Their advance to the south was checked by the indomitable opposition of the Araucanians, but from the southern Andes the Spaniards overflowed on to the great plains which now form the interior of the Argentine Republic. The first permanent settlement at the mouth of the river Plate at Buenos Aires dates from 1580.
The tribes of Peru are said to have adored great snakes in the pre-Inca days; and in Chile the Araucanians made a serpent figure in their deluge myth.
The South American Missionary Society, founded by the ill-fated Captain Allen Gardiner, has much extended its work among the Indians of the interior of what has been well called " the Neglected Continent "; it has been specially successful among the Araucanians of Chile and the Paraguayan Chaco.
Their laws were merely traditional customs. War was declared by the council, messengers bearing arrows dipped in blood being sent to all parts of the country to summon the men to arms. From the time of the first Spanish invasion (1535) the Araucanians made a vigorous resistance, and after worsting the best soldiers and the best generals of Spain for two centuries obtained an acknowledgment of their independence.
The Araucanians believe in a supreme being, and in many subordinate spirits, good and bad.