“Cacique Mulato: la leyenda de Chumjaluwun”
As musicians born and raised in Magallanes, we have a fascination with the vastness of the pampas and the stories woven there. The Aonikenk (Tehuelche) people are an indivisible part of that landscape, marking it even with their absence. Those men and women who pursued guanacos, rested in their shelters under the stars, and marched endlessly toward the horizon somehow still linger there. That’s why we wanted to get involved in the production of the film that revisits the life of the last chief of the Aonikenk people in Magallanes: Chumjaluwun, better known by the nickname Cacique Mulato.
To make a meaningful contribution to this work, directed by our friend Jorge Grez Leuquén, we began by researching how that world sounded. We searched for recordings of voices singing in the ancestral Aoneko language and embarked on something that set the course for this project: the reconstruction of an ancient Aonikenk string instrument called the “koolo”, whose last traditional player passed away nearly 40 years ago. We also came across the beautiful recording of the “Quena de San Gregorio”, an instrument discovered on the shores of the Strait of Magellan, which was reconstructed through a Fondecyt project.
Building upon these sounds, we started composing music, initially using various percussion instruments and our own voices. Later, we incorporated string instruments, synthesizers, and ambient sounds created with software. The sound of this soundtrack reinforces the primary idea of the film: how the Aonikenk world was progressively altered and ultimately cornered in the name of Civilization and Progress.
We appreciate the director’s trust and enthusiasm in embracing our proposal. We are very pleased to have contributed our sound to his film, a great collective effort to make cinema far from the mainstream audiovisual industry. A film that tells a story that should be known and never forgotten by those of us who inhabit this divided and fenced land.
(Punta Arenas, Magallanes, Chile. September 2023)