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The first people who ever lived in Patagonia were the people known as "chonos", who were known by their knowledge of canoe-making and riding. They began to extinguish close to 1870. The most important group, however, were the Tehuelches, nomad people who spread so far as to Tierra del Fuego. Even today you can see wall paintings left by their ancient hands, of animals and landscapes they saw in the area. Legend says that this hunter group had very big feet, and that the name "Patagonia" comes from that. (Pata=pie=foot)

The Tehuelche people were the one who had the first contact with the Spanish explorers, whom introduced horses to the region. That introduction allowed them to know more of the territory they had settled in, in less time, which improved their hunting techniques and allowed them to extend the commerce of fur and animals.

The first person to live amongst them was a man named George Ch Musters, in 1869, who lived with several different tribes until he reached the Argentinean side of Patagonia, the city of Bariloche.

But Tehuelches were not the only native people who lived in this area. In Southern Patagonia, closer to Punta Arenas and Tierra del Fuego, Onas or Selknam, Yamanes or Yaganes, and Alacalufes or Kaweskar all shared the land. These nomad groups established themselves in different places, taking the natural resources around them to survive. Many of them lived only of what the Ocean provided them with, using what was necessary for feeding their families, and the rest of the animals caught to build houses, boats and clothes.

All these groups are extinct now. The last descendent a hundred percent pure of the native people died in 1997. Today, only mixed race people live there, or people who were raised under the natives' traditions.

Once the Chilean government was formed as such in Santiago, in 1810, it began to send explorations and "conquest enterprises" to all the Southern Territory, to find out what was out there. That is how cities were created, such as Chiloe, Chaiten, Puerto Aysen, Cochrane, Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, and all the smaller towns in the middle. Further south, commissions were sent to places like Fuerte Bulnes, a fort built to claim sovereignty in the area, and which ended up being the destination for prisoners and people condemned by the courts in Santiago.

Later, at the beginning of the 20th Century, the explorations stopped being of "conquest" and began to have a cattle farming and industrial characteristic. They began going south looking for natural resources and money. Even though not all of the companies which traveled south ended up installing premises there, their movement caused a migration movement towards the sector, for people who were already looking for jobs and a place to raise their families.

The companies had to deal with the conflicts that arose between Chile and Argentina, about geographical borders. The border problems ended with a series of treaties where limits were defined, but other problems began when the Patagonia border to Argentina was closed for Chileans, who used that territory to feed their cattle. The Chilean government was aware of the importance of the lands, so they ended up auctioning lots of land so people would move there and exploit their resources.

Tierra del Fuego, in the meantime, also received a lot of newcomers, especially people who traveled searching for gold at the end of the 1890s. The amount of people who arrived to the then small town forced authorities to create several institutions, such as a police station and a hospital, amongst others.

Today, the region continues to exploit the natural resources at hand, but with ecological awareness. At the same time, the Chilean government and the regional institutions are giving more importance to tourism, understanding that the area is of exceptional beauty, unique in the world, so it needs to be taken care of.

It is known, as well, that the region has an important energetic and tourist potential. In Tierra del Fuego, because of that, many oil and mineral coil extraction platforms have been built, producing over 44% of hydrocarbons in the region.