The Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia (sometimes
referred to as New France) was an unrecognized state established in the
19th century by a French lawyer and adventurer named Orélie-Antoine de Tounens
in southern South America.
At the time the local
indigenous Mapuche population of Araucanía and Patagonia were engaged in a
desperate armed struggle to retain their independence in the face of hostile
military and economic encroachment by the governments of Chile and Argentina,
who coveted the Mapuche lands for their agricultural potential.
While visiting the region in 1860, Orélie-Antoine came to sympathize
with the Mapuche cause, and a group of loncos (Mapuche tribal leaders) elected
him to the position of King. Orélie-Antoine
then set about establishing a government in his capital of Perquenco, created a
blue, white and green flag, and had coins minted for the nation under the name
of Nouvelle France.
His efforts at securing international recognition for the Mapuche were
thwarted by the Chilean and Argentinean governments, who captured, imprisoned
and then deported him on several occasions. King Orélie-Antoine I eventually
died in France in 1878 after years of fruitless struggle to regain his
perceived legitimate authority over his conquered kingdom.
The first Araucanian king's present-day successor, Prince Philippe,
lives in France and has renounced his predecessor's claims to the Kingdom, but
he has kept alive the memory of Orélie-Antoine, and lent continued support to
the ongoing struggle for Mapuche self-determination by authorizing the minting
of forty or so coins in cupronickel, silver, gold, and palladium since 1988.