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From the archeological discoveries, Patagonia has been inhabited by humans for approximately 10,000 years. The indigenous tribes were collectors and nomadic hunters who walked or canoed depending on the eco-system in which they developed.

On the Pacific Coast the Chonos, a band of nomadic hunters and collectors, were installed on the Big Island of Chiloe and its surrounding environs. Further South, the Kawesgar or Alacalufes nomadic canoers of the channels and fjords, co-existed with two other tribes, the Yaganes or Yamanes canoers of ‘the end of the world’ in the Beagle region and with the tall and strong Onas. The Selknam or Onas were nomadic hunters from the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego, who were related physically and in their language with the Aonikenk or Tsonek, also knowns as Tehuelches, a Mapuche word which signifies ‘fierce people’. They developed in the Patagonian plains, between the Santa Cruz river and the Magellan strait.

The name Patagonia comes from the word ‘patagón’ used by Magellan to describe the native people whom his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed the Patagons were actually Tehuelches many over 2.0 m (~ 6') height with an average of 1.80 m, (~5'11") compared to the 1.55 m (~5'1") average for Spaniards of the time.

The arrival of the ‘white man’ in 1520 marked the beginning of the brief process of extinction of these tribes, today all but one have disappeared due to extermination or assimilation. The only tribe that survived until today, impoverished and minimized, es the Tehuelche in the Argentine Patagonia.
For more information, please contact:
Roberto Fagalde
mobile: 56- 8 428 8079
phone: 56- 2 717 0593

Campos Dos Margaritas

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The European conquest
Patagonia was discovered in 1520 by Hernando de Magallanes, a few years after in 1535, Simon de Alcazaba and Soto Mayor, founded the provincial government of Nueva Leon South of Trelew, Argentina. The attempts of the Spanish conquest persisted for the following two centuries with missionaries’ expeditions and the founding other towns that succumbed under the hostility of the Indigenous, except Carmen de Patagones. In this same period, on the Pacific side, Pedro de Valdivia founded Valdivia and Los Confines. Later, the Governor Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza continued the exploration to the Zone of Golfo de Reloncavi. The Governor, conscience of the strategic importance of the Straits of Magellan, sent two ships; one sunk and the other managed to make it in 1558. That completed the route for the government of Nueva Extremadura.

The Latinamerican Independence
Celebrating its independence in 1810, Chile began the expeditions toward the Austral territory , founding Chiloe’, Chaiten’, Puerto Aysen, Cochrane, Punta Arenas, Puerto Williams and the Fuerte Bulnes delineating its national sovereignty. During the second half of the century, there were a few private enterprises to settle in the Austral zone with mixed results. Meanwhile on the Oriental side, the Welsh colonized with the help of the Argentine government which was successful, founding Rawson at the estuary of the Chubut river, which strengthened Argentine sovereignty of the Patagonia Oriental. In the final part of the century and the beginning of the following one, there was a new current of immigration, mainly of Italians and Spanish.

20 Century, The Colonization
While the second current of European migration flowed to the Argentine Patagonia, in Chile, the government focused for the first time in the colonization of the zone. The State began granting land concessions to established cattle dealers and motivated Chileans with the Law of Colonization, synthesized in ‘to clean for colonization’; this was the spark that colonized the Chilean Patagonia. This public policy was a direct cause of giant forest fires and one of the largest ecological disasters of the planet.

After this big wave of colonization, the pioneers basically where abandoned to their own fate (luck) until 1976 when construction of the Austral Highway began with the objective of connecting the National territory and improving the quality of life of the settlers. Two hundred million dollars and twenty years later they inaugurated their final section. With machete and dynamite the gravel road was opened from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, crossing 1,240 Kilometers of dismembered land covered with temperate rainforest, penetrating ecosystems unique in the planet. Sadly, the design and construction of this route was completely lacking of any evaluation of the environmental impact nor engaging participation of the local people. This left ecological degradation and disillusion of the pioneers as a consequence. Meanwhile, on the other side of the mountain range, the plains of Patagonia with their rich reserves of natural gas and other natural resources, inspired the government of Argentina to develop an ample network of roads that connect the principal centers to the rest of Argentina.


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