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Biblioteca Patagónica

Tierra del Fuego: Historias de Marineros y Salvajes (1851—1900)
Contactos entre barcos y grupos nativos, según reportajes en la prensa de habla inglesa [en inglés]


(Note: Text dealing with natives is displayed with a contrasting background colour.)


A special to the New York 'Sun' from New Haven, Conn., says: J. E. Healy told today all about his experiences as a passenger on the Klondike steamship City of Columbia, which left New York in the middle of December. Healy bought a ticket to San Diego, Cal. He did not care to go to the Klondike, he said, because of his business interests here. He went in the City of Columbia because, although he took a trip every summer into more or less interesting foreign parts, he had never been around Cape Horn. On the Pacific side of the Cape the ship was wrecked and the passengers and crew went ashore on the coast of Terra del Fuego.

Of his experience Healy says: When I got to shore it was 7 o'clock in the evening. The women were scared almost to death. We built fires on the side of the rocks — they were as steep as a roof — and tried to be cheerful. But we had passed the wrecks of 7 ships coming through, and just where we landed were three coffins from a German ship that had gone ashore about three minutes before we did. The natives had stripped the corpses. It was no cheerful sight for us. It was along about midnight when the natives showed up.

'They were not cannibals,' said a reporter, 'of course.'

'Of course, nothing. I tell you they would have made us into soup if they got a fair chance at us. They were the wickedest and most shameless looking villains ever I saw. I am a gentleman. I did the most I could. I took off my vest and gave it to the first one that came ashore. He turned the vest upside down and stuck his legs through the arm holes; and buttoned the waist across his middle, and walked around like he thought he was as good a Christian as any of us. They stayed around two days, and three nights. They had fires in the bottoms of their canoes, one fire in every canoe, but they seemed to like our fires better.'

'They took to opening our trunks and looking over our blankets. I thought, and Captain Baker thought, they were talking over what each one was to get after they had done for us. So, as we had guns, I took 20 of the men and formed them into a line and walked up to the boss Terra del Fuegan, and I says to him, with most comprehensive gestures, "Go to ___! Git, git! They stood off for a little and we fired a volley over their heads. They got into their canoes and began to paddle. They made water fly, too.'

'You can say all you please about there being no cannibals down there, but when you get through talking you just go down there and watch 'em lick their ugly chops and look hungry at you for awhile, and you'll believe the way I do. I believe I'd be in one of their fat stomachs this minute if it wasn't for that volley we fired.'