The Natives

Uruguay’s native people are known as the Charrua. This tribe was made up of nomadic fisher-gatherers who did not build permanent structures, and lived instead in tents.

Juan Diaz de Solis of Spain “discovered” Uruguay in 1515, and sailed up the Rio de la Plata. He never returned, and is believed to have been killed by the Charrua.

The Charrua remained sovereign in the region until Spain began to bring in cattle in 1606 and the Portuguese settled in Colonia de Sacramento in 1680. The Charrua began to be eliminated slaughter or integration into the colonial regime. The last indigenous people were massacred in 1831 at Salsipuedes Creek (which literally translates to "get-out-if-you-can"). These last survivors were invited to a peaceful meeting and then ambushed by a company led by Bernabe Riviera. (Riviera’s descendant Fructuoso Rivera was recently elected president of Uruguay.) Only four Charrua escaped the slaughter, and were taken to France to be put on display. There is now a monument in Montevideo, Uruguay for Tacuabe, the last of the Charruas.