A Plea for Nature and Indigenous Peoples! NO to Bill #PL490! – and a message from a Yanomami shaman – Updated

Yanomami at the edge of the river, Amazonas, VenezuelaA forest in indigenous territory before the invasion of gold miners – Photo: Barbara Crane Navarro

« I thought that if the white people could hear me, they would convince the government to not let the forest be destroyed… Now the gold miners stink up the forest with the fumes from their motors and the vapors from the gold and mercury that they burn together. Now we fear the gold miners’ malaria, which is also very fierce…                 

The people of the forest’s breath of life are fragile in the face of these xawara epidemic fumes. If we all die, no one will be able to compensate for the value of our dead. The white people’s money and merchandise will not bring them back down among us! And the devastated forest will never be able to be restored either, it will be lost for all time. »

  • Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa

A forest in indigenous territory destroyed by gold miners

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!

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…

Yanomami holding the cremated remains of their dead after their family was slaughtered by gold miners in the community of Haximu / « Xawara epidemic smoke killing a Yanomami community » – drawing on paper – Anoami Yanomami

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.  

Gold extraction: 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 land and water sources in order to extract 1 1/2 grams of gold per ton of polluted soil for that one special gold ring, item of gold jewelry, gold watch or gold accessory…


Communal house of isolated indigenous peoples in the rainforest

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!

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

It’s up to us to choose a way to adorn and decorate ourselves that doesn’t destroy forests and the lives of other people!



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 A Plea for Nature and Indigenous Peoples! NO to Bill #PL490! – and a message from a Yanomami shaman – Updated

  1. Pingback: A Plea for Nature and Indigenous Peoples! And a message from a Yanomami shaman – Updated — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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