The Chono people
South of Chiloé, beyond the Gulf of the Corcovado, there is a vast array of islands which make up different archipelagos and spread as far as the southernmost tip of our territory. The Guaitecas and Chonos archipelagos form the northern part of this insular region in Chile and their southern border is the Golfo de Penas (the Gulf of Pains). Altogether, these two groups of islands approximately total 1047 and cover a surface area of 12 838 km2. Nowadays most of them are uninhabited.
A people group, which no longer exists, used to inhabit this vast territory. Throughout this labyrinth of islands, canals and fiords these men from another era developed a peculiar way of life, forcing them to adopt a nomadic existence which involved living off the sea and the islands where they camped and burying their dead in overhanging rocky areas or caves. To be truthful, we are not certain if it was just one or various indigenous groups who inhabited these presently desolate places, but thanks to chroniclers, sailors and missionaries, we have inherited a common name by which to call them: ‘Chonos’.
The information available about the Chonos is scant, just a few chronicles and documents which refer to their lifestyle, the characteristic shape of their boats, or their language and the history textbooks do nothing more than reiterate the few facts that exist concerning this people group, otherwise the most they will do is name them. There are no trustworthy references to their physical appearance, their health or even their origins, reinforcing the fact that this indigenous people group is absent, in terms of our knowledge of the aboriginal groups which lived on our soil before the arrival of European populations who very probably contributed to the origins of our present day population, such as the population of Chiloé.
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