The Mapuche are an indigenous group of inhabitants originating from Chile. Originally inhabiting the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, regions south of the island Chiloe and western parts of Argentine Patagonia, the Mapuche are now one of the largest ethnic groups in the Americas - although their population saw a decline during the Spanish Inquisition. A deeply religious group, the Mapuche believe that life is a battle between good and evil. Their dualist perspective is rooted in the idea that there are two opposing and complementary worlds coexisting in this environment. One of the worlds is the natural world, with the earth and people. The other world is spiritual and exists in the sky. This spiritual world is called Wenumapu, and it exists between the clouds and the cosmos. This is the region where gods, spirits, and ancestors live. And next to it is the world Anka-wenu. This world is chaotic and filled with evil spirits called Wekufes. These spirits are responsible for illness and suffering. The Mapuche worship a cosmic family of gods called Nguenechen, Kushe, Elmapun, Elchen, and Ngunemapun. Spiritual leaders in the Mapuche are responsible for keeping contact with these gods and fighting off the evil power of the Wekefu.
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