Zepherin Namuncura was born in Argentina in 1886, one of 12 children. His father was the Mapuche chief of the Araucanian-speaking Indians of the Argentine Pampas. A few years before Zepherin was born, his mother and several brothers and sisters were captured by European soldiers. In order to have them returned, Zepherin's father, Manuel, signed a treaty with the army.
As part of the treaty, the tribe was sent high up in the Andes Mountains to live. Manuel, wanting to be sure his children and generations to come would have a secure future, decided that Zepherin would be raised as much like a European as possible. He had him baptized and gave him to a Salesian priest to educate and raise. Zepherin was also sent to military school, but he was mistreated by the other children there.

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