Fuegians


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Fuegians

 

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.

REFERENCE

Narody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
References in periodicals archive ?
Lucas Bridges, a British missionary among the Fuegian Indians born in 1874, with many other historical and perhaps more dignified images, some of which illustrated my article.
One of the Fuegians had been taken to London, educated, and entered into elite society.
Darwin essentially cast the Fuegians as intermediates between orangutans and "fully developed" humans, such as himself and his peers.
Darwin's early musings turned to the Fuegian episode.
That the charge of cannibalism should cling to the Fuegians is not surprising.
A group of Fuegians partly concealed by the entangled forest were perched on a wild point overhanging the sea," he wrote, "and as we passed by, they sprang up and waving their tattered cloaks, sent forth a loud and sonorous shout .
In the shelter of Wulaia Cove, the Beagle offloaded the wineglasses and bibles, chamber pots and Christian primers, and built wigwams and planted gardens for the boy missionary and the three semi-Anglicized Fuegians.
The latter remained in use especially in peripheral areas: by Eskimos, Aleutians, Fuegians, Aboriginal groups in southeastern Australia, and probably Tasmanians.
By 1908 there were barely 170 Yamana Indians alive, by 1947 there were only 43, and fewer than 150 surviving pure Fuegians of any tribe, with roughly the same number of mixed race.
Or the forced herding of Fuegians into mission stations and their coercion into work programs and the trappings of European societies?
It is possible to speculate on how close the Fuegians came to avoiding their miserable end.
A prudent sop to local feelings was only occasionally required (one Captain Watson dug up his Patagonian skulls 'as privately as possible in order that the Natives might not know that any of the Graves of their ancestors had been disturbed') and, as DESMOND relates, orders for the crania of Tierra del Fuegians could be issued in the same breath as requests for the extinct Toxodon.