On more than 20 yearshe lived completely isolated in his forest Amazon, eating nuts, fruits and the animals he hunted. He was found dead in late August, lying in a hammock. THE “Tanaru Indian“, the last of his tribe, symbolized the resistance of its natives Amazonia against rainforest deforestation and mining.
The news of the death of this man, about whom we know very little, went round the world.
THE “Idio do Buraco“, as the locals called him (“Hole Indian”), because of his habit of digging holes in the huts where he lived, he was the last survivor of a small tribe. The rest were massacred by gunmen, who were probably sent by landowners or other landowners who wanted to exploit the forest.
Brazilian authorities they assume his death was from “natural causes” as no traces of violence were found on his body. He was lying in his hut, covered by parrot feathers.
The land of the Tanaru tribe covers an area of 80,000 hectares of virgin forest in the heart of the State of Rondonia, on the border with Bolivia. It is surrounded by large cattle ranches and is under constant pressure from ranchers and illegal loggers, as well as those who want to exploit its minerals, in one of Brazil’s most dangerous regions, according to the non-governmental organization Survival International.
The “Hole Indian” first seen in 1996 by a documentary crew accompanying the delegation of the state agency for indigenous affairs (Funai) investigating the massacre of his tribe.
The footage included in the documentary Corumbiara (2009) by Vincent Carelli shows an indigenous man watching the ‘visitors’ from an opening in his thatched hut and threateningly brandishing a spear. No sound comes out of his mouth.
Funai workers returned to the site several times to meet him, accompanied by members of neighboring tribes, in an effort to learn more about him and his lost tribe. But the native clearly showed them that he preferred to be alone. He felt threatened and even shot an arrow one day, seriously injuring a Funai member.
“We can only imagine what this man was thinking: he lived alone, didn’t talk to anyone and was very afraid of strangers, who for him were a potential threatFiona Watson, Director of Survival International, commented.
Brazilian authorities were then limited to patrolling his area, looking for signs that he was still alive. He was last videotaped on 2011, but the images were made public seven years later. In these shots he is half-naked and chopping down a tree with his scythe.
In addition to the bows and arrows found in his hut, which prove that he hunted game, the authorities also found “orchards”, which he seems to have taken special care of. He grew fruits and vegetables there, such as papaya and cassava.
What fascinated the experts, however, were the holes he dug: some reached a depth of two meters and at the bottom he placed pointed spikes. According to Funai, the “Tanaru Indian» he built 53 huts in the forest, all in the same style: with a thatched roof, with one door and always with a hole inside, which he used to trap animals or perhaps for his own shelter. Possibly it also had some religious significance.
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