Hai Kur Mamashu Shis

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A Yahgan Family
Book on the Yahgan People
Hai Kur Mamashu Shis is the title of a book that means “I want to tell you a story” in the Yahgan language. Translated into English by Jacqueline Windh, it is a story of the Yahgan People (or Yámana people) of southernmost South America by Cristina Zárraga.

The Yahgan are the southernmost indigenous people in the world. Their territory comprises the canals and fiords of southern Patagonia: from Tierra del Fuego to Cape Horn. Their population was decimated after the arrival of the Europeans.

Cristina Calderón is the last Yahgan tribe member who is pure-blooded and who grew up with the traditions and speaking the Yahgan tongue. She and her late sister Ursula have told the stories that they heard from their elders as children to Cristina’s grand-daughter Cristina Zárraga in Spanish, and Windh has translated those tales into English. The book is lovingly illustrated with the most tender woodcuts by Jimena Saiter.

Yahgan People

The Yahgan People were the southernmost indigenous people in the world. Their territory comprised of the canals and fiords of southern Patagonia: from Tierra del Fuego to Cape Horn. Their population was decimated after the arrival of the Europeans. They were a small people, seldom over 5 feet tall, with small hands and feet. Their speech was musical and soft, and their language made up of very complicated words, inflections and tones which would totally alter the meaning of the original word or phrase. They communicated over the distances with smoke signals which spoke a clear code in the smoke.

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