Here's where ponchos really come from after UNH student says they are 'for Mexicans!'
Ponchos originate from the Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina — not Mexico, like some would think.
The Mapuche people historically occupied half of the territory we know today as Chile and Argentina, according to Don Quijote Spanish Schools.
Danique Montique, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, posted to Facebook about her feelings regarding the "students who chose to demean and appropriate Mexican culture," on Cinco de Mayo.
In that post, Montique included a video where she confronted a man wearing a poncho and claimed he was perpetuating stereotypes of Mexican culture.
When he asked why she had a problem with the poncho she replied, "because the Mexican culture, like a poncho, is like for Mexican people."
The poncho was traditionally meant to keep the body warm and to protect the body from harsh weather conditions while still havING the freedom to move around while working, but these days it is more frequently worn as a fashion accessory, according to Don Quijote Spanish Schools.
Ponchos took on another use in the 1850s when they were introduced to irregular U.S. military forces operating on the U.S. Western Plains. These early military ponchos were made of gutta percha muslin, a latex-coated, waterproof cloth, and most often used as rain clothing and as a ground sheet for sleeping. They were officially adopted during the American Civil War, according to Wikipedia via The Prairie Traveler.
Mapuche presence has significantly declined and they now only occupy about 10 percent and 0.004 percent of the Chilean and Argentine populations respectively, Don Quijote Spanish Schools wrote.
Although the poncho was most typically worn in Pre-Inca Cultures around 500 B.C., the poncho is now more commonly associated with the Americas.
As traditional clothing, the local names and variants are:
- Poncho, most of Spanish-speaking countries and worldwide
- Pala or Poncho, in Portuguese-speaking Brazil (mainly in the South)
- Chamanto, only in central Chile, poncho in the north and south
- Jorongo, usually larger or full-length, and often used for special occasions or horse-back riding
- Gabán, typical in Michoacán, Mexico
- Ruana, in cold regions of Colombia and Venezuela
- Poncho chilote, a heavy woolen poncho of Chiloé Archipelago.