Aruká Juma

COVID-19 Kills Amazonian Tribe’s Last Male Member


The last surviving male member of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon has died from covid-19.

Aruká Juma was one of just five survivors of the Juma tribe. He survives four female members, his three daughters and a female grandchild.

According to The Independent, Juma died on Feb. 17 due to complications caused by the virus in a hospital in Pôrto Velho, the capital of Rondônia in western Brazil.

The tribe leader is thought to be aged between 85 and 90. His death means the end of his bloodline.

The pandemic has ravaged Indigenous communities. It is widely believed illegal miners and loggers have spread the disease through the Amazon.

Last year, the Navajo Nation — the second-most-populous tribe in the U.S., had more people infected with the coronavirus per capita than any state in the country. The Navajo, whose territory occupies parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study showed that Indigenous people’s overall incidence of COVID-19 cases was 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic white Americans in 23 states more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than any other race.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Rondônia said in a statement on Juma’s death: “In the mid-60s, the Juma people were almost extinct due to the massacres that other relatives suffered in the previous decades by rubber tappers, loggers and fishermen in the territory, which is on the banks of the Assuã River, in Canutama.

“Aruká was one of the survivors of his ethnicity. The indigenous man leaves three daughters, the last people of the Juma ethnic group: Mandeí Juma, Maitá Juma and Boreha Juma.”

Indigenous rights organizations released a joint statement rebuking the Brazilian government for the deaths of indigenous peoples.

“Coiab and Apib warned that indigenous people of recent contact were at extreme risk. The last surviving man of the Juma people is dead,” the statement published by the Coordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab), the Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated and Recent Contact Indigenous Peoples (OPI), and APIB, said.

“Again, the Brazillian government proved to be criminally silent and incompetent. The government murdered Aruká. Just as [it] murdered his ancestors, it is a devastating and irreparable indigenous loss.”

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