By Efrain Nieves
Claudio Villas-Boas was born in Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil on December 8 1916. In 1961, Claudio, along with two of his brothers, Leonardo and Orlando, succeeded in getting the entire upper Xingu National Park Reservation legally protected for the indigenous population of Brazil; thus creating the first indigenous reserve in South America.
The anthropologist Kenneth S. Brecher wrote in the book Xingu: the Indians, Their Myths:
“It is now almost 30 years since the Villas-Bôas brothers led the expedition known as ‘Brazil’s march to the West’ which was intended to open up the heart of the interior for colonization. They were overwhelmed by the beauty and cultural richness of the network of Xingu tribes which they discovered, and when the expedition disbanded they remained in the jungle to protect the Xinguanos from the land speculators, state senators, diamond prospectors, skin hunters, and rubber gatherers who had followed in their wake.That the Xingu tribes continue to exist, in fact to thrive, is due largely to the extreme dedication, intelligence, cunning, and physical strength of these brothers.”
Claudio was called “The Father” by the indigenous people of Brazil who he lived with for 40 years. During those years Claudio helped build 30 airstrips in remote areas and opened over 1,ooo miles of trail in the Amazon jungle. In 1998, Claudio died of a stroke in São Paulo.