** native American tribes -- southern South America

Native American Civilizations: South America--Southern Tribes

Figure 1.--This photograph was taken in the Tierra del Fuego during 1919 by Martin Gusinde (1886-1969), a Silesian missionary and anthropologist. It shows the shaman Akukiol Halimink with his wife and their children. They belonged to the Selk'nam (Ona) tribe. That was one of the ethnic groups more used to the cold weather. They went barefoot, often also in the snow. They wore only animal furs that they took off for hunting and other activities. They did not have weaving technology.

Many tribes lived south of the Amazonin Basin, both east and west of the Andes. We do not know a great deal about these tribes. Many were quite small. The Mapuche are the best known The Mapuche inhabited the coastal areas west of the Andes in what is now now central and southern Chile. They are probably the best known because they sucessfully resisted Inca armies and then after the conquest the Spanish conquistadores. (Historical and literary accounts often use the term Araucanians.) Without the centralized orhanization of the Inca, they proved more difficult for the Spanish to conquer. The Mapuche even managed to kill Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia (1553). The Mapuche did not have the gold that so attracted the Spanish, but they did control the highly productive Central Valley of central Chile. There are a large number of smaller tribes. Estimates vary because it was often difficult to tell whether related bands were separate tribes or not. The Alacaluf (Halakwulup, Kawésqar, or Kaweskar) was a small tribe living at the tip of South America along and around the Strait of Magellan, including the Brunswick Peninsula, and Wellington, Santa Inés, and Desolación islands). They were a seagoing people which had a society based on fishing and hunting marime mammals. Anoter southern tribe were the Yaghan. They lived even further south than the Alacaluf. They were a very pimitive tribe which despite the cold climate did not develop clothing before contact with the Europeans.


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Created: 7:44 PM 12/28/2013
Last updated: 10:10 AM 6/23/2021