Picunche people

The Picunche are an indigenous people in Chile and Argentina, which belongs to the group of Mapuche Indians. In contrast to the Mapuche, who successfully contributed to the Spanish colonization resistance, the Picunche levy was early among the Incas.

The Picunche live mainly between the Río Choapa and Rio Itata. The Picunche are also referred to as the people of the North.

Social structure

The Picunche lived in small villages with an average of 300 individuals whose basis is the family. Highest authority of the family was the father, followed by the eldest son, etc. In case of war the villages led by a cacique. The villages consisted of wooden houses. Their language is the Mapudungun or Chilidungun.

The Picunche built to corn, potatoes and pumpkins. However, agriculture was not very intense pronounced. Since the Picunche were not militant, they operated a barter trade with the cities in their area.

In addition to the plant food they ate of llamas and guanacos, their skins served as their clothing.


Even the Incas enslaved the Picunche. The Spaniards put many Picunche in the mines. 1535 there were about 220,000 Picunche in the area between the Río Choapa and Rio Itata. The mestization a large part of Pichunche went relatively quickly.

The area around Santiago de Chile was inhabited by Picunche 1540 and colonized by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia against fierce resistance.