Science, medicine, history and the love of Neuquen

132 years ago, on November 28, 1899, Gregorio Alvarez was born in the Ranquillan district of the province of Urquin, in the then territory of Neuquén. His mother was called Eloísa Sandoval, an indigenous person. His father, from Mendoza, Gumercindo Alvarez, had settled in Jos Mellal after his desert trekking route. We have detailed the monumental work of Dr. Gregorio Alvarez in several publications. Master’s degree in 1910: first born in Patagonia.

Then due to his scientific career and his love of childhood, he started studying medicine thanks to a scholarship. He graduated on November 8, 1919, and was the first local doctor in Patagonia. “In Domoyo’s thermal algae it could be the key to extending life,” he said, who in the 1970s carefully studied aquatic plants collected in the said area. In the photo we can see him in Cubaho with Dr. Enrique Coronel and the staff.

I will honor my college professor with some toponymic concepts and studies. One of his interests was the identification of geographical names of Araucanian origin in the province of Neuquén and he sought to purify them as much as possible: For reference, most of the names of cities and topographic features come from that language. For this reason, he consulted all the books written on the subject, and went to places with a native name to mislead their legitimate meanings and sought the cooperation of old, normal people to learn the pronunciation and stress from them.

A commendable and difficult task he devoted himself to. Dr. Alvarez got to know his boycott while traveling on horseback for several years. In one of his books he states that, according to the Salvat Encyclopedic Dictionary, toponyms are the study of the origin and significance of place names, and toponyms are the proper name for a place, which he considered the name that “claims the place”. According to its physical properties.

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So it is considered that place names were born out of the need to identify roads, landmarks, landmarks – sometimes natural or places of residence. To exemplify this, he tells us that in the Neuquen mountain range, geographical names are given mainly from the coasts of river currents. It’s an example: the Rarin Leuvú River – later called Guañacos – owes its name to the common rarin, baccharis or chilca plant. Reñileuvú receives its name because at its source there is a reed ringi or a medium collet; Liuco is a “White Stream”, Curileuvú, formerly Cudi Leuvú, named for the black color of the stones at its bottom.

Other times, the origin of the name of the place is due to the predominance of some plants over others: the michion is a group of woody shrubs, a type of mollusk. The name Huinganco, meaning “Huingán Stream,” owes its name to another variety of the same mollusk, among many others. There are place names named after the animals of the Ruca Ñiré “fox cave”. He considers that most of the place names in Neuquén are of Mapuche or Araucanian origin: in the northern Neuquén region, there are some languages ​​that have disappeared, which could be the Behwente language. Others, Quichuas.

Neuquén geographical names have not been able to establish an indisputable origin and translation. Jesuit Father Havstadt, on his 1752 voyage, considered this word Nudquén was legalized by Don Luis de la Cruz in 1806 as Nusquén, which was heard from the mouth of the Pehuenche. Already in his last years, Don Gregorio settled in Neuquen, and died on October 11, 1986 at the age of 96. On the centenary of his birth, the province’s flag was raised for the first time.

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Since then, Decree 4221/90 has approved the incorporation into the official festivities of the province of Neuquén, on November 28, the date of birth of Dr. Gregorio Alvarez and the raising of the provincial flag for the first time. We celebrate him today because all his work, his studies and his prolific life should be present everywhere in Patagonia. Which he wrote verses for, analyzed, studied and loved. It was impossible to erase the number that was too much for these lands from memory.


Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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