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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Narody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This goes beyond the Fuegians' lack of agricultural organization.
When the Fuegians are hard pressed by want, they kill their old women for food rather than their dogs; for, as we were assured, "old women no use--dogs catch otters." The same sound sense would surely lead them to preserve their more useful dogs when still harder pressed by famine.
In The Descent of Man, Darwin used the example of the Fuegians, as he termed them, along with other primitive people, as evidence that modern humans are descended from less civilized people and ultimately from monkeys.
The photo was taken on a research vessel that was studying the Fuegians. It showed a naked Fuegian in a tub of ice water and floating ice which came up to his chin.
It encompasses the cultures of the entire planet, of the Fuegians as well as the French, of the Paiute as well as the Persians.
Judge Barron-Field told the Sydney Philosophical Society in 1824: "They are the only savages in the world who cannot feel or know that they are naked." Of course in the depth of the winter they had the opossum or kangaroo rug of sewn skins; but these were not placed on their persons from motives of modesty; for like the Fuegians they shifted the garment as the wind blew (Backhouse.
Captain Robert FitzRoy, master of the Beagle, took these passions to the extreme, when, his whaling dinghy having been stolen, he kidnapped four Tierra del Fuegians and brought them to England to be transformed into respectable Christians and upright citizens.
Keynes R (2002) Fossils, Finches and Fuegians, Charles Darwin's Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle, 1832-1836.
He found the luxuriant Brazilian rain forest "a chaos of delight," discovered the bones of a Megatherium that created a sensation on arrival in London, marveled at the difference between the "savage" Fuegians and "civilized man," rode across the pampas, and climbed the Andes.