"Araucanian Indians"

The Mapuche Indians were called Araucanians by the Spanish colonisers, probably taking their name from rag ko (clayey water). Originating in Chile, they migrated to the Argentine pampas. Chatwin suggests they became candidates for the legend of the Noble Savage via the Spanish poet Alonso de Ercilla and the French philosopher Voltaire. Whilst Voltaire was the arch inventor of fictitious savages, Ercilla had actually fought against the Araucanian in Chile, leading him to write his epic poem La Araucana.