Alberto Achacaz Walakial
Alberto Achacaz Walakial (1929? – August 4, 2008) was a Chilean citizen and one of the last full-blooded Kaweskars, who are also known as the Alacaluf. The Kaweskar are an indigenous Native American people who were once found in coastal regions of Chilean Patagonia. There are estimated to be only approximately a dozen full-blooded Kaweskars still living following Achacaz's death in 2008. However, there are no Kaweskar women of fertile age remaining, so the tribe appears to be headed for extinction.
Achacaz lived in a modest home, which lacked a modern drainage system. He had lived alone since his wife died in 1999. He earned a living by crafting small canoes out of sea lion skins and weaving traditional baskets.
Achacaz had been hospitalized since in Punta Arenas, Chile, since late June 2008. Achacaz had arrived at the hospital malnourished, dehydrated and weighing less than 130 pounds. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Hospital Naval. Additionally, Achacaz was found to be suffering from septic shock which affected his gall bladder and lungs.
Alberto Achacaz Walakial died of blood poisoning at the hospital in Punta Arenas on Monday, August 4, 2008, according to reports by the local Chilean newspaper, La Prensa Austral. Official Chilean government documents listed Achacaz's age at 79 years old. However, some believed that Achacaz was closer to 90 years of age.
Background of the Kaweskar
The Kaweskars were known as the "Nomads of the Sea." They are also known as the Alacaluf. Traditionally, the Kaweskar lived aboard their canoes within the channels of southern Patagonia. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers whose diet consisted of sea birds and seafood. It is believed that their nomadic way of life may have stretched back 6,000 years.
The Kaweskars are facing cultural extinction as a distinct group as their surviving, full-blooded members grow older. Since the arrival of Europeans, Chile has lost five of its original fourteen indigenous tribes.
- "Alberto Achacaz Walakial; one of the last Kaweskars; 79". Associated Press. The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2008-08-16. Retrieved 2008-08-17.