Exploring the Cultures of Patagonia's Andes

February 17, 2012
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Most people tour Patagonia for the stunning hikes and nature travel experiences around the Andes. However, exploring the cultures of the people who have inhabited these rugged peaks for centuries adds a particular sense of beauty and connection to this vast wilderness.

At the extreme southern reaches of South American, people have been building civilizations for centuries. However, it was not until the 16th century that they first made contact with Europeans.

These Native American cultures can be categorized into two different ways of life based on their characteristics. The Aokikenk (Tehuelche) of southern Patagonia and the Selk'nam (Ona) of Northern Tierra del Fuego both hunted the lands, using skillfully made bows and arrows to hunt the guanaco and the rhea, a South American ostrich.

The Yamana and the Kaweskar people lived on the archipelagos to the south and est of the Isla de Tierra del Fuego and hunted mostly from the sea. According to the source, they relied on the use of canoes to hunt large sea mammals, birds and mollusks.

The Mapuche people were the first inhabitants of the southern half of the area known now as Chile and Argentina. This culture was both sedentary and nomadic, and held a strong sense of unity.


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