Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 1, 2011 Volume 1

Amazon tribe down to five as oldest member dies
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Brazil: The ancient Akuntsu tribe in the Brazilian Amazon has lost its oldest member, Ururú. This leaves the tribe with only five surviving members.

Ururú was the oldest member of this close-knit, tiny group and an integral part of it. With her dies a large part of the Akuntsu historical memory.

"She was a fighter, strong, and resisted until the last moment," said Altair Algayer from FUNAI, the team which protects Akuntsu’s land.

In addition, the oldest-surviving Akuntsu, Ururú’s brother Konibú, is seriously ill.

Ururú watched the genocide of her people and the destruction of their rainforest home. In the 1960s and 70s, Rondônia state was opened to colonization. Cattle ranchers with their gunmen began moving onto Akuntsu lands. The Akuntsu were killed when ranchers bulldozed their homes and opened fire on them. Today's two surviving men, Konibú and Pupak, have marks on their bodies where bullets entered as they fled.

Ranchers tried to hide evidence of their crimes, but FUNAI found the remains of houses they destroyed to clear land for cattle pasture. Wooden poles, arrows, axes and broken pottery were also discovered.

Today the Akuntsu's territory is officially recognised by the Brazilian government. FUNAI protects their land from invasion by surrounding ranchers.

‘With Ururú’s death we are seeing the final stages of a 21st century genocide," said Stephen Curry from Survivor International. " Unlike mass killings in Nazi Germany or Rwanda, the genocides of indigenous people are played out in hidden corners of the world, and escape public scrutiny and condemnation. Although their numbers are small, the result is just as final. Only when this persecution is seen as akin to slavery or apartheid will tribal peoples begin to be safe.’

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