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Toqui, the term applied to Araucanian (Mapuche) military leaders during the warfare that followed the Spanish invasion of Chile in the 1540s. It seems likely that Europeans imposed their own categories of leadership and government on the Araucanian warriors who were most prominent in the wars. In traditional Araucanian society, the toqui was less a "generalissimo" or "paramount chief" than a temporary leader chosen by alliances of families to take charge of fighting against other alliances or to supervise communal economic tasks such as pine nut collection or fishing. Lautaro (1535–1557), Caupolicán (d. 1558), and Colo Colo (1515–1561), celebrated toquis of the sixteenth century, may have had their true status magnified by such poets as Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga (1533–1594). To what extent the pressure of the Spanish offensives caused greater concentration of authority among Araucanians is still debated. No centralized state with single leadership ever emerged in Araucania.

See alsoAraucanians; Indigenous Peoples; Mapuche.


León Echaiz, René. El toqui Lautaro. Santiago: Editorial Neupert, 1971.

                                          Simon Collier