Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman and internationally renowned spokesman for the Yanomami people of Brazil. Photo: Leila Salazar-Lopez / Amazon Watch

By Leila Salazar-Lopez
11 August 2014

(Amazon Watch) – Recently I had the great honor of meeting Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman and internationally renowned spokesman for the Yanomami people of Brazil, while he was on a global speaking tour with our friends at Survival International.

It was disturbing to learn that Davi had been receiving death threats from armed thugs linked to gold miners operating illegally on Yanomami land.

Davi has been targeted for his 30-year struggle to defend his people and territory against the devastating impacts of mining in the Amazon, which nearly brought the Yanomani to extinction in the 1980s. Today his life hangs in the balance as criminal economic forces aim to silence his voice and gain access to his people's territory.

“They want to kill me,” said Davi. “I don't do what the white people do, who go after someone to kill them. I don't get in the way of their work. But they are getting in the way of our work and our fight. I'll continue to fight and to work for my people … defending the Yanomami people and their land is my work.”

Last May while on a speaking tour promoting his book The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman, Davi pleaded for action, telling hundreds at the University of California Berkeley that "large-scale mining seems like a big monster that wants to destroy the earth, to destroy nature." Today this monster threatens Davi's life and his lifelong struggle on behalf of indigenous peoples and Amazon protection. [more]

A Brave Call from the "Dalai Lama of the Amazon"

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