This article presents an agent-based model designed to explore the development of cooperation
in hunter-fisher-gatherer societies that face a dilemma of sharing an unpredictable resource
that is randomly distributed in space. The model is a stylised abstraction of the
Yamana society, which inhabited the channels and islands of the southernmost part of
Tierra del Fuego (Argentina-Chile). According to ethnographic sources, the Yamana developed
cooperative behaviour supported by an indirect reciprocity mechanism: whenever
someone found an extraordinary confluence of resources, such as a beached whale, they
would use smoke signals to announce their find, bringing people together to share food and
exchange different types of social capital. The model provides insight on how the spatial
concentration of beachings and agents’ movements in the space can influence cooperation.
We conclude that the emergence of informal and dynamic communities that operate as a
vigilance network preserves cooperation and makes defection very costly.