Davi Kopenawa is a Yanomami shaman and spokesman, who led the
long-running campaign to protect the Yanomami territory in Brazil.
During the 1950s and ‘60s, Davi watched his parents die from new diseases brought
in by outsiders; in the 1980s, when thousands of gold-miners invaded
Yanomami land, 20% of the tribe in Brazil succumbed to illnesses
to which they had little immunity.
Watch Davi speaking about his groundbreaking new book, The Falling Sky
The deaths of his loved ones prompted Davi's lifelong commitment to fighting for his
The first time he left Brazil was at the invitation of Survival International, which
in 1989 asked him to speak out about the Yanomami when Survival was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament.
He has visited the USA, Japan, Venezuela and several European countries, spoken at the UN in Geneva and New York and received the UN Global 500 award for his contribution to the battle for environmental preservation. He has met prominent figures such as Prince Charles, Al Gore and the UN Secretary-General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.
Today Davi lives in his community Watoriki, ('The Mountain of the Wind'), on the
watershed of the Amazon and Orinoco rainforests. He is President of Hutukara, the
Yanomami Association, which he founded in 2004.
Yanomami women and children rest in a forest garden, Brazil.
Davi spent years training to be a shaman. He warns the world that resource-consuming behavior is destroying the systems upon which all life depends, and that
the world will suffer if the rainforest continues to be destroyed.
He and his wife Fatima have six children and four grandchildren whom he would like
to grow up in the forest, as he did. 'I want them to be able to see the stars, but not
through industrial smoke.'
In 2013, Davi released his book, ‘The Falling Sky’, to great acclaim. This remarkable
account of Davi’s life story and his views on the Amazon rainforest, the destruction
of nature, consumerism and much more, was written with Davi's friend, anthropologist Bruce Albert, and published by Harvard University Press.
His courage, combative spirit and tenacity are reflected in his Yanomami
nickname, ‘Kopenawa’, or ‘hornet’.