The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon by Monte Reel (2010)
As foresting became big business in the Amazon, there was a major clash between the local tribes and the ranchers, with the ranchers almost always winning in the end. The government’s attempt to protect the tribes by forbidding anyone to touch their land only exasperated the situation – any rancher who found Indians on their land was motivated to murder them, and erase all traces.
Marcelo was already a protector of the tribes – he had recently discovered a branch of the Kanoe Tribe with only 5 survivors and a dark history. The tribe had already been decimated by the ranchers / loggers, and needed to connect with others, so all the men set out on an expedition. When they failed to return, two women went after them and discovered they had all been murdered. The remaining women felt they were doomed without their men and drank a poison (the stuff they use to stun the fish for easier fishing). Only one women objected – she saved her two children, her sister and her sister’s child. These 5 were all that were left.
This small tribe connected Marcelo to another struggling group, the Akuntsu. Through Marcelo’s group, Contact Front, these two tribes began working together – a difficult process with occasionally deadly results. As these two tribes began to connect, Marcelo heard of another Indian – the lone Indian.
Through reports and initial tracking, they believed this lone Indian was the last of his tribe. From rumors and whispers, they realized a local rancher had decimated a tribe, and Marcelo believed this was the last member who had escaped. He needed additional protection, but Marcelo needed to contact him and prove to the authorities not only that he existed, but that he was a unique tribe with cultural significance. However, the Indian wanted nothing to do with them. For years they would pass in the jungle with an occasional stand-off. Marcelo and FUNAI would discover abandoned huts with a strange hole dug in the ground in the middle.
Their encounters in the jungle were paired with political problems and changing positions, in a decade long quest to find this man so that he could be left alone.
The book is a good read with lots of interesting side tales and sad histories of the decimation of various tribes.
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