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Felipe, the "Survivor",
was the last Male Yagan Indian

(The town plaza of Puerto Williams is named after "Grandfather Felipe".)


Left to right: Sister Rosa, sister Emalinda and sister Ursula.
Rosa, a pure Yagan, died in 1993.

    • Ursula died cerca 2003. Her younger sister, Cristina (not in photo) is the last living Yagan Indian!

(Emalinda, an Alakaluf Indian
died in 2005. Her mixed Yagan grand children below)



Some technical information on Yagan Canoes





Yagan boys


Yagan girls


Some Yagan words:


Abailakin: "The strong and Powerful one" or supreme being

Akainix: Rainbow

amera: guanaco (an animal like the Alpaca which lives in Patagonia)

appi: oar

anan: canoe

ayusueker: house for various families

hanis: Beech tree o nothofagus pumilio

Hau imun: "My Father" or Supreme Being

Hanuxa: Woman-Moon

hupuxkémaks y hatus: Shell Necklaces

kespix: Spirit

keterna: ñire plant or nothofagus Antárctica

kina: Secret Society of the Yagans or Yámanas

kusimena: Midden

lakuma: Water Spirits

Lem: Man-Sun

lus: Red paint

merana: cone shaped house

pusaki: fire

shushchi: guindo plant or nothofagus betuloides

tauwela, cefkaalax y keijims: the braids of a basket

Tanuwa: "dear old man" or Supreme Being. Also bad spirit of the kina

Taruwalem: father-sun

Tekenika: from teke unika which means "I do not understand what you say".

tuwéaki: seal skin to make coat.

uskutta: canelo plant or Drimys winteri

Ushuaia: "inner bay looking to the west"

Watauineiwa: "The old man" or Supreme being (used for God)

Welapatuxsef: "the murderer above in heaven" or supreme being

xumarapu: white coloring.

yámana aona: "people of the north" or Selk'nam Indians

yámana: human being

yahgashagalumola: canal people of the valley montains.

yékamus: witch doctor

yekus: arrow head

yoalox: the teachers of the yagan culture

yusa: beach


Synopsis of Darwin in TDF with the Yagans:

I will describe our first arrival in Tierra del Fuego. A little after noon we doubled Cape St. Diego, and entered the famous strait of Le Maire. We kept close to the Fuegian
shore, but the outline of the rugged, inhospitable Statenland was DECEMBER 17th, 1832. -- Having now finished with visible amidst the clouds. In the afternoon we anchored in the Bay of Good Success. While entering we were saluted in a manner becoming the inhabitants of
this savage land. A group of Fuegians partly concealed by the entangled forest, were perched on a wild point overhanging the sea; and as we passed by, they sprang up and waving their tattered cloaks sent forth a loud and sonorous shout.
The British survey ship H.M.S. Beagle with Captain Fitz Roy at command, circled the globe in 1831-1836. Aboard the Beagle was Charles Darwin as naturalist. He was a young man in his mid- to late twenties. During this voyage, Darwin began to formulate the theories later published in The Origin of Species (1859).
One of the Beagle's most important stops was at Tierra del Fuego, where Captain Fitz Roy was returning to their homeland three natives of the Yagan tribe he had taken to England a few years previously: a boy named Jemmy Button, a girl named Fuegia Basket, and a man named York Minster.
Darwin's commentary, taken from Chapter 10 of his book "Voyage of the Beagle" talks about the beautiful wilderness of Tierra del Fuego, the ways of the native Fuegians, and his reflections on the differences between human societies:

"December 17th, 1832. - ... A little after noon we doubled Cape St. Diego, and entered the famous strait of Le Maire. We kept close to the Fuegian shore, but the outline of the rugged, inhospitable Staten-land was visible amidst the clouds. In the afternoon we anchored in the Bay of Good Success. ...While entering we were saluted in a manner becoming the inhabitants of this savage and forbidding land. A group of Fuegians partly concealed by the entangled forest, were perched on a wild point overhanging the sea; and as we passed by, they sprang up and waving their tattered cloaks sent forth a loud and sonorous shout. In the morning the captain sent a party to communicate with the Fuegians. . . . It was without exception the most curious and interesting spectacle I ever beheld:
I could not believe how wide was the difference difference between a savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a domesticated and wild animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement.
The chief spokesman was old - and appeared to be the head of the family; the three others were powerful young men about six feet high.. .The old man had a fillet of white feathers tied round his head, which partly confined his black, coarse, and entangled hair. His face was crossed by two broad transverse bars; one, painted bright red, reached from ear to ear and included the upper lip; the other, white like chalk, extended above and parallel to the first, so that even his eyelids were thus coloured. The other two men were ornamented by streaks of black powder, made of charcoal.

"Their very attitudes were abject, and the expression of their countenances distrustful, surprised, and startled. After we had presented them with some scarlet cloth, which they immediately tied round their necks, they became good friends. This was shown by the old man patting our breasts, and making a chuckling kind of noise, as people do when feeding chickens.. I walked with the old man, and this demonstration of friendship was repeated several times; it was concluded by three hard slaps, which were given me in the breast and back at the same time. He then bared his bosom for me to return the compliment, which being done, he seemed highly pleased.....Few if any of these natives could ever have seen a white man; certainly nothing could exceed their astonishment at the apparition of the four boats. Fires were lighted on every point (hence the name of Tierra del Fuego, or the land of fire), both to attract our attention and to spread far and wide the
news. Some of the men ran for miles along the shore. I shall never forget how wild and savage one group appeared: suddenly four or five men came to the edge of an overhanging cliff; they were absolutely naked, and their long hair streamed about their faces; they held rugged staffs in their hands, and, springing from the ground, they waved their arms round their heads, and sent forth the most hideous yells."




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