Tierra del Fuego – Cradle in the Winds

There are few places on Earth where the association between the eternal cycles of nature and the ancient myths of the indigenous peoples is so manifest as in Tierra del Fuego, one of the southernmost inhabited regions in the world. When the first Spanish conquerors reached the storm beaten southern extremity of South America, they saw hundreds of campfires of the Native Americans burning on the coast. They gave the land around Cape Horn the name Tierra del Fuego - Land of Fire. To this day, the rugged region made up of pampas, mountains, lakes and glaciers is at the mercy of the elements: now a hurricane is brewing over the ocean, now snow storms draw down from the foothills of the Andes. In summer, a midnight sun burns in the sky, in winter no light comes over the horizon for a whole month. Only hardy forms of land life could survive at the extreme tip of South America and a wild mixture of Atlantic and Pacific forms of marine life: Magellan penguins, sea lions, otters, foxes, guankos, albatross and other sea birds. The Europeans brought beavers, rabbits and their pets with them, which quickly bred, threatening the ecological balance. For the most part, however, the European newcomers couldn´t understand the traditional, nature-oriented way of life of the native inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego. Even the great naturalist Charles Darwin described the indigenous inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego as the most primitive people he had ever come across, cannibals, a paragon of unreligiousness and ungodliness. Uwe Müller, the receiver of many prizes for his animal films, accompanies a mestizo Native American through his world. His simple life as a fisherman stands in sharp contrast to modern-day Argentina. For the Native American, nature is still a living entity in which every living creature has its place, its own secret history. But the balance of the once well-adapted animal world has been upset by the introduction of new species. What remains are the annual storms against an imposing mountain backdrop and the solstice festival of the last indigenous people. When the large campfires burn again, the ancient myths are brought to life in dances and stories. In the background, modern-day beacons dance in the sky - the flares of Tierra del Fuego´s oil drilling platforms.