Cover of Monte Reel's book

I just finished reading “The Last of the Tribe,” Monte Reel’s fantastic book about the lone member of an indian tribe struggling to avoid encroaching white settlers in the western Amazon.

The book reads like a mystery, a travelogue and a short history of Brazil’s chequered indigenous ‘conquests’ all rolled into one.

It tells the story of how Funai, the country’s National Indigenous Foundation, tried to contact the man when they thought he was in danger. The group believed the indian – known as the Indian of the Hole because of the mysterious holes he dug inside his jungle huts – belonged to a larger tribe who were killed off by invaders.

It’s a great and easy read and packed not just with anecdotes about isolated indians and jungle life, but also about the constant conflict between the indigenous natives and the Brazilians of European descent who quite frankly think they’re savages who are holding the country back.

I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested in knowing more about Brazil’s isolated indians.

Speaking of which, Peruvian cocaine traffickers seeking to carve new routes into Brazil through land set aside for an isolated tribe called the Xinane recently forced Funai explorers from their jungle base. (As I write about here today in the Christian Science Monitor.)

The traffickers ransacked the base and Brazilian federal police were flown in to retake control.

But there’s still no sign of the indians. The hope is that they sought refuge deeper into the forest, and that they weren’t killed. But right now there’s no knowing.