German-Polish priest and anthropologist Father Martin Gusinde[*] wrote extensively about the Selk’nam and their beliefs. His native sources described Yóši (as he spells it), as having a body “that was not like that of a man”. There were no females, only sexually aggressive males with well shaped bodies and endowed with a “large penis”. They preferred to go around naked though some used a fox fur to cover themselves; they moved very swiftly and could jump far.
[*] Martín Gusinde (1886-1969). German Salesian priest, ethnologist and anthropologist visited Tierra del Fuego among the Selk’nam (1918-19), the Yamana (1919-22) and the Alakaluf (1923-24). Foreseeing their coming extinction he documented and photographed them.
They were real creatures, not spirits and therefore the magic of the Fuegian xon or sorcerer had no power over them, the Selk’nam knew that they had to slay them with their arrows upon sighting them and avoid the forests, where the Yosi hid behind trees or in their hollows ready to pounce on, and kill, unwary men.
Gusinde quoted a native by the name of Tenensek as saying that:
No one knows where they come from or how they came to our land (…) The Yóši are not even ancestors of the Selk’nam (…) they hide in caves and gullies between the mountains, but prefer the dense forest.
This gives a clue towards them being non-human and definitively not related to men.
They also resemble the European incubus myth because to satisfy their great sexual craving they preyed upon vulnerable women, and also men, fondling their genitals and raping them in their sleep. They also kidnapped them to use them as sexual slaves, and after quenching their lust, they left them to die in the woods. They never took children, preferring only adults.
Though solitary, on occasions they gathered in groups of three or four to attack a lonely person. Their weapon was a rounded stone, which they threw with great accuracy to kill and maim men.
This scant and very sketchy evidence gathered from eye witnesses suggests the existence of a dwarfish pre-human stone throwing and club bearing being that had not mastered the art of fire making. A dangerous ape-like creature that lived in the Fuegian forests and was hunting and being hunted there until the 1920s when it quite suddenly disappeared together with the last Selk’nam and Haush, never to be seen again.
Was it widespread in Patagonia or just a local Fuegian being? As we have seen in previous posts, there are other mythical dwarves in Patagonia, Trauco, Tachwüll and Anchimallén among others. Perhaps they are different representations of the same being. See map showing their location Here.
On our next post, (Nov 5th), we will try to give some scientific points of views regarding Yosi.
Continues tomorrow. See previous post (Part 1) Here.
See next post (Part 3) Here
 Gusinde, M., (1986). Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego: Los Selk’nam. B. Aires: Centro Argentino de Etnología Americana. Tomo 1, v.2: 672 – 680.
Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©