The notion of homophobia–introduced

I have searched for evidence or any record of third gender/two-spirit people of my Mapuche tribes. I have contacted anthropologists around the world and searched for essays in anthropologic search engines. I found out that hundreds of tribes in North America, Central America, Peru, and even in Europe, native people had two-spirits/third gender/different gender constructions. But in Chile, I found nothing. I almost gave up. Could it mean that Mapuches didn´t recognize third gender/two spirits? Native Americans are considered a homogenous group, but they are a culturally diverse group and their notion of identity is based mainly in their own community context.

  Historic photo of Navajo couple from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico, 1866.” 

Historic photo of Navajo couple from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico, 1866.” 


I felt frustrated during my search until finally, I found a book that gave me many answers about Chilean Mapuche sex and gender social constructions. Mapuche shamans had shifting gender identity in ceremonial rituals, according to  Shamans Of The Foye Tree. But outside the rituals, they were expected to be masculine if born male. And they are still hunted by the homosexual stigma.

A clear sign of how deep influence the missionaries have made on Mapuches bodies and souls till this very day. The first group of people killed by the missionaries was two-spirit and queer people since they were categorized as sodomists.   

The anthropologists and writer, Anna Bacigalupo, also had a conflict with one Mapuche female shaman, who was saying that she was portraying the Chilean shamans as homosexuals. Anna was just saying that both the Mapuche and the Chileans needed to recognize the shamans’ special gender identities, like the deity Ngünechen considered: masculine, feminine, old and new. 

In the book, it briefly mentioned a male born Mapuche shaman that adopted the role of a woman full time. She was called Marta and was called "faggot" and "witch," even by her own fellow shamans and the female that accused the writer Anna Bacigalupo for portraying them as homosexuals.

So does this mean that Chilean Mapuche ancient sex and gender social constructions are lost forever? Maybe. But to find out we might have to dig under tons of homophobia imposed on the Mapuche people and maintained by themselves.

In a book about Chilean sexuality during the colonization by Pecar Como Dios Manda , I found that the Mapuche natives in pre-colonial times saw feminine boys as a sign of them having shamanic powers.

One day, maybe someone will dig deeper in the Mapuche social constructions of gender and sex. Maybe it will be me and an anthropologist, who knows?

Have a great day.

Love, Vanessa