"time of the Indian raids"

Patagonia before the arrival of white settlers was sparsely occupied by various nomadic groups, including the Chonik, Mapuche (or Araucanians) and Ona. As Chatwin is still in the north at this point, on the border with the Pampas, the Indians could have been Querandi or Tehuelche, the latter the source of the myth of the Patagonian giants. Many were wiped out by white settlement (which brought disease) and the raids of the Conquest of the Desert, initiated by General Roca in the 1870s.