnant women. When children were born, during the baptism, some members of the family (parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts) give a present that usually is an animal for cultural, economic, and educative purposes. The baptism consisted of taking a bath of water and herbs. In addition, our ancestors had their own games or entertainments such as La Taba which is maintained at present.
The Colla people economy in early times was based in cattle raising, agriculture, mining and international trade. The cattle rising consisted of breeding animals (llamas, alpacas) and which included the use of health policies. Because of the environmental features of our land, we had to move with the animals during winter and summer, as well as currently, and even though was seized big part of ancient land. Also there was sustainable exploitation of free animals (guanaco, vicuna and chinchilla for instance).
The complete use of animals (besides meat, milk, wool, and leather) allowed the development of saddlery and textile products. The agriculture was the process of grain cultivation in stone terrace. Mining consisted of the exploitation of copper, silver, and sulphur mines on a small scale allowing the Colla goldsmith. In the international trade, the trading of products were made with different Andean peoples what meant going towards the North of Chile, the North-east of Argentina, and the lands that belong to Peru and Bolivia at present.
Or perhaps, it can be useful some words of Oscar Pacho González, and they were written in his memory about La Comunidad Colla de Paipote:
Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, the kolla of this community try revaluating his cultural context, and this way, this native community has slowly marked the beginning of what we could call Utopia, returning to its original environment carrying a different culture which does not belong to them as if it was a heavy load, however, it is the only one they have known [González 1997].
Or perhaps, we must consider a testimony, even though if it has been manipulated too much, of a four year child, from Los Loros, commune of Tierra Amarilla, located in Copiapó Valley. This testimony it could be used as an unfinished conclusion of this work:
Those who live in the town are Collas and play the guitar and bass drums. We dance Cueca: somebody plays the guitar and we dance. The Colla people play bass drum but it is played by children only. The girls cannot use it. Also we play with stones. This game is throwing stones, but they are not really stones but animal bones, such as dinosaur ones. The Colla people make weave; in the kindergarten the teacher teach us how to weave. For weaving we use wool to make cloths. It is easier weaving with the weaving machine because knots are made. It is easier than tie a shoe. The weaves can be put over there as little piece of cloth in the cooker. I did it one for my mum [Cuevas 2001].
Or perhaps … because it is not has been said the last word of this ethnogenesis complex process.
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 E. Frites, an Argentinean colla men, say his ancestors inhabited in a vast territory in the northwest of Argentina which before, in the XVI century, was inhabited by the apatama, omaguaca and diaguitas, who when mixed between themselves the colla people raised [1971: 375-376].
 R. Williams [1976: 19] say that ethnos originally means “pagan” in Greek, and was used to refer to the no Greek people.
 In the Diego de Almagro county the collas are located in the Diego de Almagro, Potrerillos [currently in a eradication process], Inca de Oro towns and in the neighbouring gullies; in the Tierra Amarilla county there are urban population in the Tierra Amarilla and Los Loros towns and rural population in Río Jorquera, Río Pulido and neighbouring gullies; in the Copiapó county there are urban population in Paipote and Copiapó and rural population in the Hacienda La Puerta, Quebrada de San Miguel, Bolo area and Pastos Grandes [Conadi 2001].
 Oscar Pacho González support that the first records about the collas in Chile date from 1750, in Taltal, and they had a own languague named kakán, which existed until the arrival of a American mining company . The kakán language corresponds, in fact, to the language spoken by the diaguita (Nardi 1979).
 González say that “the kollas who inhabits in the Potrerillos surroundings establish a labor union of muleteers” [2000: 2]
 Juan Pérez Bordones support “This Inca Carnival occurs in other places, it is called pachacuti. The breeder carry out a ceremony where the animals are branding and at the same time, as a tradition, and one of them is scarified. The New Year is celebrated with a lamb or coat; the aymarás prepared them with a llamo. In this carnival we hand over that strength to the person who donates the animal. Also during the ceremony the name of the next breeder is known. The blessing is for the animal, to it grows stronger, to more animals exist and over all to the owner of the animal. In this carnival we wanted to join with all the others populations. As colla population we feel very proud to have gained this Fondart Project since it help us to keep our traditions and to unify the different colla communities and turn us into a only one population” [Mineduc 2002].
 One year ago, a leader of the Diaguita Cultural Center in Copiapó asked for information to A. Gahona and Y. Jeria about the Diaguitas, since “we have to make up some typical Diaguitas” (Jaime Campillay).