Teen rapper, rooted in Mapuche identity, roars for indigenous rights

SANTIAGO, Chile – Just before stepping on stage, the teenage native rapper took a deep breath and closed his eyes, calming himself down.

Her father reached for a sequin from his daughter’s eyelid, but the 16-year-old backed away with an embarrassed shrug. Then, Millaray Jara Collio, or MC Millaray as the young rapper called himself, turned away and burst onto the stage with an animated rap about the presence of the Chilean army on the territory of Mapuche, the largest Indigenous group. of the country.

MC Millaray’s passionate performance was shown at a campaign event in Santiago, Chile’s capital, a few months ago, and just a week before the country voted on a new constitution. If passed, the constitution would guarantee some of the most far-reaching rights for indigenous peoples anywhere in the world.

Although too young to vote in the referendum, MC Millaray is one of hundreds of artists campaigning in support of the new charter.

“I am two in one,” she said after her performance. “Sometimes I feel like a little girl – I play, I have fun and I laugh. On stage, I say everything through rap. It liberates me: When I hold the microphone, I am a different person.”

New constitution – which would have empowered more than two million indigenous Chileans, 80% of whom are Mapuche, to govern their territories, have more judicial autonomy and be recognized as separate country in Chile – was defeated in September.

But in the face of that loss, MC Millaray, a rising star with more than 25,000 Instagram followers, is more determined than ever to convey five centuries of Mapuche struggle against European colonization.

“This is not the end,” she said defiantly after the vote. “It’s the beginning of something new that we can build together.”

Sliding between Spanish and Mapudungun, the vernacular she would speak to her great-grandmother, MC Millaray recounts that story in a fast-paced and lyrical way.

Her songs condemn environmental injustices, yearn to preserve a pure childhood, and honor the fallen Mapuche. Above all, she calls for the return of the Mapuche ancestral land, known as Wallmapu, which stretches from Chile’s Pacific coast and across the Andes to Argentina’s Atlantic coast.

Her single “Mi Ser Mapuche” or “My Mapuche Self” came out this year, combining a trumpet sound with “afafan” – a Mapuche battle cry. She sings:

“More than 500 years of not giving up the war; there are lands we have acquired, but they are ours, our home; We continue to resist, they will not defeat us.

Since the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, the land once controlled by the Mapuche people has shrunk dramatically after centuries of invasion, forced displacement and trade. The loss of traditional land accelerated in the 19th century as Chile lured European migrants to the south, promising to grant them lands it claimed were uninhabited, but often inhabited by the Mapuche people.

For some, it’s Chile’s biggest bad debt. For others, it was a centuries-old stalemate with no clear solution.

MC Millaray said: “For me, restoring the territory would be a dream. “I want to dedicate my life to ‘weichán,’” she said, referring to the fight to regain Wallmapu and traditional Mapuche values. “I want to protect what’s ours.”

Millaray, which means “golden flower” in Mapudungun, grew up with his younger brother and sister in La Pincoya, a harsh barrio on the northern edge of Santiago where the walls are painted with colorful graffiti. , and hip-hop and reggaeton bursts from the ramshackle houses on the hillside.

The area has a strong rap tradition. In the 1980s, Panteras Negras, one of Chile’s first hip-hop groups, formed in nearby Renca, and Andi Millanao, better known as Portavoz, one of the hip-hop stars Chile’s most famous, first writing his fiery political rap in neighboring Conchalí.

As a child, Millaray said she looked forward to more than anything, traveling south every summer to the Carilao community in the municipality of Perquenco to visit her great-grandmother, spending afternoons in the countryside. nearby river or pick maqui berries from jars.

“When I come to Wallmapu, I feel free and at peace,” she said. “I will find out who I am and what I stand for, what runs through my veins,” she added, referring to the time she lived with her great-grandmother. “I realized that I knew very little about my fight.”

At home in her barrio in Santiago, music captures her most attention, and she’ll attend hip-hop seminars that her parents-two rappers meet at a concert. perform in La Pincoya – will run for local children. Millaray said: “I grew up in a rap family. “They are my inspiration.”

One afternoon when she was 5 years old, her father, Alexis Jara, now 40, was rehearsing for a performance, with his daughter lying on the bed next to her and talking along. While performing that evening, Mr. Jara saw his daughter sobbing in the crowd, feeling abandoned.

He pulled her onto the stage, sniffling and puffy-eyed, “She’s changed— bang! bang! — and started rapping with such force that she stole the limelight,” her father recalls. As her tears disappeared, the 5-year-old told the crowd: “I represent La Pincoya, I want to raise my hand!”

Her father said: “Since that day, we never took her off the stage. “Now everything has changed completely — I ask to join her!”

When she was seven years old, Millaray wrote and recorded her first album, “Pequeña Femenina,” or “Little Feminine,” which she recorded on CDs to sell on public buses while busking with her father.

When they earn enough money, they both jump down the back of the bus and get money to play video games or buy candy.

They still perform together – Mr. Jara is an energetic man with braids and baggy clothes, his daughter is calmer and more precise in her words. “Tic Tac,” the first song they wrote in parallel, remains in their repertoire.

It was when she was still in elementary school that she was given a shock that would strengthen her determination to continue her ancestral battle in music and her life.

In November 2018, her history teacher told the class that Camilo Catrillanca – an unarmed Mapuche man who was shot by police in the southern community of Temucuicui that month – had to bear his fate.

“I couldn’t keep quiet,” she recalls. “I stood up, threw a tantrum, and said, ‘No, no one deserves to die, and certainly not for defending their territory.’ In that moment, I defended what I thought, and it changed me.”

At the end of 2021 and the first half of 2022, the conflict in the Mapuche territories, where governments on both the right and the left regularly declare states of emergency, was one of the most intense periods of the year. many decade.

In addition to the peaceful sit-in demonstrations by Mapuche activists on privately owned land and at regional government buildings, there have also been dozens of cases of arson claimed by Mapuche resistance groups, as well as dozens of cases of arson. such as attacks on forestry companies.

At least seven murders have been recorded in the conflict zone by 2022, with victims including Mapuche activists, such as a man en route to occupying land, and forest workers. Karma.

In March, when Chile’s interior minister visited the community where Mr. Catrillanca lived, she was greeted with gunshots and quickly loaded into a van.

During the sometimes violent protests against economic inequality that exploded across Chile in October 2019 – due to a 4 cent increase in metro fares – Mapuche symbols and slogans were ubiquitous. .

In Santiago’s main square, protesters were greeted by a wooden “chemamüll” statue, traditionally carved by the Mapuche people to represent the dead. At rallies, Millaray would rap or stroll among protesters with a hand-painted blue flag that reads “Wünelfe,” a sacred eight-pointed star in the Mapuche emblem.

Daniela Millaleo, 37, singer-songwriter from Santiago, whom MC Millaray considers one of her biggest inspirations, said: “We get more attention now than in my days. alive. “In the past, only Mapuche people marched for our rights, but now a lot of people feel our pain.”

After a packed schedule of performing at campaign events on behalf of the failed constitutional effort — as well as a trip to New York to sing in Times Square as part of NYC Climate Week — MC Millaray is now is focusing on recording new material.

“I wanted to reach more people, but I wanted every verse to have a message — I didn’t want to make music just for that,” she explains. “No matter what the style is, I always wonder what more I can say.”


News5s: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button