« Once the gold miners arrived where we live … I saw them ravage the river’s sources with the avidity of scrawny dogs. »

Yanomami shaman, Amazonas, Venezuela – photo: Barbara Crane Navarro

“This is what our elders who are great shamans say. These are the xapiri’s words, which they pass on to us. These are the ones I want the white people to hear. … Once the gold miners arrived where we live … They soiled the rivers with yellowish mire and filled them with xawara epidemic fumes from their machines. I saw them ravage the river’s sources with the avidity of scrawny dogs. All this to find gold, so the white people can use it to make themselves teeth and ornaments or keep it locked in their houses. … These white people’s thought is obscured by their avidity for gold. They are evil beings.” 

  • Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa in the chapter “Metal Smoke” of his book “The Falling Sky”

Gold mining site in indigenous territory

Gold mining and the indiscriminate use of mercury to ferret out gold are turning swaths of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems into a nightmarish moonscape! 


As much as 75% of the gold extracted each year is used for jewelry, watches and other vain and futile status symbols sold by corporations in the luxury industry as well as discount retailers worldwide.  

Tens of thousands of rainforest trees must be uprooted, hundreds of tons of soil mined and mixed with dozens of tons of toxic environmental pollutants that contaminate indigenous lands for that one special gold ring…

Please give gifts that don’t destroy nature and the lives of indigenous peoples!

Please watch this 48 second film of the light installation « Yanomami shamans struggle against xawara smoke of epidemics » included here:


And please listen to the shaman’s message here:


About Barbara Crane Navarro - Rainforest Art Project

I'm a French artist living near Paris. From 1968 to 1973 I studied at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, then at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California, for my BFA. My work for many decades has been informed and inspired by time spent with indigenous communities. Various study trips devoted to the exploration of techniques and natural pigments took me originally to the Dogon of Mali, West Africa, and subsequently to Yanomami communities in Venezuela and Brazil. Over many years, during the winters, I studied the techniques of traditional Bogolan painting. Hand woven fabric is dyed with boiled bark from the Wolo tree or crushed leaves from other trees, then painted with mud from the Niger river which oxidizes in contact with the dye. Through the Dogon and the Yanomami, my interest in the multiplicity of techniques and supports for aesthetic expression influenced my artistic practice. The voyages to the Amazon Rainforest have informed several series of paintings created while living among the Yanomami. The support used is roughly woven canvas prepared with acrylic medium then textured with a mixture of sand from the river bank and lava. This supple canvas is then rolled and transported on expeditions into the forest. They are then painted using a mixture of acrylic colors and Achiote and Genipap, the vegetal pigments used by the Yanomami for their ritual body paintings and on practical and shamanic implements. My concern for the ongoing devastation of the Amazon Rainforest has inspired my films and installation projects. Since 2005, I've created a perfomance and film project - Fire Sculpture - to bring urgent attention to Rainforest issues. To protest against the continuing destruction, I've publicly set fire to my totemic sculptures. These burning sculptures symbolize the degradation of nature and the annihilation of indigenous cultures that depend on the forest for their survival.
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6 Responses to « Once the gold miners arrived where we live … I saw them ravage the river’s sources with the avidity of scrawny dogs. »

  1. Pingback: Yanomami shaman, Amazonas, Venezuela — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

  2. Farida Hakim says:

    Here in Italy I saw a program on TV about some areas where they extract gold and how the population lives. How can someone live staying hours in caves to get a bit of gold. It’s very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Dérive | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity

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