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Malones (also called malocas), a term from the Mapuche malocan, meaning "hostilities toward or among enemies involving raiding of goods and property." In Chile, the term malocas was used by Spanish colonists in the sixteenth century to describe Mapuche hostilities, but when the Mapuches expanded into the Argentine pampas at the turn of the nineteenth century, the Argentines called the raids malones.

In the course of four centuries of resistance, first to Inca and then to Spanish conquest, the Mapuche malon functioned as a formidable defense. In classical historiography, the "Indian" malones usually have been viewed as obstacles to progress or modernization but have not always been analyzed in cultural context. More recent analytical literature, which has begun to document the quantity and extent of Mapuche malones against Creole property, indicates dramatic changes within Mapuche society as a result of the integration of European goods and resources obtained through malones within Mapuche systems of exchange and redistribution.

As an institution, intra-Mapuche malones functioned to regularize the distribution of material resources, status, and wife-exchange. Allegations of malevolence and witchcraft affecting the health of individuals in a community or band prompted malones against other bands and also motivated Mapuche malones against creole frontier settlements in Chile and Argentina.

Over the centuries, the organization of the malones changed. By the eighteenth century, malones were organized, interband military operations, in some cases mirroring Spanish military forms. By the nineteenth century, the intertribal malones against Argentine estancias were clearly motivated by market objectives as well as by anger at treaty violations. In the course of these developments, however, Mapuche participation in the malones continued to be at the discretion of each individual kin leader, rather than dictated through a hierarchy. Even so, by the late nineteenth century, confederations involving over 200 individual bands organized major malones against ranching interests in Argentina. It was not until boundary issues between Chile and Argentina were resolved that those national governments were able to effectively combat the Mapuche malon.

See alsoAraucanians; Calfucurá; Namuncurá, Manuel; Pehuenches; Ranqueles.


Madaline W. Nichols, "The Spanish Horse of the Pampas," in American Anthropologist 41 (January 1939): 119-129.

Alfred Tapson, "Indian Warfare on the Pampa During the Colonial Period," in Hispanic American Historical Review 42 (February 1962):1-28.

Judith Ewell and William Beezeley, eds., The Human Tradition in Latin America: The Nineteenth Century (1989), pp. 175-186.

Leonardo Leon Solis, Maloqueros y conchavadores en Araucanía y las Pampas, 1700–1800 (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Rojas Lagarde, Jorge Luis. Malones y comercio de ganado con Chile: Siglo XIX. Buenos Aires: El Elefante Blanco, 2004.

                                        Kristine L. Jones

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