Alberto Achacaz Walakial

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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.[1] 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.[1] However, there are no Kaweskar women of fertile age remaining, so the tribe appears to be headed for extinction.[1]

Achacaz lived in a modest home, which lacked a modern drainage system.[1] 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.[1]

Achacaz had been hospitalized since in Punta Arenas, Chile, since late June 2008.[1] Achacaz had arrived at the hospital malnourished, dehydrated and weighing less than 130 pounds.[1] He was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Hospital Naval.[1] Additionally, Achacaz was found to be suffering from septic shock which affected his gall bladder and lungs.[1]

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.[1] Official Chilean government documents listed Achacaz's age at 79 years old.[1] However, some believed that Achacaz was closer to 90 years of age.[1]

Background of the Kaweskar[edit]

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.[1] They were nomadic hunter-gatherers whose diet consisted of sea birds and seafood.[1] It is believed that their nomadic way of life may have stretched back 6,000 years.[1]

The Kaweskars did not establish semi-permanent settlements on dry land until the middle of the 20th century.[1] They settled in and around the hamlet of Villa Puerto Edén on Wellington Island.[1]

The Kaweskars are facing cultural extinction as a distinct group as their surviving, full-blooded members grow older.[1] Since the arrival of Europeans, Chile has lost five of its original fourteen indigenous tribes.[1]

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