The Selk’nam (Onas) and the Yamanas
The island of ¬†Tierra del Fuego was¬†inhabited by two large groups of aborigines:¬†the¬†Selk’nam¬†on the mainland,¬†and¬†Yamana, who lived¬†most of the¬†time¬†on¬†canoes¬†in the canals and¬†the coast.
The Selk’nam, better know as onas,¬†belonged to the Tehuelche race. They excelled as hunters of guanacos, on which they based their economy.
Body paint was one of their most important cultural expressions, as well as the male initiation through the Hain Rite.
They did not have chiefs, only an elite of “shamanes”, wise men and prophets that enjoyed privileges and social recognition, inspired in the fear of the supernatural.
They did not have a structured religion and feared death by sorcery.
The estimated population before the European arrival was estimated in 10,000 in the whole island (17th. Century). But in 1919, 50 years after the white settlement in Tierra del Fuego, there were only 350 natives left. At present this race does not exist. The last direct descendant of the onas died a few years back.
The y√°manas lived on the coast and islands of the canals of Tierra del Fuego. They fed with mollusks, mussels, crabs and fish. They moved in canoes made with bark. The canoe carried the whole family on board, while the man with harpoon in hand waited for the prey, the woman rowed and the children kept a fire burning in the canoe on a base of soil and stones. They lived in huts made with branches, that had an excavation in its center, so they were semi-underground. They wore seal or otter skins.
The ideal trip for those willing to know Argentina's travel icons: Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate, the End of the World in Ushuaia, the indispensable and mysterious Buenos Aires and the new Wonder of the World, The Iguaz√ļ Falls.
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An ideal option in order to get to know three of Patagonia¬ís major sites: first, the Atlantic Ocean littoral, Puerto Madryn and Valdes Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; later, a visit to the majestic Glaciers National Park and Perito Moreno with its magical, blue...
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