Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Tehuelche were primarily hunter-gatherers living mostly in Patagonia, Argentina, and Southern Chile. In the 1880s, they were conquered by the Argentine government and forcefully confined to reserves. This process led to near complete assimilation of the Tehuelche with Araucanians and settlers of European descent.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


South America --Southern South America




OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number. The SH05 Tehuelche collection consists of 10 documents, including this culture summary, out of which 8 are in English and the remaining 2 in Spanish. The documents can be broadly categorized into three groups by time period and the information they cover. The first group consists of 3 documents by a colonial administrator (De Viedma, 1837, no. 6) and a European explorer of Patagonia (Musters, 1973. no. 2 and 1971, no. 3). Together, these three documents provide a first-hand account of Tehuelche society and culture, with particular emphasis on hunting methods, diet, warfare, social organization, inter-ethnic relations, religion, important ceremonies and the natural environment (including topography, fauna and flora), prior to their forced encampment in reserves in the 1880s. The second group consists of 5 documents by professional anthropologists who sought to recreate a picture of pre-conquest Tehuelche society by building on information by earlier writers. Topics covered by these documents include aspects of culture (Lothrop, 1929, no. 4, and Cooper, 1946, no.1), territoriality and social structure (Williams, 1979, no. 8), folklore and mythology (Siffredi, 1968, no. 10, and Wilbert, 1984, no. 7). The third group consists of one book by Fernández Garay (1995, no. 9) which fills a critical gap in the other documents by documenting the political and cultural processes that led to the gradual extinction of the Tehuelche beginning from their first contact with Europeans in 1520 to their final forced encampment in reserves in the 1880s.

Aonek’enk, Aónik’enk (South-Central Tehuelche group and language) - use "IDENTIFICATION" (101) and/or "LINGUISTIC IDENTIFICATION" (197)

Caciaque (band leader) – use "COMMUNITY HEADS" (622)

Cultural identity - use "TRIBE AND NATION" (619)

Kóoch (Creator god, and sky) – use "SPIRITS AND GODS" (776) or "COSMOLOGY" (772)

Gualychu – use "SPIRITS AND GODS" (776)

Migratory band – use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE" (621), possibly with "ANNUAL CYCLE" (221) or "SETTLMENT PATTERNS" (361)


Toldo (tent) – use "DWELLINGS" (342), possibly with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS" (361) or "HOUSEHOLD" (592)

The culture summary, synopsis and indexing notes were written by Teferi Abate Adem in June 2006.

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