« The GOLD Smoke of Epidemics – The gold prospectors became very many in our forest, destroying the river’s headwaters and killing us with their diseases »

photo: “Yanomami: shamanic transformation” – Barbara Crane Navarro

« The gold prospectors became very many in our forest highlands, destroying the river’s headwaters and killing their inhabitants with their diseases. The gold miners are earth-eaters, evil beings! Their thought is empty and they are full of epidemic smoke! We must prevent them soiling our rivers and chase them out of the forest.

All the most valiant xapiri spirits come down to fight the xawara epidemic and gather in an innumerable troop to confront it. When it really becomes too dangerous and they must save their people from death, our shaman elders even make the epidemic’s own image dance … once it becomes a xapiri spirit, it bravely fights the white people’s dangerous metal smoke… This is how our great shamans sometimes succeeded in driving this fierce disease away and curing its victims in the past. Yet most often the xawara epidemic proves tougher to fight…and the xapiri’s efforts to destroy it remain in vain. Very high in the sky, its smoke becomes far too aggressive and powerful.

The xawara epidemic is very hard to fight because it is the trace of other people. It does not come from our forest. Its evil xawarari beings are more numerous than the gold miners and even than all the *white people. »

– Yanomami spokesperson and shaman Davi Kopenawa

Gold mining site in indigenous territory – photo: Reuters

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! 

Worldwide, illegal gold mining is more lucrative for criminal organizations, drug cartels, guerrilla groups and mafias than drug trafficking. For criminals posing as precious metals dealers, gold is the perfect medium for laundering illicit money from other illegal activities since illegal gold looks exactly like legal gold and the proceeds from selling it can be placed in the bank… 


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!

Yanomami girl fishing in the pond while babysitting her little brother, Alto Orinoco, 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:

THE EXHIBITION IS PROLONGED – “Pas de Cartier !” – Yanomami and Trees – Gold Mining and Gold Luxury items / COVID-19 propagated by Gold Miners…now through November 12th 2021

« A Yanomami Shaman summoning the hekura  – spirits of the forest »

painting: Wacayowë, a Yanomami shaman, Alto Orinoco, Amazonas, Venezuela

Please also listen to the Yanomami shaman’s message:


*The Yanomami shaman being quoted is referring to the destruction to the rainforest and indigenous lives since the “conquest of the Americas” by white (non-native) Europeans which began 520 years ago….

This destruction is ongoing and constantly damaging more Yanomami territory and degrading more Yanomami lives. In 1993, gold miners massacred 16 Yanomami in the village of Haximú. In May 2021, heavily armed gold miners attacked Yanomami daily for over a week in the village of Palimiú and the village of Maikohipi in June. 

Gold miners are also propagating Covid-19 among many indigenous populations in all nine countries in the Amazon region.

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 « The GOLD Smoke of Epidemics – The gold prospectors became very many in our forest, destroying the river’s headwaters and killing us with their diseases »

  1. Pingback: « The GOLD Smoke of Epidemics – The gold prospectors became very many in our forest, destroying the river’s headwaters and killing us with their diseases » — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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