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159186.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:18 am Reply with quote

Q: The communites of Trelew and Trevelin speak welsh, worship in welsh chapels and eat in welsh tea houses.

Tell me what else is quite interesting about them?

A: They are in Patagonia

In 1865, a group of disenchanted Welsh pioneers left Wales to seek a new life where they didn't have to speak English and could live according to Welsh principles.

The mastermind was Michael Jones of Bala, North Wales. Although he didn't emigrate himself and knew that Patagonia had been described as a desert which could never support human life, he sold the idea to many of his compatriots.

They left on the Mimosa in May 1865 and landed at Port Madryn on the Atlantic shore of Argentina.

Despite near starvation they survived and secured a foothold in the Chubut valley. They christened the river the Camwy and painstakingly irrigated it to supply a patchwork of farms all inhabited by the Welsh.

Didnít kill a single local Indian (very rare for European immigrants), and indeed acted as advocates for the Indians against the government in Buenos Aires.

They built welsh schools, chapels and had a welsh speaking government which was the first community in the world to grant women equal voting rights with men (according to the BBC).

Sadly by the turn of the 20th century, the Argentine government took over control over the welsh and extinguished their autonomy and soon other immigrants made them a minority in their colony.

Despite having received no further emigrants from Wales after 1914, and despite the Spanish-only education system, Welsh remained the language of the homes and the chapels.

In 1996 the Welsh Office began a programme in which groups of teachers spend a year in Patagonia teaching the language. 700 people are currently enrolled in classes. Many come to fluency.

This quote amused me:

"When an Englishman arrives at a place, the first thing he builds is a store; when an American arrives at a new place, he builds a school. But when a Welsh settles, the very first thing he will do is to build a chapel"


159374.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:17 am Reply with quote


159377.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:24 am Reply with quote

Oh yeah, I mentioned the suffrage of the Pitcairn Islands in the meeting:


The small British colony of the Pitcairn Islands (2006 population: 46) extended suffrage to women in 1838.

S: wiki, though it is prevalent on other, more reliable, sites.


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