« You don’t understand why we want to protect our forest? Ask me, I will answer you! – We want our children to grow up here laughing! – Today I refuse to let them die from the gold smoke!  Chase the gold miners out of our home! »


Yanomami woman, Amazonas, Venezuela

« You don’t understand why we want to protect our forest? Ask me, I will answer you!  Our ancestors were created with it in the beginning of time. Since then, our people have eaten its game and its fruit. We want our children to grow up here laughing. In the past, many of our people perished from your epidemics. Today I refuse to let their children and grandchildren die from the gold smoke!  Chase the gold miners out of our home! They are harmful beings whose thought is dark. They are metal eaters covered in deadly xawara epidemicsmoke. »

  • Yanomami spokesperson and shaman Davi Kopenawa

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. 

This bill also allows for contact with isolated indigenous peoples if there is « public utility » and authorizes private companies to approach these groups if they are contracted to do so by the Government!


A forest in indigenous territory before the invasion of gold miners 

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…

Gold mining and Amazon deforestation – hydraulic mining known as the”chupadeira system”is a form of gold mining that uses high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material or move sediment. Prospectors deforest the designated work area and then excavate down to the level of ore-bearing material. Large and deep holes are made in the former forest land. Mercury is then used to amalgamate the gold, contaminating the water and soil. 

Mercury runoff from gold mining sites is a threat to local indigenous peoples’ food and water supplies.


A forest in indigenous territory after the invasion of gold miners 

PLEASE DO NOT BUY OR USE GOLD!

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 Yanomami territory 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 have been instigating violence against the Yanomami with the use of automatic weapons and tear gas bombs for over a month!

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 make shopping choices that don’t destroy nature and the lives of indigenous peoples!

Yanomami men with bows and arrows, Amazonas, Venezuela – photo: Barbara Brändli

Please watch this 48 second film of the light installation « Yanomami shamans struggle against xawara, the 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 « You don’t understand why we want to protect our forest? Ask me, I will answer you! – We want our children to grow up here laughing! – Today I refuse to let them die from the gold smoke!  Chase the gold miners out of our home! »

  1. Pingback: « You don’t understand why we want to protect our forest? Ask me, I will answer you! – We want our children to grow up here laughing! – Today I refuse to let them die from the gold smoke!  Chase the gold miners out of our home! » — Barbara Cran

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