APRIL 11, 1831


The Charrua inhabited what is now Uruguay in the early 1500s. Some accounts say there were about 10,000 Charrua when the Spanish came, but numbers fell due to European diseases. The Charrua, a semi-nomadic people, soon came into conflict with owners of ranches & plantations. In 1831, General Fructuoso Rivera, a Uruguayan founding father, mounted an army financed by plantation owners against them. In a battle now known as Salsipuedes (“get out if you can”), almost all Charrua men of fighting age were killed. The elderly, women & children were force-marched toward the capital or parceled out to plantation owners for “Christianization” and slave labor. Four Charrua adults were sent as a curiosity to France for display but they soon died of disease.  Some historians believe that all Charrua were wiped out; others assert that not all the clans went to confront General Rivera, and some eluded confrontation after the massacre. However, almost nothing of their language or culture survives today. 

  Stephanie Nolan, “‘We are still here’: The fight to be recognized as Indigenous in Uruguay,” Globe and Mail, 4/21/2018.  Retrieved, 8/12/2021, ‘We are still here’: The fight to be recognized as Indigenous in Uruguay - The Globe and Mail
Photo: Maximasu, 9/29/2013. In Montevideo, a monument called Los ultimos Charruas (The Last Charruas) depicts four Charruas: Senaque, Vaimaca, Guyunusa and Tacuabe.  Permissive us. 

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