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WHAT BECAME OF PATAGONIA.

There used to be a place called Patagonia. It appears on our geographies now as "a drear and uninhabitable waste, upon which herds of wild horses and cattle graze, that are hunted for their flesh by a few bands of savage Indians of immense stature." lam quoting from a school book published in 188G and in common use in this country. The same geography gives similar information about "the Argentine Confederation." It makes the Argentines roar with rage to call their country "the Argentine Confederation." It would be just as polite and proper to call this the " Confederate States of America." A bitter bloody war was fought to wipe that name off the map, but our publishers still insist upon keeping it there. It is not a confederation; it is a Nation, with a big "N," like ours— one and inseparable, united we stand, divided we fall, and all that sort of thing— the Argentine Republic. To call it anything else is an insult to the patriots who fought to make it so, and a reilection upon our own intelligence. Several years ago Patagonia was divided between Chili and the Argentine Republic, the Ministers from the United States to those two countries doing the carving. The summits of the Cordilleras were fixed as the boundary lines. Chili took the Strait of Magellan and the strip along the Pacific coast between the mountains and the sea, and the Argentine Republic the pampas, the archipelago of Tierra del Fucgo being divided between them. Since the partition ranchmen have been pushing southward with great rapidity, and now the vast territory is practically occupied. There are no more wild cattle or horses there than in Kansas, and the dreary, uninhabited wastes of Patagonia have gone into oblivion with the "Great American Desert." The remnant of a vast tribe of aborigines still occupies the interior, but the Indian problem of the Argentine Republic was solved in a summary way. There was considerable annoyance on the frontier from bands of roving savages, who used to come north in the winter time, steal cattle, rob and ravish, and the outposts of civilisation were not safe. General Roca, the Sheridan of the River Plate, was sent with a brigade of cavalry to prevent this sort of thing. East and "west across the territory runs the Rio Negro, a swift, turbid stream like the Missouri, with high banks. Fifty miles or so from the mountains the river makes a turn in its course, and leaves a narrow pathway through which everything that enters or leaves Pa:agonia by land must go. Across this path of 50 miles General Roca dug a ditch 12ft deep and 15ft wide. The Indians, to the mumber of several thousand, were north when the work was done, raiding the settlements. As spring came they turned to go southward as usual, in a long caravan, with their stolen horses and cattle. Roca j galloped around their rear, and drove them night and day before him. When they reached the ditch they became bewildered, for they could not cross it, and after a few days of slaughter the remnant that survived surrendered, and were distributed through the army as soldiers, while the women were sent into a semi-slavery among the ranchmen they had robbed. The dead animals and men were buried together in the ditch, and there has been no further annoyance from Indians on the frontier. The few that remain seldom come northward, but remain around Punta Arenas, the only settlement in the Strait, hunting the ostrich and other wild game, trading the skins for whisky, and making themselves as wretched as possible. The robes they wear are made of the skins of the guanaco, a species of the llama, and the breasts of young ostriches. There is nothing prettier than an ostrich robe, but each one represents the slaughter of from I<> to 20 young birds, and they are getting rare and expensive an the birds are being exterminated, as our buffaloes have been.— "Harper's Magazine."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW18880309.2.144

Bibliographic details

WHAT BECAME OF PATAGONIA., Otago Witness, Issue 1894, 9 March 1888

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675

WHAT BECAME OF PATAGONIA. Otago Witness, Issue 1894, 9 March 1888

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