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The English edition of Hai kur mamashu chis / Book tour dates

August 16, 2013

WeShisEnglish first published Hai kur mamashu chis as a bilingual Spanish/English edition in Chile in 2005. That print run soon sold out. I am pleased to announce that we were able to republish it as an illustrated English-language edition here in North America for the fall of 2013.

Hai kur mamášu čis, or “I want to tell you a story,” is how the Yagán (or Yámana) people of southernmost Patagonia used to refer to their story-telling.
Hai kur mamášu čis is the time when the birds used to be humans, and perhaps also the time before there was an understanding of all that exists, of even ourselves. The deeds in these stories – the values and anti-values, the tricks and heroic actions – all lead to the transformations, to the idea of some sort of beginning.
Hai kur mamášu čis is ancient wisdom, stories passed down orally since the beginning of time by the ancestors, and passed down today through the voices of the grandmothers Úrsula Calderón and Cristina Calderón.

The grand launch of the book took place at the de Young Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco in September, with tour dates following across the country through winter 2013-2014:

2013

San Francisco, September 6th, de Young Museum of fine arts, event info

Toronto, November 14th, Ben McNally Books, event info

New York, November 18th,  Explorer’s Club, event info

Regina, November 22nd, Sakewewak Artists’ Collective, event info

Calgary, November 25th, Shelf Life Books, event info

Vancouver, November 27th, Banyen Books, event info

2014

Los Angeles (Santa Ana), January 25th, 2014, Bowers Museum, event info

Nanaimo, Sunday April 13, Harbourfront Library 2pm

Port Alberni, Monday April 14, Char’s Landing, 8pm

Tofino, Wednesday April 16, Darwin’s Café, 8pm

Seattle, Saturday April 26, Barnes & Noble Pacific Place, 2-6pm

Click for more info about the book: Hai kur mamashu chis: I want to tell you a story

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Lilienthal permalink
    August 21, 2013 5:26 pm

    Dear Ms Windh,

    I just saw news of your upcoming presentation at the deYoung Museum on its website. A longtime member there, I was amazed, and rapidly utterly heart broken when I focused on the date. It’s on a sole evening when I have unrefundable tickets elsewhere, and an unchangeable commitment to a friend with them. I would have given up virtually anything to attend this presentation, highly esoteric though it may be to most people.

    I wonder first whether there is any way that your presentation might be recorded, and made accessible to me, even if I cannot meet you as I would have wished?

    Why this interest? In 1981 (I believe) I was one of very, very few outsiders then to visit the Yaguan or Yagan settlement on Isla Navarino. In the midst of years I’d taken to dedicate to personal backpack adventure exploration in South America, I had booked a passage on a Chilean Naval vessel, docking at Isla Navarino. (Remarkable, but one could do it. We were even challenged by Argentine gunboats in the Beagle Channel, and there were responses.) I was befriended by the very educated commanding officer at the strictly military settlement on Navarino. I had an interest in the remaining vestiges of the vanishing native populations of Patagonia, and he offered to take me to the normally restricted Yaguan settlement.

    While there, I had the opportunity to meet and very informally talk with “Avuelita Rosa”, a cordial, cigar smoking, tubercular woman in her 80s. She was then unequivocally presented as the last living full blooded member of her tribe. When I used the common term “Yaguan””, she asserted (in Spanish), “I am NOT Yaguan; I am YAMANA!”. As she explained the distinction, “Yamana” was the correct denomination in their language for all female members of their group.

    Rosa did go on to reminisce for a bit about long past times. She referred to the women oiling their skins with blubber, and diving deep into the frigid waters unclothed, to retrieve abalone, other mollusks, and crustaceans. Of course this is well documented in the chronicles, and some in early photographs.

    I met other members of the small community. I believe that the woman you understand to still be a last remaining pure blood was among them. I think she was a relative of Rosa, whom you certainly know about fully, although my recollections aren’t perfect. It was surprising to me to learn that a person who may be 100% Yamana remains.

    Those are just a few recollections. I hope they are welcome. If in any manner I can access your presentation, which I so deeply regret missing, that would be wonderful.

    Warm regards, and thanks so much for your adventurous spirit, sensitivity to matters of great heritage interest, and the energy and determination to explore them deeply and preserve them,

    Jim L.

    • August 23, 2013 8:21 pm

      Hello Jim –

      Thanks so much for you interesting and thoughtful message!

      Very interesting that you met Rosa Yagan. I believe that she died in the mid-80s. I don’t believe that she claimed to be the last of the “Yagan” race, but rather the last of the Wollaston, a sub-group of the Yagan (I would have to check my books to be 100% certain of that, and I am on the road right now so I cannot do that). I have a book that was written about her memories, in Spanish, and I found out only last week that there exists an English translation of it:

      To my knowledge, Cristina Calderón is the last person who can truly claim 100% Yagan ancestry. She has many sons, but their father as from a different group (Ona, I believe). Her granddaughter Cristina Zárraga, who I worked with on this translation, is 1/4 Yagan.

      Also, with respect to the name Yagan or Yámana… Cristina Calderón (who is now in her 80s) calls herself Yagan, rather than Yámana. Even though it seems that “Yagan” was a name given to her people by the missionaries, it is the name for her own people that she grew up knowing. She says that the word “yámana” means “man” (or “alive being” or just “alive”) so, as a woman, she does not relate to herself being yámana, a man. (The word for woman is “kipa”). I know that she lived for a time on the Argentinean side of the strait – I wonder if she might have been over there when you were visiting?

      In regards to my presentation at the de Young – I am not sure if it is going to be recorded. I did sign a waiver allowing them to record it… but I am not sure that they will actually do that (it is the same waiver they have for musicians). I will try to find out, and if there is anything happening I will add a comment about it here.

      Thanks again for your interest!

      Jackie

      • Jim Lilienthal permalink
        August 23, 2013 11:51 pm

        Hi Jackie,

        What an utterly fascinating and compelling reply, and so welcome. It underscores the difficulty of getting to the root of some of these tangled, legend shrouded, and personal pride refracted historical realities in that far outpost of cultures thrown so unwanted into a shredder of roots, stems, and peoples. You were there as a devoted student. I as a dilettante explorer and adventurer. In neither case can all the past and present be focused any longer through a clear and reliable crystal, whatever one’s connection and devotion.

        Perhaps most immediately important, although I did not think it possible, good people were able to help pull a rabbit out of a hat, and it appears that I will be able to attend and enjoy your presentation at the de Young on Friday, Sept. 6. It was tantamount to moving the Cuernos de Navarino. But through some exceptional good will and fortune, pieces that seemed impossible to reassemble were picked up and reconfigured for that Saturday evening. It was the compelling nature of my antique connection with your special research and dedication that plucked all the right chords in a couple of third parties full of good will.

        I do want to respond with some thoughts and recollections regarding your very measured and extremely sensible observations. I have the sense that whatever gets written here may be available for anybody to read who wishes to access this site, evidently after some editing. I know nothing at all about “social media”. If this is it, it’s the first time I’ve ever been there…I think! I’m not sure if third party readers are or would be fascinated about an esoteric dialog about this of that on the boundaries of the Beagle Channel. You’re a better judge of that than I. If you wish, you can provide an email address, and I can reply there. (And anything you so decide would be totally non-proprietary, and could be posted by you.) I’m just asking what makes sense.

        By the way, I was indeed on the other side of The Channel which you mention. Same overall period, but an entirely different venture to the south, hitchhiking south through Argentina as contrasted to boating there through Chile. I met some of the “remaining” Ona, or Selk’nam, or whatever may be the similarly (to Navarino) uncertain linguistic propriety and orthography. The question of genetic heritage of vestiges was at least as foggy on the northern as on the southern side, if one was a systematic anthropologist to properly ask the question—which I decidedly was not! That’s just for the record, prompted by your musings about just who was where, and when.

        More later. Meanwhile, all good wishes, and thanks so much for your response and bright commentary. I expect to see you on September 6. But hope to write more before then.

        Warm regards, Jim L.

  2. Jim Lilienthal permalink
    August 24, 2013 12:10 am

    By the way, Jackie, remarkable that there is a book about, and you have it, and there is a translation thereof, about A(b)(v)uelita Rosa. What a treat that knowledge is. While the ultimate meaning can absolutely be a subject of discussion, she made one of those rare, unequivocal declarations that has rung in my ears for 30+ years. I was inquiring about her origins, and I believe with regard to whether she was that last of her people remaining. And innocently I used the appellation “Yaguan”. I think I said something like, “?Es Ud la ultima Yaguan que vive?”, although I wouldn’t swear to that. Her response was unequivocal and unforgettable, and emphatic: “NO soy Yaguan! Soy YAMANA!”. Now, at the time, it was explained to me clearly that the reason for that was that Yamana was the term for women, and Yaguan for men. I believe it was Rosa herself who said that, although it could possibly have been interjected by one of the women relatives in the room, or somehow transmitted by the Naval Commander. In any event, as your comments, and Wikipedia (which I referred to after first writing you) make clear, or unclear(!), there might be a variety of ways in which this remark could be understood–or misunderstood! As a non-academic, it is just good fun to have been there, and experienced that.

    • Jim Lilienthal permalink
      September 1, 2013 12:30 am

      Hi Jackie, Some further follow-up, with question, after some gratifying afternoon and evening time at the deYoung Museum this Friday. Is it the case, as I’m now supposing, that a single, very rare Yagan mask, now on very transitory display in a remote corner of the deYoung, is the “anchor” for your connection to launch your book there? I was so surprised when I came across it.

      This is the painted bark Kina mask, collected by Father Guseude, collected around 1924 during the period in which he lived among the Yagan, and participated in this male initiation rite at least one year. (Surprisingly, one female Yagan or Yanmana was apparently allowed to participate as well.) It’s the object given most focus in the brief slide presentation for the micro (but exquisite) exhibition of 29 objects called “Objects of Belief from the Vatican: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas”. It’s literally in the furthest corner of the deYoung, and it appears that very few visitors get there to view it.

      It’s very interesting regarding “Avuelita Rosa” and Cristina Calderon. I absolutely had the impression when I was in Chile in 1980 that Rosa was unquestionably regarded as the last full blooded member of the tribal line. This seemed to be the belief of those relatively few in Santiago and Valparaiso with enough interest to have been informed about the matter. And it certainly was what was said then within my earshot on Navarino. Now, as you indicate, Cristina Calderon has “materialized” (my word!) out of the mists, and has seemingly reincarnated what had seemed to be the the vanished mantle of “The Last”. None of this is intended to express doubts by me that she is indeed, to be clear.

      You’ve suggested that Cristina was across the Channel in T del F at that time, I intimate among people of the Ona or Selk’nam from whom her contemporary relatives descend. I wonder how much politics played into this all. As best I know, it was virtually impossible for most “ordinary people” to cross between Argentina and Chile at that latitude at that time. Perhaps different for those with intimate roots in the area. As I mentioned earlier, it was nearly impossible for a curious but unpedigreed visitor to get an unspun take then on exactly who might be a “Last” full-blooded Ona, or not, in Argentine T del F. I had a brief, but very warm interaction with the renowned animal sculptress, “La India Varela” and her daughter, who did not claim to be unmixed. (I could say more about this.) I believe I had a very brief meeting with Angela, who claimed to be pure, and Wikipedia labels as having been “The Last Ona”, although I think her bloodline was a matter of some academic dispute at the time.

      This exchange brings to mind for the first time in decades an uncomfortable moment in that terrain. I went to the home on the Ushuaia periphery of the most noted foreign anthropologist then in the region. I forget whether she was British or American. I was well prepared, and just wanted to learn from her. She totally and unceremoniously dismissed me! That happens so rarely when one travels, and shows heartfelt interest in a local area. I guess it was a fear that I might “purloin” some of her proprietary information. Or possibly it was a class perception thing, as I was leading an adventure traveler’s life, eduction or no. I’ll never know now, that is certain!

      Look forward to hearing you Friday. Best regards, Jim

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