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Tierra del Fuego: Of Sailors and Savages (1851—1900)
Contacts between ships and natives groups, as reported in the English-language press


Article title Likes not cannibals Ship Ship, steamship, USA
Source Auckland Star (NZ), 28 May 1898 Date of event 1897
More info. Original source: The Sun (New York) Location West of Cape Horn
Article Transcript Informant J. E. Healey, passenger

Abstract: After coming ashore from their wrecked ship, passengers and crew were visited by a large group of canoe natives (the informant mentions around 20 men). The natives stayed three nights: they examined possessions, and received clothing. Having come to the conclusion that the natives had intentions of killing and eating them, the informant and ship's captain scared them away by gunfire. There is no information on how the castaways were rescued.

Assessment: The natives' inquisitiveness was characteristic curiosity — not, per se, proof of intent to kill. The practice of stripping clothing from corpses has been reported elsewhere (Roseneath, 1882): although disturbing to the whites, the native mind may have viewed this as a logical recycling of materials. The carrying of guns appears to have been justified for self-protection: at the very least, they served to allay fear. By his question, the reporter showed an awareness of the natives' alleged cannibalistic behaviour.