The Indigenous Peoples were caught and dragged before a European audience who eagerly paid to see the caged “savages”. Among them was Calafate, a 9-year old Selknam boy. They were photographed and their bodies measured; their limbs sought out by scientists. Some of them got sick, others died and others still were victims of sexual abuse.
The sordid “exhibitions” were carried out in several prominent areas including the Eiffel Tower and Léopold Park, located near the current European Parliament.
Calafate survived and returned to his land in the Strait of Magellan, where he helped a Salesian priest named t J.M. Beauvoir to write a Selk’nam dictionary. In 1905, Calafate passed away from tuberculosis in the Mission of Dawson Island. Others faced a much more grim fate.
In 2008, a shocking discovery was made. Records at the University of Zurich’s Department of Anthropology showed that the remains of five Kawésqar were on site. 125 years earlier, they were exhibited, dying, in a theater in the city.
Their remains were soon claimed by the last survivors of their culture, nowadays almost vanished.
In 2010, some much-needed healing finally took place. The remains of the five Kawésqar were repatriated from Switzerland and handed back to their descendants.
The five Kawésqar are now at rest after receiving a traditional ceremonial burial.
Christian Baez and Hans Mülchi
Head of Production:
Photography – Editing:
Eduardo Mülchi, Cecile Castera, Marisol Palma, Teresa Salinas Peter Mason