Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Patagonians, South American aborigines, who are thinly scattered over the pampas of Argentina from about the Rio Negro to the extremity of the continent, and who are represented in Tierra del Fuego by the Onas. [Fuegians.] The Patagonians, so called by Magellan from the large feet (patagon) of the animal-skins enveloping their legs, call themselves Ahonicanca or Chonek in the north; Inaken, Huaycuru, or Piyoche, in the south; and all have now generally adopted their Araucanian name, Tehuelche (i.e. "South-Easterners"), in reference to the position of their domain south-east of Araucania (South Chili). Physically they, differ little from the normal American type, except in their larger stature, the mean being little, if at all, under 6 feet. Although the reports of travellers vary considerably on this point, there can be no doubt that the Patagonians are the tallest people in the world, exceeding the Eastern Polynesians, the Zulu Kaffirs, and all other Africans on an average by at least two inches. The head, also, is very large, massive, and brachycephalic (round), from which it appears that they are not the aborigines of the pampas region, the remains of their predecessors being distinguished by small dolichocephalic (long) heads and short frames, like those of the present Fuegians. The Patagonians are essentially wild nomads, living in toldos (tents), tilling no land, keeping no domestic animals except the horse since its introduction from Europe, and depending for their subsistence entirely on fruits, herbs, roots, and game, especially the guanaco and rhea, which they pursue on horseback, and capture with the bola and lasso. They speak a stock language of highly polysynthetic structure, but in other respects entirely distinct from Araucanian and all other American tongues. They worship Ashekenat-Kanet, a great spirit. author both of good and evil, and believe in am after-life, where all will enjoy everlasting happiness: hence with the dead are buried all those objects that may be of use to them beyond the grave. The Patagonian domain is being slowly encroached upon by Argentine settlers from the north, and their numerous tribes number scarcely more than 25,000.