We are a radio group composed of Mapuche Lafkenche from Budi, Chile, an ancestral territory located in the ninth region of the Araucanía, a Wallmapu (traditional territory of the Mapuche people). We are Indigenous farmers and subsist on raising small-scale livestock. We are adult speakers of the Mapuche language. We are an autonomous media, self-financed mainly by the communities we serve. We are in charge of providing information, cultural activities, and above all, addressing conflicts that affect the territory.
We are concerned about the cultural situation of our people. Our youth have suffered a significant cultural loss, reflected in the fact that only about 20 percent of them speak Mapuche Zdungu (our language). The effects of the invasion and genocide by the Chilean state in 1883 remain to this day, as we continue to live in a process of loss of identity, spirituality, language, and lack of regard for our political authorities. Our Elders fear that our people and our culture will end.
Despite this, there is a growing number of young people interested in reestablishing and revitalizing our Mapuche culture; for example, through learning our ancestral sport el Palin, which consists of physical practice and our community values of coexistence, respect, and spirituality. Likewise, many of the youth are motivated to use the tools of technology in the rescue of our kimvn (wisdom), not only through radio and television but also through trawün (community assemblies).
On September 11, 2004, our community performed a dramatic re-enactment of the first insurrection and defense of the Mapuche territory in 1541, and with this, the radio was inaugurated. It is a date that will undoubtedly remain in the memory of those who participated in the launching of the first Mapuche/Lafkenche radio. Werken Kurruf (Messenger of the Wind) was headed by Pu Longko, Machi, Ñiempin, Werken, the four schools that form the Mely Chilkatue association, and the communities of Budi. In that year, 2004, Marcos Chewin Pizarro began broadcasting on 98.3 FM. He trained young people and community leaders in voiceover and equipment management, and they also began transmitting on our radio.
Since then, we have served as a source of communication for the territory, informing and fulfilling an important role to strengthen our Mapuche culture which has been heavily impacted by colonization. Because the recovery of our native language, Mapuche Zdungu, is an emergency, our radio programming is in both Mapuche Zdungu and Spanish. Our station survives thanks to the commitment of our Pu lamngen (brothers and sisters) helping in the different tasks of the radio and being volunteers. In our cultural and financial activities, the collaboration of our lamngen is fundamental. Some of them are Ruth Bizama, Jesica Neculman, Genoveva Neculman, Silvia Calfuqueo, Venus Chehuin, and Brígida Deumacan, many of whom are leaders and kimhes (wise women).
Julio Chehuin, programmer and station director, and Ivonne González, communicator and administrator of Werken Kurruf, bring the community interesting and relevant radio content. We also have the support of Sergio Marinao, Andrés Caigüir, and Elías Paillan in the communication networks. The cultural group Werken Kurruf, which serves as an umbrella organization for the station, is chaired by Sofía Huenchucoy, Coñoepan; Eva Huenchucoy Coñoepan, treasurer; Rafael Macheo, secretary; and 15 additional members. The organization is fundamental to our continued growth as a means of communication, which, although precarious at present, our dream is to maintain ourselves and add more strength and young people to work collectively.
The Community Media Program grant provided by Cultural Survival allowed us to renew and strengthen our technical and human capacities. As we have been on the air for almost 20 years, the financial support allowed us to change and install a new antenna and transmitter that will allow us to reach the population more clearly, with a stronger signal and clearer sound. This grant also allowed us to train in new technologies and software, including the youngest members of the community, under the guidance of Diego Vilches. We highlight the dedication and the bond that was created with the youth and the Werken Kurruf team, as the Mapuche Zdungu language has been revitalized and our kimvn will continue to be strengthened even more with the new generations.
May the voices of our girls and boys once again become like Werken Kurruf, messengers of the wind!
In 2021, Werken Kurruf Radio received a grant from the Indigenous Community Media Fund which provides opportunities for international Indigenous radio stations to strengthen their infrastructure and broadcast systems and creates training opportunities for journalism, broadcasting, audio editing, technical skills, and more for radio journalists from Indigenous communities around the world. In 2022, the Indigenous Community Media Fund supported communities with 23 grants totaling $138,000 to Indigenous community media outlets from 13 countries.