They were a nomadic group canoeist, hunter gatherer. The main vessel appears to have been the bark canoe (preferably coigüe), stitched ribbed whale on each other and entangled as a shell, as described in the historical chronicles. A curved, pointed and variable length (between 8 or 9 meters), the Hallef was driven by small rowing. Later, they would have taken the chono (Tables sewn with sinew and caulked with a plaster of mud and vegetable) dalca and, in historical times, the monoxila canoe hollowed trunk, whose manufacture is possible only with European technology (metal axes). At the center of the canoe, the fire was always on, especially as to prevent embers consumed, generating heat and allowing the cooking of food.
The diet was mainly carnivorous kawashkar fatty. The main resources were obtained from hunting sea lions, otters and seabirds, as well as fishing and gathering shellfish. Shellfish were daily food, both raw and cooked. Important role played by the woman who used to collect these and fishing by diving. For this, his skin covered with grease and clay sea lion and prey collected in vegetable baskets, also manufactured by them. Men were responsible for the terrestrial and marine hunting and tool making, basically made the bone. The amount of utensils manufactured and possessed was small, especially in variety. The same tool used to perform various functions. They made punches and wooden boxes with shells.
To hunt sea lion harpoon used a bone or a large network of tendons or strands made of leather in order to catch the live animal.Their meat and whale were ingested in an advanced state of putrefaction. There is little information on the use of the bow and arrow. Fundamental was the dog in the hunt huemul and, subsequently, on a casual basis, bighorn in cattle. The few vegetables consumed, along with mushrooms and bird eggs, were collected on land.
Their ornaments were necklaces of shells and feathers. His dress, a short leather coat tied around his neck, which material varied by country (sea lion and deer, mainly). The use of body paint was a very common custom among peoples kawashkar, Yamana and selk'nam, although restricted to the ceremonies. Drew on his face and body stripes and geometric motifs of different colors. When men kawashkar parents would be covered in red and adorned with white feathers right shoulder and chest. When it came to the death of a family member, his face painted black, differentiating design by cause of death. In 2006, natural walls of Madre de Dios Island, 25 were found cave paintings that are attributed to this town.
The basic social unit was the family. There was a chief in charge of hunting trips, which used to be one of greater strength, and when he resigned the position was inherited by one of his children or friends. The marriage took place after puberty and was rigged to the construction of the canoe, dog ownership and construction of housing, synonymous with independence. The ceremony was celebrated with families and friends large amount of food consumed. The marriage was prohibited between siblings and cousins, both matrilineal and paternal. Younger children remained tied to the back of the mother and the sexual differentiation was recognized from the age of four. His name was given when language is acquired and mobility. The parenting and mastery of the canoe were in the hands of women, while making the hut was carried out by men. There were exchanges, TCHAS, consisting of offerings spread among people camping in one place, although genralmente families were scattered and were self-sufficient, they only linking ceremonies or events varazón like a whale. The insulation would have been the most important to understand this culture homogeneity factor.
Beliefs and Funerary
The kawashkar worldview based on the belief of a supreme, solitary and independent being, Xolás. Creator of all, traditions and morals, He directs human action. Dreams would be the link with the 'beyond'. Other spirits exist as Ayayema, evil spirit present in all stages of life. He was associated to the stench. Be around through the southern landscapes bringing bad luck, illness and death. Morally dominated the principle 'first each is its own neighbor'.
Initiation or Kalakai, was directed at both men and women, and their goal was to perfect parental education, indoctrinating intensively both moral and practical the new adult so he could fend for himself. In the Kalakai / candidates as / as, whose ages ranged between 14 and 18, and their families gathered in a large hut. Was designated a driver of the ceremony, usually an elder, he should teach moral codes given by Xólas. Generally, the event occurred when beaching a whale, that is, when enough food was insured. The duration of the ceremony was about 6-10 weeks, depending on food supply and public attention.
They also had a secret male ceremony similar to yámana Kina. The Owurkan, can be considered as a doctor, priest, shaman or charming. It is engaged in the cure of diseases, weather forecasting and spiritual influence on the people. The disease, if they were mild, were treated by everyone, if resorted to Owurkan aggravated. Faced with imminent death is looking for a comfortable place to locate the dying and the death occurred once cries and lamentations uttered, followed by a decrease in daily activities. The body was extended, wrapped in stitched leather and buried next to the hut, about 20 inches deep, looking up and covered with branches, leaves and stones. The belongings of the deceased were burned. The site was considered inauspicious and avoided.
Kawésqar mean 'skin and bone men' and would name it a bias of Alacalufes known. By 1946, most kawashkar needed the help of an interpreter when he spoke in Castilian. Three decades after the Spanish had imposed, developing bilingualism with a marked restriction of the mother tongue, indigenous vernacular used only in the presence of the indigenous community. The kawashkar have been first seen in 1526 by issuing Loaysa Jofre. By the nineteenth century the population kawashkar was approximately 4000 individuals.
By the end of that century with the founding of Fuerte Bulnes in 1843, Chile began to incorporate real and territories gradually Magallanes and the Austral Islands. From that moment were constant contacts between Indians and settlers, increasing conflict and causing contagious diseases were installed, the population declined kawashkar and by the end of that century, reached 500 people. By 1925, the population had dropped to 150. In 1940, this group was benefited by Kawashkar Protection Act which resulted in the installation of all of them in Wellington Island in Puerto Eden. This resulted in an exacerbated state assistance and, therefore, in a misconceived acculturation. The kawashkar population continued to decline in 1946 totaled 100 individuals, in 1953, 60 and 47 people in 1971. The precarious living conditions in Puerto Eden prompted a major migration in 1995 to Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales.
These "urban kawashkar" trade craft remain as members of crews fisher-gatherers of shellfish or some kind of pension from the government. From kawashkar recognition under the Indian Act, different groupings for the recovery of ancestral traditions and defend their rights are created. In 2002, the population was surveyed kawashkar in 2622 individuals representing 0.38% of the Aboriginal population.
As canoeists southern nomads, kawashkar lived most of the time in his canoe, circulating through the channels, from island to island in search of resources. It is said that even loaded their boats by land to avoid unnecessary shortcuts navigational paths.The canoe housed a nuclear or extended family (about ten people), dogs, weapons and household utensils, plus hides used as cover for ground tilt (tchelo). The chroniclers state that in their canoes sticks and tree bark with which arming their homes wherever they were loaded. Their camps were temporary onshore except when beached whale, in which different families gathered on the coast to establish a more permanent camp. The property had some variability throughout the territory, but its base was a dome shape with elliptical base, about three meters in diameter. Its structure was achieved by burying the end of a set of rods that curled up together at their other ends, about two meters high. On her wolf hides, bark and branches were placed, freeing two inputs and an opening for the smoke to escape. The floor was insulated with sheets to prevent cold and wet it was crucial to retain the heat of the fire. The women slept near it and men to the inputs. The structures are not disarmed, being reused by other groups.