Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cultural identity of indigenous society of Patagonia restored

Date:
April 9, 2010
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Argentinean and Spanish researchers have shown that indigenous societies in Patagonia, the southernmost region of the Earth inhabited by humans over the past 13,000 years, were not static and marginal as had always been thought, but in fact had high levels of social organization.

Argentinean and Spanish researchers have shown that indigenous societies in Patagonia, the southernmost region of the Earth inhabited by humans over the past 13,000 years, were not static and marginal as had always been thought, but in fact had high levels of social organisation. The latest study by this team, published in the journal Arctic Anthropology, breaks down false myths and gives these societies the historic recognition they deserve.

Related Articles


"Was Patagonia a desert?" Using this question as its starting point, the Argentinean-Spanish research team has studied the development of ethnicity in Patagonia, one of the last regions of the world to be occupied by human beings, around 13,000 years ago according to radio carbon dating of archaeological remains in the region. The study, published in the journal Arctic Anthropology, overturns the traditional view of these societies.

"We started our study looking at the situation of the indigenous society today, which is suffering from a loss of cultural identity and a high degree of mixture between populations due to numerous migratory movements and the pressures of urban life," Juan A. Barceló, lead author of the study and an archaeologist and researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), said.

Documentary evidence to date has held that the region was occupied by primitive hunter-gatherers who started to "die out" and disappeared leaving behind a "desert." However, even though the indigenous population subsists in marginal populations today, this study shows that it has a history of its own.

Using ethnographic documents containing the life stories of old people who lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers as children, as well as information sources from travellers and naturalists in the 19th Century, the social scientists used specially-created computer programmes to study the dynamics of indigenous populations.

"Going beyond the common areas of information, we incorporated archaeological, anthropological and ethno-historic data to highlight the profound social complexity and economic, social and reproductive strategies of these apparently extremely simple human communities," the researcher says.

One hundred years of resistance to colonisation

Prior to European colonisation, the indigenous population had highly ingrained levels of social hierarchy. "They had relatively well evolved leadership systems, social predominance was transmitted via parentage, and wealth was concentrated, particularly in the form of thousands of heads of cattle or horses," says Barceló.

The team of experts explains that the indigenous societies had complex social and political organisation, being able to mobilise thousands of warriors.

"When they were fighting against the pressure of industrial societies they were able to call up military bands of more than 1,000 warriors, bringing together forces from distant regions and with different languages and identities," the expert explains.

Barceló says this enormous mobilisation capacity held the ever-increasing pressures of industrial society at bay for almost 100 years "until the colonists started to use canons, rifles and sabres, totally wiping out certain ethnic groups."

Recognising the past

The view of these indigenous populations as marginal people who all spoke the same language is erroneous. Some historical studies on southern languages differentiate between 30 separate languages and dialects, which were inter-related to various degrees.

"Linguistic complexity was probably much greater before European contact, since a significant feature of colonisation was the trend towards linguistic homogeneity," according to the study.

The researchers also found these to be "extraordinarily dynamic" societies that adjusted their internal characteristics to cope with change. "These were not societies that had a passively adaptation to the land and its resources. Instead, they built their own path through history by taking constant social decisions," says Barceló.

"Aside from the academic community and the general public, this study is aimed at the indigenous societies who have traditionally been denied their own history," the expert concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Cultural identity of indigenous society of Patagonia restored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100409134727.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2010, April 9). Cultural identity of indigenous society of Patagonia restored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100409134727.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Cultural identity of indigenous society of Patagonia restored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100409134727.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) — A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) — A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) — Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins