‘Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’ makes unique visit to USA 19 February 2014

Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa will visit California in April 2014 to talk about his connection with the spirit world and the urgent need to safeguard the world's rainforests.
Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa will visit California in April 2014 to talk about his connection with the spirit world and the urgent need to safeguard the world's rainforests.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

An Amazonian shaman and spokesman for Brazil’s Yanomami tribe will make a rare visit to California (USA) in April 2014, to talk about the urgent need to safeguard the world’s rainforests for future generations, and his connection with the spirit world.

This is a rare opportunity to listen to Davi Kopenawa’s unique messages to the world from the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Davi, who has been called the ‘Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’, will be promoting his new book ‘The Falling Sky’. He will give a talk at the Presidio Trust’s ‘Crown Jewel’s’ Exhibit which features images of the Yanomami and their land; a conference at the University of California, Berkeley, honoring the legacy of Nelson Mandela; and other events.

Watch Davi talk about his book ‘The Falling Sky’ and read excerpts here.

Davi has emphasized that indigenous peoples are often the best guardians of their land. He said, ‘You have schools, but we know how to look after the forest. It is very important for the governments of the world to listen to us, the indigenous people who have lived on the planet for thousands of years.’

Davi Kopenawa and Survival International were at the forefront of the international campaign to demarcate the Yanomami territory following a devastating influx of gold-miners on their land during the 1980s, which led to the death of one fifth of Brazil’s Yanomami through diseases and violence. As a result of the campaign, the Yanomami territory was officially recognized in 1992.

But illegal mining continues, and a controversial bill currently discussed in Brazil’s parliament could open up Yanomami territory to large-scale mining, which would further devastate the Yanomami’s land and once again introduce dangerous diseases to the isolated tribe. Mining corporations have already filed over 650 requests to mine on Yanomami land.

Davi founded the Yanomami association Hutukara and has received the UN Global 500 award for his contribution to environmental preservation. During his visits abroad, he has spoken at the UN in Geneva and New York, and met with prominent figures such as Al Gore, Prince Charles, and the former UN Secretary General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.

Davi has been at the forefront of the campaign for Yanomami land rights and has met prominent figures such as Al Gore, Prince Charles and the former UN Secretary General.
Davi has been at the forefront of the campaign for Yanomami land rights and has met prominent figures such as Al Gore, Prince Charles and the former UN Secretary General.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

Davi will be accompanied by Survival’s Research Director Fiona Watson, who has spent many years campaigning for the rights of tribal peoples in Brazil and Venezuela, and the Bushmen in Botswana, and has known Davi for over two decades. She said today, ‘Davi’s visit to the USA comes at a pivotal time for Brazil’s indigenous peoples as congress and government seek to weaken their hard won rights. As Brazil prepares to host the Soccer World Cup, it is crucial that the American people and supporters around the world rally behind indigenous peoples like Davi in their battle to protect the Amazon rainforest and its peoples.’

Read more and receive updates on Davi’s visit here: www.survivalinternational.org/davi

Note to editors:

  • The Yanomami are one of the largest relatively isolated tribes in South America, who live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. They number around 35,000 and their combined territory is the largest area of forest under indigenous protection, equivalent to the size of Missouri.
  • Davi Kopenawa is available for press interviews, please get in touch with Kayla Wieche for more information;
  • The Falling Sky’, written in collaboration with anthropologist and friend Bruce Albert, is the first ever book written by a Yanomami Indian and was listed among the top 10 science books of 2013 by ‘New Scientist’ magazine. Using evocative language, it discusses Davi’s life story, and the importance of shamanism to the Yanomami’s way of life.
  • Davi and Fiona Watson will talk at the following public events (sign up here for updates):
    - Presidio Trust: ‘Amazonian National Parks, Land Rights and the Future of Indigenous Peoples’, April 24, 2014, 7-8pm
    - University of California, Berkeley, April 28
    - The Emerald Tablet in conjunction with City Lights book store, April 30, 7pm;
 

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