Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Navarino Island, Chile

Navarino Island is one of the most southern land masses before you reach the antarctic circle and contains an important archeological site that maps the history of  the island's native people, the Yaghan.

The Yaghan may have been driven to this inhospitable area by enemies to the north but were famed for their complete indifference to the bitter weather around Cape Horn. Although they had fire and small domed shelters, they routinely went about completely naked in the frigid cold and biting wind of Tierra del Fuego. The inhabitants also have a language of their own with no relation to any other existing languages.

The islands population, like many isolated communities, were decimated by diseases brought by Westerners. They allegedly became sick immediately if the missionaries persuaded them to put on some clothes. Some reports from travellers warned them that the locals would rob and kill them, rather than attempting more polite contact; this could just be typical racism, but it could (when combined with the mysterious loss of the German ship, Admiral Karpfanger, and it's crew in 1938) tends to raise questions about what exactly happens on the island and how they developed.

A language completely unrelated to another on the planet, a body temperature higher than anyone else on the planet and a name that sounds very other-worldly...


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