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Welsh–Indigenous Relationships in Nineteenth Century Patagonia: ‘Friendship’ and the Coloniality of Power

Abstract
Abstract

This article discusses the colonial encounter of the Welsh and Tehuelche/Mapuche in the Welsh colony (Y Wladfa Gymreig), founded 1865. The Welsh sought to create a Welsh-speaking utopia in the ‘empty’ lands of Patagonia, paradoxically using this colonisation as a way to resist disparagement of the Welsh language and culture by an English-dominated state. The article deploys a ‘coloniality of power’ perspective and explores archive materials that reveal how both the Welsh and the indigenous communities whose land they colonised were caught up in coloniality and expanding capitalist modernity. I conclude that exploring the ambiguous relationship which results from this encounter complicates and deepens our understanding of how the coloniality of power works. Particularly, I argue that stripping away the ‘myth of friendship’ between the Welsh and indigenous is vital, not to diminish moments of genuine mutual affinity but rather to show how these are caught up in processes of colonialisation.

Spanish abstract

Este artículo discute el encuentro colonial de galeses y tehuelches/mapuches en la colonia galesa Y Wladfa Gymreig, fundada en 1865. Los galeses buscaron crear una utopía con lengua galesa en las tierras ‘vacías’ de la Patagonia, paradójicamente utilizando esta colonización como forma de resistencia a la discriminación del idioma y cultura galeses por el Estado inglés dominante. El artículo utiliza una perspectiva de la ‘colonialidad del poder’ y explora materiales de archivo que muestran cómo los galeses y las comunidades indígenas cuyas tierras ellos colonizaron, fueron atrapados en la colonialidad y modernidad del capitalismo en expansión. Concluyo que explorar la ambigua relación que resultó de este encuentro complica y profundiza nuestro entendimiento sobre cómo funciona la colonialidad del poder. Particularmente, señalo que deshacerse del ‘mito de amistad’ entre los galeses y los indígenas es vital, no para disminuir momentos de genuina afinidad mutua, sino más bien para mostrar cómo todo ello quedó atrapado en los procesos de colonización.

Portuguese abstract

Este artigo discute o encontro colonial entre galeses e Tehuelches/Mapuches na colônia galesa de Y Wladfa Gymreig, fundada em 1865. Os galeses buscavam criar uma utopia nas terras ‘vazias’ da Patagônia onde se falaria galês, paradoxalmente usando esta colonização como uma forma de resistir à maneira pejorativa que a língua e cultura galesa eram tratadas em um Estado com domínio inglês. O artigo emprega a perspectiva da ‘colonialidade do poder’, explorando materiais de arquivos que revelam como tanto os galeses quanto as comunidades indígenas que tiveram suas terras colonizadas foram envolvidos na colonialidade e na expansão da modernidade capitalista. Concluo que a observação das relações ambíguas que resultam destes encontros complexifica e aprofunda nosso entendimento de como a colonialidade do poder funciona. Argumento, especificamente, que eliminar o ‘mito da amizade’ entre galeses e indígenas é fundamental, não para menosprezar os momentos de afinidades mútuas genuínas, mas para demonstrar como estes foram envolvidas nos processos de colonização.

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1 In the sources, the name ‘Chupat’ is used but the spelling changed towards the end of the 1880s to Chubut. I use Chubut here, but ‘Chupat’ remains in some quotations.

2 During the early encounters there is no mention of trade with Mapuche communities; trade may well have taken place as the Mapuche were displaced southwards by the military's Conquest of the Desert which arrived in Chubut in 1882. Certainly, Mapuche communities lived in Argentina as well as Chile in 1865 and many regularly traversed this frontier which often existed only on maps. See Ana Ramos and Walter Delrio, ‘Trayectorias de oposición. Los mapuches y tehuelches frente a la hegemonía en Chubut’, in Claudia Briones (ed.), Cartografías argentinas: políticas indígenas y formaciones provinciales de alteridad (Buenos Aires: Editorial Antropofagia, 2005), pp. 79–118.

3 Claudia Briones and Walter Delrio, ‘The “Conquest of the Desert” as a Trope and Enactment of Argentina's Manifest Destiny’, in David Maybury-Lewis, Theodore Macdonald and Bjorn Maybury-Lewis (eds.), Manifest Destinies and Indigenous Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 51–83.

4 Veracini Lorenzo, ‘Settler Collective, Founding Violence and Disavowal: The Settler Colonial Situation’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29: 4 (2008), pp. 363–79.

5 A similar point is made by Lublin Geraldine, ‘Y Wladfa: gwladychu heb defedigaethu?Gwerddon 4 (2009), pp. 823 .

6 See also Lublin Geraldine, ‘Fred Green a'r “Cyfeillgarwch Parhaol” rhwng y Cymry a Brodorion Patagonia’, Taliesin, 133 (2010), pp. 8192 .

7 For example the work of Walter Delrio, Memorias de expropriación: sometimiento e incorporación indígena en la Patagonia, 1872–1943 (Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, 2005).

8 Jorge Pávez Ojeda (ed.), Cartas mapuches: siglo XIX (Santiago de Chile: CoLibris y Ocho Libros, 2008).

9 ‘Correspondence respecting the Establishment of a Welsh Colony on the River Chupat, in Patagonia, presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of her Majesty, 1867’, (Government papers relating to the Welsh Colony in Patagonia NLW 20903D), 33.

10 Lewis Jones, Hanes y Wladva Gymreig (Caernarfon: Gwasg Genedlaethol Gymraeg, 1898).

11 Quijano Anibal, ‘Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism and Latin America’, Nepantla, 1: 3 (2000), pp. 533–80.

12 Walter Mignolo, Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality and Colonization (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995).

13 Walter Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

14 For a detailed engagement with the issue, see Mabel Moraña, Enrique Dussel and Carlos A. Jáuregui (eds.), Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).

15 Nelson Maldonado-Torres, ‘Sobre la colonialidad del ser: contribuciones al desarrollo

de un concepto’, in Santiago Castro-Gómez and Ramón Grosfoguel (eds.), El giro decolonial. Reflexiones para una diversidad epistémica más allá del capitalismo global (Bogotá: Siglo del Hombre Editores, 2007), pp. 127–67; Castro-Gómez Santiago, ‘The Social Sciences, Epistemic Violence and the Problem of the “Invention of the Other”’, Nepantla, 3: 2 (2002), pp. 269–85.

16 Rachel Sieder, Multiculturalism in Latin America: Indigenous Rights, Diversity and Democracy (London: Palgrave, 2002); Phillip Wearne, Return of the Indian: Conquest and Revival in the Americas (London: Latin America Bureau, 1996).

17 See the collection of essays: Claudia Briones (ed.), Cartografías argentinas: políticas indígenas y formaciones provinciales de alteridad (Buenos Aires, Antropofagia, 2005).

18 For example, Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000); Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Much of the Australian debate takes place in the journal Settler Colonial Studies; see also Veracini Lorenzo, ‘“Settler Colonialism”: Career of a Concept’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41: 2 (2013), pp. 313–33.

19 See the collection of essays edited by Lynette Russell (ed.), Colonial Frontiers: Indigenous-European Encounters in Settler Societies (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).

20 Morgensen Scott Lauria, ‘The Biopolitics of Settler Colonialism: Right Here, Right Now’, Settler Colonial Studies, 1: 1 (2011), pp. 5276 .

21 This is also a key concern of Marcelo Gavirati's work ‘El contacto entre galeses, pampas y tehuelches: la conformación de un modelo de convivencia pacífica en la Patagonia central (1865–1885)’, unpubl. PhD diss., Universidad del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Doctorado Interuniversitario en Historia, 2012.

22 Richard Ellis, Diary 1865–1916 (Glaniad), pp. 2–3, available at http://www.glaniad.com/index.php?lang=en&id=34348&t=2.

23 Berwyn uses the Welsh word brodor which literally translates as ‘native’ but does not carry the racial connotations usually associated with this word, especially at this time. Brodor translates as ‘person of/in their homeland’ (bro means ‘homeland’ or ‘home-patch’; it remains an everyday word and concept). Given the difficulties of accurate translation, I will use the term brodor where the word appears in the original.

24 Berwyn Richard Jones, ‘Gyda'r Gwladvawrwyr yn Nyfryn y Camwy, Patagonia: Gweled Brodorion Anwar’, Cyfaill yr Aelwyd, VII: 2, Tachwedd (1866), pp. 40–2, 40.

25 Edwyn Roberts, Y Wladfa Gymreig yn Mhatagonia (Bethesda: J. F. Williams, 1893); see also Fernando Williams, Entre el desierto y el jardín: viaje, literatura y paisaje en la colonia galesa de la patagonia (Buenos Aires: Prometeo, 2010), pp. 117–18.

26 Ibid ., Dec. 1919, p. 8.

27 Jonathan Ceredig Davies, ‘Deunydd a Defnyddiwyd gan Jonathan Ceredig Davies yn ei “Patagonia: a description of the country”’, NLW MS8545-8B (n.d., circa 1890), 181, handwritten notes.

28 William Hughes, ‘Letter to Rev. Michael D. Jones, 22 July 1879’, Glaniad, 2, available at http://www.glaniad.com/index.php?lang=en&subj=5749&id=33075&t=2.

29 Tulio Halperin Donghi, Una nación para el desierto argentino (Buenos Aires: Biblioteca Básica Argentina, 1980).

30 Berwyn, ‘Gyda'r Gwladvafrwyr’, p. 40.

31 Ibid ., p. 41.

32 Quijada Monica, ‘La ciudadanización del ‘Indio Bárbaro’: políticas oficiales y oficiosos hacia la población indígena de la Pampa y la Patagonia, 1870–1920’, Revista de Indias, 59: 217 (1999), pp. 675704 .

33 Briones and Delrio, ‘The “Conquest of the Desert”’, pp. 56–64.

34 Bartolomé Miguel, ‘Los pobladores del “desierto”, genocidio, etnocidio y etnogénesis en la Argentina’, Cuadernos de Antropologia Social, 17 (2003), pp. 162–89.

35 Wolfe Patrick, ‘Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native’, Journal of Genocide Research, 8: 4 (2006), pp. 387409 .

36 Carlos Martínez Sarasola, ‘The Conquest of the Desert and the Free Indigenous Communities of the Argentine Plains’, in Nicola Foote and René Harder Horst (eds.), Military Struggle and Identity Formation in Latin America (Gainsville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2010), pp. 201–23.

37 Briones Claudia, ‘Construcciones de aboriginalidad en Argentina’, Bulletin Société Suisse de Américanistes, 68 (2004), pp. 7390 .

38 Papazian Alexis and Nagy Mariano, ‘Prácticas de disciplinamiento indígena en la isla Martín García hacia fines del siglo XIX’, Revista TEFROS, 8, Dec. 2010 .

39 Briones, ‘Construcciones de aboriginalidad’, pp. 86–7.

40 Walter Mario Delrio, Memorias de expropriación: sometimiento e incorporación indígena en la Patagonia, 1872–1943 (Buenos Aires: Editorial Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, 2005).

41 William Phillips, ‘Fifteen Years in Patagonia’, NLW MS1653B, (n.d.), 24, handwritten notes.

42 Berwyn, ‘Gyda'r Gwladvafrwyr’, p. 42.

43 Whitfield Esther, ‘Empire, Nation and the Fate of a Language: Patagonia in Argentine and Welsh Literature’, Postcolonial Studies, 14: 1 (2011), pp. 7393 .

44 Lublin Geraldine, ‘La identidad en la encrujida: la comunidad galesa del Chubut y la conmemoraciones del centenario y bicentenario de la revolución de Mayo’, Identidades, 3: 5 (2013), pp. 115–30.

45 W. Casnodyn Rhys, ‘Articles by B. Q. in the Gowertonian’ (NLW, MS20549E: April 1920), 2, handwritten notes, 12. See also William Casnodyn Rhys, Patagonia que canta (memoria argentina) (Buenos Aires: Emece, 2000).

46 Lublin Geraldine draws on different examples but reaches similar conclusions, see ‘Y Wladfa: gwladychu heb defedigaethu?’, Gwerddon 4 (2009), pp. 823 .

47 W. Casnodyn Rhys, ‘Borderland of Civilization’, NLW MS20549E (1902).

48 W. Casnodyn Rhys, ‘Pioneering in Patagonia’, NLW MS16654C (no date): 56, handwritten manuscript for a book.

49 Rhys, ‘Borderland …’, 10.

50 George C. Musters, At Home with the Patagonians (Stroud: Nonsuch, 2005 [1871]), p. 97.

51 The insightful circumstances of this amanuensis are detailed by Georges Claraz in Rodolfo Casamiquela (ed.), Viaje al rio Chubut: aspectos naturalísticos y etnológicos (1865–1866) (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Continente, 2008), p. 103.

52 ‘Correspondence respecting the Establishment’; also, and with analysis, Williams, Entretelones, 28–37.

53 See Marcelo Gavirati, El contacto entre galeses, pampas y tehuelches, for a comprehensive analysis of Welsh–indigenous trade.

54 Fernando Williams, Entre el desierto y el jardín: viaje, literatura y paisaje en la colonia galesa de la Patagonia (Buenos Aires: Prometeo, 2010), p. 68.

55 Domingo Sarmiento, Facundo or, Civilization and Barbarism (London: Penguin, 1998 [1845]); for a detailed discussion, see Susana Villavicencio, Sarmiento y la Nación Cívica: Ciudadanía y Filosofías de la Nación Argentina (Buenos Aires: Eudaba, 2008), pp. 47–76.

56 Phillips, ‘Fifteen Years’, p. 23.

57 Hugh Hughes, ‘Cadfan’, Llawlyfr y Wladychfa Gymreig (Llynlleifiad: Lewis Jones, 1862), p. 19.

58 Lublin, ‘Y Wladfa’, p. 8.

59 Berwyn, ‘Gyda'r Gwladvawrwyr’, 42.

60 ‘Letter, Commander Denniston to Captain Bedingfield’, Cracker, April 17, 1871’, (Papurau'r Llywodraeth 1867–1898, NLW 20903D), 18.

61 Alberto Harambour Ross, ‘Region, Nation, Statebuilding: On the Configuration of Hegemonic Identities in Patagonia, Argentina and Chile, 1870s–1920s’, in Sibylle Baumbach (ed.), Regions of Culture – Regions of Identity (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher verlag Trier, 2010), pp. 49–62.

62 Rhys, ‘Pioneering…’, p. 46. Marcelo Gavirati argues convincingly that such help was offered in order to ensure that the settlement, and the trading arrangement, did not fail; El contacto entre galeses, pampas y tehuelches, pp. 219–79.

63 Ibid ., p. 48.

64 Llwyd ap Iwan, ‘Dyddiaduron’ NLW MS7258. Edited and published as Diarios del Explorador Llwyd ap Iwan (Buenos Aires: Patagonia Sur, 2008).

65 Clery Evans (ed.), John Daniel Evans, el Molinero: una historia entre Gales y la colonia 16 de Octubre (Esquel: Grafica Alfa, 1994).

66 Ibid ., pp. 19 and 93.

67 Diary of a Journey, John Murray Thomas NLW facs 3960404, facs 396 (1877).

68 Rhys, ‘Pioneering …’, p. 48.

69 Glyn Williams, The Desert and the Dream: A Study of Welsh Colonization in Chubut, 1865–1915 (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1975), pp. 1–8.

70 Captain Brent, ‘Report on the Welsh Colony in Chupat, March 26, 1885’ (Papurau'r Llywodraeth 1867–1898, NLW 20903D), 2.

71 Lyman Tower Sergeant, ‘Colonial and Postcolonial Utopias’, in Gregory Claeys (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) pp. 205.

72 Ashcroft, ‘Introduction’, p. 4.

73 Jones Aled and Jones Bill, ‘The Welsh World and the British Empire, c.1851–1939: An Exploration’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 14: 2 (2010), pp. 5781 ; Glyn Williams, ‘Desert and the Dream’, pp. 33–8.

74 Gwyneth Tyson Roberts, Language of the Blue Books: The Perfect Instrument of Empire (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998).

75 Ibid .; Prys Morgan, Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, 1991).

76 Reports of the Commissioners of Enquiry into the State of Education in Wales, 1847, 66, available at http://digidol.llgc.org.uk/METS/SEW00003b/frames?div=56&subdiv=0&locale=en&mode=reference.

77 Chris Williams, ‘Problematizing Wales: An Exploration in Historiography and Postcoloniality’, in Jane Aaron and Chris Williams (eds.), Postcolonial Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005), pp. 3–22.

78 Abraham Matthews, Hanes y Wladfa Gymreig yn Patagonia (Aberdar: Mills ac Evans, 1894), pp. 3–5.

79 Edwyn Roberts, Hanes Dechreuad Y Wladfa Gymreig yn Patagonia (Bethesda: J. F. Phillips, 1893), pp. 8–11.

80 Michael D. Jones, Gwladychfa Gymreig (Liverpool: J. Lloyd, 1860), pp. 5–7; Abraham Matthews, Hanes y Wladfa Gymreig yn Patagonia (Aberdar: Mills and Evans, 1894), pp. 3–4.

81 ‘Michael D Jones’ written response to questions, Liverpool, May 27 1865’ (Papurau'r Llywodraeth 1867–1898, NLW 20903D) 3.

82 Ashcroft, ‘Introduction’, p. 12.

83 Ibid ., p. 5.

84 Susan Bruce (ed.), Three Early Modern Utopias: Utopia, New Atlantis and the Isle of Pines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. liii.

85 Hardy Karl, ‘Unsettling Hope: Contemporary Indigenous Politics. Settler-colonialism and Utopianism’, Spaces of Utopia, 2: 1, (2012), pp. 123–36, 124.

86 Sargent, ‘Colonial and Postcolonial Utopias’, pp. 206–7.

87 Michael D. Jones, Gwladychfa Gymreig (Liverpool J. Lloyd, 1860).

88 Fernando Williams, Entre el desierto y el jardín, p. 78.

89 Jonathan Ceredig Davies, ‘Deunydd a Defnyddiwyd’, p. 284.

90 Rhys, ‘Borderland’, pp. 28, 24.

91 Lewis Jones, Hanes y Wladva Gymreig (Gwasg Genedlaethol Gymraeg, 1898), p. 116.

92 Williams, Entretelones, p. 209.

93 Clery A. Evans (ed.), John Daniel Evans ‘El molinero’ (Esquel: Grafica Alfa, 1994), pp. 38–9 and 92–3; Ramos Ana and Delrio WalterMapas y narrativas de desplazamiento. Memorias mapuche-tehuelche sobre el sometimiento estatal en Norpatagonia’, Antítesis 4: 8 (2011), pp. 515–32.

94 R. Bryn Williams, Y Wladfa (Cardiff: Wales University Press, 1967).

95 Jones, Hanes y Wladfa, p. 97.

96 Lewis Jones, ‘Y Carchariaid a'i ganlyniadau’, NLW MS12200A (20 Jan. 1882–21 March 1883), handwritten notes and clippings, 1–5.

97 R. Bryn Williams, Y Wladfa (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1962), pp. 169–85.

98 Ibid ., pp. 155–9.

99 Lewis Jones, ‘Y Carchariaid a'i ganlyniadau’, NLW MS12200A (22 Jan. 1882–21 March 1883), handwritten notes and clippings, 1–5.

100 Finoquetto Juan, ‘Resultado de los exámenes en las escuelas del Chubut, diciembre 31, 1883’, El Monitor de la Educación Común, 3: 59 (1884), pp. 607–8.

101 Davies, ‘Deunydd a defnyddiwyd…’, p. 285.

102 Clery A. Evans, John Daniel Evans ‘El molinero’, pp. 92–3, emphasis in original.

103 Ibid ., p. 93.

104 Taylor Lucy, ‘Decolonizing Citizenship: Reflections on the Coloniality of Power in Argentina’, Citizenship Studies, 17: 5, (2013), pp. 596610 .

105 Lublin, ‘La identidad en la encrujida’, pp. 122–7.

106 Cited in Ibid., p. 123. The use of ‘Tehuelche’ here refers to the controversial notion that the Tehuelche were the ‘original’ peoples of the region, and that the Mapuche are migrants further north and from ‘Chile’; see footnote 25 of Lublin, ‘La identidad en la encrujida’, p. 122.

107 Ibid ., p. 124.

108 Geraldine Lublin, ‘Shifting Memories in Welsh Patagonia’, Latin Americanists in Wales Seminar, Aberystwyth University, 24 Jan. 2014.

* My sincere thanks to the staff of the National Library of Wales, the archive at Bangor University Library, the Museo Histórico Regional Gaiman and the Museo Regional Trevelin for their hard work and invaluable assistance. All work cited from sources referenced in Spanish or Welsh were translated by the author.

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