Thanks to the dedication of the Corporation Selk’nam Chile, the National Congress in Chile has approved a bill for the Selk’nam people to be officially recognized as an indigenous ethnic group. This is particularly important given the renewed effort to recognize historically marginalized groups. Prior to this recognition, the Selk’nam were declared “extinct,” when in reality, their ancestors are active and living.
Native to our home base of Tierra del Fuego, the Selk’nam were hunter-gatherers and incredibly resilient given the unpredictable and harsh climate of southern Patagonia. There were an estimated 4,000 living in the area who mainly subsisted on guanaco (a relative of the llama), fox, fish, berries, and mushrooms.
As is typical of colonialism, the history of the Selk’nam people is one marked with genocide in the late 1800s via disease and outright murder. While it was “easier” for the Chilean government to group to designate the Selk’nam as extinguished instead of having to come to terms with their own state-sanctioned violence, their ancestors are very much alive. It is difficult to say how many ancestors survive today, given that survivors were forced to conform to western ideals, including dress, culture, and language.
“Right now, around the world, countless numbers of people are mobilizing to stop multiple forms of violence that target people of color. For the Selk’nam, their struggle is against the erasure of their community,” writes Tristan Partridge of Counter Currents. This long overdue recognition is the first step towards justice and reparations for the group indigenous to our home base in Tierra del Fuego. The bill will be voted on by the senate in July. “The broader goal is to strengthen the Selk’nam and other indigenous communities so they can support each other through difficult times ahead.”
We will aim to keep you updated in regards to the vote. In the meantime, head to our journal to read aboutconscious consumerism and find out how you can do your part to uplift, not exploit marginalized communities like the Selk’nam.
PC: Corporación Selk’nam Chile