« Money does not protect us … it does not create our joy. For *white people, it is different. »

Yanomami community dwelling, Alto Orinoco, Amazonas, Venezuela – photo: Barbara Crane Navarro

« Yanomami shamans do not work for money the way white people’s doctors do. They simply work so that the sky and forest remain in place, so that we can hunt, plant our gardens, and live in good health. Our ancients did not know of money. … Money does not protect us … it does not create our joy. For white people, it is different. They do not know how to dream with the spirits the way we do. They prefer to ignore that the shamans’ work is to protect the earth, as much for us and our children as for them and theirs. »

  • Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa

*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 the violent dispossession of Indigenous peoples 520 years ago.

30% of what is now recognized as ancestral indigenous lands are in danger of being « legally » opened to gold mining and other extractive operations as well as logging and industrial agriculture. The bill that would permit this atrocity, PL490 – already approved by Brazil’s constitutional affairs committee, will be decided in Congress in August 2021.

Illegal gold mining site in indigenous territory

Illegal gold miners have been motivated by the surge in gold prices, pro-mining rhetoric from Bolsonaro and the order of the government’s indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, that reduced work in the field because of the pandemic. Illegal gold miners do not respect social distancing in regards to indigenous communities near their gold mining sites and are propagating Covid-19 among many indigenous populations in the Amazon region…

Proximity of Yanomami village (upper left) to gold mining camp (lower left) and contaminated river

This gold mining 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.

Read the timeline of monthlong attacks by gold miners on Yanomami communities here:

A month of violent attacks by gold miners against Yanomami communities without protection from the Brazilian state! – «If the gold miners dig everywhere, the forest’s rivers will be full of mud, motor oil, and trash. They wash their gold powder in the streams, mixing it with mercury – dirty and dangerous…» 


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… 

Brazil’s largest gang, the First Command of the Capital (PCC), is known to operate in Roraima, a largely indigenous region along their gold and drug trafficking routes. These criminals have apparently been hired to protect the gold mining areas, and are instigating the current violence against the Yanomami with the use of automatic weapons and tear gas bombs.

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

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…

Yanomami woman and baby, 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

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 « Money does not protect us … it does not create our joy. For *white people, it is different. »

  1. Pingback: « Money does not protect us … it does not create our joy. For *white people, it is different. » — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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