Wechekeche Ñi Trawün – meaning “young people together” – is a Chilean Mapuche collective that fuses their musical heritage with modern-day urban beats in an effort to keep their ancient Indigenous culture alive. The organization was set up in 2005 by history teacher Axel Paillafilu and other founding members from Santiago. Group members meet up in their clubhouse on a regular basis to organize various activities relating to Mapuche culture, such as cooking, language teaching, history, palin playing and sewing. Their music is an extension of the group’s work; they hope that by mixing their ancestors’ traditional music with contemporary urban styles (reggae ton, hip-hop ska, rock, cumbia) they will appeal to the younger generation, awaken their people’s spirit, and make their Mapundungun language known to those who don’t speak it. Today, the group is composed of over a dozen members who are all descendants of rural Mapuche migrants.

The messages in Wechekeche ni Trawun’s lyrics are as diverse as their culture. They rap in their mother tongue or in Spanish about their history, traditional customs, political issues, land claims and identity conflicts. For Mapuche youth raised in sprawling urban centers far from their traditional territory, listening to Wechekeche’s music helps them celebrate and preserve their distinct identity.
May 19, 2015
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