Uttermost Part of the Earth, E Lucas Bridges

Indians of Tierra del Fuego

I’m cheating…looking for a synopsis so I did not have to compose one myself…lazy right now and this is a heck of a book to write about as it is written about such a strange and unusual story.

Read 08/2008

From another’s review on Amazon:

When the author was born in Tierra del Fuego in 1874, it was truly an unknown land. On the southern coast was the small settlement established by his missionary parents; the rest of it, over 18,000 square miles of mountain, forest, marsh, and lake, was the hunting ground of fierce and hostile tribes. Bridges grew up amongst the coastal Yaghans, learning their language and their ways. In young manhood he made contact with the wild inland Ona tribe, became their friend and hunting companion, and was initiated into the men’s lodge.

Also from Amazon:

No other book has been written, to my knowledge, that is similar to the “Uttermost Part of the Earth.” The book is well and evocatively titled. The author was the third white child to be born in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina in 1874. Ushuaia has become today the southernmost city of the world — a place where 60 degrees F is a hot summer day and the wind never stops blowing.The author’s missionary family came to Ushuaia to convert the Yahgan Indians who eked out a cold existence around the waters of the Straits of Magellan. Growing up, the author became even more fascinated with the Ona Indians who lived in the interior of Tierra del Fuego and hunted guanaco, a wild version of the llama. The author spoke the languages of both tribes, lived with them, and recorded their culture and lifestyles. These two peoples are now culturally extinct. In 1947 the author estimated that their numbers had declined from more than 7,000 when he was born to about 150. Disease brought by the White Man along with White settlement of Tierra de Fuego for sheep herding, mining, and fishing doomed the Indians.The “Uttermost Part of the Earth” is also an adventure tale, told in a dead-pan understated style that accentuates the extraordinary events in the author’s life. There are tales of sailing in waters that probably have the worst weather in the world and of being the first to cross Tierra del Fuego on foot. One does not doubt Lucas’s veracity; there is little of the contrived excitement lesser adventurers try to generate. Indeed, he seems guilty of understatement. One would welcome from him more forthright expression of his views.

This book deserves a place on the short bookshelf of travel and adventure classics. “Uttermost” is one of the finest and most unique reads you will find, and one of the most informative also.

And finally:

This truly has to be the best book ever written. While it is a non-fiction account of life in and around Tierra del Fuego, the author is able to entertain us and amuse us with stories and anacdotes of his own life and experiences. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to attempt to understand the world of the natives of this heartless place. We often only hear of Tierra del Fuego in the stories and adventures of the sailors who pass her shores. This book allows us to step on the beaches and travel inland to taste the real experience of the land.

Well, I’m not so sure I would call it the best book ever written as several reviews have, it is a truly exceptional book and I was enthralled.

Some notes I made:

P 82 – The Yuhgans lived for the day.

P 84 – A custom described as “hastening the end of aged relatives by strangulation.”

P 116 – Carrying coal from Liverpool England around Cape Horn to San Francisco…

P 145 – Falling sea levels evident and the presence of the Indians prior to that starting

P 165 – No evidence of a legend of the Great Flood

P 166 – A past where the women ran the tribe.

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