This week’s theme is transient, meaning short-lived or a state of impermanence.
Today I’m sharing a photo of a drawing made by my daughter at her Chilean school, alongside its real-life semblance. So who exactly was she drawing?
The character in her drawing and the photo beside it, is a Selk’nam warrior. The Selk’nam people were indigenous to the Southern isles of Chile, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego. Sadly, they have gone the way of the Dodo. The Selk’nam people are considered extinct, but perhaps their blood lives on in half-bred descendants.
The Selk’nam were one of the last aboriginal tribes discovered in the South of Chile as Chileans and Argentinians began their Southward expansion due to gold discoveries and sheep farming. The farmers and miners claimed large swathes of land in these parts of Chile and Argentina, depriving the Selk’nam people of their native hunting grounds. Although several efforts were made by Salesian monks and other Christian missionaries, including relocating remaining tribes to the remote Dawson island, the Selk’nam died off, stricken by disease and a dying way of life.
Today, the Selk’nam are not forgotten in Chile and Argentina. Their likenesses have been printed on t-shirts, sculpted into statuettes, and their stories and legends are still told to the children.