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Caviahue

History and Legends

History

At the beginning, the area occupied by the community of Caviahue would be used by the first dwellers of the Province of Neuquén as a pass towards the Copahue hot springs.
The pehuenches indians were the first ones to go through this area in search for healing waters and, in spite of their sulphurous smell, they did not deprive themselves from the baths.
When their wonders reached the huincas' (white people) ears, the area started to experiment a considerable demographic growth and rapidly turned it into a village, which later gave birth to the community.
The lack of a foundation day made Elías Sapag, the then governor of the Province of Neuquén, together with the ministers' general consent, found the town of Caviahue in the region of Ñorquín by decree on April 8th, 1986.
With the passing of time, a Public Works Committee was created to represent, serve and assist community interests.
On June 11, 1988, Pedro Salvatori, the new provincial governor, found it necessary to appoint a delegate organizer of the Public Works Committee of Caviahue, being Mr. Oscar César Mansegosa elected by decree, pursuant to the community vote. On August 26, the same year, he assumed his position, thus complying with the provisions of section 1 of Provincial Decree 2264.
As expected, with the passing of time, the community of Caviahue continued to grow. For such reason, on March 9, 1999, the legislature of the Province of Neuquén passed a law that provided for a population census in Caviahue and, pursuant to its results, the community was declared a third-category Municipality, under the scope of section 182 and according to the Provincial Constitution. The Public Works Committee functioning in the community up to such date was appointed as the base of the municipality of Caviahue-Copahue.
On March 16, 1999, Mr. Oscar Mansegosa, who was still the delegate organizer of the Public Works Committee, was officially informed, by means of an authorized copy of Decree 0651, Law 2273, of the effective declaration of the community of Caviahue as a third-category Municipality.

Legend

The Pehuén

Once upon a long ago, in the South of Argentina, there lived a tribe of mapuches.
In spite of the weather inclemencies, as during the winter the area would remain covered by snow, that place offered them what they needed to subsist.
During the summer, the land would turn green again and the tribe would get all the necessary provisions, except salt, which they should get very far, at the salt mines in the North and when the snow would not close the roads.
Then, the cacique Chacayal, with some men chosen by the tribe, would go out in search for such precious material.
Meanwhile, their wives and kids would stay home working as they waited for their return.
Around that year, the first snowfalls came and Chacayal had not returned. Then, his wife, fearing that something might have happened to him, called her son and asked him to go and find Chacayal.
The boy prepared his stuff and left immediately. It had began to snow heavily but he walked for days on end until he broke down and fell to the ground exhausted. It was then when in the distance he made out a pehuen brother. A strange tree in that location, which leaves ended in sharp points.
For the mapuches, this was a sacred tree and they worshipped it as a god. Then, Chacayal's son gathered his strength as he could and picked up to walk towards where the pehuén was to ask him for help. As tradition forbid to resume a trip without leaving an offering, he took off his fox fur shoes, made by his mother, and hung them from a branch.
Afterwards, he felt much better and continued walking with more strength although his bare feet would sink in the snow.
A few minutes later, he heard some voices and discovered a group of people camping around a bonfire to spend the night behind a hill. He approached them happily, thinking that his father might be among them, but they were from a tribe he did not know. However, they allowed him to sit by the fire to warm up and then have some food. He lay down, defeated b y tiredness.
But those men robbed him of everything he possessed while he was sleeping and abandoned him after tying his hands and feet.
So he was left there, alone, frozen and helpless. He could die because of the cold temperature or seized by a trapial or a hungry nahuel, which would surely be nearby.
When the day broke, the sun reflecting on the snow started to hurt his eyes. He desperately tried to get free from the ropes without any success.
He thought about his mother, and in spite of the huge distance between them, he started to call out her name.
At that very moment, his mother was having a dream. In her dream, she saw Chacayal dead and his son in danger. She heard his voice calling her and woke up in anguish.
Then, she resolved to immediately comply with the law of the tribe: she cut off her hair with the certainty that her husband had died and she set out in search for her son.
In the meantime, the boy, feeling that cold would penetrate his motionless body, kept on calling - niuque... niuque!!
Suddenly, when he opened his irritated eyes, he saw the pehuén in the distance with his shoes hanging from the branch and he desperately screamed: - If only you could turn into my mother... good tree!!
niuque, niuque come!! Come to save me... niuque!!
Then, in fright, he saw how the pehuén started to tear its roots from the ground. One by one, it took all its roots out and, once free, it started to walk slowly moving towards him, as if its roots were legs. When it got next to the boy, it spread out its branches over him to keep him from the cold and its sharp leaves would protect him from the wild animals.
Then, it dropped its kernels on him so that he would have something to eat. Feeling satisfied and calmer, he fell asleep.
When he woke up, he saw his mother, who had recognized his shelter by the shoes hanging from the only pehuén branch which had not bent.
She quickly untied and embraced him dearly. When he saw her shaved head, he understood that his father was dead and that they would both cry bitterly for their loss. Afterwards, when they calmed down, they thanked the pehuén in resignation stroking its trunk and the mother, in proof of her devotion, left her own shoes as an offering.
Treading on the new snow with their bare feet, both mother and son returned to the tribe.
But the pehuén did not abandon them. It walked beside them providing food and protection.
When they reached the tribe, the tree stopped and slowly buried its roots in the ground and there it stayed.
When mother and son told their people what had happened, they resolved to call that place “Niuque”, which means mother in the mapuche language, showing the pehuén their gratitude for saving the boy's life.

 
InterPatagonia - Touristic Information about Caviahue, Patagonia, Argentina: History and Legends
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