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HMS Ajax and the ‘Patagonian Indians’ (1936)

Posted by Dean Stoker, on May 14th, 2018


SPO James Edward Harvey served on HMS Ajax during her first commission 1935-6, when she sailed through the Straits of Magellan in southern Chile and anchored in the ‘channels’.  A canoe put out from the shore and approached the ship.  The family in the canoe were inadequately dressed for the bitter cold, and appeared scarcely alive.  The family are amongst the few descendants of the canoe-livers observed by Darwin in his voyage in HMS Beagle, the others having been systematically murdered by farmers and gold prospectors. Rarely leaving their boats, their principal diet consisting of shellfish, Harvey commented: ‘Patagonian Indians – they are just about extinct now, there are only about 300 left.’

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