Giant Patagonia Amerindians Of South America
Dr Frederick Cook, the controversial explorer and physician made some interesting claims of having encountered “giants” among the “Ona” people of Patagonia during his “Belgica” expedition in 1896-97. His photographs and notes which I recently discovered in online publications, I feel, might offer some explanation to the endless stories of giants in that part of the world — that actual tribes averaging six feet tall for men, with some individuals 6-1/2 and even 7-1/2 feet tall–indeed existed.
The tall Tehuelche people of Patagonia exchanging gifts with short European colonist. The Native Americans wear feather headdresses and fur cloaks. Handcoloured copperplate engraving by Verico from Giulio Ferrrario’s Costumes Antique and Modern of All Peoples (Il Costume Antico e Moderno di Tutti i Popoli), Florence, 1842.
Entitled: “Map of Straits of Magellan, showing Patagonian Indians greeting Dutchmen.” The Strait of Magellan (Estrecho de Magallanes), also called the Straits of Magellan, is a navigable sea route separating mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south. Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – April 27, 1521), a Portuguese explorer and navigator in the service of Charles I of Spain, became the first European to navigate the strait in 1520 during his global circumnavigation voyage. The strait is the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is considered a difficult route to navigate due to the narrowness of the passage and unpredictable winds and currents. It is shorter and more sheltered than the often stormy Drake Passage. Along with the narrow and sometimes treacherous Beagle Channel, these were the only three sea routes between these two oceans until the construction of the Panama Canal. Speculum Indie Navigationum (1619).
The people Dr. Cook photographed in 1897 were the Onas, or Selknam nation, a nearly extinct people, Selknam_people who were mercilessly pushed off the land, and massacred by new coming settlers in the 19th century. The tall, and impressively built Selknam, averaging somewhere around 5 ft 10 to 6 feet for most males, they wore long fur pelts, lived in stick huts, and carried bows and arrows — these were ultimate survivors, and among the most primitive tribes in all of the Americas.
So “primitive” were the Fuegians and Patagonian tribes, that Charles Darwin himself had some surprisingly harsh words to describe these peoples. “Wild men”, “Cannibals”, “absolutely naked”, the most “miserable state of barbarism” & etc., I shall not repeat what Darwin had to say in entirety, as you can read his endless prejudice comments.