During the early 1800s people were still in a race to exploit the natives and land in much of lower South America in the name of religion. Orundellico was a native Fuegian man from Patagonia, which lies between the Argentina and Chile in the south of the continent.A Captain Fitzroy would barter his way to capturing at least 4 natives from the Fuegians , also known as the Yaghan people. Orundellico was traded for a button made from mother of pearl.Fitzroy would later take these natives across the sea to become civilized in England. There they would conform and be able to come back to their native land to spread Christianity.

The 4 natives were given  strange nick names by the crew on their voyage. Orundellico was called ” Jemmy Button”.The other three were called York Minister, Fuegia Basket and Boat Memory.They all made it to England where Boat Memory died of disease.The others became celebrities in England.Jemmy stayed in England for a year before returning to his homeland. He learned English customs along with their language.He was also able to hitch a ride back to his land with the one and only Charles Darwin, who was in route with hopes of charting the coastline of South America.Soon afterwards the world would see Darwin’s  evolutionary theories.

When Jemmy returned to Patagonia he had a bit of shock as it took him a while to remember the life he once had.He came from a place where the climate insisted that people huddle in groups and eat sea lions, otter or whale blubber.The wind is treacherous, always relentless, almost as if it were another planet, when compared to having a cup of tea in England.Much of the information about Orundellico and his people comes from Darwin’s 5 year voyage on Fitzroy’s ship the Beagle.Here is an excerpt from Darwin’s book “Voyage of the Beagle”. From the concurrent, but quite independent evidence of the boy taken by Mr. Low, and of Jemmy Button, it is certainly true, that when pressed in winter by hunger, they kill and devour their old women before they kill their dogs: the boy, being asked by Mr. Low why they did this, answered, “Doggies catch otters, old women no.”

It must have been difficult for Orundellico, who was taken away from this harsh environment and then returned. He was asked on several occasions to return to England because of his popularity, but refused. Maybe it was the love for his wife and family that kept him there. Orundellico had a son who was named Threeboy and was taken to England.When Jemmy Button came back to his home land after his adventure in England, he was seen months later in a loincloth with long unkempt hair. Orundellico was also  blamed for an attack on a Christian missionary boat, likely due his position in charge of converting his people into Christianity ,which was most likely something that he was uncomfortable with.Was it difficult to go from being a celebrity, wearing a fancy suit and drinking tea,to living as a native in an unforgiving environment? Apparently for Orundellico his indigenous lifestyle superseded and outweighed his celebrity star status.




Darwin, Charles. Voyage of the Beagle : Darwin’s Five-Year Circumnavigation. Santa Barbara, CA, USA: Narrative Press, The, 2001. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 12 July 2016.
Copyright © 2001. Narrative Press, The. All rights reserved.