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The Lost Tribes of Tierra Del Fuego

Martin Gusinde

Martin Gusinde was a German missionary who traveled to the southernmost tip of South America in 1919 in order to do what missionaries do, convert the locals to Christianity. Instead, he was introduced to the cultures of the indigenous people who lived on the archipelago of Tierra Del Fuego: the Selk’nam, Yamana and Kawesqar peoples. Between 1919 and 1924, he made four trips to Tierra Del Fuego, each time becoming more embedded in their way of life, learning to speak and write their languages and being initiated into their sacred rites. While he was living among the people of these islands, he took over 1000 photos, which have now been compiled along with his notes into the book The Lost Tribes of Tierra Del Fuego: Selk’nam Yamana Kawesqar. These images are breathtaking; showing a people that, like so many cultures throughout history, were destroyed by the European invasion of their lands. The peoples of Tierra Del Fuego disappeared at an alarming rate, with their population going from 3,000 in the late 1800s to 100 at the time that Gusinde was documenting their culture. What always strikes me about images of pre-colonial societies is how deeply art was a part of their cultures, something that everyone participated in and that was ingrained into each community member from birth. What you see below shows the influence of disappeared and destroyed cultures on what we think of as contemporary art today. It’s tragic that humanity is so self-absorbed and short-sighted that we continue to disrespect and denigrate each other to this day, when we could be seeing the beauty in the world around us.


Spotted on Door of Perception


Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.



  1. Julian Hesselink

    October 11, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Bella Nitz

  2. getrekt

    October 11, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Europe #1

  3. Adrian Nuñez Longinus

    October 11, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Zupai Zavulon

  4. Lee Riordan

    October 11, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Alex Connolly

  5. Carlos Pizarro

    October 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

    The problem is that as a country we didn’t do shit about it. We still have the Mapuche, but even though they struggle with the impending doom of a country that doesn’t even care about them, they’ll probably going to dissappear aswell.

    • Zupai Zavulon

      October 11, 2016 at 11:49 am

      los mapuchaes siguen existiendo porque ayudaron a extinguir a otras tribus, de hecho los mapuches son originalmete chulenos

  6. Michael Mheiz

    October 11, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Gusinde also took the last pictures of the last living cannibals there.
    He was the only person accepted by this tribe.

  7. Lupus Pardus

    October 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

    And goberment too

  8. Lupus Pardus

    October 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

    In the Patagonia the europeans pay for eahc head of selknam

  9. Lupus Pardus

    October 11, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Yes, in the museo d’ lhomme in París and Germany

  10. Osr Skulltag

    October 11, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Some were sold to Europe for being exposed like animals in human zoos.

  11. Mateo

    October 11, 2016 at 7:14 am

    if the subject interests you there is a drone/noise album inspired on the selk’nam culture

  12. Cathode Ray

    October 11, 2016 at 6:18 am

    one pound for each dead head

  13. Israel Sant'Anna

    October 11, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Rodrigo Gobbet

  14. Lupus Pardus

    October 11, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Tribes exterminated by europeans and chilean goberment

  15. Nico Wussy

    October 11, 2016 at 2:47 am

    Pibe Nue

  16. István Łukasz

    October 11, 2016 at 2:44 am

    The Selk’nam/Ona were cool as fuck

  17. Elle Visalia

    October 11, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Andre 😍😍😍😍

  18. Elle Visalia

    October 11, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Jura 😍

  19. Tegan Mays

    October 11, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Aimee Hall

  20. Bennie Darko

    October 11, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Klemens Hartl

  21. Martin Prieto

    October 11, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Argentina papa

    • Mario Olave

      October 11, 2016 at 5:51 am

      Tambièn Chile, barsuo

    • Nihil Sum

      October 12, 2016 at 10:40 am

      La ‘patria’ los hizo desaparecer, fueron los habitantes del sur desde tiempo inmemorial, ni argentina ni chile pueden significar algo para esos pueblos.

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