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Uttermost part of the earth. Tierra del Fuego's Indians and Settlers: A personal story.

( Bridges, Lucas )

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41 Of the three years these young Yahgans lived amongst English people., half was spent on board the Beagle with Fitz Roy. During this time they convinced him and others that the Fuegian Indians were cannibals! Even that searcher after truth, Charles Darvin, who was closely associated with the trio during twelve months’ voyage of the Beagle, accepted their testimony.

We who latter passed many years of our lives in daily contact with these people can find only one explanation for this shocking mistake. We suppose that, when questioned, York Minster, or Jimmy Button, would not trouble in the least to answer truthfully, but would merely give the reply that he felt was expected or desired. In the early days their limited knowledge of English would not allow them to explain at any length, and, as we know, it is much easier to answer “yes” than “no”. so the statements with which these young men and little Fuegia Basket have been credited were, in fact, no more than agreement with suggestions made by their questioners.

We can imagine their reactions when asked what was, to them, a ridiculous question, such as:
“Do you kill and eat men?”
They would at first be puzzled, but when the enquiry was repeated and they grasped its meaning and realized the answer that was expected, they would naturally agree. The interrogator would follow this with:
“What people do you eat?”
No answer.
“Do you eat bad people?”
“When there are no bad people, what then?”
No answer.
“Do you eat your old women?”

Once this game was started and their knowledge of English increased, theses irresponsible youngsters, encouraged by having their evidence so readily accepted and noted down as fact, would naturally start inventing on their own. We are told that they described, with much detail, how the Fuegians ate enemies killed in battle and, when there were no such victims, devoured their old women. When asked if they ate dogs when hungry, they said they did not, as dogs were useful for catching otter, whereas the old women were of no use at all. These unfortunates, they said, were held in the thick smoke till they choked to death. The meat, they stated, was very good.

This delectable fiction once firmly established, any subsequent attempt at denial would not have been believed, but would have been attributed to a growing unwillingness to confess the horrors in which they had formerly indulged. Accordingly, these young story-tellers allowed their imaginations full rein and vied with each other in the recounting of still more fantastic tales, emboldened by the admiration of the other two.

The belief that the Fuegians were cannibals was not the only mistake Charles Darwin made about them. Listening to their speech, he got the impression that they were repeating the same phrases over and over again, and therefore came to the conclusion that something like one hundred words would cover the whole language. We who learned as children to speak Yaghan know that, within its own limitations, it is infinitely richer and more expressive than English or Spanish. My father’s Yahgan (or Yamana) - English Dictionary, to which I shall refer later, contains no fewer than 32000 words and inflections, the number of which might have been greatly increased without departing from correct speech.

The Yahgans had, at the very least, five names for “snow”. For “beach” they had even more, depending on a variety of factors: the position of the beach in relation to that of the speaker, the direction in which it faced, whether the speaker had land or water between it and himself – and so on. Words varied with the situation of the speaker. A word used in a canoe might differ from that used to describe the same thing when the speaker was on dry land. Further variations were brought in by the compass direction of the hearer and whether he, too, was ashore or afloat. For family connections sometimes so distant that, in English, they would need a sentence to explain, the Yahgans had as many as fifty different words, each descriptive of a particular, and often involved, relationship. Among the variations of the verb “to bite” was a single word that meant “coming unexpectedly on a hard substance when eating something soft” – e.g. a pearl in a mussel.



Darwin się mylił co do tego, że Indianie zamieszkujący Ziemię Ognistą byli ludożercami. Przez tę jego pomyłkę plotka ta rozeszła się po świecie. Lukas Bridges wyjaśnia jak do tego doszło - odsłania subtelne mechanizmy oparte na ludzkiej psychice.
42 Though lying and stealing were usual, to call a man a liar, thief or murderer was a deadly insult. Ahamkara

Fizyka Człowieka

60 The sixteen native families there had not been unduly molested by their countrymen. They had exerted themselves to improve their little settlement and had refrained from digging up and eating the potatoes Mr. Barlett had helped them to plant – even the new ones, which were reaching a fair size, though already nipped with frost. There had been some divergence of opinion amongst them, but they had abstained from violence.

Not so, however, at the Laiwaia settlement on Navarin Island, which had been started in January, 1868, with Okoko, Pinoi, Lukka and Jack. After Jack had left, the others had been overwhelmed by the jealousy of their poorer fellows. There had been fighting, and at nearby spot a man had certainly been killed. George Okoko, head man of the settlement had had his house burnt down when he was out fishing. He had hastened to dig his potatoes (four sacks, all that his enemies had left him) and had escaped…

Syndrom czerwonych oczu

61 The truth was that these natives, totally unused to steady work, needed constant and close supervision; and the more there were of them together, the less each individual would do. Ahamkara

rachunek populacyjny

Fizyka Człowieka

106 On some of these boat trips Father took passengers of a different species. In the Beagle Channel, and others farther south, there are innumerable islands, mostly rocky, but with a good deal of bush, grass and wild celery growing on them. Father realized that these islands, if stocked with rabbits, would yield welcome food for natives and for any shipwrecked crews who might be stranded there. Accordingly, he brought some rabbits from the Falklands. He took good care that they did not escape on the main island, nor did he release them on the larger islands in the Channel, lest they should become a pest to future farmers. But on any small island that he considered suitable he would land two or three pairs. Where there was good sandy soil and bush they thrived and increased exceedingly. Some years later H.M.S. Sirius anchored off one of these islands, and the whole ship’s company landed in two batches on consecutive days. Hunting the descendants of the couple of pairs set free there by my Father provided them with plenty of exercise, and over six hundred rabbits were caught – one for every man on the ship.

On other islands results were not so spectacular. Sometimes the rabbits were exterminated by birds of prey before they had had a chance to multiply; sometimes they found the land too wet or rocky for burrowing; and sometimes the natives hunted them with dogs until none remained.

Eksperyment Calhoun'a

129 Meanwhile at Ushuaia his worst fears were being realized.After the departure of the Parana and Comodoro Py, the natives went down with this fever one after the other. In a few days they were dying at such a rate that it was impossible to dog graves fast enough. In outlying districts the dead were merely put outside the wigwams or, when the other occupants had the strength, carried or dragged to the nearest bushes.

In Stirling House and the Lawrences’ home down the road all the children were struck down at once. In the orphanage Mrs. Whaits had thirty Yahgan children on her hands, all victims of the epidemic. My mother and Yekadahby, neither of whom had ever heard of typhoid-pneumonia, formed a different opinion from that of Doctors Alvarez and Fenton, and dealt with us accordingly. Mrs. Lawrence and her sister, Miss Martin, who had come to live with them at the settlement, agreed with the diagnosis of Mother and Yekadahby - an– so did mrs. Whaits. They all decided that it was measles.

None of the grown members of the Mission party, who had all had measles in their youth, contracted the complaint, which goes to prove that this time the ladies knew better than the medical men. It is astonishing that this childish ailment, contagious in civilized communities, yet seldom fatal, should wipe out over half the population of a district and leave the survivors so reduced in vitality that another fifty per cent succumbed during the next two years, apparently from the after-effects of the attack. It must be that our ancestors, for generations past, have suffered from periodical epidemics of measles, and we, in consequence, have gained a certain degree of immunity from it. On the other hand, the Yahgans, though incredibly strong, and able to face cold and hardship of every kind and to recover almost miraculously from serious wounds, had never had to face this evil thing, and therefore lacked the stamina to withstand it. It is hardly to be wondered at that the doctors failed to recognize it for what it really was, when it appeared in such a virulent form.

żywe walczy

133 The third important personage, the convicted murderer, was a much more exciting and romantic figure. [The first was a Government official, the second a schoolmaster] Ahamkara

Tu chodzi o postrzeganie młodego chłopaka: nie lubił on nauczyciela, który go uczył, szanował przedstawiciela władz, który pozwalał mu pływać swoją żaglówką i "za nic" darzył uwielbieniem mordercę.
134 He saw that civilization of one kind or another was bound to reach the Ona and Alacaloof eventually; and he felt that it must be brought either with the Bible, the gin-bottle or the rifle, and that the firs was surely the best way. religia

żywe walczy

144 Despite the captain’s strict principles, he was not disinclined to augment his own income at my father’s expense and, secure in the knowledge that payment was by the day and not by the mile, saw to it that the voyage was a protracted one… She [the brigantine] had taken one hundred and eight days on the voyage from England to Harberton. natura człowieka uczciwego


149 Countless centuries ago the sea-level in Fireland must have been as much as twenty feet higher than it is to-day. Ciekawostka

163 Father had told us in the early days there that our future depended entirely on our own exertions, and that we must either put our shoulders to the wheel, work hard and be independent, or resign ourselves to working for wages during the rest of our lives. wychowanie

170 This legend of leadership being wrested from the women, either by force or coercion, is too widely spread throughout the world to be lightly ignored. mitologia


178 We sold them beef. We could have sold them far more than we did, for the demand was great, but we had to limit the number of animals slaughtered, in order not to deplete our small herd. When there were no more to spare we had to stop selling. rachunek populacyjny

Długofalowo / Krótkofalowo

187 It was one of Father’s axioms that a change of work is as good as a rest, so instead of doing fencing on Sundays, Tom and I went after guanaco meat or to inspect the cattle. SDR - sztuka dobrej roboty