NELIN T.V. Myths About the Charrua: Truth and Fiction in the History of the Indigenous People of Uruguay


Timur V. Nelin

Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor,

Department of International Relations, Political Science and Area Studies, Volgograd State University,

Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article is devoted to the Charrua, a little-known indigenous people of Uruguay. This people was exterminated in the first half of the 19th century, giving rise to a number of myths about its history and culture. The author tries to find out, what information about the Charrua is based on facts, and what is a historical myth. The researcher considers such cases as the anthropological characteristics of the Charrua, the structure of the people, the history of its name, the case of the murder of Juan Diaz de Solis in 1516 and the history of the Natives taken to Paris in 1833.

Methods and materials. The author uses the principles of historicism, objectivity, the general scientific, historical and genetic method. The data of linguistics, physical anthropology and ethnology are also involved. The article provides historiographical and source analysis related to the Charrua materials.

Analysis. The physical appearance of the Charrua is related to the pampido anthropological type of the Chaco region. The tribe was heterogeneous and consisted of different groups. The name “Charrua” is of European origin and it is often used as a generic term for several related tribes. According to the sources, the Charrua were not involved in the murder of Juan Diaz de Solis. The latest historical studies of the Charrua taken to France show that there was not wonderful escaping of two members of this tribe.

Results. The study shows that the most part of the existing historical and anthropological myths about the Charrua are completely or partially untrue.

Key words: Charrua, Native Americans, indigenous peoples, history of Uruguay, historiography, anthropology, historical myth.

Citation. Nelin T.V. Myths About the Charrua: Truth and Fiction in the History of the Indigenous People of Uruguay. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 171-182. (in Russian). DOI:

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Myths About the Charrua: Truth and Fiction in the History of the Indigenous People of Uruguay by Nelin T.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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