Colocolo (tribal chief)

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Colocolo (from Mapudungun "colocolo", mountain cat) was a Mapuche leader ("cacique lonco") in the early period of the Arauco War. He was a major figure in Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga's epic poem La Araucana, about the early Arauco War. In the poem he was the one that proposed the contest between the rival candidates for Toqui that resulted in the choice of Caupolicán. As a historical figure there are some few contemporary details about him. Stories of his life were written long after his lifetime and display many points of dubious historical accuracy.

Mentions in contemporary accounts[edit]

Pedro Mariño de Lobera listed Colocolo as one of the caciques that offered submission to Pedro de Valdivia after the Battle of Penco.[1] Jerónimo de Vivar in his Chronicle of the Kingdom of Chile (1558), describes Colocolo as one of the Mapuche leaders with 6,000 warriors and one of the competitors for Toqui of the whole Mapuche army following the Battle of Tucapel. Millarapue also a leader of 6,000 men, but old and not a candidate for the leadership, was the one who persuaded them to quit arguing among themselves and settle the matter with a contest of strength between them which resulted in the victory of Caupolicán who became Toqui.[2]

Lobera later says Colocolo and Peteguelen were the leaders that discovered the advance of the army of Francisco de Villagra and summoned all the people who could fight from the neighboring provinces to oppose the Spanish in the battle of Battle of Marihueñu.[3] He was one of the commanders under Lautaro at the second destruction of Concepción on December 4, 1555.[4] He also lists Colocolo as one of Caupolicán's lieutenants in the battle of Battle of Millarapue against García Hurtado de Mendoza.[5] Lobera also says he was one of the major leaders of the Arauco area to submit to Mendoza after the Battle of Quiapo and the reestablishment of the fortress of San Felipe de Araucan in 1559. He is also said to have given Mendoza warning of the assassination plot of Mecial.[6]

Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo in his History of All the Things that Have happened in the Kingdom of Chile mentions Colocolo in 1561 as a principal leader in Arauco and is said to be a friend until death to the Spanish. He was consulted by Pedro de Villagra about the way to defeat the first outbreak of the second great Mapuche revolt that began that year. It says he advised them to storm a fortress the rebels had built and that such a defeat would end the rebellion.[7] Later, in the following year after Villagra had evacuated the city of Cañete revealing Spanish weakness, Colocolo was prevailed on by the rebellious Mapuche in Arauco to take command of their army. At his order Millalelmo laid siege to the fort of Arauco and other leaders the fort of Los Infantes.[8]

Mentions in later accounts[edit]

Juan Ignacio Molina follows Ercilla's account of Colocolo as the wise elder, in his The Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chili, Vol. II, (1808).[9] He claims Colocolo was killed in the 1558 Battle of Quiapo.[10]

Other claims[edit]

Claims are Colocolo held the position of "Toqui de la Paz" (Peace Chief) but took over strategic duties when Spanish conquest began, becoming the head of the native Mapuche forces against these invaders. Some others believe his death happened during the great famine and typhus epidemic in 1554-1555.

Modern symbol[edit]

Colocolo, is a symbol of heroic courage, bravery, and wisdom who fought and never surrendered to the Spaniards. Remembered as Ercilla's 60-something elder widely respected by mapuche people, among his captains we can find headchiefs whose names are part of Chile's present geography: Paicaví, Lemo, Lincoyán, Elicura and Orompello, just to name a few.

One of the most popular Chilean football clubs, Colo-Colo, was named after this warrior.


  1. ^ Pedro Mariño de Lobera, Crónica del Reino de Chile, Libro Primero, Cap. XXXIII
  2. ^ Jerónimo de Vivar, Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los reinos de Chile, Capítulo CXVII. It is Millarapue that may have been the inspiration for Ercilla's Colocolo.
  3. ^ Lobera, Crónica ..., Libro Primero, Cap. XLVII
  4. ^ Lobera, Crónica ..., Libro Primero, Cap. LIII
  5. ^ Lobera, Crónica ..., Libro Segundo, Cap. IV
  6. ^ Lobera, Crónica ..., Libro Segundo, Segundo, Capítulo XII
  7. ^ Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo,Historia de Todas las Cosas que han Acaecido en el Reino de Chile y de los que lo han gobernado (1536-1575), Capítulo XXXVI. Villagra followed his advice and successfully stormed the fortress but that failed to end the rebellion when the defenders escaped into the woods behind their fort and later rebuilt it. The next attempt to take that fortress resulted in a great defeat for the Spaniards, loss of Cañete and the widespread outbreak the rebellion. Colocolo soon after was persuaded to become the overall commander of the rebellion in the Arauco region, raising the suspicion that he had been sympathetic to the rebellion all the time and had encouraged the Spaniards to attack the rebels where he expected them to have the best chance defeating the Spanish
  8. ^ Marmolejo,Historia ..., Capítulo XXXIX
  9. ^ Juan Ignacio Molina, The Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chili, Vol. II, Pages 122-29, 132,149,167-8,172.
  10. ^ Colocolo does not appear on the list of leaders killed in the battle of Quiapo that appears in Lobera, Cronica..., Libro 2, Capítulo XI.


See also[edit]