Friday, December 9, 2011

The Southernmost Peoples

Charles Wellington Furlong was the first American to explore the interior of Tierra del Fuego. In 1907-08, during his first expedition in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, Furlong lived among the Onas and Yahgans, the southernmost peoples of the world. Though these tribes have long since disintegrated due to external stresses and their cultural identity is now almost completely vanished, the observations made by Furlong concerning their way of life makes for a unique record. Material here about the Fuegian tribes includes audio recordings of speech and song, dermatoglyphs (hand prints and foot prints), notes, published works, correspondence, and hundreds of photographs, including negatives and lantern slides, which describe in detail the natives and their societies. Shown here are Onas who accompanied and guided Furlong. The caption to the image reads: "Group of Two Ona Families and Dog, North of Eastern End of Lake Cami, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina 1908."

The description on the reverse continues:
These people were part of Furlong's expedition. Two Ona men were cousins. Man on left was Chalshoat and in the center Puppup. Two women on right, and older and younger one, are the two wives of Puppup. Those on the left are Chalshoat's wives. These two families usually traveled in company, except when guanaco were extremely scarce. The fine guanaco hound in front of Puppup was an inevitable companion. The daisy-like flowers may be noted in the grass which covers a boggy terrain.
In addition to the material related to the Fuegian peoples, the collection also contains correspondence, notes, and publications related to the controversy over whether Frederick A. Cook or Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole. As Furlong believed that Cook tried to take credit for the work done by Thomas Bridges in compiling his Yahgan-English dictionary, he was always a strong supporter of Peary's claim.

Ask for Stef Mss 197 to see the collection. A finding aid is available.

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