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Rapa Nui Names Subject to Special Law
Margot Hotus Salinas explains how Chile's indigenous peoples are given specific protections
Margot Hotus S. (margoth)     Print Article 
Published 2005-09-23 09:33 (KST)   
Rapanui and Maori people, Easter Island 1977 (Family photo)
©1977 A. Hotus
Since 1993 there has been a special law for Chile's ethnic peoples. There are three peoples considered indigenous in Chile: the Mapuche, Aymara and Rapa Nui. There are more ethnic groups, but since their populations are too small, they are considered "communities" (Atacamenos, Quechuas, Collas in the north area of the country -- Awashkar and Yagan in the south).

The 2nd article of this law states:

"Chile's indigenous people refers to:

1. A son (or daughter) of an indigenous father or an indigenous mother, even if it is adopted.

2. Chilean indigenous inhabitants that live in the country with an indigenous last name. A non-indigenous last name will be considered indigenous if it can be traced back at least three generations to an indigenous descendant.

3. Any person with a lifestyle similar to an indigenous person and who has at least one indigenous last name. They must also identify themselves as indigenous."

Concerning Rapa Nui people, just the first two of these points are applicable because of land issues. Easter Island can never be sold -- it is considered an inheritance.

A very interesting point about Rapa Nui people is referred to in this law. The Chilean Constitution forces people to name children with their mother's last name as a second name (eg. Hotus is my father's last name, and Salinas is my mother's last name). That way, the mother's last name is lost when there are daughters in the family.

But the Indigenous Law establishes that any person who has a Rapa Nui last name as a second name can switch them. In my family (Hotus), there are only six men able to have children. According to this law, my children will have my last name first and the "Hotus" last name will not disappear easily.

That is, if I don't have children with a Rapa Nui man! In that case, his or her father's last name will come first.

Related Articles
The Discovery of Rapa Nui
An Easter Islander's Peruvian Family
Rapa Nui Tales Shine Light on Life
The Origin of Rapa Nui's Names
Rapa Nui and Its Tattooing Art

©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Margot Hotus S.

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