When Felipe Lobato was growing up, people sometimes called him negrito (darky)and asked him if he was Peruvian, or some other kind of exotic foreigner. He was in his teens when he began to learn the history of Indigenous people who lived, not just in the Andes or other far-off corners of South America, but in Uruguay. Four years ago, as he was trying to put words on his own identity, Mr. Lobato stumbled across Facebook photos posted by people who looked like him and who said they were Charrua – members of Uruguay’s First Nation.
The hitch, for Mr. Lobato, was that the Charrua are extinct. So say the history books, the government, anthropologists and indeed Uruguay’s whole national creation story.