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Human extinction
Extinction may be future for us all who are not useful to the plans of rapacious greed of the system killing our planet and us all.
Published on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 by The Independent/UK Decline of a Tribe: and Then There Were Five

The last surviving members of an ancient Amazonian tribe are a tragic testament to greed and genocide

by Guy Adams

They are the last survivors: all that's left of a once-vibrant civilisation which created its own religion and language, and gave special names to everything from the creatures of the rainforest to the stars of the night sky.
[Image: tribe_250210s.jpg]Ururu, front left, with the last members of the Akuntsu, in a picture taken before she died this month. Most of the tribe was massacred by loggers in about 1990
Just five people represent the entire remaining population of the Akuntsu, an ancient Amazonian tribe which a generation ago boasted several hundred members, but has been destroyed by a tragic mixture of hostility and neglect. The indigenous community, which spent thousands of years in uncontacted seclusion, recently took an unwelcome step closer to extinction, with the death of its sixth last member, an elderly woman called Ururú.
Considered the matriarch of the Akuntsu, and shown in these pictures (which were taken in 2006, and are the most recent images of the tribe), Ururú died of old age, in a hut built from straw and leaves, on 1 October. News of her death emerged last week, when the tribe was visited by human rights campaigners, who have spent the past decade campaigning to preserve their homeland from deforestation.
"I followed the funeral," says Altair Algayer, a local representative of Funai, the Brazilian government agency which protects Indian territories. "She died in a small house. We heard weeping and rushed over, but she had already died." Ururú's death means the entire population of the Akuntsu now consists of just three women and two men. All of them are either close family relations, or no longer of child-bearing age - meaning that the tribe's eventual disappearance is now inevitable.
The slow death of this indigenous community is far more than an unfortunate accident, however. Instead, it represents the long-planned realisation of one of the most successful acts of genocide in human history. And the fate of the Akuntsu is seen by lobby groups as an object lesson in the physical and cultural dangers faced by undiscovered tribes at so-called "first contact".
Much of the Akuntsus' story is - for obvious reasons - undocumented. For millennia, they lived in obscurity, deep in the rainforest of Rondonia state, a remote region of western Brazil near the Bolivian border. They hunted wild pig, agoutis and tapir, and had small gardens in their villages, where they would grow manioc (or cassava) and corn.
Then, in the 1980s, their death warrant was effectively signed: farmers and loggers were invited to begin exploring the region, cutting roads deep into the forest, and turning the once verdant wilderness into lucrative soya fields and cattle ranches.
Fiercely industrious, the new migrant workers knew that one thing might prevent them from creating profitable homesteads from the rainforest: the discovery of uncontacted tribes, whose land is protected from development under the Brazilian constitution.
As a result, frontiersmen who first came across the Akuntsu in the mid-1980s made a simple calculation. The only way to prevent the government finding out about this indigenous community was to wipe them off the map.
At some point, believed to be around 1990, scores of Akuntsu were massacred at a site roughly five hours' drive from the town of Vilhena. Only seven members of the tribe escaped, retreating deeper into the wilderness to survive.
Those seven were not formally "contacted" until 1995, when Funai investigators finally made it to the region and were able to have a 26,000-hectare area of forest protected for them. They included the late Ururú, who was the sister of the tribe's chief and shaman, Konibú.
"We know little of what Ururú's life was like," says Mr Algayer, who was among the Funai team that first discovered the tribe. "In the 14 years that we have been with her, she was a happy, spontaneous person ... She recounts that she had four children who were all shot dead during the massacre. We don't know who her husband was or how he died."
One other member of the group of seven, known as Babakyhp, was killed in a freak accident in 2000, when a tree blew over in a storm and landed on her hut. The others, who still survive, are Pugapía, Konibú's wife, who is roughly 50 years old, their daughters, Nãnoi and Enotéi, who are around 35 and 25 respectively, and a cousin, Pupak, who is in her forties.
Evidence of their suffering is visible in bullet wounds which both Konibú and Pupak showed to cameramen making a documentary about their struggle - Corumbiara: they shoot Indians, don't they? - that was filmed over the last 20 years and has just been released in Brazil.
It is also evident in a simple fact: on its own, the Akuntsu gene pool cannot allow it to survive another generation. Since tribal custom will apparently not allow outsiders to marry in, it is therefore effectively doomed.
The Akuntsu story is not unique. Even if they escape persecution, communities that have never encountered the outside world often face tragedy. Typically they lose between 50 and 80 per cent of their population in a matter of months, since they have no immunity to common diseases.
Ancient ways of life are also frequently corrupted by the arrival of outsiders. Though indigenous tribes rarely have much interest in material possessions, and often don't understand the concept of money, their traditional clothes and rituals are vulnerable to change.
Campaigners now hope the fate of the tribe, which will be publicly highlighted by Ururú's death, will persuade the Brazilian people to further strengthen government protections for indigenous people.
Stephen Corry of Survival International, a human rights organisation that has been working with Funai, said: "The "Akuntsu are at the end of the road. In a few decades this once vibrant and self-sufficient people will cease to exist and the world will have lost yet another piece of our astonishing human diversity.
"Their genocide is a terrible reminder that in the 21st century there are still uncontacted tribes in several continents who face annihilation as their lands are invaded, plundered and stolen. Yet this situation can be reversed if governments uphold their land rights in accordance with international law.
"Public opinion is crucial - the more people speak up for tribal rights, the greater the chance that tribes like the Akuntsu will in future survive."
© 2009 The Independent
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
I once took a class on Indian Tribes of California.My teacher was a local Pomo Indian.The very best part of this class for me was a backpack/camping trip into the hills around Red Bluff where Ishi the last wild Native American once lived.Ishi was a Yahi,and there were only five left of his tribe when their camp was discovered.This led to Ishi spending the last years in the wild all alone.He finally walked into civilization.

TNB->Yahi: Ishi: The last Yahi IndianPosted on Tuesday, June 03 @ 22:14:48 CDT KEYWORDS: Ishi last Yahi Indian history yahi tribe california indian tribe extinct California tribes native american book review Indian book review

AUTHOR: Jeff Baker

At the quiet center stood a man. He never said his real name -- to say it aloud to strangers would be unthinkable for a California Native American from the Yahi tribe -- so he became known as Ishi, his people's word for man. He spent almost 40 years living in isolation in the Mount Lassen foothills, one of the last dozen Yahi who hid themselves to avoid the white men who nearly wiped out their tribe.

When they were all gone but him, when Ishi was a tribe of one, he walked out of his carefully concealed world and into Oroville, Calif., where he was found near a slaughterhouse on Aug. 29, 1911. The townspeople, unlike those who massacred thousands of Yana and Yahi Indians 50 years earlier, were concerned about this frightened man and baked him pies when they heard he wasn't eating.

[Image: icon_su.gif] Stumble It!

[Image: trans_en.gif]Two anthropologists at the University of California, Alfred Kroeber and T.T. Waterman, arranged to have Ishi taken from the Oroville jail to San Francisco, where he lived in a museum. Friendly and curious, Ishi taught Kroeber and Waterman much about his language, culture and customs and learned to live in a world unimaginably different from the one he had known. He died of tuberculosis in 1916.

Ishi's story was well-known during the last five years of his life but faded from memory until 1961, when Theodora Kroeber, the 64-year- old wife of Alfred Kroeber, wrote a remarkable book called "Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America." It became a best seller, much to its author's surprise and delight, and sold more than 1 million copies. It is the June selection of The Oregonian Book Club.

Other books have been written about Ishi, such as "The Last Yahi: A Novel About Ishi," by Lawrence Holcomb; "Ishi in Three Centuries," edited by Karl Kroeber and just recently released in April 2003; and "Ishi's Journey: From the Center to the Edge of the World," by James A. Freeman. Movies have been made and poems have been written -- William Stafford wrote one called "The Concealment: Ishi, the Last Wild Indian." Stafford caught the essence of Ishi's life in the wilderness when he wrote that "In order to live, he had to hide that he did." Kroeber took that life and presented it in a way that has moved two generations of readers and fills her daughter, herself an internationally famous author of more than 50 books, with a quiet pride.

"It makes people cry -- still," Ursula K. Le Guin said. "It's a wonderful story, like Robinson Crusoe in reverse. It's very hard not to identify with, but the other reason it makes people cry is my mother wrote it from the heart. She did a great deal of research -- she took that aspect of it very seriously -- but she was deeply emotionally involved. It's a work of art."

Le Guin was born in 1929, long after Ishi's death, and knew nothing about him growing up. Her father "wasn't a reminiscer," she said. "This was a long time ago, and it ended for him in considerable pain and grief. His first wife died of tuberculosis in 1911 and Ishi died of tuberculosis in 1916. It wasn't a good time for him, and he wasn't one to talk about old times, anyway."

Alfred Kroeber and Waterman -- along with Saxton Pope, a doctor from the hospital next to the museum where Ishi lived -- formed close friendships with Ishi and went back to his home country for an extended camping trip in 1914 that helped them understand how the Yahi had lived. When Ishi died, Kroeber was in New York and opposed an autopsy, writing a colleague that "if there is any talk about the interests of science, say for me that science can go to hell. We propose to stand by our friends."

Kroeber, a respected authority on California Indians, never wrote about Ishi.

"My memory of it is that people would ask my father, 'Why don't you write a biography of Ishi?' and he would say, 'No, why don't you ask my wife?' " Le Guin said. "She had begun to become a writer. She started very late, and she had published a couple of kids books and a book called 'The Inland Whale,' which is a retelling of a California Indian story. She was equipped not as an anthropologist but as a writer and researcher to tell this story, but she did have a deep interest in Indians, particularly California Indians."

Theodora Kroeber began researching Ishi's life in the mid-1950s. An outgoing woman, known as "Krak" (rhymes with "lake") to her family and friends, she often discussed her work with her daughter and three sons. Le Guin remembers her mother being horrified by what had been done to the Yana and Yahi and struggling to put it into words.

"She had trouble writing the massacre chapters," Le Guin said. "She was not a violent woman, and she didn't like to write about violent stuff. It must have been hard for her."

Before 1850, there were about 3,000 Yana and Yahi (a geographic and linguistic group of Yana to which Ishi belonged). By 1872, there were only about 30 Yana left and only about a dozen Yahi, including Ishi, who probably was born in 1862. Kroeber wrote that these Native Americans had no weapons of war and did not take scalps, unlike the white men who killed them indiscriminately. During one massacre of the Yahi, four men found a group of about 30 Indians, many of them women and children, hiding in a cave and opened fire. One man felt he had to change from a rifle to a revolver because the larger gun "tore them up so bad," particularly the babies.

"They hunted them as if they were coyotes," said Le Guin, noting that white men of the time referred to the Indians as "diggers, which sounds awfully close to another word people use to dehumanize other people."

Those who massacred the Yahi in the cave thought they had achieved a final solution to their "Indian problem." Instead, Ishi -- a boy of no more than 10 -- and about a dozen other Yahi, including his mother, disappeared into the upper reaches of Mill and Deer creeks, concealing themselves for decades from the newcomers they rightly feared.

"A rock, a leaf, mud, even the grass/Ishi the shadow man had to put back where it was," Stafford wrote.

In 1908, engineers for a power company stumbled onto the last Yahi camp. Two of them, an old man and a younger woman, fled through the brush and were never seen again. An old woman was left in camp as the white men looted it, taking every possession. When they returned the next day, she was gone. She was Ishi's mother; he carried her away and nursed her until she died. Three years later, tired and alone, he entered civilization.

"Part of the power and durability of the book is that it presents us with the moral dilemma of the white occupation very directly and inescapably," Le Guin said. "It's a question of who's responsible for what, how much responsibility can we bear, and how much can we accept."

After he entered Oroville, Ishi accepted his fate with much more than stoicism or resignation. Kroeber, Waterman and the others who knew him described him as bright, patient, congenial, self-aware and dignified. He knew he was in a world far different from the one he came from. He never tired of asking questions about what he didn't know or explaining his life to those interested in it and taught others his language while learning English.

If those responsible for him did things that might seem unscientific almost 100 years later (Ishi worked as a janitor and demonstrated how to make tools and bows at the museum), they prevented him from being exploited in the traveling shows popular at the time and treated him with friendship and respect.

"We knew many things, and much that is false," Pope wrote. "He knew nature, which is always true. His were the qualities of character that last forever. He was kind; he had courage and self-restraint, and though all had been taken from him, there was no bitterness in his heart. His soul was that of a child, his mind that of a philosopher."

Alfred Kroeber read his wife's book and gave it his blessing but did not live to see it published. He died in 1960. Le Guin, married and living in Portland but not yet a published writer ("poetry doesn't count," she joked), had read and edited various chapters and was thrilled for her mother.

"We could talk shop. She liked to show me things and get me to line- edit, and I'm a pretty good line editor. And I'd show her things. She wouldn't line-edit but she'd say, 'What's this story about?' " Le Guin said with a laugh. "We were a peer group of two."

Asked if "Ishi in Two Worlds" influenced her as a writer, Le Guin didn't hesitate.

"I was sort of going my own route already," she said. "The story, I think, influences everybody who reads it. It's become part of one's imaginative equipment. That this could happen to a person, that this did, the emotional implications of the story -- it's like any great story. It's bound to influence you."
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Buckminster Fuller

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