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Yagán People

Grupo de jóvenes yaganes

To the south of the Strait of Magallanes, in the region of the Beagle channel, Navarino island and its surrounding islands, is the home of the most austral ethnic group of the continent: the Yagán or Yámana people.

At the present time, only 74 surviving members inhabit Villa Ukika and Puerto Williams, in Navarino Island.

The main hunting weapon of the Yagán people, was the harpoon, which measured almost 3 meters in length. The tip was made of indented fish bone. The arrowhead, initially made of stone, was later on carved in glass, being an easier material to work. Glass began to be used by the Austral nomads at least, in XVIIIth century.

Their culture, like the Kawésqar people, was a nomadic people, dedicated to fishing and hunting.

Their canoes and attires were similar to use by the Kawésqar people .

Canoe Building

Canoa Yagan

Their canoes, called anán, were constructed with three large pieces of bark from trees. The canoes were the more elaborated element of the Yámana Handcraft and its more valuable property. Their life depended to have a canoe.

Sewn plates of crust to each other were maintained opened with a frame of rods of wood cleaved to means and retained On guard bent by crosspieces and longitudinal wood huts.

The floor was reinforced with more plates of crust and in the center a platform of earth or pebbles was made, on which ignited fire always stayed. The ones in charge to row were habitually the women, but when it was necessary also the men did. Except for accidents, they used to last six months to a year; the habitual time of preparation was October to February, when the crust could be come off the trees with facility.

Yagán People

Mujer Yagan e hijos

The Yagán women also were superior basket makers, intricately interlacing rushes in their craft.

Harvesting shellfish was another of their common activities.

The females were also in charge of rowing the canoes, while the men dedicated themselves to fishing.

The women painted their faces with three colours: white, around the eyes, and the rest of the face with horizontal and black and red lines.

Ceremonies like the Chiejaus had specific facial paint patterns.

Men and women used bracelets made with beads of bones of birds and shells. While the men used them only on the ankles, the women wore them on the wrists and ankles.

In daily life, the Yagán women made baskets, bags of leather and bladders, to be used as containers, in addition to loops made of whale beard, according to the observations of the chronicler Bouganville.