Declared Extinct, the Yaghan Rise in the Land of Fire

The Indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego were once relegated to historical oblivion. Now, archaeologists are helping them pursue deeper stories about their ancestors.

Published on Hakaimagazine.com. April 2022

Written by Jude Isabella. Visuals by Katrina Pyne.

People have thrived in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, at the southern tip of South America, since the end of the last ice age. Archaeologists scouring the landscape are bringing the past to life—and it’s richer and more complex than has been imagined.

Part of Declared Extinct, the Yaghan Rise in the Land of Fire

For decades, outsiders believed the Yaghan people of Tierra del Fuego, at the tip of South America, were near extinction. Many considered Cristina Calderón Harban, an elder who lived on Navarino Island in Chile, the last living link to the Indigenous community of the past. But a small Yaghan community persists.

In 2005, descendants of Yaghan people in Ushuaia, Argentina, came out to the world. Cristina officially recognized the Ushuaia community, authorizing Catalina Filgueira Yagan as spokesperson.

Part of Declared Extinct, the Yaghan Rise in the Land of Fire

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