Davi Kopenawa talks about violence in Western society

In April 2014 Davi Kopenawa, a shaman and spokesman of the Yanomami tribe, visited the San Francisco Bay Area to talk about the urgent need to safeguard the world’s rainforests for future generations. © Pablo Levinas/Survival

During my faraway travels to the white people’s land, I have sometimes heard them
claim that we are warlike and that we spend our time shooting arrows at each other.
Obviously, the people who say things like that do not know us and they are mistaken
or lying.


We Yanomami have no liking for what the white people call ‘war’ in their language.
They blame us for arrowing each other, but they are the ones who really make war.
We certainly don’t fight with the same harshness as they do. […] They fight in huge
numbers, with bullets and bombs that burn down all their houses. They even kill
women and children!


The white people think themselves clever, but their thoughts are fixed on the things
they want to own. It is because of these thoughts that they rob, insult, fight and, in the
end, kill one another. It is also because of them that they mistreat all those who get in
their way. It’s why they, ultimately, are the truly fierce ones! When they fight wars,
they throw bombs everywhere and don’t think twice about setting fire to the earth and
sky. I have watched them, on television, fighting over oil with their planes. […]It
worried me a lot and I said to myself, ‘Hou! These people are so warlike and

Excerpt from La chute du ciel, Paroles d’un chaman Yanomami (chapter XXI) by
Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert

An English translation of La chute du ciel, Paroles d’un chaman Yanomami entitled The Falling Sky:
Words of a Yanomami Shaman
is due to be published by Harvard University Press in November 2013.