Orlando Villas Boas, 88, a leading advocate of indigenous rights who never shied away from recounting his adventures in Brazil's vast Amazon rain forest, died here Dec. 12 after being hospitalized with an intestinal infection.
Fun-loving and gregarious, Mr. Villas Boas was the last survivor among four brothers who dedicated their lives to protecting Brazil's Indian tribes.
He was born on his father's coffee plantation near Botucatu, 150 miles northwest of Sao Paulo. When he was 29, he joined his brothers -- Claudio, Alvaro and Leonardo -- in the Roncador-Xingu expedition created by the government to chart areas for future towns and cities in the Amazon and central western Brazil.
It was during this expedition, from 1943 to 1960, that the Villas Boas brothers helped establish Western civilization's first contact with several Indian tribes -- the Xavante (1948), Juruna (1949), Kayabi (1951), Txucarramae (1953) and Suya (1959).
The brothers witnessed the harm that roads, airstrips and contact with the white man caused to the Indians, which prompted them to become their most outspoken defenders.
Orlando and Claudio, the most famous of the four, eventually moved in with Indians and stayed in the jungle for 32 years.
In 1961, they persuaded the government to create its first, and probably most successful, reservation -- Xingu National Park.
Seventeen Indian nations were transferred from ancestral lands to the 5.6 million-acre reservation in northern Mato Grosso state. Today, more than 3,000 Indians live there in relative isolation from white culture.
The brothers' battle to protect the Indians was based on four points that Mr. Villas Boas once listed:
* Keep other Brazilians and tourists out of the reserves.
* Do not impose "white man's logic."
* Refrain from meddling in village affairs.
* Keep traditional healers' medicinal knowledge out of the hands of "biotech pirates," who sell rare flora and fauna to pharmaceutical companies in rich nations.
For their work in defense of the country's indigenous population, Orlando and Claudio were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. The two co-authored at least 12 books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles.
In 1967, Orlando Villas Boas founded Brazil's Indian Affairs Bureau. In later years, he held a largely honorary position there, from which he was unceremoniously fired by fax in 2000. The bureau said he wasn't entitled to the salary of about $730 a month because he had been awarded a special pension of the same amount the previous year.
But one week later, Mr. Villas Boas received an apology from President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and an offer from the Land Reform Ministry to work on a project to teach Indians environmentally sustainable farming techniques. He turned down the offer because it involved too much traveling between Sao Paulo and Brasilia, the capital.
Survivors include his wife, Marina, a nurse he met in 1963 at Xingu Park, where she treated diseases, and two sons.