In 1823, Britain formally recognized the independence of the new South American republics. This move was followed by the appointment of the first British consuls in the region. During the 1820s and 1830s British consuls sustained a series of contacts with the Mapuche, one of the native peoples of southern Chile, who were never conquered by the Spanish and managed to control a vast territory in the Southern Cone. The main aim of these contacts was to offer the Mapuche rewards to rescue (or help to rescue) wrecked British seamen and property in independent "Indian Territory" because shipwrecks were very common during this period. These contacts have not been the subject of any in-depth study, but they provide a rich source of information about British diplomatic relations with the native people of the Americas as well as about Mapuche history during the early nineteenth century, both topics which have been under-researched.