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Chon languages: Map


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The Chon languages were spoken in Tierra del Fuegomarker and Patagonia. Two were known to exist - Selk'nam, which went extinct in 2003, and Tehuelche. The Selk'nam people were widely studied by anthropologists such as Martin Gusinde and Anne Chapman, throughout the 20th century; however, their language was not preserved.

The Tehuelche language is also near extinction. The Tehuelche peoples - tall nomads of Southern Patagonia - traded peacefully with Welsh settlers, but were persecuted by Argentinemarker authorities. Of some 5,000 in 1900, there are about 20 speakers left. Racially they have been absorbed by the incomers, and there are many more outsider Indians in Patagonia than natives now.

The northern Tehuelches were conquered and later assimilated by the Mapuche during the Araucanization process. Some 900,000 Mapuche continue to live in Chilemarker and Argentina.

Some Tehuelche learnt Welsh and left their children with the Welsh settlers to learn the language and get education; thus there is a solid photographic record of this people.

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