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An unidentified, indigenous man believed to be the last of his tribe has died in the western Brazilian Amazon.
He was known as the “man of the hole” for his habit of constructing deep holes, some with sharpened stakes in them, according to human rights organization Survival International.
“The rest of his people had been massacred in a series of attacks from the 1970s onwards, but little was known about his people as he resisted attempts to contact him,” a news release said.
He was the only inhabitant of Tanaru Indigenous Territory in Rondonia state.
Fiona Watson, Survival’s Research and Advocacy Director, visited the territory in 2004.
“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. For this was indeed a genocide – the deliberate wiping out of an entire people by cattle ranchers hungry for land and wealth,” she said.
Watson told Fox News nobody knows for sure why the man constructed deep holes, but perhaps they were used to hunt game animals for food. Holes were also found in his tiny straw huts, possibly being a place to hide. It is also possible the holes had some sort of ritual function.
The man lived in total isolation for the past 26 years, BBC News reports. It is believed he was 60 years old and died of natural causes.
“His body was found on 23 August in a hammock outside his straw hut. There were no signs of violence,” according to BBC News.
The man had reportedly placed feathers on himself, which may have been a sign he knew death was imminent. Watson hadn’t heard that news herself but added a FUNAI — or Brazilian government indigenous affairs department field team — reported that they found him in his hammock with various possessions he used in his daily life in the hut with him.
He likely died 40 to 50 days prior to his body being found.
The man was filmed by a government team in 2018 during a chance encounter.
The territory the man lived in was a small island of forest in a sea of vast cattle ranches, in one of the most violent regions in Brazil. Organizations like Survival International and others inside Brazil have campaigned for many years for the land to be protected.