Home News Indigenous leader seeks pope’s support for land protection

Indigenous leader seeks pope’s support for land protection

Davi Kopenawa, a shaman and leader of the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon, described to Pope Francis the challenges facing his homeland due to unregulated extractive activities.

The meeting with the pontiff, held before Wednesday’s General Audience, emphasized the critical state of ancestral lands in Brazil.

Kopenawa, an advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental preservation, expressed concerns about the impact of mining and deforestation on the Yanomami people and their environment.

In an interview with Vatican News, Kopenawa said,  “I am not afraid of the white man, but I am very afraid of the machines that destroy the earth.”

During his private meeting with the Pope at the Paul VI Hall, Kopenawa asked for the pontiff’s help with the Brazilian government to curb the exploitation of Amazonian territories. 

“I asked that the Pope please intercede with the President of the Republic of Brazil to convince him to withdraw the gold prospectors and other exploiters,” he said, noting the continuous invasion of these lands despite international protections.

The shaman criticized the understanding of Indigenous issues among politicians and commercial interests, who often prioritize profit. 

- Newsletter -

“To solve these problems, it is important to choose people who love the indigenous peoples and who know their reality thoroughly,” he said. 

Since the 1980s, Kopenawa has been a representative for Indigenous rights, earning the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 for his dedication to protecting threatened peoples and the environments they inhabit.

Despite threats from illegal gold miners, he continues to advocate for the Yanomami’s right to live undisturbed on their ancestral lands.

The Yanomami, who inhabit areas along the Brazil-Venezuela border, have inspired works like Bruce Albert’s “The Falling Sky,” which explores their unique worldview, characterized by a deep connection to nature and community.

Brother Carlo Zacquini, a missionary who has lived with the Yanomami since the late 1960s, accompanied Kopenawa during his visit. 

Reflecting on his experiences, he said, “For me, it has been a gift to be with them. From the beginning, I was shocked by how they were treated.”

© Copyright LiCAS.news. All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from LiCAS.news is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Support Our Mission

We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.