is the collective name of the native tribes of Patagonia
. They are also called Patagonians
It is possible that the stories of the early European explorers about the Patagones, a race of giants in South America, are based on the Tehuelches, because the Tehuelches are typically tall. According to the , there were 4,300 Tehuelche in the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz, and a further 1,637 in other parts of Argentina.
The Tehuelche originally spoke Tehuelche
, a Chon
language, but later, with the Araucanization
of Patagonia, many tribes started to speak variants of Mapudungun
. Actually, their own name, Tehuelche, comes from that language.