……… y la Rebelión de & the Rebellion of 1914
Maria Angata Veri Tahi, daughter of Hare Kohou (of the Miru tribe) and Veri Tahi a Kau (of the Haumoana tribe) was born in 1854. During her childhood, when she was barely 8 years old, she witnessed the most tragic event that white men have inflicted on the island of Rapa Nui: the kidnapping of more than 1400 islanders, among them all the administrative nobility, the wise men and the guardians of Rongo-rongo, the hieroglyphic writing of the Islanders. During 10 months, between September of 1862 and June of 1863, slave-hunting incursions from Callao roamed the South Pacific looking for laborers for the guano islands and the sugar and cotton plantations. One of only 15 Islanders who eventually returned from that slavery was Ure Kino a Maori Pakomio, who later became Maria Angata’s second husband.
This calamity and the subsequent epidemics of smallpox and tuberculosis which were brought by the few who returned from Peru struck the entire population and reduced it to only 111 persons, as was noted by A. Pinard in 1868. With the population devastated, the old traditions died as well. This can explain the reason that the Christian faith entered so easily with the arrival of the missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in 1864. María Angata was part of the group of children and youngsters who were educated by the missionaries in the Pukuranga, an asylum for orphaned children or those who were mistreated by their parents. From the report of Father Roussel in April of 1868: “The number of children baptized increased every day since in their homes there is no human respect.”
Angata and Pakomio had several children. Nicolas and his older sister, Maria Engracia, are the ones who continued the Pakomio family name on the Island. After the death of her second husband, the role of local catechist was taken by Nicolas Pakarati Ure Potahi, who returned from Tahiti in 1888 with his wife Elisabeth Rangitaki, originally from the Tuamotu Islands. On the same ship came Captain Policarpo Toro with the intention of signing an Act of Wills with the 12 chiefs of the native clans to annex the Island to Chile. In the name of the government of Chile, he had acquired the rights to the properties of the Catholic Church, but he was unable to obtain the rights to the Brander-Bornier holdings because these were tied up in law suits between heirs. The local population at the time was only 185 inhabitants.
According to the English achaeologist, Katherine Routledge, who was visiting the Island with her expedition (1914-1915): “Maria Angata, a frail old woman with gray hair and expressive eyes, … through a dream in which God communicated to her that the livestock belonged to the people, was able to encourage the natives to rise up against the Company.” The message from God was categorical: a Tutia, a sacrifice of cattle and sheep, must be made for the salvation and well-being of the people. Angata sent two formal requests to Edmunds for animals for the rituals. He rejected the petitions and considered the prophetess’ apocalyptic arguments as being of little importance. Initially, the people kept their distance, but it was winter and a strong north wind, the Pakakina, which was considered to be a “premonition of disaster”, began to blow. The wind brought intense rain which lasted for several days, causing fear and uncertainty in the community. Angata took advantage of this occurrence to warn that the storm was the precursor of a great hurricane which God was preparing to send if the people disobeyed Him. The locals, trusting in the messages of Angata, set out to steal the animals needed for the four sacrificial rituals that she required.
The most important contribution of Maria Angata Veri Tahi was the maintenance and propagation of Catholicism among the inhabitants of Easter Island in the period of 1879 – 1888, when there was a absence of regular priests. In addition, her role in the uprising was heavily reported in the Chilean press (El Mercurio of Valparaiso, September 1914), which caused the governmental authorities to take note of the deplorable situation in which the Islanders were living. However, the erratic response by the government was to revoke the lease of the sheep ranch, only to then renew it for 20 years and, finally, pass the jurisdiction over the Island to the Chilean Navy which ran it like a regiment for more than another decade. The native Islanders had to wait many years and form another revolt in 1964 for the Chilean government to finally integrate the Island into the democratic political structure of the nation, giving the inhabitants Chilean nationality and full constitutional rights as citizens, and begin to fulfill the promises of development which had been made in the Act of Wills in 1888.
In the sand of Rapa Nui there are animals so small that they can hardly be seen with the bare eye. You need a microscope to see them. These animals live in the small spaces between sand grains.
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