Touching tribute from Magallanes University to Cristina Calderon, the representative of the Yagan people

As part of its birthday’s activities, the Magallanes University organized a grateful tribute to the last yagan speaker, Cristina Calderón. Photograph of Luisa Villablanca


For the 53rd birthday of the Magallanes University(UMAG), the regional department of high studies rendered this thursday a rightful homage to Cristina Calderón, National Living Treasure of yagán people, and representative of the « canoera » culture (nomadic people of the south Magellan Strait channels) of the extreme south of Chile.

The ceremony took place on the Patagonian Institute, and conducted by the rector of the UMAG, Juan Oyarzo, accompanied by the Intendant of Magallanes y Antártica Chilena, Jorge Flies.

The highest regional authority congratulate the university for this “rightful tribute” attributed to Cristina Calderón. “It is in fact what we have to do as a community. We are lucky to have Cristina with us. We are really pleased that she has been able to come with her daughter and has been able to receive our displays of affection. We all agree that this tribute we rendered is important to her, recognized National Living Treasure by the UNESCO.”, the intendant Flies stated.

The chief of the Regional Government considers as a real gift to give Cristina Calderon the possibility to express herself in her’s mother tongue. In this sense, and to  preserve the yagán language, Flies announced that he had started to solicit the linguist Oscar Aguilera, that who realised great works about the kawésqar language, to make, with Calderon, a similar work for the benefit of the safeguarding of this language.

For his part, the UMAG rector, Juan Oyarzo, got very emotional at the end of the ceremony. “I’m very touched to have had the opportunity to lead this event and to have been able to say a few words to “la abuela” Cristina this afternoon”, Oyarzo said and added “It’s good to pay these tributes as long as she’s alive. But we also have a sense of guilt from an era in which people were blind to the consequences of their acts against Yagan people. We are now seeing the impacts : an ethnic group and a language are at the point of disappearing”.

“I am full of emotion because, although late in coming, we have reached to pay this tribute,but especially because we are an inclusive university that pretend to link all localities like Puerto Williams, Puerto Natales and Porvenir, where we also have university centres.”, the rector commented. He announced that he committed himself, as an academic, to support the intentions of a Cristina’s niece, also present to this tribute and who whishes to study the Pedagogy in Early Education.

The authorities undertake to ensure the governance of the possibility, for Cristina Calderón, to teach her language and thus to preserve and diffuse a part of her culture with the rest of the Magellanic community.

From Prensa Antartica Chilena (