The Final Stages of a Genocide

Amazon Tribe Down to Five as Oldest Member Dies

The Akuntsu tribe in the Brazilian Amazon has lost its oldest member, Ururú, leaving the tribe with only five surviving members.

Ururú was the oldest member of this close-knit, tiny group and an integral part of it.

Altair Algayer, head of FUNAI’s (Brazilian government Indian affairs department) team which protects the Akuntsu’s land said, ‘She was a fighter, strong, and resisted until the last moment.’ In addition, the oldest-surviving Akuntsu, Ururú’s brother Konibú, is seriously ill.

Ururú witnessed the genocide of her people and the destruction of their rainforest home, as cattle ranchers and their gunmen moved on to indigenous lands in Rondônia state. Rondônia was opened up by government colonisation projects and the infamous BR 364 highway in the 1960s and 70s.

With Ururú dies a large part of the historical memory of this people. While we shall perhaps never know the full horrors inflicted on the Akuntsu in the last half century, today’s survivors say their family members were killed when ranchers bulldozed their houses and opened fire on them. The two surviving men, Konibú and Pupak, have marks on their bodies where bullets entered as they fled.

FUNAI found the remains of houses which had been destroyed by ranchers who were clearing the forest for cattle pasture. The ranchers attempted to hide evidence of the crime, but wooden poles, arrows, axes and broken pottery were discovered.

When the Akuntsu were contacted by FUNAI in 1995 they numbered seven. The youngest, Konibú’s daughter, died in January 2000 when a tree fell on her house.

Today they live in a territory officially recognised by the Brazilian government, where FUNAI protects their land from invasion by surrounding ranchers.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘With Ururú’s death we are seeing the final stages of a 21st century genocide. 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.’

The story of the Akuntsu, their neighbours the Kanoê, and the elusive ‘Man of the Hole’ is graphically told in a new film, Corumbiara. The Akuntsu also feature in Survival’s short film, Uncontacted Tribes.

Survival International, founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK's Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide taking place in Brazilian Amazonia, is the only international organization supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Contact Survival International at: Read other articles by Survival International, or visit Survival International's website.

9 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Don Hawkins said on October 22nd, 2009 at 1:23pm #


    WASHINGTON — Global warming is messing with the planet’s thermostat.

    That warning came Thursday from Richard Spinrad, head of research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in releasing the annual update of science’s Arctic report card.

    Warming temperatures continue in the polar north, changing wind patterns, melting sea ice and glaciers and affecting ocean and land life, the report said.

    The Arctic is a sort of natural regulator in terms of the amount of heat stored in the ocean and ice, “especially the loss of sea ice is messing with that thermostat for the whole globe,” Spinrad said at a briefing.

    A particular problem is the disappearance of old, thick sea ice that has been present for thousands of years, added James Overland of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Research Laboratory.

    “It’s very difficult to get that (ice) back,” he said.

    Among the findings of the update:

    _Air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean reached an unprecedented 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) above normal in October-December of 2008.

    _There is evidence that the higher air temperatures are causing changes in the air circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes.

    _The area covered by sea ice this summer was 25 percent below the average from 1979 to 2000 and was the third since satellite records were begun in 1979.

    _The melting ice resulted in an unprecedented amount of fresh water in the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean.

    _The amount of land covered by snow in the winters of 2007-08 and 2008-09 continued the trend toward shorter snow seasons due to earlier spring melt, although there is considerable annual and regional variability. AP

    _There is evidence that the higher air temperatures are causing changes in the air circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes.

    _There is evidence that the higher air temperatures are causing changes in the air circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes.

    And in just ten years

  2. Don Hawkins said on October 22nd, 2009 at 1:29pm #

    Now take a look at this and next I will sent the new map and take a look at the new World and see the Brazilian Amazon in just a few years.

  3. Don Hawkins said on October 22nd, 2009 at 1:33pm #

    The new map the new World.

  4. lichen said on October 22nd, 2009 at 2:23pm #

    I agree Don; global warming is genocide, and governments/corporations that refuse to fall in line towards a carbon-free world should be tried at the international criminal courts.

  5. Annie Ladysmith said on October 23rd, 2009 at 7:44am #

    But Don, THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING! I mean really, you are a follower of one of Washington’s biggest cretins–AL BORE-GORE. I mean take a good look at that guy, does he not honestly belong in a used-car-sales parking lot?? At least do some research and realize that there is opposition to your narrow-tunnel vision by very great experts in this field. Or just be ignorant, your choice.

  6. b99 said on October 23rd, 2009 at 12:55pm #

    For the first time, a commercial shipping vessel was recently able to complete the Northeast Passage – traveling from Vladivostok on the Russia’s Sea of Japan Coast to Rotterdam, Netherlands via the Arctic Ocean on Russia’s north coast. That’s because the ice is melting – fast.

    There are no scientists worth their salt who argue against global warming – only spokespeople shilling for corporations.

  7. lichen said on October 23rd, 2009 at 2:58pm #

    Yeah, gutting the fossils of dead plants and animals out of the earth and pumping them into the atmosphere in the form of black smoke has consequences.

  8. Annie said on October 26th, 2009 at 9:12am #

    Rest in Peace Ururu.

  9. so sad said on October 27th, 2009 at 9:07am #

    So sad. I have to admit it makes me imagine and wish for a flourishing afterlife, in the absence of humanity on Earth.

    Rest in Peace, Ururu