"Where are the women who sang like the canaries? There were many women. Where are they now?" One day Lola Kiepja asked me these questions, as if she did not expect an answer. She was the last Selk'nam who had lived as an Indian. This was May of 1966 when I was living with her near Lake Fagnano in what was then the Indian reservation. Lola died a few months later at the approximate age of ninety. Since her death, on 9 October 1966, to the present (15 December 2004) the thirteen people of Selk'nam descent I had the honour of working with through the years or simply knew, have also died. N.1

There are still some people in Tierra del Fuego, and perhaps in Buenos Aires, whose grandparents were Selk'nam. This is all that remains of a group whose population was estimated to be between 3,500 and 4,000 individuals before the arrival of the Whites about 1880 N.2 Despite the well intentioned efforts of the Salesian missionaries and other Whites such as the sons of the missionary Thomas Bridges, the Selk'nam were assassinated and died of sicknesses brought by the Whites or were deported outside of the island. Some died during a combat among Selk'nam themselves at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Selk'nam depended on hunting and gathering for a livelihood and fabricated their tools from stone, bone and wood. Given the climate and the nature of the soils agriculture would have been impossible in Tierra del Fuego. In recent decades, the new-comers with the aid of chemical fertilizers, increase the growth of pastures for their sheep and cattle, tend vegetables in hot-houses and grow flowers in the gardens of their farms.The Selknam didn’t grow anything, not even flowers simply because they were nomads. The guanaco was their prize game as well as various little burrowing animals such as the rodent, Ctenomys fueguinus, called tucutuco. They mainly consumed these animals, made their tents of guanaco skin and their clothing of either guanaco fur, or of the rodents and less frequently of fox fur. They gathered mussels, eggs, berries, certain roots and seeds as well as mushrooms. They also hunted birds and seals, fished in the lagoons and along the coasts and took advantage of beached whales. As they moved from one camp site to another, the man in the lead carried his bow and arrows, his wife followed, burdened with all the domestic utensils and often a baby attached to her back in a cradle made of wood boards. The children and older people trailed behind. As they went from one camp-site to another, they stopped over in places where they expected to find game or fish. They were familiar with the landscape of the entire island and gave names to virtually all its topographical features. Extended patrilineal and patrilocal families and lineages (of three or four generations) inhabited a specific terrain , known was haruwin, whose limits were (generally) respected by the neighbours.

Even people who inhabited territories that were very distant, knew one another, because they had many opportunities to meet. When a whale was beached the first who arrived lighted two fires as a signal for all who saw them to come a partake of this gift of nature. They met to compete in foot-races, wrestling matches or to prove their dexterity with the bow and arrow by shooting at a volunteer who demonstrated his ability to dodge the arrows, which were blunted for the occasion. When a famous person died, people from far away were notified also by fires and flocked to his haruwin to express their sorrow by laments and certain rituals. Barter also attracted people who lived in distant haruwins. The date would be set for the meeting through a messenger from the host and people would come to exchange stones used to ignite fire ( above all pyrite), other stones for making certain tools, wood for their bows and arrows, supports for their tents, feathers for the head-dresses, the large shells used to scoop up water, certain tiny shells preferred for making necklaces, etc. N.3

Another type of "meeting" was the combats which usually lasted a few days or only a few hours. Despite their short duration, the battles were in earnest. Several men might be killed or wounded and the victors often captured women although they frequently managed to escape and return to their own camp or that of their husband.

The shamans, called xo'on, from different haruwins, met in public to participate in competitions of spiritual power and chant while reciting their mystical traditions in a state of trance. The most prestigious ordeal of a xo'on consisted in introducing an arrow, having a wooden point, under his skin, just below the shoulder blade, drag it slowly across his chest and out at the level of his waist, without loosing blood. Another outstanding occasion for meeting was the celebration of a ceremony known as the Hain. Many families from distant haruwins would converge to initiate their young men into adulthood during this ceremony, which could last two or three months or even a year. The ceremony also permitted the males, as the dominant "strata" of the society, to reaffirm their privileged superiority, as well as a "spirit" ( man in disguise) to punish disobedient wives. The life of the Selk’nam was all this and much more.

Among the symbols, Moon-woman, whose name was Kreeh, was the axis of their beliefs. Her "function" in the conceptual scheme was complex. She created the drama of the mythological past, through her transfiguration from an earthly supernatural woman into the celestial being. This myth explained and justified the Selk’nam’s patriarchal society. Woman-power was expressed in this ancestral myth (see below) with such vehemence that the men felt a reinstallation of the matriarchy to be an ever present threat.

Although Sun failed to capture the Moon-woman, his erstwhile all-powerful wife, he was the ideal symbol of the patriarchy: luminous and reliable. He had defeated his wife when he and the men attacked the great hut where the women were preparing to perform the Hain ceremony to humiliate the men and prove, once again, with the scenes of the women, disguised as different "spirits", that the powers of the universe were their allies (see below). After the defeat of the matriarchy when the great matriarch, the powerful female shaman, fled from the burning Hain hut into the sky and was transformed into the Moon, she became a creature of the night, the symbol of womanhood. She was a frightful symbol: unreliable because she appeared in different forms, places and times in the celestial dome, and sometimes not at all. She was a danger especially when she went into an eclipse and might consume an unexpected victim: men and even children. During an eclipse she demonstrated that she was capable of avenging her intolerable defeat, the destruction of the matriarchy over which she had reigned. Then she became red, flush with anger against human beings, especially the men, and particularly the shamans. In the haruwins, the people met to placate her anger by chanting, while they and the men shamans beat the earth with poles and rolled-up guanaco skins as they chanted to her to assure themselves that she would somehow be controlled, that on the morrow the Sun would continue reign supreme and that the patriarchy would be saved.

When the gods inhabited the earth.

The universe was encircled by immense cordilleras, invisible to all but the shamans, known as the four "skies", the four cardinals, abodes of the most powerful supernatural beings. Moon was also called Sho'on-tam, the daughter- tam, of the skies - sho’on. Following the "catastrophe" of the destruction of the matriarch, she and her brother Snow, whose name was Hosh, the word for snow, fled to the South Sky. The West Sky became the "residence" of the Sun and his brother, Wind - Shénu. While the North Sky was claimed by Rain —Chálu-, and the Ocean —Kox, as well as their sister Storm - O'oké. The East Sky was the centre of the celestial universe, whose cordillera was the greatest of all, the ultimate challenge to the shamans when they attempted to ascend it during a trance. There Pémaulk resided, the most imposing of all the supernatural beings.

During the mythical era, called hoowin, the hills, mountains, lagoons and most if not all physical nature, as well the animals and certain stars, inhabited the earth as supernatural beings. N.4 They were powerful shamans, the hoowins. When the world of today and the human (Selk'nam) society originated, most of the hoowin had been transformed into mountains, hills, cliffs, pampas and valleys, lakes and lagoons, animals and especially birds who exist or live in what is now called the Isla Grande, the Main Island of Tierra del Fuego, where later the Selk'nam inhabited. During that "era", as well as after their metamorphosis, each of the hoowins were associated with one of the cardinal points, or skies (shó'on). The Selk'nam themselves were also classed according to the skies, through their father's kin, that is patrilineally.

Like the Selk'nam later, each of the hoowins ,when they "lived" on earth [the island], had his or her own territory, haruwin. They inhabited the entire island. The haruwin of Moon, for example, was called Apen and was located in central-southern part of the island, at the foot of a cordillera.

During the "epoch" of the matriarchy, the most powerful female shaman and the other women dominated the men. The great male shamans: Sun, Wind, Rain and Snow, and all the other hoowin men were assigned to the humble chores: carrying the burdens when the families moved from one camp site to another, cooking, taking care of the babies and small children, fetching water for domestic use, doing all of what was to become women's work, besides their own tasks, mainly hunting and providing the other necessities of daily life.

The young hoowin women were initiated into the social position they were destined to occupy as adults by means of a ritual, during the Hain ceremony, mentioned above. In preparation of the ceremony certain women, who had already been initiated, disguised themselves as spirits, using tall masks which reached their shoulders or even their knees. They painted their bodies red and white and black drawing lines and circles of different sizes to symbolize their identity. The disguises as well as the movements of the women represented so exactly the "real" spirits that the men, the passive spectators, had never doubed that they were the spirits who had come to partake in the ceremony; that some had descended from the heavens and others had emerged from the bowls of the earth into closed quarters of the ceremonial hut which no man dared even approach. Each time the ceremony was performed the men saw that the spirits manifested their solidarity with the women and their approval of the matriarchy. This was the uncontested order of society, endorsed as it was by supernatural powers that reigned in the universe, for all eternity. However, one day three men who afterwards were transformed into the oyster-catcher (sit), the ibis (kehke) and the crown sparrow (chechu), That day these three hoowin men crept, ever so quietly, into the Hain hut to spy on the women. They were soon shocked to see one of the young women painting herself as the Matan "spirit." N.5 At that moment they realized that all the spirits were only women in disguise. When they discovered the truth, one of the spies whistled to alert the other men waiting outside. At that moment the woman who was to represent Matan was transformed into the white swan with the black neck very similar to the painted body and mask of Matan; half white and half black. When the women heard the whistle they immediately extinguished the sacred fire in the centre of the Hain hut, fearing that the men outside were about to attack them.

The hoowin man who had whistled the alarm and his two companions became transformed into the three birds mentioned above: the oyster-catcher, the ibis and the crown sparrow. As all three were then spies, since they have become birds, they still move in silence, looking in all directions. The oyster-catcher still whistles as a sign of alert.

The most courageous among the men was outraged by the revelation that the women had held them in such servitude through hoax of the Hain ceremony. When he and his men attacked the women the Hain hut, he struck his indomitable wife, with a burning log. At that moment the entire firmament trembled. Then he struck her yet again but not a third time. He ceased before the third strike, fearing that if he struck her again (and killed her), the heavens would collapse on the earth and all would be destroyed. He dared not conclude his act. N.6 The great shaman, the matriarch, escaped, her face badly burnt. Invaded by an anger without bounds, she will never cease to hate the men. She fled from the earth forever, transforming herself into the Moon. Her husband pursued her through the heavens and became the Sun. To this day he has not been able to capture her.

Every month Moon relives this event. She appears full as in the era of her ancient dominion, though disfigured by the scars (the spots on the moon) that forever recall the unpardonable offence to which she had been subjected. The great matriarch was the only the woman of the feminine Hain who escaped and retained her personality. Almost all the other hoowins (women and men) were transformed into different animals, especially birds, those that live today on the island and in the surrounding sea.

In the human society the Selk'nam women occupied the place of the hoowin men; spectators of the Hain ceremony performed by the opposite sex. The women sang the chant of Tamtam every dawn during the ceremony. Tamtam was the daughter of Moon and Sun, whom, when her father killed her, became transformed into a canary. Perhaps the same canary that Lola spoke of in the beginning lines above.

There were men who tried to save their daughters during the slaughter in the women's Hain hut. When the whistle altered the men and revealed that the Hain was a farce, the men became so infuriated that they attacked the hut and massacred all the women. But one man, who became the flightless steamer-duck (tari) , tried to save his daughter who was hiding behind his legs but he could not defend her against the other men and she also was killed by an arrow. Another, who was transformed into a cormorant ( keyáishk), fought with hoowin man who became a hauk (caracara in Spanish, karskai in Selk’nam) to save his daughter, also in vain.

The hoowin men had killed their wives, mothers, daughters and sisters who had been initiated, because they knew the "secret" of the Hain. The secret, so well kept from that men, was that the divinities, the spirits who appeared during the ceremony, were simply women in disguise, that the Hain was a farce to keep them subjected to the women's domination. Only the girls and babies survived because they were innocent, ignorant of the perfidy of their mothers and older sisters.

After the massacre, the men, and the children of both sexes departed to the confines of the universe. They went beyond the seas to the East where they remained there for a long time, weeping for their wives, and female kin. They continued journeying for "centuries", passing by the cordilleras beyond the seas; to the North Sky, then to the West Sky and finally returned to the earth through the South Sky.

Then these hoowin men founded their own Hain. and "today" the Selk'nam men guard the secret of the Hain in order to subject the opposite sex to their will. Thus the patriarchal society originated, the Selk'nam society as it really existed.

It was also then that a hoowin from the North sky brought death to the earth. As the hoowin "people" were immortal: they metamorphosed. The most powerful among them became the Pémaulk, the Word, who resides in the East, far beyond the earth, on the outer rim of the universe. Some were transformed into heavenly bodies: the Pleiades, Orion, and Venus. Others became the Wind, the Rain, the Snow and the Sea. The most magnificent had become the Sun. The more humble, became birds, other animals, fish, hills, lagoons and so forth . About then the first humans, the first Selk'nam, were created from two clumps of earth.

When the Selk'nam inhabited the earth

Probably during thousands of years (until the about 1933 when the last Hain ceremony was performed) , the young Selk'nam or Haush men had been initiated in the Hain hut where the "secret" was revealed to them, that the Hain spirits were only men disguised to deceive the women. But this was not the only purpose of the Hain. During the long months of the ceremony, the adolescent initiates, called kloketens, became adult men. In order to achieve this training and state of mind, they were submitted to the physical and moral ordeals, as well as to the teachings the elders imparted to them. The elders instructed them in the traditions of hoowin, the origins and transformations of all that had occurred in the universe and on earth, as partially explained above. They were taught how to behave, to comply to their family and community obligations. They were obliged to confess if they had committed any error against the moral code, during their adolescence, though they were not punished for their past wrongdoings. Above all, they were taken on many hunting expeditions often by their elders, and sometimes forced to go alone.

Some fifteen or twenty or more men were selected to interpret the Hain spirits. The number of "actors" varied from one ceremony to another. However a few spirits were not represented by "actors". Only one will be mentioned here. Its name was Xalpen, a subterranean spirit which tradition described as a female cannibal, voracious and malicious. This spirit was not represented by an "actor" as will become clear presently.

During the era of hoowin and the feminine Hain, Xalpen above all who spread terror among the men. Half rock and half flesh, she emerged from her subterranean abode, through the fire, into the ceremonial hut. She incessantly demanded guanaco meat and other foods. The hoowin men had been obliged to comply with her requests, attempting to calm her insatiable appetite with the hope that she would not demand human meat. She would stuff all that the men brought her into a large bag, which was said to be made of guanaco hide painted with red bands. However, during the culminating moments of the ceremony, she became desperate to consume human flesh.

When the hóowin men finally seized the secret of how to dominate the opposite sex, and the women of the matriarchy became transformed into elements of nature, and animals they were deprived of the use of language, so their memory was lost to them forever-after (all the women except Moon). The Xalpen "spirit" then served her former victims, the men. Now, in human time, while preparing for a ceremony, the men fabricated a Xalpen , made a frame of their bows, and stuffed it with vegetation to give it body. The image was covered with guanaco skins and painted red ( paint made of clay). During certain moments of the ritual, one or two men inside the effigy carried it on the "stage" hoping to terrorize the women, who could only see it from a distance, as they were not permitted to approach the Hain hut.

Meanwhile in the interior of the hut the men are thumping the ground with rolled up guanaco hides to dramatize Xalpen's anger provoked by her insatiable appetite. The women were told that the kloketens had been ordered to hunt in order to bring her great quantities of meat. The mothers of the kloketens, at hundred or so meters from the Hain, hut chanted to Xalpen, begging her to be kind to their sons.

Now [the kloketens are ] far away.

[Their ] ankles are tired

Beautiful heart [phrase of Xalpen].

The hunt could last many days. When the kloketens returned to the Hain hut,exhausted by the weight of the guanaco each had brought, Xalpen became even more excited. Not satisfied with guanaco meat she was determined to consume human meat. She would throw herself on a kloketen and split him open, from the neck to the abdomen, using the long nail of her index finger, so the women were told. When one was mutilated, the earth trembled as men shouted from the interior of the hut, struggling to dominate her, aghast by the terrible death of their sons. Such scenes of horror were a complete farce. Inside the Hain hut the men were busy with the sound effects; screaming, beating the ground with rolled-up guanaco skins, and shaking the posts of the hut to simulate the trembling earth. During all the racket, the kloketens were seated, moaning loudly, some probably worrying about their mothers who were sobbing, fearing they were being devoured by the female monster.

The women were desperate: they heared the tumult and moans of their sons, and saw the hut trembling as if it were collapsing. Weeping they chant imploring Xalpen again, now to have pity on the sons. Some became so distraught by their impotency to control Xalpen that they sang, calling her:

Head of rock.

Beautiful heart.

Face enraged.

Until the annihilation of this culture, the secret of the Hain was rigorously kept from the female population and the male children who had not been initiated. If, by chance a woman found out about the secret, discovered the truth, she would soon be killed, supposedly by the power of a shaman, which of course did not really kill her. Xalpen was the symbol of a woman who betrayed the women by mutilating and consuming their sons. Moon whose anger against the men was so excessive that the women themselves repudiated her. Xalpen was probably a manifestation the Moon.

Thus it appears that the mystic of the Moon-woman, resolved the latent conflict which symbolically threatened the equilibrium of the patriarchal society: conflict between the sexes for dominion, Though the conflict was resolved with the defeat of the mythological matriarchy, and the victory of the patriarchy, the threat of the matriarchy lingered on, the men had to be vigilant, be very attentive that the women not learn the "secret."

Now, since the defeat of the matriarchy, Moon enters into a eclipse to demonstrate that she maintains her anger against the men. Her face becomes red with the blood of men who will be doomed in a coming battle. Even the earth may appear as if it were soaked with their blood. During an eclipse Moon is consuming the menwhom she has condemned to die battle or otherwise.

Let us go to the daughter of the heavens

The shaman, xo'on, knew from his dreams when the Moon would eclipse. When it was about to happen two, three or more shamans met with the people of their respective haruwins. The women painted their bodies with red clay, their faces with bands of white clay from the nose to the ears, while they beat the ground with rolled guanacos skins and chanted to appease the fury of the Moon:

Good heart... Woman of Apen.

Moon of the broad face.

The xo'on painted a red circle on each cheek, placed a crown, made of delicate feathers, on his head, and dressed in his long cape of guanaco fur. Staring at the Moon, the shamans chanted to her, During an eclipse the shaman's spirit (waiuwin) visited the Moon. To do so he had to be in a trance, for only thus could he liberate his waiuwin from his body. Concentrating on the Moon, he leaped and chanted until he felt that his spirit was departing into the heavens, soaring like a eagle (kex) to her abode. At this moment, he shouted like the bird which flies most deeply into the sky.

When his waiuwin arrived, he found the Moon seated in the south corner of the universe (her South Sky), in a space limited by four tree trunks that represented the outer space of the universe, the four skies of the heavens. When the shaman's waiuwin reached the Moon's abode, she let him know if he will be allowed to be seated. Those who are allowed to do so take their place in the corner which corresponds to their sky affiliation on earth, just as they do in the ceremonial Hain hut.

Those who are favoured by Moon have her permission to be seated: they will not die in the near future. But the xo'on who is denied permission to be seated found himself in her shadow, beneath her knees or in back of her. Then he realized that he was condemned. Moon did not look at him.

On earth the shaman who saw his headdress in her shadow, and its feathers soaked with blood, realized that he would soon die, that the Moon had seized him. Trembling he chanted:

Moon has my head-dress under her knees.

I am certain that Moon has taken me.

I am under her knees..

I am there. My head in her shadow.

I have been seized by the Daughter of the Heavens.

I am under her knees.

Someone will kill me. I am seized by the Moon.

Then the women raised their voices chanting, insulting her:

Moon- of the burnt face

Face of fury.

It is said, that those who were condemned by Moon, those who would be "eaten' by her, were shown a blood drenched object: a bunch of weeds, an arrow point, or a piece torn from his cape.N.7 This shaman would be killed in a combat. Those who would die of sickness, saw themselves in the shadow of the Moon, but like a falcon or eagle without its feathers, not drenched in blood.

To the shamans who were favoured, Moon gave a round object: a stone, a piece of wood or of guanaco skin. When he (his waiuwin) returned to earth, another xo'on approached him and took the round object from his mouth, that the Moon had given him.

Owl-woman tAKES revenge OF HER husband

During the era of hoowin, the owl into which this woman was transformed, was named was K'uumits (the ancient, hoowin, name for this owl which in the Selk'nam everyday language was called sank'on ) This owl belonged to the South Sky, like Moon and inhabited her territory, Apen. As a hoowin woman she was known as K’uumits. Her husband was later transformed into a certain sparrow (cheip) who belonged to the West sky, like the Sun. When he was still a hoowin man he hunted guanacos but his wife, still a hoowin woman, did not like guanaco meat at all. One day she killed her brother-in-law with a harpoon (or a lance), cut up his body and roasted it She began to eat it (perhaps because she didn’t like guanaco meat), when she heard her husband arriving. Then she quickly hid what she had not yet consumed, under the guanaco skin bed covers. When her husband was already inside the hut, he asked her: "Where is my brother?" She replied: "I don't know." Thereupon he began searching for him. Lifting the bed covers he saw his brother's hip bones. In this instant his wife, K'uumits, was transformed into the owl and flew out her hut into the night laughing. This owl still laughs today, pleased as she is, for having taken vengeance on her husband by eating his brother. N.8

The woman WHO WAS murdered because she was suspected of being like Owl-Woman

The Selk'nam of the territory of Apen (located south Río Grande in the zone of Lake Deseado ) were called kreeh-unka, (the last word signifies "of the same place", meaning - from the same territory, haruwin, as the Moon -Kreeh ) . In the nineteenth century, before the arrival of the Whites to the Isla Grande, a woman by the name of Waa-an adored the Moon. She was not a xo'on but during every eclipse she sang alone to the Moon.

Waa-an's husband beat her a great deal. She became so overwhelmed by such abuse that she armed herself with a harpoon. In this moment her brother-in-law arrived and snatched the harpoon from her and after beating her he said: "You were going to attack my brother! You are like your hoowin K'uumits. You want to eat human flesh. You are a descendant of the Moon that is why you are so bad-tempered." Then he killed her. When his brother arrived he told him: "Your wife was about to kill you in order to eat you. She was of the dangerous hoowin of those who eat people."

The man who WAS CONVINCED THAT he had been seized by Moon-woman

*The following is a true story, mixed as it is with mythology, that for many of the Selk’nam was true, as almost any believer in the supernatural will understand.

One of the last "victims" of Moon-woman was a man named Kauopr, a xo'on of the haruwin Kamshkin (named for a hill near the limit between Argentine and Chile).

Angela related that she had heard this story about families who had lived about ten years before she was born, in the 1890s. Eight or ten families lived in the territory Kamshkin. Kauopr, known as Kamshkinu-xo'on, had inherited his shamanistic power from his father who had been killed by the Whites several years before. Kauopr lived there with his wife, six sons and his six brothers, two of whom also had children, besides his uncles and other kin. During an eclipse of the Moon, which had occurred some time before, his spirit (waiuwin) made the trip to visit the Moon-woman. She had shown him a bunch of blood soaked grass, and he felt he had been kreeh-chinen "seized by the Moon". He was convinced that Moon was going to "eat" him. So it happened, a group of White men arrived to their camp on horseback and armed, intending to take all the families to the Salesian mission which had just been established on Dawson Island. It is not know how it happened but several of the Selk'nam men were killed, Kamshkinu-xo'on (Kauopr) among them. Some of the adults and children were taken to the mission but the others escaped.

Kamshkinu-xo'on had become convinced that he would be killed either by a Whiteman or an Indian and so it happened, just as he had feared. He had been seized by the Moon-woman. N.9

Note that despite their mythology and beliefs about consuming human flesh, the Selk'nam were not cannibals neither were the other Indian groups in Tierra del Fuego.


1. For this article I did not make a distinction between the Selk'nam and the Haush, though they spoke different languages and their cultures, although similar, had remarkably distinctive features. For instance the latter were a peaceful people while the Selk’nam were not. Angela was a Selk’nam but some of their mythology may well have been learnt from the Haush. Both groups were hunter-gatherers and shared many customs and beliefs, including mythology, some of which was derived from their Patagonian ancestors, known as Tehuelches. An entire book should be dedicated to the Haush, even though the data concerning them is rather scarce. Back

2. Estimate made by Martin Gusinde Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego; los Selk’nam, 1982: 1:135. There are people of Selk'nam ancestry, some of whom may be knowledgeable about the ancient culture but with whom I had no contact. Back

3. The Selk'nam language has a number of phonemes that do not exist in the Indo-European languages. The transcription of Selk'nam words in this article is only an approximation of the Selk'nam language, it is not written phonetically. Also a plural "s" was added to some of the Selk'nam words simply for convenience. Back

4. All the hoowin "people" had special names which are different from the common Selk'nam words which appear in my text. My informants, as those of Gusinde also, used these the latter designations, though probably they were not used by the Selk'nam who were well versed in the tradition, such as the "Fathers of the word", the shamans, and others. These unfamiliar names were part of the esoteric vocabulary used by the shamans. I have notes on a few of these names but not sufficient to replace the common names, usually employed by my informants. Back

5. Another version of this myth relates that Sun discovered that the "spirits" were only women in disguise. At the beginning of the ceremony he came across a young woman who was pasting tiny feathers on her body to represent the spirit called K'térrnen. When she realized that Sun had seen her she plunged into a waterfall nearby and was converted into a little duck (ko'oklol) who lives near water falls]. It is quite evident that the myth of the matriarchal Hain was a partial account of the Hain of the men actually performed it ( for some of the women’s testimonies concerning the Hain, see Chapman Drama and Power in a Hunting Society…1982: 150-56. Back

6. Gusinde (1982: II: 837-49) presented for another, though similar, version of this myth. Back

7.After the arrival of the Whites, during an eclipse, the Moon was said to show a shaman a bloody piece of the uniform of a policeman, or a piece of leather from his boots to signify that the shaman would killed by a White man. Back

8. See Gusinde (1982 II: 610-11) for another version of this myth. Back

9. The data presented in this article were gather directly from Lola Kiepja (who died in 1966) and later principally from Angela Loij, Federico Echeuline, Luis Garibaldi Honte. This study was carried out thanks to the support of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris) and in 1972 also of the Consejo de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (Buenos Aires.) Back


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