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El pasado presente - n°2
Lorena B. Rodríguez and Maité Boullosa Joly

From Geneva to Amaicha del Valle: A retrospective history of four indigenous leaders and their travels to “secure the land”

De Ginebra a Amaicha del Valle. Una historia regresiva de cuatro líderes indígenas y sus viajes para “asegurar las tierras”
[16/12/2013]

Abstracts

From an anthropological and historical perspective, in this paper we aim to focus on the issue of land communal possession in Amaicha del Valle (Tucumán, Argentina) and the role played by a variety native authority figures. Specifically, we are using the trips that these authority figures have made to various locations and at various points in time while acting as representatives of their Community's collective desire to “secure the land”. Thus, the general intention of this work is to rethink the experience of travel as a part of the repertoire of strategies that constitute the socio-ethnic reproduction of the Community. To this end, inspired by the regressive history methodology, we will analyse the trips taken by four leaders in a series of different historical and political contexts: the 2000s, 1990s, 1870s and 1800s.

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Introduction

  • 1 A term widely used in Latin America with a meaning similar to chief.

1The current cacique1 of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle, Eduardo Nieva, an attorney specialised in international indigenous rights, took a variety of trips after beginning his law school training in Buenos Aires. He was awarded a grant to spend several months in Washington, D.C. in order to participate in a group that would be working on the creation of specific rights for indigenous peoples. Later he made several trips to Geneva where he contributed to the defence of indigenous land claims. Fortified by these experiences and the knowledge he had gained, back in northern Argentina in Amaicha del Valle, his place of origin, he joined with other local residents of the region to defend, or in some cases reclaim, the territories on which they lived. He participated in the founding of the Union of Diaguita Nation Peoples, which united various communities that have now been given official legal status in Argentina as an “indigenous community”.

  • 2 A term in Spanish for a member of a joint landholding community.
  • 3 Interview with a comunero from January 2013.

2In these national and international contexts of multicultural politics, these travels by modern-day leaders as well as their individual aptitudes can be of critical importance at the time of defending specific rights (for example, the right to ancestral territories) and can greatly enhance connections with the national and international legal communities. However, as we hope to reveal through the long or medium-term history we present in this work, these abilities and characteristics expressed by indigenous leaders are not exclusive to our contemporary context. Along these lines a comunero2 from Amaicha recently stated that, “beyond what is happening right now, what we have always been pursuing ... is the issue of ensuring our tenancy on the land”. He added, “without a doubt, much of the power of the caciques has come from their knowledge of the instruments that can provide a guarantee for defending the territory”3.

3This is precisely the focus that we wish to maintain in this article: the issue of land communal possession in Amaicha del Valle and the role played by a variety native authority figures. Specifically, we are using the trips that four of these authority figures have made to various locations and at various points in time while acting as representatives of their community's collective desire to “secure the land”. As we will see, these travels not only affected and transform the individual leaders, but also for various reasons left their mark on the community. Thus, within the general framework set forth above, the general intention of this work is to rethink the experience of travel as a part of the repertoire of strategies that constitute the socio-ethnic reproduction of the community. To this end, we will analyse the trips taken by four leaders of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle in a series of different historical and political contexts: the 1800s, 1870s, 1990s, and 2000s. Without overlooking the individual context represented by each time period, the people involved, and the specific trips under study, we hope to focus on those aspects that allow us to trace similarities among the travellers and their travels across the broad range of time periods involved. We will consider the personalities and trajectories of each of these four authority figures, as well as the impact their trips had in terms of the construction and legitimacy of their personal power and the material and/or symbolic resources they were searching for or hoping to obtain by means of these trips at both the community and individual levels. Also, and especially in relation to the more contemporary contexts, we incorporate the element of ambivalence that this trips can carry with them. In some cases, this can make the difference between travel being seen in a positive light or becoming a vehicle for creating suspicion and conflict.

  • 4 Pacheco de Oliveira, João, “Uma etnologia dos ‘indios misturados’? Situaçao colonial. Territorializ (...)

4The analysis of travel that we carry out in this work, as a complex phenomenon with its various perspectives and associated themes (political leadership, collective identity and memory, socio-ethnic reproduction, etc.), supports our interpretation of travel as not only a means of obtaining material resources but also as a sort of political and symbolic pilgrimage that allows the mechanisms of representation to be instituted, although not without the potential for conflicts. External alliances can also be established and diverse interests merged in pursuit of socio-political unity, while shared values and fundamental beliefs can also be reaffirmed to create a possible framework for a collective existence4.

  • 5 The idea of “passeurs culturels” has been developed in the work of Berta Ares Queija and Serge Gruz (...)

5We also frame our analysis within the studies that are oriented around the notion of “passeurs culturels”, or cultural intermediaries, as a way of acknowledging the social agents who are found at the interface between geographical and social universes, who speak and understand the respective languages, and who in this manner are transformed into a sort of bridge between their communities and the broader society. This concept seems highly useful to us in terms of supporting our desire to compare and find common threads among a variety of different epochs and situations5. As we see it, the various community leaders from Amaicha del Valle who represent our focus in this work can each within their own context be defined as passeurs culturels”.

  • 6 Wachtel, Nathan, “Notas sobre el problema de las identidades colectivas en los Andes meridionales”, (...)
  • 7 Bloch, Marc, Apología para la historia o el oficio de historiador, México D.F., Fondo de Cultura Ec (...)
  • 8 Rasnake Roger, Autoridad y poder en los Andes. Los Kuraqkuna de Yura, La Paz. Editorial Hisbol, 198 (...)

6In terms of methodology, we begin with our individual experiences in the fields of social anthropology and historical anthropology, from the data collected during our fieldwork carried out since the year 2001, and from our research in a variety of historical archives. The analysis we propose here is also the result of applying a processual and interdisciplinary perspective that retains the possibilities (as well as the limitations) of the working methodologies of ethnography and history, but which primarily seeks a confluence of these. Although we know that we cannot traverse the centuries to establish direct relationships between our ethnographic information and the distant past, we believe like Wachtel6 that the development of analytical itineraries that run from the present to the past, and vice versa, will allow us to merge complementary perspectives which will therefore be enriched by the knowledge and understanding of the present and past of a particular community. In this sense, the “regressive approach” to history proposed by Bloch7 and taken up later in the approaches developed by authors such as Rasnake, Abercrombie, and again by Wachtel, “from the present to the past”, “from the archive to the field”, “from ethnography to history”8, represents a fundamental methodological strategy that will allow us to travel in reverse along the roads followed by the leaders of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle as part of their efforts to “secure the land”.

General context of the case of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle: from the current period to the colonial era descriptions

  • 9 Since the late 1980s a series of judicial-legislative changes have taken place at the international (...)
  • 10 For example, in recent years other claims have arisen in relation to demands for restitution of “ar (...)
  • 11 In 2006 Argentina's National Congress voted in Law 26160, which declared a state of emergency in re (...)

7In 1994 a reform of Argentina's National Constitution took place, which represented a true turning point for the country's indigenous peoples. The new modifications, among other changes, allowed the national government to recognise the ethnic pre-existence of Argentina's indigenous populations while also establishing a variety of rights such as those to possession and ownership of community lands. Following these legislative changes9 - although not exclusively as a result of them - voices began to be heard that had long been silenced. Old claims were brought up again and new ones formulated, as indigenous groups that were thought to be extinguished again became visible or new ones emerged. Although the nature of such claims was undoubtedly diverse10, one of the principal claims of the native peoples centred on the issue of territory, especially in terms of its recognition and restitution. Claims of this sort multiplied throughout the country, especially in the wake of the initiation of the National Programme for the Study of Indigenous Community Territories, as established under National Law Nº 26160, passed in 200611.

8In the province of Tucumán there are 18 indigenous communities that have been officially recognised as such by the national government, being granted status as legal entities through the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI in Spanish) and entered in the National Register of Indigenous Communities (RENACI in Spanish). These communities are associated with the Diaguita and Lule peoples. In general terms, and as indicated in the previous paragraph, the conflicts related to ancestral territory are some of the province's most prominent and these have in fact worsened in recent years, leading to criminalisation of the claims and a very high levels of violence.

  • 12 As indicated by Sosa, Jorge, “Políticas de desarrollo turístico y comunidades originarias: el caso (...)

9The Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle, which is settled in the Tucumán-province portion of the Calchaquí Valley in the department of Tafí del Valle (Map 1), is also involved in this situation. As a result of the changes to the Constitution, this community not only obtained its legal entity status at the national level (Nº 916/98) but also managed to gain ownership of a portion of its collective lands (approximately 52,000 hectares). In this case, although the conflict related to territory does not present the same urgency or degree of conflict as in other communities, it does continue to be a source of concern for the comuneros (as will be discussed in more detail below), since the issue of land ownership has not been fully resolved. The internal difficulties for the community in terms of how to manage this land resource are also joined by external pressures on the same subject12.

Mapa 1 – Provincia de Tucumaán y Amaicha del Valle

Mapa 1 – Provincia de Tucumaán y Amaicha del Valle

10Although the case of the Community of Amaicha does bear similarities to others in Argentina as well as in the same province, in the current context of recognition of cultural diversity and the struggles to achieve indigenous rights it also presents certain unique characteristics that are worth emphasising. For example, the fact that this community has successfully gained ownership of communal lands is no minor detail as this is still a fairly rare occurrence in Argentina. Furthermore, it must be pointed out that the principal argument allowing the claims to territorial rights is founded in a colonial-era document, the 1716 Royal Patent. However, in order for this document's significance and importance to be understood, as well as to unravel the unique characteristics that we can observe in this group today and its constant struggle for territory, we must go back in time to the point in time when the Spanish first arrived in the Calchaquí Valley.

  • 13 Lorandi, Ana María y Boixadós, Roxana, “Etnohistoria de los valles Calchaquíes, siglos XVI y XVII”, (...)
  • 14 There is archaeological evidence that suggests that the Amaicha Valley (the portion of the Calchaqu (...)
  • 15 Cruz, Rodolfo, “El fin de la ociosa libertad. Calchaquíes desnaturalizados a la jurisdicción de San (...)

11As described by Lorandi and Boixadós13, the Spanish conquest in the Calchaquí valley was unique in nature and was only achieved after an intense period of conflicts, tensions, and resistance that went on for more than 130 years (known as the “Calchaquí Wars”, which finally ended in 1665). This period resulted in the process of “native removals”, in other words, the forced relocation of various socio-political units to a diversity of locations in order to allow the colonial landholding system to be imposed in an immediate manner. The so-called “amaichas”, a name given to them by the Spanish, referred to a group of indigenous residents who were settled in what is now known as the Amaicha Valley14 and its surroundings. These populations were relocated at a relatively early date (in other words, prior to the “pacification campaigns” carried out by the governor Mercado y Villacorta in 1659 and 1664) to a colonial village located on the Tucuman plain. They served their local encomendero intermittently, but also participated in the last Calchaquí uprising. The authors indicate that although they ended up being relocated at the end of the wars, as a result of an ambivalent local attitude as well as by their own negotiation, the Amaicha also received lands in their old valley settlement areas, with this granting being later legitimised in 1716 by means of the cited Royal Patent15. Although this colonial document (and its later formalised registration in 1892) did not prevent territorial conflicts from being fought from the end of the 18th century for the Calchaquí territory, it did serve as a legal instrument that made it possible, although much later, for communal lands to be legally registered. In any event, the “securement” of the valley lands and the collective reproduction occurred not only because of this document's existence, but at least in our interpretation, because of the fundamental role played by certain social agents at various historical moments. We will therefore now briefly introduce the four leaders who are the focus of the remainder of this work and describe some of the actions they carried out.

Introduction to the various Amaicha leaders: from the 21st century to the 19th

12In order to present a reflection based upon a regressive approach to history, moving from the present to the past and vice versa, here we will introduce two of the leaders who have played an important role in their community's contemporary history by helping to secure the valley lands. We will then introduce the 19th-century leaders who also played an essential role in this respect.

Contemporary leaders

  • 16 Interview with Eduardo Nieva, November 2002.

13Since the year 2000, the attorney Eduardo Nieva, the current cacique of Amaicha, has played an important role in the land claims carried out in the Calchaquí Valley. As mentioned above, he was a central figure in organising the Union of Diaguita Nation Peoples, which has united a variety of communities making claims to recover their lands. He has also played an important role in training the valley's residents on the subject of national and international laws that protect indigenous peoples. Nieva's career is very representative of our contemporary “globalisation” era. He was born in Amaicha and attended secondary school in the neighbouring community of Santa María in the province of Catamarca. He then moved to Buenos Aires to continue his university studies. At the same time he was becoming exposed to indigenous politics, and has stated that “it was there that I began to learn about the indigenous cause ... I met people who where already fighting for indigenous causes”. However, it was the trip he made to Washington, D.C. in 1997 after receiving a grant from the Organization of American States (OAS) which would really leave its mark on him. In his own words: “and from Buenos Aires I went to Washington and learned how to see the world from there”16. However, he learned more than just how to see the world from there and from that point on he decided to capitalise on his trip to teach the comuneros back in Amaicha about the international indigenous rights scene. We will return to Nieva's story later in this article, but first we must also introduce the other leaders who preceded him and who also played an important role in these processes.

  • 17 Public Writ Nº 32 of 1 March 1995.
  • 18 It is important to note that this law was passed within the context of “Operativo Independencia” (O (...)

14In 1995 the lands of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle were officially registered17, with one of the most important leaders of that period being Miguel Pastrana. At that time Pastrana held a double position: as delegado comunal (representative of the rural commune of Amaicha del Valle and recognised by the provincial government) and as the local cacique. He has explained that when he first attained his position as representative in 1983, he though that the land already belonged to the Indigenous Community. However, he soon found out that an earlier cacique had authorised the province to issue individual land titles to the comuneros and that the communal farmlands had become government-owned land (Law Nº 4400 of 26/12/1975)18. In order to recover the title to the common farmland by overturning its status of public land, Pastrana initiated a series of actions designed to modify articles 2 and 3 of the cited law. In 1986, after working in collaboration with persons close to the provincial leadership, this modification was carried out by means of Law Nº 5758 of 9/4/1986, which according to him would obligate the government to turn over the land title to the Community rather than to the individual comuneros. At any rate, in spite of the modified law, this registration would not take place until almost ten years later. Pastrana has explained that the fact that he was the communa representative and cacique at the same time was what allowed the lands to be registered in 1995, and after legal entity status as an indigenous community had been obtained at the national level, the lands were finally entered into the records as communal lands (indivisible, inalienable, and not subject to taxation). As he put it, his public function was like that of a trampoline. He explains that he worked with a variety of politicians and carried out countless procedures in order to advance the claims, not only in Tucumán (with the provincial government) and in Buenos Aires (at the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs), but also with the Republic of Argentina Indigenous Peoples Association (AIRA in Spanish). He has described for us his struggles as well as his many trips to the capital that were often paid for at his own expense.

  • 19 Interview with Miguel Pastrana, January 2013.

15At any rate, and as indicated above, although Pastrana says that he achieved what he wanted the most, which was to “secure the land”, his effects do not seem to have ended the problems in Amaicha related to territory. One of the difficulties he makes reference to now is in relation to the delivery of community lands to individuals not belonging to the community: “there are none, none, I tell you, I said no! This is ours, we are the ones who have lived here, our ancestors died here, gave their blood, sweat, and tears to defend this, and we're not going to just give it away like that, I just told you everything I had to go through to get that deed”19. Paradoxically, Eduardo Nieva, one of Pastrana's political opponents, strongly disagree with him about, among other things, the way he managed the distribution of the land during his earlier periods in power. At any rate, it remains clear that the conflicts over land, whether arising from internal dissent or external pressures, do not yet seem to have been fully resolved in Amaicha. The most tense situation, however, seems to have been the one that developed from the end of the colonial period through almost the entire 19th century, around a territorial dispute involving the Aramburu family and its descendants. In this conflict, as will be seen below, two other leaders were very important in relation to securing the lands.

Historical leaders

  • 20 Tucuman Historical Archive (AHT in spanish), Tucumán, Year 1845, Civil Judicial Section (SJC in spa (...)

16At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th, the powerful family Aramburu from the province of Salta tried to encroach upon the communal territory. In this situation the figure of Lorenzo Olivares becomes noteworthy, at that time had been appointed as alcalde and tax collector of the “pueblo de indios” (indians town) of Amaicha. Don Lorenzo, as he was known, not only reported the Aramburu family's mistreatment of himself and other residents of the town, he also initiated and took charge of a long-running legal case, travelling to the Royal Courthouse of Buenos Aires (ca. 1800) and defending the Community's ownership of the disputed lands in the Calchaquí Valley. His actions represent a milestone for the Community that is retained in the collective memory. Alejandro Mamaní, one of the witnesses who testified in the case in 1844, said that “Olivares went to the Audiencia in Buenos Aires and won the case there. This event was the first that took place between Aramburu and the Indians. It occurred a few years before the revolution for independence, and this is known because he then lived in Amaicha with his wife”20.

17In 1872, under new circumstances of conflict where the provincial government had ruled that possession of the disputed lands would go to Sigifredo Brachieri (the second husband of Celestina López, widow of José Antonio Aramburu), the Community representative (apoderado) Juan Pablo Pastrana made his own trip to Buenos Aires and appealed before the office of the national president to request that it intervene in the long-standing conflict over the valley lands in order to prevent the natives of Amaicha from being removed:

  • 21 AHT, Tucumán, Year 1872, Administrative Section (SA in Spanish), Tomo Tercero, vol. 119, fs. 131v. (...)

I have come from my home with the authority to represent a large number of my neighbours to ask Your Excellency for protection against the removal that is being attempted of those of us who have lived there for time immemorial, as taxpayers to the towns of Encalilla and Amaicha and Tío Punco. A man named Aramburu and his descendants have tried to remove us and at the very beginning of this century the cacique and judge for that district Mr Lorenzo Olivares came to this city to raise the issue before the Royal Courthouse and he was fully successful, since it was ruled that the residents who had been there would not be removed and that their rights that they had acquired in conformity with royal patents would be respected, which mercifully protected the populations and the rights acquired by the indigenous people. Later, however, given the country's situation of civil war, they tried to displace us again, but they have never succeeded because they do not have legal titles and because they had to respect the existing laws. However, most recently the courts of Tucumán have ruled that we must be removed, and this is why I have come to look for the file for the Olivares case, but in spite of the diligent efforts I have made, I was not able to find it, which means that it was no doubt allowed to go missing maliciously and it was then that I decided to come to implore Your Excellency to protect us under the legal rights that we possess21.

  • 22 General Tucumán Provincial Archive (AGPT in spanish), Year 1892, Protocolo 36, Tomo 33, Serie C, fs (...)

18In this excerpt we can see how even decades after the event, the trip to the Royal Courthouse in Buenos Aires, which took place at the beginning of the 19th century with the purpose of safeguarding the communal lands, and the figure of Lorenzo Olivares as the local cacique and judge, are remembered by the representative of the Community, Juan Pablo Pastrana. What is interested about the Pastrana case is that, as the voice of his “neighbours”, he not only remembered these facts but also found them sufficiently important to write them down as part of a formal presentation before the national presidency as an argument for protection of the lands in danger. More significant still is that Pastrana himself, by making a claim before the national authorities in Buenos Aires, seems to have reproduced in his actions the “pilgrimage” of Olivares in order to relocate the file the earlier traveller had opened, and thereby to prevent the removal ordered by the provincial government of Tucumán. Although we may not know the details about how the judicial proceedings played out in the years immediately after Pastrana's efforts, we do know that in 1892 an important act took place in relation to “securing” the community's land: the formal registration of the above-cited Royal Patent of 1716.22 This means that this document would from then on have legal force for the provincial government, thereby representing the legal backing that would in the end make it possible to register those lands in the name of the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle. Furthermore, the fact of having achieved this registration would remain in the community's collective memory as a result of the heroic feat performed by Juan Pablo Pastrana when he travelled to Buenos Aires. In 1971, the journalist Julio Ardiles Gray wrote the following, based upon his interview with one of the comuneros:

  • 23 La Opinión literary journal, Sunday 5 September 1971, pp. 8-9. This is an extract from a newspaper (...)

given the possibility that their ownership titles would be disputed, they decided to send an Indian of about 70 years of age to Buenos Aires. He travelled by foot to request the government of the new Republic of Argentina for a legalised copy of the 1716 Royal Patent. When he returned with this, his neighbours rewarded him with a piece of land as a form of payment, which was the origin of El Paraíso, where the descendants of Juan Pablo Pastrana, who performed this great feat, still live today.23

19On this subject one of Pastrana's descendants has said:

  • 24 Interview from July 2002.

I had an uncle, my grandfather says his name was Pedro Pastrana and the other, his brother, was named ... this ... Pastrana and the other named Juan Pablo Pastrana and a long time ago they say that they had come from San Carlos and had already arrived and they say that those three Pastrana went to Buenos Aires from Encalilla where they were living, there where the [...] goes, you know? In Encalilla, there on this side of the Quilmes bridge where those farms are, right? They say that they went there, that they walked for 5 or 6 months to get to Buenos Aires, they went riding a little horse, a stretch by foot, and they took [...] only the things from here that they harvested, the wheat, the maize, bread made from the algarroba seeds, some beef or goat meat, they prepared a lot of dried salted meat to take to eat along the road because there was nothing for travellers and that's how they went, they went and made their appeal for the community, and the three of them carried out the proceedings for the community and that's how we all became a community, that's why we are all comuneros, because of that journey24.

20However, although the Royal Patent and its registration in 1892 represented a fundamental milestone for safeguarding the land, and temporarily alleviated the tensions around it, it would not be until years later that the Community's ownership would be recorded in a deed. As we have seen, Miguel Pastrana came upon the scene in the 1980s and Eduardo Nieva as of the year 2000, in order to also help other communities in their claims to Diaguita land in the Calchaquí Valley. In the next section, we take a comparative perspective to provide a deeper analysis of Amaicha's indigenous authorities and their accomplishments in each historical context.

Travels, trajectories of power, and resources: tracing similarities among the indigenous authorities

  • 25 Interview with a comunero, January 2013.

21Having provided a general introduction to the four leaders above, as well as to some of their trips and the specific circumstances in which these journeys took place, in this section we focus on some characteristics that will allow us to trace some lines of comparison and similarities between the indigenous authorities who represent our focus. Once of the aspects we hope to emphasise is related to the each of their personal profiles and trajectories. The words of one of the modern-day comuneros can be seen to synthesize one of the fundamental characteristics that describe those who become transformed into leaders. Referring to the power that the written word still carries today in Amaicha, he says: “we don't trust the papers, they are an element of coercion, in other words, I think writing is still an issue in Amaicha, and that's why we trust those who guide us, and also those who know the laws, a lawyer25. In other words, command of the written word, which goes hand-in-hand with knowledge of the available types of legal recourse, become essential elements that contribute to the profile of a leader. In this sense we can note that the four Community authorities who made trips, at different times and to various places depending upon the historical context, comply with these requirements.

Laws, letters and papers

22When the comunero refers to leaders who “know the laws, a lawyer”, he is referring to the current cacique, Eduardo Nieva. Born in Amaicha del Valle as mentioned above, he was raised by his uncle Raymundo Silva, a very respected cacique in the region. At age 12 he went to Santa María to pursue his secondary school studies where he also began working in order to fund his further education. In 1989 he moved to Buenos Aires and enrolled at the School of Law, where he first became exposed to the subject of indigenous rights. In an interview Nieva has told of how he used to return to Amaicha every summer to share everything he was learning in Buenos Aires with the young people of the community. His growing appreciation of the need to value his own culture led to his founding of the Amauta school, a cultural project that was very successful in Amaicha in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Once he had received his law degree, Nieva was awarded the grant that allowed him to travel to Washington, D.C. This trip helped him to gain international recognition and he was subsequently invited on multiple occasions to visit Geneva to help debate and develop the international rights being established for indigenous peoples.

23With this experience in hand, Nieva returned to Amaicha in 2002 into a highly conflict-ridden internal context. During that year a World Bank project called “Development of Indigenous Communities” (DCI in Spanish) was being initiated, which included funding for sustainable development of various indigenous communities in Argentina, with Amaicha being selected as one of these. For Nieva, in the then-current context it seemed unthinkable that this money would be managed by Miguel Pastrana, given the accusations of misappropriation of funds that had been targeted at him. For Nieva, Pastrana had lost the “indigenous worldview”, and Neiva therefore created an opposing influence by instituting a “Council of Elders”. In Amaicha and other towns in the region where a variety of agrarian conflicts had arisen, Nieva began to organise “identity workshops”, with the goal of teaching the language of identity-based resistance that had developed on the international scene. His goal was to give value to the indigenous identity that had been so stigmatised on the local level, promoting awareness of the rights of indigenous peoples. His status as an attorney also gave Neiva an extra dose of legitimacy and further increased his power. He was the one who know the most about the law and especially the new laws that could benefit a population that until then had been so marginalised. He was the one who could defend the land, not just in Amaicha, but also in the surrounding areas (as mentioned above, Nieva was one of the central actors in the process of “ethnicising” the social demands being made in the Calchaquí Valley in the early years of the 21st century). His background and experience as a lawyer both in Buenos Aires and internationally definitely played a role in his ability to defend local rights as well as to contribute to Miguel Pastrana's removal from office in 2002. He settled definitively in Amaicha in 2005 and was elected as cacique in 2008.

24The case of Miguel Pastrana in the 1980s is a bit different, although within his own historical context he also possessed certain individual abilities that can help explain his role in leading Amaicha for 20 years. In terms of his personal history, he was born in Santa María, with his mother being from that city and his father being from Amaicha. He lived there until he was 8 years old before moving to Amaicha where he completed primary school. At 14 years old he moved to San Miguel de Tucumán where he began working in the construction trade and joined the Republic of Argentina Construction Workers Union (UOCRA in Spanish). When he returned to Amaicha at age 22 he entered the public works system via a job with the Provincial Water Department. He then spent many years as a union representative, a position which led him to travel constantly. This fact, along with his political activism as a member of the Partido Justicialista (also known as the Peronist Party), caused him to be labelled as a subversive by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. As he explained in a January 2013 interview, “at that time they considered me to be a subversive because I was always travelling, I was a union representative and I was often sent to political and union training courses in other provinces”. In 1976 he temporarily became a victim of the notorious “disappearances” carried out by that regime, and has spoken of being released six months later but also of how the government's persecution continued after his return to Amaicha. He describes that period as an agonising ordeal and adds that “if I didn't really have politics in my blood I never would have gone back”. When democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, Pastrana resumed his activism and in that way managed to be elected as the commune representative in that same year. After holding onto that position for three consecutive terms, he was elected again in August of 2011 and continues to hold the position today.

  • 26 Miguel Pastrana's support from a portion of the comuneros in Amaicha can also be explained by the n (...)

25His prior experience as a union representative, his travel to various provinces, and his political activism all provided him with a certain ability to manage the commune when he was elected as representative in 1983, as well as when he was elected as cacique in the early 1990s. His position as cacique in Amaicha also led to an invitation to the Unitied Nations in 1998, as a representative of Argentina's indigenous peoples at the Indigenous Peoples Working Groups meetings. His political links at the regional, national, and international levels earned Pastrana an extensive external support network and the ability to mobilise funding or secure development projects for his Community. Also, the fact that he had “secured the land” gave him recognition from the residents of Amaicha and increased his power base. This helps to explain the levels of support he continued to receive even after the year 2000, when he was accused of misappropriation of funds. Many who speak about that era tell of how Pastrana enjoyed a reputation as the driving force behind their winning of the land and even now in 2013, many older residents sustain this perspective26. However, it must also be emphasised that Pastrana's power was highly contested by the non-Peronist faction of his political opposition, as well as by many members of the new generation who had moved away but were now returning to the town.

26By the year 2002, when Argentina was suffering through a severe, nationwide economic crisis, many young people who had moved away to San Miguel de Tucumán or Buenos Aires were returning to Amaicha with hopes of living under better conditions than those offered in the city. Those returning with the status of Community members could at least benefit from their own piece of land and the prospect of starting over in a place where life was not so expensive. Many of them also now had a level of education or professional training beyond that possessed by the average local resident, and therefore a much stronger ability to make their opinions heard (with the best example of this being Eduardo Nieva). As can be surmised from all of this, the leaders who emerged at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st tended to have certain specific abilities that supported such a role. At any rate, as we also hope to show, the 21st-century leaders also had certain individual characteristics that help explain their emergence as leaders in their specific historical context. We will also try to draw certain parallels between the leaders who emerged a century later to those we have already discussed at greater length above.

  • 27 AHT, 21 May 1845, SJC, Serie A, Box 82, Expte. 31.
  • 28 AHT, 16 March 1796, SA, Vol. 11, fs. 224 a 226.
  • 29 According to Tell, Sonia, “Expansión urbana sobre tierras indígenas. El pueblo de La Toma en la Rea (...)

27In the case of Lorenzo Olivares, who was appointed as alcalde and tax collector during the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th, his ability to read and write was notable for the time, at least as it can be deduced by the tax payment receipts he produced for each taxpayer and as also seen in one of the files for the legal case involving the valley lands27. Within that temporal context this was no minor distinction, given that only a small portion of the region's population had access to such a “privilege”. It is also clear that he had a knowledge of the legal system and judicial power structure then in place. Not only had he initiated a legal dispute in Tucumán before the authorities in the provincial capital when he reported Nicolás de Aramburu's usurpation of land in Calchaquí,28 but after failing to receive an adequate response from them after a sufficient period of time he continued to pursue his claim in the newly established Royal Courthouse in Buenos Aires29.

  • 30 Rodríguez, Lorena, “Los usos del sistema judicial, la retórica y la violencia en torno a un reclamo (...)
  • 31 The interpretation of some authors is that after the decline of colonialism and with the figures of (...)
  • 32 For example, throughout the year 1881 Pastrana would intervene in a territorial conflict between th (...)
  • 33 AHT, 14 March 1882, SJC, Caja 177, Expte. 12.

28Juan Pablo Pastrana also knew how to read and write and had a perfect knowledge of the legal system of his day. As described above, like Olivares he travelled to Buenos Aires to request the intervention of the national government after his claims before the provincial government in Tucumán were not received favourably. In this case the matter involved the land disputed by the Aramburu family and its successors (in Encalilla), and he applied a strategic sort of rhetoric: Argentina may have officially become an independent republic, but the trappings of colonialism remained30. As the authorised representative31 of his Community, Pastrana was also involved in other matters related to collective lands and their boundaries,32 and he had even been instructed by the very same provincial governor to take charge of guarding these borders. Even more interesting may be the fact that, as reflected in a legal case file, he had even acted as a justice of the peace in the region33.

  • 34 Santa María Parrish Archive (APSM in Spanish), Native Baptisms and Anointments, Baptisms Book, 1780 (...)
  • 35 General National Archives (AGN in Spanish), Records for San Miguel de Tucumán, 1792, Sala XIII, 17- (...)

29As can be understood from the descriptions above, the abilities shown by these leaders (their legal knowledge as well as skills in reading and writing) supported their personal careers even before they became politically active, and also helped them to develop networks of relationships at various levels. Of course, we have less information available about Olivares or Juan Pablo Pastrana but it is worthwhile to add some further details known about them. One interesting fact is that neither Olivares nor Juan Pablo Pastrana were originally native to Amaicha del Valle. In the first case, we have verified that both Olivares and his family were originally from Atacama and that they arrived in Amaicha in the second half of the 18th century. At least, this is the interpretation we can make from a variety of entries in the local parish archives34 and from the fact that Olivares and his family were recorded for the first time in 179235 in the civil registries that were kept for the local populations. Although we do not have exact information about him with respect to his life before arriving in Amaicha, it is possible to imagine that his previous experiences would have taken place as part of a group that, as various authors have shown, would have re-established its collective identity through the implementation of a variety of survival strategies during the colonial period. On the other hand, the fact of having served as a mayor and tax collector must have surely expanded his experiences, with this appointment representing both the result of his previous aptitudes and an opportunity to renew or establish contacts and connections.

  • 36 Interview from January 2013.

30As with Olivares there is also not much documentary information for us to rely upon in the case of Juan Pablo Pastrana. His current descendants affirm that he must have been born in Molinos or San Carlos in the province of Salta and that he served as a “bodyguard” for the leader Felipe Varela in his struggle against Buenos Aires centralisation in the 1860s. Because of his experience alongside Varela and the heroism he showed, the Community must have asked him to become involved in their territorial disputes: “they asked [Pastrana] if he could bring the famous Royal Patent ... and the people asked him because he was the one, he was very courageous and they knew that he could fight and defend himself, because all of the rest, the caciques and the others who went never returned because they were killed on the road while coming or going”36.

31Compared to these two earlier figures we have more detailed information available regarding the paths followed by Miguel Pastrana and Eduardo Nieva. For Pastrana, prior to taking on the position of community representative and then cacique, he gained ample experience with city life in San Miguel de Tucumán. There he began his apprenticeship as a “passeur culturel” and developed a distinct ability to communicate withing two different spheres, the rural and the urban. After that, his extensive experience as a union representative and his activism in the Perionist Party were also an important part of his political training. A few decades later, Nieva completed his university education in law and began to build up international experience, which gave him an undeniable legitimacy in his role of fighting for and defending specific rights.

Getting material and symbolic resources

  • 37 Gaxie, Daniel, “Rétributions du militantisme et paradoxes de l‘action collective”, Swiss Political (...)

32In relation to all four of these leaders, we can say that they are the type of person with a natural disposition to occupy leadership positions, to represent the people and defend their territory and their rights. It is interesting to note that in all of their cases, episodes of travel are included within the scope of their training or personal background: Olivares from Atacama to Calchaquí; Juan Pablo Pastrana from Molinos to Amaicha and then all over Northwestern argentina in his association with Felipe Varela; Miguel Pastrana from Santa María to Amaicha, then to San Miguel de Tucumán and back to Amaicha again; and Eduardo Nieva from Amaicha to Santa María and then to Buenos Aires. These trips can be seen as a type of personal training that helped shape the personalities of these leaders, but it was probably the travels that took place in the interest of the collective well-being that ended up having the strongest effect in forging their political, economic, and symbolic power. The act in itself of travelling to the viceregal capitals, to the national government centres, or to international events for indigenous rights became heroic journeys, with the recognition including even material benefits (such as in the case of Juan Pablo Pastrana, who would receive a piece of land in El Paraíso as a reward). Not only did these travels convey symbolic power to those who took them, they also allowed the travellers to establish a special kind of contacts and relationships. In the case of Miguel Pastrana and Nieva, we do not know whether they received specific retributions from the Community, but is possible to consider that they must have at least benefitted from what Gaxie37 calls the “rewards of activism”: recognition both local and more distant, as well as a valuation of the self, of the feeling of fighting for a just cause, with the possibility of travelling still further and a better understanding of what external contacts can provide. It is not known whether they received economic rewards for their struggles, but it is certain that their accomplishments put them into significant positions of power in their Community.

33On the other hand, in many cases these travels achieved specific advances for the Community. For example, they obtained documents that helped to safeguard the precious asset of the land (royal patents, rulings by the national government, legal entity status), government resources (public employment), and economic resources oriented towards promoting the development of community projects (irrigation, education, etc.) from the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF). At a public meeting in 2002, in the midst of a serious economic and political crisis in Argentina and with controversy existing over the future management of funds from the World Bank's DCI project, Miguel Pastrana said that it was thanks to him and his trip to the United Nations that Amaicha had been able to benefit from this major development project. It is difficult to say just how closely this statement concurs with the reality of the situation, but it is clear that the external links that he created gave Amaicha high visibility with the potential for attracting resources to the Community. This ability to obtain collective benefits has also been important in terms of solidifying the power of these leaders. Nieva, for example, explained to us in a 2013 interview that the numerous projects and significant amounts of funding received by Amaicha from UNICEF were the result of the relationships he had previously formed when he went to the United Nations.

34But beyond the material resources that can be obtained and which, undoubtedly, can reposition the “traveller-intermediary” into a place of privilege, it is also possible to consider the symbolic contributions to the Community that can be made by the actions of leaders during their travels. As we have especially seen in the case of Olivares and Juan Pablo Pastrana, their travels came to be seen as heroic feats. These were transformed into temporal milestones in the collective memory of their Community, remembered and retold over time to support territorial claims and defences while also allowing reconstruction of the collective identity around such actions. However, it is yet to be seen how the travels of the more recent leaders will become integrated into the Community's collective memory. It may take some future research carried out decades from now to find out for sure, although as for now the actions taken by Miguel Pastrana to “secure the land” are already important elements in the memory of certain elder members of the Community who continue to support him.

35Finally, to close out this section we want to discuss one further aspect that can be associated with the types of travels discussed: their “problematic” side. To return to the case of Miguel Pastrana, while some see his travels as evidence of his heroism, his political opponents have at times interpreted them in a different way. The 2002 testimony of a 55-year-old Amaicha Community member makes reference to Pastrana's trip to the United Nations in 1998 to participate in the working groups for indigenous peoples in surprising terms:

  • 38 Interview from November 2002.

I understand that Miguel Pastrana is a cacique for life, he has been so in the town, here in Tucumán, he has been that in Buenos Aires, and at the United Nations. But who in the community is going to believe that he is cacique for life? Nobody. And I'm telling you this and I hope that some day you will realise that you have been wrong and you will say, do we really believe this? Because he acts like he is the cacique of the Indigenous Community in the Calchaquí valley at those meetings he has gone off to in some other part of the planet, wherever, but that's not what he is here in Argentina, he has gone here and there ... and I don't know, maybe in El Salvador, I don't know, and there he is with a group of caciques who run the world, and he is cacique for life of our valleys38.

36The woman we were interviewing knew that Pastrana's trip was to a place outside of Argentina, to a distant geographic region. He incorrectly locates the United Nations meetings in El Salvador rather than in Geneva, but he associates it with a place where a group of caciques rule the world. This shows an example of how those epic travels to defend the rights of oppressed peoples may be seen in a very different manner by local residents. According to our interview subject, this recognition gained from the outside, in a location so far away, while playing the role of “cacique of the Calchaquí valleys” in a place where “the caciques run the world” would only give Miguel Pastrana a legitimacy imposed from the outside, a type of power that is impossible to contest for the local people. In other words, those external links, whether real or imagined, can grant authority to those who create them, but those trips by the leaders may not be understood or recognised by the local Community, especially by political opponents who suspect they may be only a way to reproduce the power of an individual while being very far removed from the defence of the rights or interests of the people.

Final words

  • 39 According to Steiman, Ana Laura, Identidad, territorio y Estado: cambios y continuidades en Amaicha (...)

37In this work we have accompanied four indigenous leaders or representatives from the Indigenous Community of Amaicha del Valle on their various travels, which all took place within a distinct set of historical circumstances, although for the most part with the intention of representing the collective Community. As we have seen, these trips and what they are seen to represent, although taking on particular characteristics depending upon their historical context, in many cases share a fundamental aspect: securing the collective occupancy of the land. Based upon our analyses within this article, we can affirm that not just anybody could have taken these trips, and our tracing of the personal trajectories of the four authority figures discussed here allows us to draw out certain similarities among them. First, their early experiences in terms of education or training tended to involve visits or longer stays in the cities, which very likely helped shape their destinies. Secondly, all four represent people who were constructing a diverse range of political experiences, and whose command of reading and writing was essential in allowing them to comprehend the legal systems existing in their day. Third, it is interesting to note that these leaders developed the ability to move within a variety of different universes, gaining a sort of “double legitimacy” especially on the more local level: within the government sphere and within the sphere of the Community. The clearest case of this is that of Miguel Pastrana, who for many years simultaneously occupied the role of commune representative and cacique of the Community. But this can also be extended to the other leaders analysed herein: Olivares was appointed by the colonial authorities as a tax collector while also being involved with actions to defend collective land rights; Juan Pablo Pastana was a leader in the Community but also was appointed as a justice of the peace in Amaicha39; Eduardo Nieva, the Community's current cacique, in addition to the role he has carried out in the international sphere was also up for election as the commune representative (an election ultimately won by Miguel Pastrana).

38Of course, in addition to the similarities that can be drawn among these figures, their travels, and their trajectories, it is also possible to recognise differences. Some of these are obviously related to their historical contexts (such as for example the destinations of their travels: the viceregal capital, the national government seat in Buenos Aires, of the epicentres of international law). Other contrasts, however, relate more to their individual life stories. Those of Lorenzo Olivares and Juan Pablo Pastrana differ from those of Miguel Pastrana and Eduardo Nieva since the first two figures seem to have started out as “outsiders” who at some point in time managed to become “integrated” into the Community, while the latter two were born into the Community by inheritance, although they also had schooling during the childhood or adolescence outside of Amaicha (a subject that also brings up the question of the boundaries of Community membership as well as the meaning of such membership). Finally, there are some other differences related solely to methodological issues in terms of the sources we were able to rely upon for our research. For example, while the trips taken by Olivares and Juan Pablo Pastrana are reflected, in the documents we were able to consult, as epic journeys carried out by idealised heroes who enjoyed the uncontested support of their community, in the case of more contemporary leaders the element of suspicion can be seen to arise in relation to the intentions of such travel, and therefore in relation to the travellers themselves as well.

39This issue of methodology is pivotal and we therefore will raise it again in our closing of the article. The use of various sources, historical and ethnographic, has clearly presented us with a series of challenges. Not all aspects of our research can be addressed with the same level of depth. As we have indicated, the documents we have had to rely upon may have allowed certain types of themes to be made visible, but not others, such as for example internal conflicts in the Community that may have existed in relation to the earlier leaders Lorenzo Olivares and Juan Pablo Pastrana. However, these more historically removed sources give us access to the work of the memory and to the various pathways and bifurcations such memories can traverse over the long term, thereby giving us a better understanding of what may be happening in the present. Our ethnographic sources, especially the interviews we have carried out, have allowed us to delve more deeply into some aspects, to ask and re-ask certain questions, to listen to a variety of voices. But this approach also can put us in the immediate midst of circumstances of conflict that raise obstacles to our research, and in which we may find ourselves expected to take sides rather than acting simply as observers. This can bring up a whole series of ethical questions around our proper role and the way in which we handle the information we gather. We also think that it is worthwhile to confront the challenge of taking an interdisciplinary approach, with historical depth, to our research that allows us to propose a series of round-trip itineraries between the present and the past. This is what we have attempted in this work with our focus on travels, on cultural intermediaries, and on the trajectories of power, and on the negotiations and actions carried out around the matter of communal land in Amaicha del Valle. There is undoubtedly still a long road to travel.

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Notes

1 A term widely used in Latin America with a meaning similar to chief.

2 A term in Spanish for a member of a joint landholding community.

3 Interview with a comunero from January 2013.

4 Pacheco de Oliveira, João, “Uma etnologia dos ‘indios misturados’? Situaçao colonial. Territorializaçao e fluxos culturais”, MANA, 1998, 4-1, p. 47-77.

5 The idea of “passeurs culturels” has been developed in the work of Berta Ares Queija and Serge Gruzinski, Entre dos mundos. Fronteras culturales y agentes mediadores, Sevilla, Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1997, in reference to the social actors who promoted exchanges and dialogue among Mediterranean Europe, Asia, and the Americas from the 16th to 19th centuries. The term “passeur” has also be used, for more recently context, by Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre, Anthropologie et développement, Paris, Ed. Karthala, 1995, to recognise the agents who play a intermediary role in the context of various types of development projects. In contrast to this author, Martínez Mauri, Mónica, Médiation et développement, l'émergence des ONG et des passeurs culturels à Kuna Yala (Panama), Collection Itinéraires, num. 16, Genève Publications de l'IUED, 2003, in her study of the interactions between the kuna people of Panama and the United Nations during recent decades, has suggested the pertinence of the concept of the “passeur culturel” (sensu Queija and Gruzinski) and its use for inter-ethnic situations in contemporary times, since it can provide recognition of the cultural hybridisation process involved in such cases. From this context and for Amaicha del Valle, the work of Boullosa Joly, Maité, Re-devenir Indien en Argentine – Amaicha et Quilmes à l’aube du XXIème siècle, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, 2006, can also be consulted with respect to the role of certain native activists during the last decade.

6 Wachtel, Nathan, “Notas sobre el problema de las identidades colectivas en los Andes meridionales”, in Varón Gabai, Rafael y Flores Espinoza, Javier (eds.), Arqueología, Antropología e Historia en los Andes. Homenaje a María Rostworowski, Lima, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1997, p. 677-690.

7 Bloch, Marc, Apología para la historia o el oficio de historiador, México D.F., Fondo de Cultura Económica, [1949] 1998.

8 Rasnake Roger, Autoridad y poder en los Andes. Los Kuraqkuna de Yura, La Paz. Editorial Hisbol, 1989; Abercrombie, Thomas, Pathways of Memory and Power. Etnography and History Among an Andean People, Madison, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998; Wachtel, Nathan, El regreso de los antepasados. Los indios urus de Bolivia del siglo XX al XVI. Ensayo de historia regresiva, México D.F. Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001.

9 Since the late 1980s a series of judicial-legislative changes have taken place at the international, national, and provincial levels, which have reconfigured the contexts of indigenous activism. At the international level, Convention Nº 169 of the International Labour Organization can be mentioned along with the 1992 Agreement of the Fondo para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe (Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean Development Fund), as well as the 1997 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (in development since 1982). At the national level, in addition to the above-cited modification of Argentina's national constitution by means of section 17 of article 75, the creation of national Law 23302 on Indigenous Policies and Support for Native Communities can be mentioned, which was approved in 1985 but ratified in 1989, as well as ratification of the ILO statement in 1992 by means of Law 24071. At the provincial level, it is important to make reference to the May 2006 modification to the Tucumán constitution, article 149. For expanded discussion of these subjects and the general context in which these transformations were taking place (the impact of neoliberalism, government instability, globalisation, and multiculturalism, among others), see e.g., Escárzaga, Fabiola, “Las autonomías posibles en México, Bolivia y Perú”, Memorias del Cuarto Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Antropología Jurídica (RELAJU), Quito, 2004; Bengoa, José, La emergencia indígena en América Latina, Santiago de Chile, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2007; Briones, Claudia, “Formaciones de alteridad: contextos globales, procesos nacionales y provinciales”, in Briones, Claudia (comp.), Cartografías argentinas. Políticas indigenistas y formaciones provinciales de alteridad, Buenos Aires, Antropofagia, 2008, p. 9-36; Boccara, Guillaume y Bolados, Paola, “¿Dominar a través de la participación? El neoindigenismo en el Chile de la posdictadura”, Memoria Americana, 2008, vol. 16- 2, p. 167-196.

10 For example, in recent years other claims have arisen in relation to demands for restitution of “archaeological heritage” and human remains, which are considered by native peoples to represent a part of their own past. See for example: Endere, María Luz, “Patrimonios en disputa: Acervos nacionales, investigación arqueológica y reclamos étnicos sobre restos humanos”, Trabajos de Prehistoria, 2000, vol. 57, p. 5- 17; Lazzari, Axel, “La restitución de los restos de Mariano Rosas: identificación fetichista en torno a la política de reconocimiento de los ranqueles”, Estudios en Antropología Social, 2008, vol. 1 (1), p. 35-64; Manasse, Bárbara, “Restos de indios, recursos, evidencias ancestrales”, IX Congreso Argentino de Antropología Social, 2008, Posadas; Arenas, Patricia, “Ahora Damiana es Krygi. Restitución de restos a la comunidad aché de Ypetimi. Paraguay”, Corpus. Archivos virtuales de la alteridad americana, 2011a, Vol. 1, N° 1, online since july 2011, Disposable in: <http://ppct.caicyt.gov.ar/index.php/corpus/article/view/322/104>, consulted on august 15 2011; Ramírez, Violeta, La Ville Sacrée de Quilmes. Enjeux et problématiques de la gestion du patrimoine indien, Unpublished master's thesis, L’Ècole des Études en Sciences Sociales, 2012; Crespo, Carolina y Rodríguez, Lorena B., “‘Como herederos legítimos de nuestros antepasados’. El proceso de pedido de restitución de la Ciudad Sagrada de Quilmes desde la mirada de la prensa local”, in Crespo, Carolina (comp.), Tramas de la diversidad. Patrimonio y Pueblos Originarios, Buenos Aires, Antropofagia, 2013, p. 157-188.

11 In 2006 Argentina's National Congress voted in Law 26160, which declared a state of emergency in relation to occupancy and ownership of lands that had traditionally be occupied by the country's indigenous communities. It also suspended, for the 4-year period of this state of emergency, all removals of native communities from land they occupied. The law also ordered the performance of an extensive Technical-Legal-Surveying Study and provided specific funding for this. The National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI in Spanish) formed under the Ministry of National Social Welfare was designated to carry out this work, and in this role it produced the “Programa Nacional de Relevamiento Territorial de Comunidades Indígenas” to initiate the process in relation to the ownership status of the territories being occupied by the communities. This programme proposed a working methodology on two levels: 1) Centralised, where the study is performed directly by the INAI in the provinces that do not have their own Technical Teams; and 2) Decentralised, where the study is being performed by Provincial Execution Units made up of representatives of the Indigenous Participation Council, the provincial government, and the Technical Operations Teams. In the province of Tucumán, the second modality is being applied and the work is being carried out by means of an agreement between the INAI and the National University at Tucumán (UNT in Spanish). In general terms, execution of the study has suffered from major delays, leading to Law Nº 26554 being passed in 2009 to extend the effects of the 2006 law until November 2013. More recently Law 26894 was passed as another extension of this period until November 2017. For further discussion of this subject see, e.g., González, Crispina, “Patrimonio Indígena: Relevamiento Territorial, disputas y estrategias de acción”, Paper presented at VI Jornadas de Investigación en Antropologia Social, 2010, Buenos Aires; Arenas, Patricia, “De la participación en Tucumán del Relevamiento Territorial de la Ley 26160: una mirada desde las prácticas”, Paper presented at Taller Identities as socio-material Networks, 2011b, Horco Molle, Tucumán, Universidad de Exeter y Universidad Nacional de Tucumán; Cerra, Camila, “Mapeando representaciones: cerros, centros y fronteras. Comunidad Diaguita-Calchaquí “El Divisadero” (Cafayate, Salta)”, in Rodríguez, Lorena B. (comp.), Resistencias, conflictos y negociaciones. El valle Calchaquí desde el período prehispánico hasta la actualidad, Rosario, Editorial Prohistoria, 2011, p. 211-229; Racedo, Josefina, “Construcción de la identidad en las nuevas organizaciones de pueblos indígenas originarios. Continuidades y cambios”, Runa, 2013, vol. XXXIV (1), p. 49-57.

12 As indicated by Sosa, Jorge, “Políticas de desarrollo turístico y comunidades originarias: el caso de Amaicha del Valle en la provincia de Tucumán”, Publicar, 2011, vol. X, p. 129-152, the community ownership system conflicts with some of the real estate and tourism interests the region, especially in terms of the expansion of the winemaking industry and the nature of the province's tourism promotion policies. Thus although the most recent national and provincial legal frameworks recognise and allow communal ownership of the lands, these economic conflicts of interest are putting the collective character of the resource at risk.

13 Lorandi, Ana María y Boixadós, Roxana, “Etnohistoria de los valles Calchaquíes, siglos XVI y XVII”, Runa, 1987-88, vol. XVII-XVIII, p. 263-419.

14 There is archaeological evidence that suggests that the Amaicha Valley (the portion of the Calchaquí Valley in the province of Tucumán) was recurrently occupied by human groups over an extensive timespan going back to the Formative period, followed by the Regional Development period and then the Inca era, see e.g., Sosa, Jorge, “Teleprospección arqueológica en Amaicha del Valle (Departamento de Tafí del Valle, Tucumán)”, in Diez Marín, Cristina (ed.), Actas del XII Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Argenitna, Tomo III, La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo (UNLP), 1999, p. 358-365; Rivolta, Gustavo “Investigaciones preliminares en el sitio arqueológico Los Cardones, Pcia. de Tucumán”, in Diez Marín, Cristina (ed.), Actas del XII Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Argentina, Tomo III, La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo,1999,  p. 340-344; Somonte, Carolina, “Uso del espacio y producción lítica en Amaicha del Valle (Departamento Tafí del Valle, Tucumán)”, Intersecciones en Antropología, 2004, vol. 6, p. 43-58. Of course, direct or linear relationships cannot be established among populations existing during such distant historical periods. In this work we take up the history of the “Amaichas” beginning in the Spanish colonial period, particularly after the end of the Calchaquí Wars. Following Wachtel (2001, op. cit) we understand that ethnic units were created or recreated through these processes (with such units later coming to be known as “indigenous communities”), and with their boundaries beginning to be considered as those of the colonial villages created for the relocated, Christianised populations.

15 Cruz, Rodolfo, “El fin de la ociosa libertad. Calchaquíes desnaturalizados a la jurisdicción de San Miguel de Tucumán en la segunda mitad del siglo XVII”, in Lorandi, Ana María (comp.), El Tucumán Colonial y Charcas, Tomo II, Buenos Aires, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1997, p. 215- 264.

16 Interview with Eduardo Nieva, November 2002.

17 Public Writ Nº 32 of 1 March 1995.

18 It is important to note that this law was passed within the context of “Operativo Independencia” (Operation Independence). This Operation, implemented under the pretext of eliminating the groups of leftist guerillas that were based in the forested hills of Tucumán province, entailed the direct action of Fuerzas Armadas under National Executive Decree Nº 262/75. Government-sponsored abductions and torture began to occur, which would later spread throughout the country following the military coup of 24 March 1976 (Pucci, Roberto, “Tucumán, 1975: La guerrilla y el
terrorismo de estado antes del golpe”, in Bonano, Luis Marcos and Pucci, Roberto (eds.), Autoritarismo y dictadura en Tucumán. Estudios sobre cultura, política y educación, Buenos Aires, Catálogos, 2009). Within this context of profound societal conflict, the province's de facto governor Antonio Bussi, who was also in charge of local military operations, awarded between 1976 y 1977 individual property deeds to members of the community of Amaicha, under the Law Nº 4400. On this particular subject see Díaz Rementería, Carlos, “Comunidades y tierras comunes en las provincias argentinas de Tucumán y Jujuy", Actas del Congreso Internacional de Historia de América, Tomo I, Córdoba (Spain), Universidad de Córdoba, 1988, pp. 429-442.

19 Interview with Miguel Pastrana, January 2013.

20 Tucuman Historical Archive (AHT in spanish), Tucumán, Year 1845, Civil Judicial Section (SJC in spanish), Serie A, Box 82, Expte. 3, f. 48.

21 AHT, Tucumán, Year 1872, Administrative Section (SA in Spanish), Tomo Tercero, vol. 119, fs. 131v. a 132v. Italics are ours.

22 General Tucumán Provincial Archive (AGPT in spanish), Year 1892, Protocolo 36, Tomo 33, Serie C, fs.1427-28.

23 La Opinión literary journal, Sunday 5 September 1971, pp. 8-9. This is an extract from a newspaper interview by Julio Ardiles Gray with a comunero from Amaicha, Marcos Juan Rodríguez Espada, who tells the story of the community and its struggle for the land.

24 Interview from July 2002.

25 Interview with a comunero, January 2013.

26 Miguel Pastrana's support from a portion of the comuneros in Amaicha can also be explained by the numerous public employment positions that he was able to distribute during his terms as commune representative (see Isla, Alejandro, Los usos políticos de la identidad. Indigenismo y Estado, Buenos Aires, Editorial de las Ciencias, 2002; Boullosa-Joly, op.cit.).

27 AHT, 21 May 1845, SJC, Serie A, Box 82, Expte. 31.

28 AHT, 16 March 1796, SA, Vol. 11, fs. 224 a 226.

29 According to Tell, Sonia, “Expansión urbana sobre tierras indígenas. El pueblo de La Toma en la Real Audiencia de Buenos Aires”, Mundo Agrario, 2010, vol. 10 (20), [on line], available in: http://www.mundoagrario.unlp.edu.ar/numeros/no-20-1er-sem-2010/ expansion-urbana-sobre-tierras-indigenas-el-pueblo-de-la-toma-en-la-realaudiencia-de-buenos-aires, consultes october 28, 2010, it is likely that the creation of the Royal Courthouse in Buenos Aires at the end of the 18th century -- closer and made up primarily of officials who were educated, committed to the interests of the Spanish Crown, and distanced from the regional or local power structures -- may have offered the indigenous populations of Northwestern argentina specific opportunities to lodge claims before this court, thereby generating real spaces for debate.

30 Rodríguez, Lorena, “Los usos del sistema judicial, la retórica y la violencia en torno a un reclamo sobre tierras comunales. Amaicha del Valle, siglo XIX”, Runa, 2009, vol. 30 (2), p. 135-150.

31 The interpretation of some authors is that after the decline of colonialism and with the figures of cacique and protection of natives eliminated, the indigenous communities, pressured by a new legal system that instituted personal and individual representation before the law, initiated the process of naming new authority figures: the representatives (apoderados). Mendieta Parada, Pilar, “Caminantes entre dos mundos: los apoderados indígenas en Bolivia (siglo XIX)”, Revista de Indias, 2006, vol. LXVI (28), p. 761-782, even states that in the case of Bolivia these new positions would recreate those of the older ethnic authorities represented by the colonial intermediaries.

32 For example, throughout the year 1881 Pastrana would intervene in a territorial conflict between the Community and Justo Rueda, a resident of Santa María in the province of Catamarca. This conflict would have significant repercussions since it would lead to a wider issue regarding the provincial borders between Tucumán and Catamarca and the corresponding jurisdictions of the two provinces. See archived documents in relation to this: AHT, Year 1881, SA, Vol. 150, Tomo VI, fs. 682, 683, 684, 685, 687 y 687v, 688, 689 y 689v, 690, 691.

33 AHT, 14 March 1882, SJC, Caja 177, Expte. 12.

34 Santa María Parrish Archive (APSM in Spanish), Native Baptisms and Anointments, Baptisms Book, 1780-1794, Tomo I, fs. 70r., 79v.,91v., 99r., 106r. Native Burials, Baptisms Book, 1780-1794, Tomo I, f. 136v., Native Marriages, Baptisms Book, 1780-1794, Tomo I, f. 115r. Native Baptisms and Anointments, Baptisms Book, 1780-1794, Tomo I, fs. 97r., 103v., 106r. In almost all of these cases, the priests from Santa María clearly noted that the records involved “Atacama Indians”, “Indians from the Province of Atacama”, or “Indians from Atacama”.

35 General National Archives (AGN in Spanish), Records for San Miguel de Tucumán, 1792, Sala XIII, 17-2-1, Leg. 2, Libro 6, fs. 37r.-38v.

36 Interview from January 2013.

37 Gaxie, Daniel, “Rétributions du militantisme et paradoxes de l‘action collective”, Swiss Political Science Review, 2005, vol. 11 (1), p.157-188.

38 Interview from November 2002.

39 According to Steiman, Ana Laura, Identidad, territorio y Estado: cambios y continuidades en Amaicha del Valle, fines de siglo XIX – mediados del XX, Tesis de Licenciatura, Buenos Aires, Universidad de Buenos Aires, inédita, 2013, in the first half of the 20th century other caciques already occupied the position of justice of the peace in Amaicha del Valle. This subject of double legitimacy or double role must be examined more deeply (a fundamental contribution in this respect can be found in Isla, op. cit.). In principle, it can be said that it would have functioned as a type of collective strategy. In a text related to a new stage of the indigenous emergence in the last decade, Bengoa states that, “in this new phase of de-colonialisation, the indigenous people will seek to position themselves as ethnic citizens within the government's instruments and institutions, rather than retreating into their original communities in a sort of withdrawal or ‘self-apartheid’”. Bengoa, José, “¿Una segunda etapa de la Emergencia Indígena en América Latina?”, Cuadernos de Antropología Social, 2009, vol. 29, p. 7. Within such a context, the case of Amaicha and the overlaps between government and Community -- which seem to be long-established -- may be seen as paradigmatic.

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List of illustrations

Title Mapa 1 – Provincia de Tucumaán y Amaicha del Valle
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References

Electronic reference

Lorena B. Rodríguez and Maité Boullosa Joly, « From Geneva to Amaicha del Valle: A retrospective history of four indigenous leaders and their travels to “secure the land” », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [Online], Current issues, Online since 16 December 2013, connection on 17 September 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/nuevomundo/66124 ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.66124

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About the authors

Lorena B. Rodríguez

rodriguezlo@hotmail.comUniversidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) / Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)

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Maité Boullosa Joly

maite.boullosa@wanadoo.fr Maître de Conférences en anthropologie à l’Université de Picardie Jules Verne/ CURAPP - associated to CERMA (EHESS)

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