Yanomami, now including young children, are dying of Covid-19 propagated by Gold Miners!

Yanomami communal house in the rainforest – photo: MSM

« Now we know where these evil fumes come from. It is the metal smoke, the epidemic smoke, and it is truly our enemy. In the past, these evil things remained buried, and our ancestors were not constantly sick the way we are today. Yet in their ignorance the white people started frenetically  tearing the minerals out of the ground to cook them in their factories … they liberate the evil vapor … it ends up making us sick. Its poison is fearsome. We do not know how to fight it. This is why we are so worried. » – excerpt from the chapter « Cannibal Gold » of Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa’s book The Falling Sky   

Yanomami mothers and children seeking medical attention – photo: Globo

Nine Yanomami children with Covid-19 symptoms died in January.  Júnior Hekurari Yanomami, head of Condisi-YY, an indigenous health council, alerted authorities that the children had died in the two remote communities of Kataroa and Waphuta, near the border with Venezuela. Hekurari stated that « It is very concerning that so many children died in less than one month. » He also decried the lack of support by the state government and the neglect of health programs for indigenous peoples during the pandemic. Indigenous populations are at higher risk, living in close contact with other members of their families and communities. Inadequate testing for Covid-19 worsens this already precarious health situation.

Yanomami children and mother with face masks – J. Alves

As Covid-19 raged across Brazil, causing contaminations and deaths, gold miners did not quarantine and the illegal gold rush in indigenous territories, exacerbated by the complicity of government authorities, increased. 

Bolsonaro had promised to authorize mining on indigenous lands during his presidential campaign and his government is pressing forward with bills to develop the Amazon region for industries, including gold mining.

Gold mining destruction in the rainforest

The Yanomami territory in the Amazon region of Brazil is the largest indigenous land in the country, as vast as Portugal, and is also among the most severely deforested. The Yanomami territory has been ravaged by gold mining for over four decades. Gold miners brought diseases like measles, influenza and malaria in the past and are now vectors for Covid-19.

Please help the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples!


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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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2 Responses to Yanomami, now including young children, are dying of Covid-19 propagated by Gold Miners!

  1. Pingback: Yanomami, now including young children, are dying of Covid-19 propagated by Gold Miners! — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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