« The Blinding Sorcery of Gold … To our elders, gold was just shiny flakes on the sand, like mica »

“Shamanic trance” series and photo of Yanomami shaman, Amazonas, Venezuela: Barbara Crane Navarro

« To our elders, gold was just shiny flakes on the sand of the forest’s stream beds, like mica. They collected it to make a sorcery substance intended to blind people with whom they were angry. … this metal dust was highly feared. This is why we call the shards of shiny metal that the gold miners extract from the riverbeds oru hipëre a – the blinding sorcery of gold.

When the white people tear minerals out of the ground, they grind them up with their machines, then heat them in their factories.… Gold and other minerals are dangerous evil things that only bring disease and death. … Though this metal may be the most beautiful and most solid they can find to build their machines and their merchandise, it is dangerous for human beings.

By digging so far underground, the white people do not think about such things. If they did, they would not unceasingly tear everything they can out of the earth. I want to make them hear the words the xapiri gave me in the time of dream so these thoughtless outsiders can understand what is really happening. »

  • Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa

Gold mining site in indigenous territory – photo Divulgação

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 Cartier and other 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…

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

Yanomami families near the riverbank, Amazonas, Venezuela – photo: Barbara Crane Navarro

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


Yanomami observing gold mining site in their territory – photo of Yanomami, Alto Orinoco, Amazonas, Venezuela and photo montage – Barbara Crane Navarro

Please also listen to the Yanomami shaman’s message:


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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3 Responses to « The Blinding Sorcery of Gold … To our elders, gold was just shiny flakes on the sand, like mica »

  1. Pingback: The Blinding Sorcery of Gold — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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