Cristina Calderón, Chile's last known Yaghan speaker, dies at 93
Cristina Calderón, the last known native speaker of one of Chile's indigenous languages, Yaghan, died at 93, her family said on Wednesday.
Until the end of her days, Abuela Cristina — as many knew her — bided her time making traditional reed baskets, and sharing the Yaghan language and culture with those around her, AFP reported.
Thousands of years before European settlers arrived, the Yaghan inhabited the tip of South America. While some of their customs have endured, the Yaghan are losing their tribal legends. For many, Calderón represented a cultural resistance.
In 2017, Calderón declared herself the last speaker of Yaghan, which has no written form.
"I'm the last speaker of Yaghan," she told journalists in 2017. "Others can understand it but don't speak it or know it like I do."
Calderón's commitment to preserving her language earned her recognition as a "living human treasure" by the Chilean government in 2009.
Sending a giant hug to the Calderón family, Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font said that Calderón legacy and teachings will live on in the wake of her death.
Calderón's daughter, Lidia González Calderón, said her mother's death was "sad news for the Yaghan."
"Everything I do in my work will be in your name," she tweeted in translated tweet from Spanish." And in it will also be reflected your people."
Ha fallecido mi madre, Cristina Calderón, a los 93 años. Tengo una pena profunda por no estar con ella al momento de partir. Es una noticia triste para los yagán.— Lidia González Calderón (@lidiayagan) February 16, 2022
Todo lo que haga en el trabajo en el que estoy, será en tu nombre. Y en él, estará también reflejado tu pueblo pic.twitter.com/zf9ecn1qOB