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Amazon tribe has just five members left

October 16th, 2009
The surviving members of the Akuntsu tribe

The surviving members of the Akuntsu tribe

The Akuntsu, an ancient Amazonian tribe, has just five members left living in Brazil.

The eldest member of the tribe, Ururu, who was considered the matriarch of the last six survivors, died earlier this month.

Her death has drawn attention to the plight of the tribe, whose members are all aged between 25 and 50.

Once living in obscurity in the rainforests of the western Bazilian state of Rondonia, they have faced the familiar perils of indigenous peoples across the world.

The onslaught of road-building, agriculture and logging have over the decades eroded their way of life and threatened their very existence. Dozens of members of the tribe were reportedly massacred in 1990 during the arrival of migrant workers.

Their case only came to light in 1995 when they were first contacted by investigators who were seeking to gain greater knowledge of who populated their region.

Survival International has gone as far as describing their plight as “genocide”. The organisation hopes that highlighting the extreme fate of the Akuntsu will bring greater awareness among the wider Brazilian population.

“Public opinion is crucial,” said Stephen Corry, the group’s director. “The more people speak up for tribal rights, the greater the chance that tribes like the Akuntsu will in future survive.”

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