Explained: Why is an Amazon tribe talking to Indians about Blood Gold?

Context: From the remote rainforests of Brazil, the little-known Yanomami tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians not to buy the gold which has come from Yanomami territory.


Why the appeal to Indians?

  • Gold mined illegally in Yanomami land has most likely been coming to India since at least 2018 – “but it could be earlier than this as it has been traded on the black market for years”.
  • India is “the fourth largest importer of Brazilian gold in the world”.

The Yanomami People

  • The Yanomami live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and are, according to Survival International, the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America.
  • Survival International is an international human rights advocacy based in London, which campaigns for the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples around the world.
  • The Yanomami live in large, circular houses called yanos or shabonos, some of which can hold up to 400 people.
  • It is a Yanomami custom that a hunter does not eat the meat he has killed. He shares it out among friends and family. In return, he will be given meat by another hunter.
  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief. Instead, all decisions are based on consensus after long discussions and debates.
  • Following a sustained campaign led by Survival International, the Brazilian government notified a ‘Yanomami Park’ in 1992.

What now for Yanomami

  • The tribe has launched an initiative called MinersOutCovidOut to enlist the support of Brazilian society and the international community to lobby the Brazilian government to take urgent action to remove the miners and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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