April 29, 2021 | News of Chile in the World

Coronavirus reached the world’s southern-most village and ironically revived its culture and economy

Coronavirus reached the world’s southern-most village and ironically revived its culture and economy | Marca Chile

Confinement allowed children and youth from the Yagán indigenous people in Chile to learn ancestral craft techniques from their grandparents and begin to recover their original language.

On March 21, 2020 the first coronavirus case was recorded in Puerto Williams, a small town known for being the southern-most urban center in the world and home to the Yagán indigenous people for some 7,000 years.  Two days later, the Chilean government closed the borders to maritime and air traffic, reducing economic activity to the bare essentials and ordered strict confinement.  These restrictions helped recover some ancestral cultural practices that for some time now had been in danger of disappearing, such as the arts and crafts and the original language of the Yagán people.  Quarantine also helped rekindle intergenerational ties so that children and young people once again started to identify themselves as part of the indigenous people.  This was recently revealed in a study published in Maritime Studies, one of the world’s most important scientific journals in social sciences and humanities.

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