Leader of the Upper Xingu, Chief Aritana Dies at The Age of 71 Victim of Covid-19

Aritana worked with the Villas-Bôas brothers to create the Xingu National Park; he died in a hospital in Goiânia


Chief Aritana Yawalapiti, 71, one of the most powerful indigenous leaders in the Alto Xingu region, in Mato Grosso, died in the early hours of Wednesday (5) due to complications from Covid-19. He had been hospitalized for 15 days in a private hospital in Goiânia.

The Indian gave his name to a soap opera on the extinct TV Tupi in 1978. Written by Ivani Ribeiro, the soap opera featured actors Carlos Alberto Riccelli, who played Aritana, and Bruna Lombardi.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 06, 2003 indigenous chief Aritana of the Yawalapiti tribe from the Upper Xingu region (northern Brazil) explains about indigenous handicrafts in Brasilia. - One of Brazil's leading indigenous chiefs, Aritana Yawalapiti, died on August 5, 2020 of respiratory complications caused by COVID-19, said his nephew. (Photo by Evaristo SA / AFP) ORG XMIT: BSB08 - AFP

Xingu leadership since the 1980s, when he started the fight to defend the rights of indigenous peoples, Aritana is the fourth indigenous person from the Yawalapiti village to die from Covid-19.

In the entire state of Mato Grosso, at least 91 indigenous people died as a result of the new coronavirus until August 3 - nine of them in the Xingu, according to data from Coiab (Coordination of Indigenous Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon).

Among the Yawalapiti, four deaths by Covid-19 were recorded, including a brother and a niece of Aritana. The chief's daughter, Kaiti Kna Yawalapiti, is concerned about how the pandemic is advancing in her people and the failure of actions to fight the virus of the federal government.

"It is disregarding what the government is doing to us. It is very sad. My people are dying. There is no medication, everything is missing," she said in a video posted on her social media profile.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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