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[tuh-wel-chee, -chey]
Tehuelches 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.

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