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In Harvard, the shaman Davi Kopenawa warns, “Amazon rainforest’s future is in danger”

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The Yanomami leader denounced the illegal mining and the current threats to the forest in the North American university and was given the same honor as Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela

In Harvard University, Boston, USA, the Yanomami leader and shaman Davi Kopenawa issued a warning: Amazon rainforest is in danger. Kopenawa took part in a conference on climate change from May 7 to 9 at one of the most prestigious educational institutions of the United States. The event was attended by scientists and researchers in the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies auditorium.

Standing before researchers, activists, and North American artists, Kopenawa talked about the main threats to the Yanomami territory, such as the invasion by loggers and miners. “Our Yanomami Land’s status is recognized, authorized and registered just like a child born of a woman’s womb. However, the capitalist has no interest in keeping it alive. He invades our Indigenous Lands and enjoys deforestation so he can make money. He digs holes and scratches the skin of the land for mining. He deviates the river stream and the trees are drowned. This power we are consuming here comes from a far land, from Indigenous land.” And then he ended rhetorically asking, “do you think Belo Monte dam is good for our relatives? No, it isn’t.”

Margot Gill, Administrative Dean for International Affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and Brian Farrell, Director of DRCLAS, greeted Kopenawa and he was invited to sign the Harvard Guest Book, an honor reserved to historical figures and scientists such as Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Hawking.

Jamie Eldridge, Massachusetts State Senator, and the international model Gisele Bündchen also cleared their schedule to meet Davi Kopenawa and support the relevance of the Indigenous cause. “Davi was very well-received. Everyone is aware of the Indigenous peoples’ role in defending the forest conservation. Davi is a tireless symbol of this struggle. The institutional reception from Harvard and they giving such an honor to him as well as the greeting of the politically progressive community of Boston are examples of the great interest in the Indigenous cause and to find the means to support it,” highlights Helder Perri, from Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

The community of researchers and activities attending the conference was deeply moved by Davi Kopenawa’s speech. They recognized the importance of Amazon rainforest conservation and also promised to work along with political groups in the USA and promote a local fundraising to support Yanomami associations and the Indigenous cause in Brazil. Davi concluded by saying, “they don’t have a forest there like our Amazon rainforest. But I asked them to look for us and take real care of the land just we take of our own family, of our own children.”