The Spanish conquerors who explored the southern cone of South
America reported back to Europe that the region was empty of human
inhabitants. In truth, however, the large area supported a
thriving, albeit low-density, population of foragers. Those
foragers--the Mapuche, Tehuelche, Rankuelche, and Fueguian
peoples--are the subject of this volume, which presents
archaeological and ethnographic studies of their past.
The southern cone of South America was one of the last regions
to be colonized on earth. When the Spanish Royal Crown experienced
difficulties expanding its colonial frontiers to include these
lands, the area became known as a vast wildnerness at the very edge
of the civilized world. As a result, the native peoples who did
indeed inhabit the area were marginalized and as time passed the
significance of their historical experience was ignored. This
compilation of research by noted scholars of the region
investigates the past of peoples largely neglected by the
historical accounts of their conquerors. The history of the native
peoples of Pampa, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego is a vital aspect
of the region's past. Their historical knowledge and experience
play a vital role in the struggle of a people to maintain a sense
of cultural difference in an ever-changing world.
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