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Last member of indigenous tribe dies after living alone in jungle

Joe Harker

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| Last updated 

Last member of indigenous tribe dies after living alone in jungle

Featured Image Credit: Funai

The last member of an uncontacted Indigenous tribe in Brazil has died after years of living alone in the Amazon.

The unidentified man was known as the 'man of the hole' as he spent a lot of time taking shelter in pits he'd dug in the ground, others he dug as traps for animals.

Numerous attempts to establish contact were made but he rebuffed them all, setting traps around his home and firing arrows at anyone who got too close.

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For years the man of the hole was the only resident of the Tanaru Indigenous Territory in the Amazon, an isolated island of forest standing defiant amidst a vast sea of cattle ranches.

He was the sole survivor of a series of attacks from farmers between the 1980s and 1995 which wiped out the rest of his tribe.

Attempts to contact the man made it clear he didn't want to be bothered, so experts kept their distance to monitor his progress, occasionally leaving him tools and seeds to help him survive.

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Those tasked with monitoring his wellbeing found his body lying in a hammock. Brightly coloured feathers placed around it lead experts to believe the man knew he was going to die.

Footage of the man, taken in 2018, shows him chopping down trees. Credit: Funai
Footage of the man, taken in 2018, shows him chopping down trees. Credit: Funai

Fiona Watson, research and advocacy director of Survival International, visited the area in 2004 and helped with efforts to protect the man's land and safety.

Of his death she said: "No outsider knew this man’s name, or even very much about his tribe - and with his death the genocide of his people is complete.

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"For this was indeed a genocide – the deliberate wiping out of an entire people by cattle ranchers hungry for land and wealth. "He symbolised both the appalling violence and cruelty inflicted on Indigenous peoples worldwide in the name of colonisation and profit, but also their resistance.

"We can only imagine what horrors he had witnessed in his life, and the loneliness of his existence after the rest of his tribe were killed, but he determinedly resisted all attempts at contact, and made clear he just wanted to be left alone."

She argued that if Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro got his way then more Indigenous peoples of Brazil would be wiped out.

The Tanaru Indigenous Territory, 8,000 hectares of land in which the man had lived alone for more than 20 years. Credit: Survival International
The Tanaru Indigenous Territory, 8,000 hectares of land in which the man had lived alone for more than 20 years. Credit: Survival International
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In the wake of the lone man's death, the Observatory for the Human Rights of Uncontacted and recently-contacted Peoples has called for the Tanaru lands to stay protected.

They, along with Survival, want the land the man in the hole spent his life living on to be allowed to continue standing as a memorial to the genocide of Indigenous peoples.

When it comes to contacting Indigenous tribes many of them would prefer to be left alone, even occasionally killing missionaries who get too close.

However, any violence committed against those trying to contact the tribes pales in comparison to the death and destruction brought down upon them by locals.

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Brazilian farmers spent more than a decade wiping out the man of the hole's tribe, while other uncontacted tribes in Brazil have been massacred by people wanting access to land and resources.

With the man in the hole's death and nobody else in his tribe to carry on, it marks yet another tribe and culture which have now been lost forever.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Topics: News, World News

Joe Harker
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