‘The man from the hole’ dies in Brazil, and with him, a tribe

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Little or nothing was known about him. They called him “Indian Tanaru” or “The Man from the Hole”because he dug deep wells in the huts he lived in in the Brazilian Amazon, in the state of Rondonia, bordering Bolivia.

His feather-covered body was found lifeless on August 23. in the hammock of his hut, reported the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). He was presumably in his 60s and died a natural death, after living in complete isolation for the last three decades. It is believed that he was the last of his tribe, decimated in a dangerous region, affected by mining, deforestation and the invasion of land by ranchers.

Photo: @survivalesp on Twitter

“According to all indications and evidence collected over the years, their community was annihilated as a result of at least two massacres and two attacks by invaders who entered their territory”, explains Laura de Luis, spokeswoman for the NGO Survival International, which monitors respect for indigenous rights.

Cabin built by The Man in the Hole. Photo: @SurvivalBrasil on Twitter

The case of “The Man in the Hole” recalls that a hundred uncontacted tribes still exist in this part of the world: “The largest concentration of uncontacted indigenous peoples is in the Amazon, especially in Brazil where, according to the Department of Indigenous Affairs, in the area there are, I seem to remember that the last figure was about 114 peoples. The only thing that is very difficult to verify is their existence, because obviously you cannot go and contact them. They are very vulnerable indigenous peoples”, continues the specialist.

What to do then to preserve these populations from contact, in an age marked by omnipresent communication? According to Laura deLuis, “what uncontacted indigenous peoples primarily need is for their land rights to be respectedbecause from there they can continue choosing how they want to live their lives and they can have that possibility of having a future”.

Photo: @survivalesp on Twitter

“In any case,” he stresses, “if at any given moment a contact were to be established, it would have to come from him, because we know that forced contact is the main cause of the disappearance of these peoples. In many cases they are violent contactsbut even a peaceful contact could end with the disappearance of almost an entire people, if not an entire people, because they are very vulnerable peoples and they do not have immunity against very common diseases for ussuch as a flu or a cold, or now, Covid-19 ”.

In Brazil, more than half of the 800,000 people who claim to be indigenous live in the Amazon, and many of them are threatened by large-scale, illegal exploitation of the natural resources they depend on for survival.