The Kothoga, known as the "shadow people", were a reclusive South American tribe from deep within the Brazilian rainforest. They were known as sorcerors and are feared by their neighbors, including the Yanomamo and Botocudo. The Kothoga were presumed to be legendary or extinct until a cache of their artifacts were discovered by the 1987 Whittlesey/Maxwell Expedition.
New York Museum of Natural History anthropologist John Whittlesey located the Kothoga through a technique called "myth triangulation". He catalogued all the legends about the tribe and plotted them on a map to find their geographical center. Whittlesey surmised that the tribe's home territory was a high mesa, or tepui, called Cerro Gordo, in the Upper Xingú Rainforest of the Amazon basin. He led an expedition into the jungle to locate the tribe's artifacts, but secretly he hoped to find the tribe itself.
Whittlesey's expedition was denied permission to ascend the tepui by the Brazilian government. The Brazilians had also heard legends of a lost tribe inhabiting Cerro Gordo, but the area had already been earmarked for strip mining as placer deposits of valuable minerals had been found in the rivers coming from the tepui.
Whittlesey decided to climb Cerro Gordo even without government permission. At the base of the tepui, they found a hut containing artifacts apparently made by the tribe. Whittlesey packed the artifacts into a crate and sent it back to the museum, then continued up the tepui with another scientist, Crocker. The two disappeared and were presumed dead.
According to local myths, the Kothoga controlled a savage beast called Mbwun, the son of a devil named Zilashkee. The Kothoga made a deal with Zilashkee; in return for a cannibalistic sacrifice of the tribe's own children, Zilashkee would send them his son as a protector.
The Brazilian government went ahead with its strip mining operations some time in the late 1980s. The entire tepui was razed with napalm from the air and the tribe was presumably wiped out.