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The Picunche People

A pre-Columbian people of northern Chile who lived south of the Diaguita culture and north of the Mapuches in a zone located between the Choapa and Toltén rivers, such that they received the influence of both these cultures. The Picunches or ‘people of the north’, were an agricultural people and also made pottery. They spoke the language of the Mapuche people, ‘Mapudungun’. The Picunches belonged to the Araucan people. They were invaded and dominated by the Incas, and during that period they became accustomed to domination by a foreign power which exacted tribute. For this reason the Spanish met with very little resistance and the Picunches were serviceable and co-operative during the period of the Spanish conquest. Although they belonged to the Araucan group, they were a pacific people devoted basically to farming their crops and, to a lesser degree, stock-raising. Their pottery was much more developed than that of the Mapuche, and they also wove textiles. Their houses were made of solid materials, and stone houses can still be seen which display the influence of the Diaguita and Inca cultures on  the Picunches.

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