Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa, known as the ‘Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’, has told the American people that, ‘We must fight together to to save the Earth’.
Davi arrived in the USA on Earth Day and was welcomed to Ohlone tribal land in San Francisco by a representative of the Chictactac Ohlone village in a special ceremony.
He was invited to visit California by the Presidio Trust, whose Crown Jewels exhibit features stunning photos of the Yanomami and their territory in the Brazilian Amazon, while warning of the challenges they face.
Davi is internationally renowned for his tireless work to protect his tribe’s forest. He is President of the Yanomami Association, Hutukara, and together with Survival International and the NGO Pro Yanomami Commission, led the international campaign for the protection of the Yanomami land after an influx of illegal miners in the 1980s decimated the tribe. The government finally recognized the Yanomami land as an indigenous territory in 1992, but illegal mining continues today.
Davi gave enlightening talks at the Presidio Trust, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Emerald Tablet (in conjunction with City Lights bookstore), and sold and signed dozens of copies of his groundbreaking book ‘The Falling Sky’.
Tens of thousands of people tuned in to Davi’s live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on the website Reddit, where he answered questions about shamanism, rainforest life, racism and the portrayal of the Yanomami people as ‘violent’ by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and others.
Davi met with California’s governor, Jerry Brown, and warned him of the grave threats his people face as illegal gold-miners are polluting their rivers and spreading malaria, and a draft bill threatens to open up their land to large-scale mining.
He told hundreds at Berkeley University that ‘Large-scale mining seems like a big monster that wants to destroy the earth, to destroy nature’, and pleaded for action.
Davi’s final event was an inspirational talk with high school children who asked about the Yanomami, their way of live and their conservation of the rainforest.
Survival’s Research Director Fiona Watson, world expert on uncontacted tribes, accompanied Davi on his unique trip.
- Read Davi’s interview with NPR journalist Barbara King here.
- Davi Yanomami and Fiona Watson are available for media interviews. Contact our press department for more information.
- Special thanks to the Instituto Socioambiental for their support. ISA works closely with the Yanomami in their campaign for the protection of their rainforest.