The Napalpí Massacre –

We must place ourselves in Argentinabeginning of the 20th century when there were still indigenous tribes in the Argentine Jungles. Tribes that kept their ancestral customs, away from society and living the life they wanted to live in freedom and balance with nature. But soon their territory became an object of desire for hundreds of Italian and French settlers. Where the indigenous people saw their way of life, the settlers saw land for exploitation. maybe meet causes, antecedents and consequences make the human being never make the same mistakes again. This is the object of this article which we have entitled The Napalpi Massacre Let’s start with the background.

The Napalpi Massacre | Location

Chaco is one of the 23 provinces that make up the Argentine Republic, in its territory it has different indigenous populations such as the Qom (Tobas), Mocovíes, Wichís (Matacos), among other. The province of Chaco is located in the northeast of Argentina, within the so-called Region of the Great Argentine North.

Possibly it is the least studied Argentine region, there are no anthropological data to have a record of the tribes that populated the region, although it is known that this territory has been occupied since the year 4,000 BC

Thanks to the records, the existence of two large groups or families with common characteristics, among them linguistic, these groups were:

  • The Guaicurú. where were included Pampid tribes, such as Mocovíes, Qom, Pilagáes or Abipones
  • The Mataco-Mataguayo. belonging to the villages Wichís or Mataco, with more Amazonian and Andean influences.

The Napalpi Massacre | Situation prior to the Massacre

At the end of the 19th century, Argentina launches a military campaign to occupy indigenous territories from the Chaco region. The idea was to subdue the peoples but the result was the death of thousands of indigenous people.

The consequences for the region were tragic.the tribes and ethnic groups that inhabited the region of what is now Formosa and Chaco, saw how their society and culture was crumbling.

Quickly began to build numerous forts and forts in order to control the indigenous movements. The lands that were taken from them to their true owners, were sold to settlers who came from Europe, preferably Italians and French.

Wide expanses of jungle were converted to cotton cultivation, while the different ethnic groups and tribes were confined to small redoubts where they were practically used as slaves.

Among these small redoubts where the indigenous were confined, was Napalpi, a name of Qom origin, meaning place Of The Dead, undoubtedly a reflection of what it should be like to live in Napalpí.

Napalpi was founded in 1921 and composed almost in its majority by the qom ethnic group, who were forced to work the cotton fields and sometimes also had to take care of the neighboring haciendas. But a law dictated in 1924 by which the population of Napalpí was forced to deliver 15% of their own production of cotton to the state, made the population indigenous began to arise great discontent.

Among the prohibitions to which the indigenous population had been subjected was the abandonment of their shamanic practices, but the confinement of the tribes and discontent, they began to be used again, but now with a certain messianic air.

Various clashes and disturbances such as the looting of settler farms, ended with the murder in the hands of the police of Shaman Sorai. Faced with this terrible event and waiting for retaliation from the indigenous population. The governor of Chaco began to prepare what would be a terrible and brutal repression.

The Napalpi Massacre | the massacre

In July 1924indigenous of the Qom ethnic group and the Mocoví, as a protest They went on strike. A protest denouncing the treatment and exploitation to which they were being subjected by the landowners.

As part of his complaint was the need to plan a march since Skip to Jujuy. This act did not please the governor of the region Fernando Centeno, who prohibited them from leaving the Chaco region. Before him fear of an uprisingas later justified, planned a crackdown that it was so well remembered that no other settlement would ever dare to rise up.

In the early hours of July 19, 1924, the sublebados indigenous people were gathered in a shamanic party in the area of ​​the will hold. The Aguará was an area considered sacred where religious rites were performed and which was within the limits of the colony. It was there where the indigenous people danced carrying their weapons that were reduced to simple sticks.

On that early morning of July 19, a group of 130 men between policemen, settlers and other white volunteers, surrounded the village, heavily armed with rifles and rifles opened fire on the camp, were 45 minutes of shooting in front of a few sticks.

After 45 minutes of shooting, machetes entered and finished with the few indigenous who were left alive, most of them badly wounded, among which were men, elderly, women and children. The slaughter was terrible, it seemed as if the human being had no limits in his brutality. Some were slit their throats while others were hanged and some were even skinned.

The Indians were convinced that their gods would be the ones that would protect them of the weapons of the white men, so they did not encounter any resistance, not a single shot left the town. However, it is estimated that the soldiers came to shoot more than 5,000 shots.

Blood flowed through the streets, atrocities such as limb amputations to show them off as trophies, some were even exhibited in police stations. There were no wounded soldiers, there was no fight, there was no resistance, it was a massacre, which was resolved with a mass grave where so many corpses were buried. Today that place is called Colonia La Matanza.

The Napalpi Massacre | Consequences of the Massacre

So terrible was the slaughter that the newspapers of the time spoke of the panic of the Indians while they tried to take refuge and the fury of the police shooting at them.

Unfortunately, what happened in Napalpí was not an isolated event, political power and financial power were used to the full by police or military forces, to seize the real owners of the land and sell it to landlords, convert indigenous people in free labor.

End a life system based on balance to turn them into small tribes tuned into small redoubts created for that purpose.

It took many years until in January 2008, Jorge Capitanich, governor of the province of Chaco, wanted pay tribute to the victims of the slaughter apologizing both official and private, especially to the only person who survived this massacre, Melitona Enrique 107 years old who would die in November of that same year.

Today the Napalpí Massacre has been classified as a crime against humanity and it is being studied to examine the common grave where the bodies were deposited, in order to give them a heartfelt tribute and recognition as victims of one of the most terrible massacres, that for a long time remained a hidden story, almost forgotten but that today is more alive than ever.

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The Napalpi Massacre | Image gallery