Nobody knows his name, nobody knows his tribe’s name, and nobody knows what happened to the rest of his people. The last man of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon is now being protected from the outside world by the Brazilian government.
Officials have created a 31 square-mile exclusion zone in his patch of rain forest to keep out loggers, something local logging companies aren’t too happy about. In fact, nobody is allowed inside.
Isolated tribes have always fascinated outsiders. Early explorers tracked them down to photograph them, like this Amazonian tribesman photographed in the 1922 publication People of all Nations. Anthropologists have tried to contact the sole survivor of the unknown tribe for 15 years now, but he’s always shied away. Once an agent got too close and received an arrow in his chest.
A report by Slate says he’s the most isolated man on Earth. His patch of rain forest is now an island amid ranching and logging areas, a potent symbol of what’s happening to isolated tribes all around the world. Tribes that have little or no contact with outsiders are highly susceptible to disease and exploitation and there’s a growing movement to help them. For example, there’s an ongoing controversy in the Andaman Islands over a resort built near the Jarawa tribe. The government wants to close it in order to take pressure off this tribe of only 320 people.
Grim evidence suggests what may have happened to the unknown Amazonian’s people. He is known to build a distinctive style of hut, and a village of identical huts was found in the rain forest–run over by a bulldozer.
A flyover of another uncontacted tribe two years ago resulted in some dramatic photos showing the startled tribesmen shooting arrows at the airplane. While the media made a big hype about how they had probably never seen planes before, that seems unlikely. They’re simply protecting their territory from an outside world they perceive as dangerous and hostile. In other words, they want to be left alone.