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Selk´nam (Ona) arrows
ca. 1900
Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina
Beech wood, sinew, wood, glass, feathers
79 x 3.5 cm (each)

“In the old days, there lived an evil and powerful woman named Táita. She controlled the whole area and was selfish, giving nobody any water to drink. Only she hunted in those days, sharing only a small part of her catch with others. Without her permission, no one was allowed to work or undertake anything; lacking weapons, nobody killed animals. Many of the people were weak, dying of hunger and thirst. Finally a wise and able young man named Táiyin killed Táita with his slingshot. He took the evil woman’s bows and arrows and showed them to his people, for until that moment they had not known of such weapons. The men copied these weapons and made these bows and arrows for themselves and went hunting, successfully killing guanacos.”
—Unidentified Selk´nam, ca. 1918

In addition to gathering berries, mushrooms, and other seasonal plant foods, Selk´nam fished and hunted various animals, from rodents to sea lions. Guanaco were the main food item and were hunted by the men. Skillfully made bows and arrows were the main weapon of the hunt. The arrowheads on these arrows were finely chipped from glass.

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