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When European Hunts American Selk'nam

BCFAS  -- Alongside the hunting and massacres of the Selk'nam, the Europeans were responsible for the transport of tuberculosis and smallpox.

By 1887, it is estimated that only 2000 of the original 4000 remained.

In 1889, the pitiful businessman Maurice Maitre, with the permission of the Chilean government, took eleven Selk'nam to Paris by force to exhibit them in the human zoos of the World's Fair. Of the 11 people he captured, 2 died on the way there. They were put in cages and given horse meat to eat. A missionary society protested their condition and he ended up canceling the tour to England, and instead took them to Belgium. Two more died on the way there. In Belgium, they were jailed for being immigrants by the police. When they finally returned to Tierra del Fuego, only six remained.

Because of their persecution, the Selk'nam that remained had all migrated to the southern coast and were deported by the Chilean government to Dawson Island. Some Salesian missionaries settled there with the purpose of converting and civilizing the remaining natives.

Despite the efforts of the missionaries,  only 279 remained in 1919.

The number kept going down. In 1945, there were 25 left. And in 1974, with the death of Angela Loij, the last full-blooded Selk'nam was gone.

Nb: The Selk'nam, also known as the Onawo or Ona people, were an indigenous people in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina and Chile


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