Fuegians(redirected from Fuegian Indians)
the aboriginal population of Tierra del Fuego (South America).
The Fuegians comprise three Indian tribes: the Alacaluf (self-designation, Halakwulup), Yahgan (self-designation, Yamana), and Ona (self-designation, Shelknam). The chief occupations of the Alacaluf and Yahgan are gathering various mollusks and hunting sea animals (sea lions, seals, whales), otters, and guanacos. The Ona hunt guanacos, fox, geese, and sea animals.
In the middle of the 19th century there were as many as 10,000 Fuegians, but their numbers declined rapidly as a result of the seizure of their lands by Argentinian and Chilean sheepherders and gold prospectors. By the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there were approximately 150–200 Alacaluf and only 40–50 Ona and 40–50 Yahgan.
The Ona language belongs to the Chon language group. Although their languages are different, the Alacaluf and Yahgan have similar cultures. Shamanism and sorcery play an important role in the religion of the Fuegians.