Selected chronology of Davi Kopenawa's life

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


Davi is born in Marakana.


Epidemics devastate his community.


He loses more family in an epidemic introduced by New Tribes Missionaries.


Works as FUNAI interpreter as highway bulldozes through Yanomami communities.


He marries Fátima and moves to Watoriki. Meets members of NGO CCPY which is campaigning for Yanomami land rights.


Helps organize first assembly of Yanomami


He is awarded a UN Global 500 award.


Davi addresses Brazil’s congress, warns the gold rush is destroying the Yanomami and calls for the recognition of their land rights. He meets President José Sarney and pushes for expulsion of goldminers, and participates in a demonstration organized by the CIR (Indigenous Council of Roraima) against the mining invasion of the Yanomami territory.

Survival International invites Davi to accept the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm. He leaves Brazil for the first time. Also visits London and meet MPs. The international campaign for Yanomami land rights is launched by Davi, Survival and CCPY.


He visits the USA for the first time in a trip coordinated by Survival. Meets UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and Senator Al Gore. Visits Onondaga reservation.


Meets President Fernando Collor de Mello in ceremony to mark the demarcation of the Yanomami territory. Participates in UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Addresses the UN General Assembly in New York to launch the UN Year of Indigenous Peoples.


Davi records video “Davi contra Golias” by CEDI, in which he describes the massacre of 16 Yanomami of Haximu community by goldminers.


Davi and Claudia Andujar of CCPY visit the Organization of American States in Washington which calls for Brazilian government to investigate the Haximu massacre.


Davi awarded the Ordem do Rio Branco by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in recognition of his work on behalf of the Yanomami people.

At the invitation of Survival International, participates in Las Jornadas Indígenas in Gran Canaria, Spain. Speaks at public meetings and meets with town councillors. As a result, various town halls support projects with the Yanomami.

Launches book Murder in the Rainforest published by the Latin America Bureau about the massacre of Yanomami by goldminers at Haximu in 1993. Survival organises launches in several cities in the UK.


Davi and Toto Yanomami travel to the US to press for the return of blood samples taken from Yanomami communities without their consent in the 1960s.


Davi, Dario and Joseca Yanomami participate in the opening of the Fondation Cartier’s exhibition L’esprit de la forêt in in Paris in which various artists, including Yanomami, explore the relationship between the Yanomami and their forest home.


Together with other Yanomami regional leaders, Davi founds Hutukara Yanomami Association (named after the ancient sky from which the earth was born) to widen and strengthen the Yanomami’s advocacy for their rights. He is instrumental in convincing most regions from the Yanomami area to unite and work together.


President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva launches his social agenda for Indigenous peoples. Davi is one of several Indigenous leaders invited to meet the president to discuss the government’s policies on Indigenous peoples. He voices his concerns about the impacts of mining on Indigenous peoples. Davi and his son Dario visit Germany and meet with politicians and others.


The jury of Spain’s Bartolomé de las Casas prize awards Davi an Honourable Mention for his ‘outstanding leadership in defence of the Yanomami people and other Indigenous peoples in Brazil’.


Davi is invited to the UK by Survival International. He meets parliamentarians to brief them about the Yanomami situation and the state of the Amazon. Meets President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva in Boa Vista, Roraima and is awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the Brazilian government which he receives from the President.


Davi’s autobiography La Chute du Ciel – Paroles d’un Chaman Yanomami by Davi Kopenawa and anthropologist Bruce Albert published in France.

Davi travels to Munich, Germany with a group of Yanomami shamans for the opening of the opera ‘Amazonas Opera’ sponsored by the Goethe Institute for the 10th Biennale of Munich.


Davi organizes the first meeting of Yanomami shamans, held in Watoriki, which is made into a film called Xapiri.


Davi travels to Geneva to participate in the 10th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights where he launches the film Indiens en Sursis about the Yanomami’s and Kayapo’s efforts to stop the destruction of their rainforests.

Hutukara releases aerial footage of uncontacted “Moxahatetea” Yanomami to mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of the ‘Yanomami Park’ and to highlight the threats to them from miners.

The Municipal Chamber of Boa Vista (capital of Roraima state) awards Davi the Honra ao Mérito Rio Branco in recognition of services to the Yanomami community of Roraima state as a spokesman for his people.


King Harald V of Norway visits the Yanomami community of Watoriki at Davi’s invitation.

Davi participates in conference organised by UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) to talk about the Yanomami cosmos.

Harvard University Press publishes Davi’s autobiography The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman. New Scientist names it one on the best science books of 2013.


The Brazilian authorities launch ‘Operation Korekore’ to combat illegal gold-mining in the Yanomami territory.

Survival invites Davi to San Francisco where he launches The Falling Sky at the Presidio exhibition “Crown Jewels” and at the Emerald Tablet.

Yanomami celebrate removal of last ranchers from Ajarani region.

Hutukara, ISA and Venezuelan NGOs Horonami and Wataniba launch map of Yanomami communities.
Davi participates in FLIP (Paraty Literary Festival).

Davi launches The Falling Sky in London at invitation of Survival. He and Mauricio Yekuana urge the global population to “stop destroying the Earth’s lungs”.

Fiocruz researchers find dangerous levels of mercury poisoning in Yanomami and Yekuana communities living close to illegal gold mining operations in the Yanomami territory in Brazil.


Yanomami blood samples collected in 1960s and 70s without Yanomami consent and stored in various US research institutes are finally returned to the Yanomami after a long campaign by Hutukara. The Yanomami perform funerary rites for the blood of those who since died.

Hutukara publishes the first “Manual of Traditional Remedies”, with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, ISA and IRD, in a Yanomami language.

Davi launches Portuguese edition of his autobiography A Queda do Ceu
in São Paulo.

FUNAI closes its protection post near the uncontacted Moxihatetea community in Serra da Estrutura.

Davi and a group of Yanomami attend opening of Claudia Andujar’s photography pavilion in the Inhotim Institute, Minas Gerais.


Davi and Hutukara hold meetings with Yanomami living in Venezuela to share ideas and advice. This unprecedented bi-national cooperation leads to Venezuelan Yanomami launching land rights campaign for recognition of their territory.

Rector of the Federal University of Roraima invites Davi to give “Aula Magna”. Called “The spirits and the science of the forest” it is hailed as a landmark initiative in Davi’s quest to sensitize public opinion in a state hostile to Indigenous peoples.

Yanomami launch books on mushrooms: Ana Amopö: Cogumelos Yanomami, and on fish, crustaceans and molluscs: Salaka pö: Peixes, Crustáceos e Moluscos. These will be used in Yanomami schools to encourage young people in literacy and forest management.

Hutukara and Survival release aerial photos of uncontacted Moxihatetea to draw attention to the presence of goldminers near the community.


Hutukara organizes a meeting of over 50 Yanomami leaders from more than 10 communities, to discuss land invasions.

Brazilian army carries out Operation Curaretinga IX and seizes hardwood and equipment from illegal logging and mining activities in Yanomami territory.

Davi, Raoni Metuktire, spokesman for the Kayapó people, and Sonia Bone Guajajara, Guajajara leader and activist, release an open letter denouncing government’s concerted attack on Indigenous rights as “genocidal.”

Hutukara and ISA publish first map of illegal mining camps in Yanomami territory. Davi travels to Geneva to denounce mining invasion at the UN.


Hutukara alerts UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples about death threats to Davi.

Davi Kopenawa denounces 5,000 goldminers working in the territory

Deadly measles outbreak in Venezuela kills Yanomami and spreads to Yanomami communities in Brazil.

Hutukuara denounces alleged killing of two uncontacted Yanomami from Moxihatetea community by goldminers and demands investigation and expulsion of all goldminers.

Davi launches the Portuguese edition of his book in the Universities of Minas Gerais and Goiás in Brazil.

In response to pressure from the Yanomami, FUNAI and NGOs the army expels 1,500 goldminers in November but despite this the gold rush increases.

Hutukara holds a conference in Yanomami community of Catrimani to discuss health issues prior to participating in the 6th National Health Congress.

Davi accompanies photographer Claudia Andujar to Weimer in Germany where she receives the Goethe Medal 2018 for her lifetime’s work with the Yanomami. With Claudia and Stephen Corry director of Survival he participates in a discussion about Claudia’s work and the future of the Yanomami and their forest homeland.

Davi travels to Italy at the invitation of Notte Tempo publishers to launch the Italian version of The Falling Sky. He speaks to large audiences at the Mantova literary festival, the University of Turin, the book festival of Rovereto, and in Milan.

Participates in the launch of a photo exhibition by Claudia Andujar in Paraty.

Helps to organise 11th meeting of Yanomami women to discusses women’s rights. 123 women attend.

Helps organise first meeting of Yanomami youth to explore how to strengthen their participation in policies affecting the Yanomami people. They discuss how to train future leaders and spokespeople.

The Guardian’s environment editor chooses Davi’s book The Falling Sky as one of the best books about deforestation.

Hutukara participates in a conference to discuss the vulnerability of uncontacted tribes in Brazil.

Hutukara organizes the first workshop for young Yanomami communicators where they can learn about the importance of communications and strengthen inter-community networks and within the territory.

Communications strategy drawn up by Hutukara and ISA with the aim of helping Yanomami communities strengthen their autonomy and capacity to form partnerships, to maintain sustainable livelihoods on their land and to stimulate advocacy and communications to highlight their actions, projects and intercultural research. Hutukara continues to implement radio project to provide Yanomami communities with two-way radios.

Participates in the launch of an exhibition of Claudia Andujar: the Yanomami struggle (Claudia Andujar: a luta Yanomami) at Instituto Moreira Salles in São Paulo.


Yanomami publish open letter and video to President Bolsonaro signed by Hutukara and other Yanomami organisations in response to President Bolsonaro’s declarations that Indigenous peoples’ territories should be opened up for mining and agriculture.

He launches The Falling Sky at Fluminense University and participates in the launch of the exhibition: Claudia Andujar: the Yanomami struggle (Claudia Andujar: a luta Yanomami) at Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro.

Davi is one of three keynote speakers taking part in “Amazonia and Our Planetary Futures: A Conference on Climate Change,” sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, USA.

A committee of Yanomami led by Davi visits various Brazilian government bodies to demand the expulsion of illegal goldminers from their territory.

The popular Amazonian festival Boi de Parintins invites Davi to participate to draw attention to his fight to conserve the forest.

Hutukara accompanies health teams in vaccination programme.

Davi and other Hutukara members travel to Brasilia to present their Environmental and Territorial Management Plan and protocols for consulting the Yanomami to government agencies. They meet with the state secretary for Indigenous health to demand better health care and to explain why they are against health care being taken out of federal control and handed to local municipalities.

Davi and other Yanomami contribute drawings and texts for the Fondation Cartier’s exhibition Trees, in Paris.

Davi and Hutukara continue to denounce the invasion of goldminers in Yanomami territory. They estimate there are 20,000 illegal miners there. FUNAI’s base near the uncontacted Yanomami remains closed.