Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Yanomami Indigenous Leader from Brazil

Amazon Watch

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org

The biggest problem for the Yanomami Indians now are the garimpeiro (goldminers) who are in our land, and the illnesses they bring with them. The government's National Health Foundation say that 1300 Yanomami had got malaria up until May this year. They have counted 24 airstrips opened by garimpeiros in the forest and they said that over 2500 men have illegally entered our reserve to pan for gold.

This information was published in the newspaper Folha de Boa Vista in May, you can see for yourselves.

Among them some have illnesses like flu, TB and venereal diseases, and contaminate my people. Now we are afraid they will bring measles and also Aids, this illness which is so dangerous that we do not want it among us. But the worst illness for us is malaria, which comes in with the gold miners.

It is the Indians who keep the forest alive, because the Indians do not destroy nature looking for gold. The Indians do not spoil nature because they know it is important for the salvation of the planet Earth.

This is why we want the help of all those who understand that we only want to live in peace. If they do not help us, the garimpeiros will spoil all the rivers and leave us without fish or drinking water or game, destroying the health of the Indians, the whites and the planet.

When I go to the big city I see people who are hungry, without anywhere to plant, without drinking water, without anywhere to live. I do not want this to happen to my people too, I do not want the forest to be destroyed, which leads to misery.

I am not saying that I am against progress. I think it is very good when whites come to work amongst the Yanomami to teach reading and writing, how to breed bees, how to use medicinal plants, the right ways of protecting nature. These white people are very welcome in our land. This for us is progress.

What we do not want are the mining companies, which destroy the forest, and the garimpeiros, who bring so many diseases. These whites must respect our Yanomami land. The garimpeiros bring guns, alcohol, prostitution and destroy nature wherever they go. The machines spill oil into the rivers and kill the life existing in them and the people and animals who depend on them. For us, this is not progress.

We want progress without destruction. We want to study, to learn new ways of cultivating the land, living from its fruits. The Yanomami do not want to live from dealing with money, with gold, we are not prepared for this. We need time to learn.

This is what I wanted to say to the whites who will listen to me, so that they can understand what the Yanomami want. We do not want to live without trees, hunting, fish and clean water. If this happens misery will come to our people.

That is why I am here, defending my land and my people. I hope that you will help me in this fight.

Share & Comment

Related Multimedia


Yes, I will donate to protect the Amazon!

"The work you do is vital, and I am happy to support it."
– Charlotte R. A.