Sunday, December 14, 2008

Patagonian Tribe's Last Stand

The Chilean Indian tribe, the Patagonia, is years away from being extinct. While the Patagonia tribe once thrived in the remote Patagonia region of South America, there are only an estimated 12-20 full-blooded tribe members left. "It ends with our generation," a member of the Kawesqar tribe said.

As with many remote tribes similar to this one, respiratory illness contracted from contact with Europeans has wiped them out. The first outbreak occurred in the 1800s, with another in the 1940s. The youngest full-blooded members of the Kawesqar tribe are in their 40s and one of them already married outside the tribe. A leading authority estimates around 200 descendants of mixed Kawesqarian heritage. Soon, not only will their culture disappear, but their language as well.

However, some descendants have willingly relocated, noting the isolation, silence, and lack of modern necessities, such as education and medical treatment.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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