The repatriation of three Yahgans

Onboard the Beagle were three Yahgans who had been taken from their homeland by FitzRoy several years earlier as part of a missionary enterprise, and whom he now intended to repatriate.  They were ‘Jemmy Button’ (originally named Orundellico), ‘York Minster’ (Elleparu), and ‘Fuegia Basket’ (Yokcushlu). They did not appear in Darwin’s letters until after he had first visited Tierra del Fuego and encountered their kinsmen in their own environment. It was only at this point that Darwin was struck by the ‘progress’ that had been achieved through their forced migration to England: ‘in contradiction of what has often been stated, three years have been sufficient to change savages, into, as far as habits go, complete & voluntary Europeans’.  When the Beagle returned the following year, Darwin wrote: ‘We could hardly recognize poor Jemmy; instead of the clean, well-dressed stout lad we left him, we found him a naked thin squalid savage’, but he refused an offer to take him back to England.