Mysterious Man Thought to Be Last of an Uncontacted Tribe Dies, Was the Only One Who Could Explain Strange Holes in Jungle Floor


An enigmatic man thought to be the last member of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil has died, officials said Saturday.

The man was a member of a mysterious Amazon tribe, and he lived in isolation for almost 30 years, the New York Post reported.

FUNAI, which serves as Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, announced the man’s death over the weekend.

“(FUNAI) informs, with immense regret, the death of the indigenous known as ‘Tanaru Indian’ or ‘Hole Indian,’ who lived in voluntary isolation and was monitored and protected by Funai through the Ethnoenvironmental Protection Front. Guaporé, in the state of Rondônia, about 26 years ago,” the agency said in a news release.

“The indigenous man was the only survivor of his community, of unknown ethnicity.”

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The native was known as “The Man of the Hole” because of his tendency to dig deep holes wherever he went, the Post reported.

While FUNAI had attempted contact with him in the past, he resisted those attempts. In fact, he reportedly shot arrows at FUNAI employees on two different occasions, Brazilian news outlet Publica reported.

“He didn’t trust anyone around him because he had several traumatic experiences with non-indigenous people,” FUNAI indigenist Marcelo dos Santos said. “He feared for his life.

“A number of factors led to this loneliness. There are reports that uncontacted indigenous people were killed in the region with poison mixed with food. We believe that is why he never accepted the food we left him in the woods.”

Was this man the last of his tribe?

The rest of the man’s tribe members were allegedly killed in multiple attacks that began in the 1970s, Survival International reported. Research and Advocacy Director Fiona Watson said the death of “The Man in the Hole” serves as a reminder of the violence against his tribe.

“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,” Watson said. “For this was indeed a genocide — the deliberate wiping out of an entire people by cattle ranchers hungry for land and wealth.

“He symbolized both the appalling violence and cruelty inflicted on Indigenous peoples worldwide in the name of colonization 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.”

Watson said the man lived in the Tanaru Indigenous Territory, which is one of seven territories in Brazil protected under Land Protection Orders. But she said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wants to abolish those protections.

“If President Bolsonaro and his agribusiness allies get their way, this story will be repeated over and over again until all the country’s Indigenous peoples are wiped out,” Watson said. “The Indigenous movement in Brazil, and Survival, will do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

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FUNAI said there were no signs of a struggle before the man’s death, and his body was found in a hammock inside a hut on Tuesday, according to the Post.

“The Man of the Hole” was believed to be about 60 years old when he died, and Brazil’s Federal Police plan to perform an autopsy to try to determine the cause of death.

Indigenist Antenor Vaz told Publica the man deserved to be buried in a mausoleum in the Tanaru territory where he lived most of his life.

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.