‘The indigenous from the hole’: Federal Police ‘does not know’ existence of body in Superintendence and entities demand burial

The last of his people, the indigenous man was found dead in August in the Tanaru territory, where he had lived alone for almost three decades (Art: Mateus Moura/CENARIUM MAGAZINE)
Iury Lima – from Cenarium Magazine

VILHENA (RO) – “They caused the genocide of his people. He is the only one left. And he has no right to rest, because they are not letting him rest. They won’t let him rest even in his own death“. The declaration was made by Ivaneide Bandeira Cardozo, indigenist and president of the Kanindé Association for the Ethno-Environmental Defense, or Neidinha Suruí, when speaking to CENARIUM MAGAZINE about what she calls “total neglect” and criticizes the delay by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) in authorizing and carrying out the burial of the remains of the last remnant of a people who lived in isolation in the south of Rondonia, the indigenous person known as the “Indigenous of the hole”.

It has been two months since he was found dead on August 23rd in the Tanaru territory. He had lived there alone for almost three decades, after his people were completely decimated in conflicts against ranchers and other invaders of the forest at the end of the 1990s, to the point where he became the last survivor. Collected for examination, which indicated a death by “natural causes”, according to the federal government, his body remained for almost a month in Brasilia before returning to Rondônia, even though the Federal Police (PF) now denies this latest information.

A report by the Diário da Amazônia portal says that the bones of the ‘Indigenous from the hole’ are in the Superintendence of the Federal Police in Vilhena, 706 kilometers from Porto Velho, by order of FUNAI and that the body was sent back because of Vilhena’s position as the “pole city of the southern region of Rondonia” – precisely where the Tanaru Indigenous TI is located and where, also, the indigenous should have been buried, as the police had previously predicted.


When consulted by CENARIUM, the Federal Police in Rondônia said that “the entire operation was commanded by Brasilia” and that “not even the Regional Superintendence has this information”.

Federal Police in Rondônia is unaware of information that the bones of the ‘Indigenous of the hole’ would be stored in the Superintendence of Vilhena, in the countryside of the state (Iury Lima/CENARIUM)

Anti-indigenous’ portrait

“This is vilifying the dead”, expressed, still outraged, the activist and president of the NGO Kanindé. “It is a very clear portrait of how this anti-indigenous government and this country treat Indigenous Peoples: they don’t even respect the death of the person”, added Neidinha Surui.

For the Suruí indigenist and environmental activist Neidinha Suruí, the delay in burial represents the existence of hidden interests in the Tanaru territory (Kanindé/Reproduction)

With the death of the last of a completely unknown people, one question remains: who will own the Indigenous Land of more than 8,000 hectares? “What this government should do is bury him in that area, because the land is his, besides creating a kind of memorial, a reserve or a park in memory and in respect of all these people that were massacred”, suggested the activist and environmentalist.

On the other hand, Neidinha believes that the destiny of the Tanaru Indigenous Land will be very different and, also, more tragic, but not so far from the sad and severe reality that has become the Amazon, figured by the ‘passing of the oxen’.

“For me, what is behind all this [the delay in burial] is that they don’t want him to be buried in his territory, because they want to seize the territory. They want to appropriate this territory”, she warned.

An area of more than 8,000 hectares, where the ‘hole Indian’ lived alone for 26 years, is located between four municipalities in southern Rondônia (Art: Mateus Moura/CENARIUM MAGAZINE)

Protected by use restriction ordinances from Funai, the Tanaru land is divided between four municipalities: Corumbiara, Chupinguaia, Parecis and Pimenteiras do Oeste. The place is surrounded by many cattle ranches and suffers great pressure from cattle ranchers and politicians. Funai has not yet informed what it will do with the region.

In one of the rare video records, the ‘hole Indian’ is seen cutting a tree trunk with what appears to be a handmade axe (Frente de Proteção Etnoambiental Guaporé/Reproduction)

Entities demand answers

The burial was cancelled by a letter from the current president of FUNAI, Marcelo Xavier, with the justification that a more detailed genetic analysis is still lacking, aimed at identifying the ethnic ancestry of the ‘Indigenous of the hole’.

The decision was poorly received by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab), which filed a complaint with the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) against the manager of the foundation for the delay in providing answers about the burial.

“(…) more than 54 days after the death of the indigenous Tanaru, there is no news about the date, place and burial of the Tanaru”, published Coiab. “The situation is serious and requires energetic action by the parquet [Public Prosecutor’s Office], whose constitutional mission is the defense of indigenous peoples”, it added in a statement.

In the document sent to the MPF, the entity requested an investigation against Marcelo Xavier for “possible crimes” committed by him in the management of Funai, especially in the delay in carrying out the burial of the indigenous person from the Tanaru Land, pointing to omission on his part in relation to the agency created to preserve the existence and memory of the native populations of the country.

Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon calls for investigation against Marcelo Xavier (Coiab/Reproduction)

“Since the mid-1990s, when the first news about the existence of the ‘Indio do Buraco’ and the isolated peoples Akuntsu and Kanoê emerged, the MPF has acted to protect the rights of these peoples. In that period, the agency worked together with Funai’s Guaporé Ethno-Environmental Protection Front to ensure that the area of these peoples was respected and legally protected”, says the MPF.

The Brazilian representation of the non-governmental organization in defense of Indigenous Peoples, Survival International, also repudiated the negligence. It called the portfolio a “New Funai of Jair Bolsonaro and Marcelo Xavier”.


The ‘Indigenous of the hole’ got his name because he was known for digging graves in the forest, a behavior that even today the Indians do not understand. He never accepted contact with non-indigenous, never accepted gifts such as tools and food, and never made a sound when meeting people from outside the forest. Seen only a few times, there are almost no records of him on video.

The Indigenous became known for digging graves in the forest and to this day the indigenous people don’t understand why he did it (Photo: Reproduction)

When he was found dead, the indigenous man was lying in a hammock, dressed in traditional clothes and headdresses made of macaw feathers, as if waiting for death. To the world, the loss of the man considered a symbol of the resistance of the isolated peoples from all over Brazil, echoed as an example of the complete genocide of a population originating from the Amazon.

The last of his people, the indigenous people have always refused any attempt at contact from the ‘white man’ (Video: Reproduction)

What does Funai say

Sought by CENARIUM MAGAZINE, Funai did not comment on the alleged storage of the remains in the Federal Police building in Vilhena and also did not give details about the cancellation of the burial. It only said that it was still “awaiting the reports to define the best procedures for the burial of the indigenous victim”.

Learn more about the death of the ‘indigenous of the hole’

Report produced by TV Cenarium, in partnership with TV Cultura, about the death of the ‘Indigenous of the hole’, in August this year (TV Cultura/Reproduction)


O que você achou deste conteúdo?



Os comentários são de responsabilidade exclusiva de seus autores e não representam a opinião deste site. Se achar algo que viole os termos de uso, denuncie. Leia as perguntas mais frequentes para saber o que é impróprio ou ilegal.