Yanomami leader brings ‘ancestral wisdom’ to Brazilian Academy of Sciences

By Barbara Fraser
February 1, 2021

Bishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho, Brazil, recalls attending a meeting about development in the Amazonian state of Roraima, home of the Indigenous Yanomami people, at which a government official commented that indigenous people were very poor.

Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami leader and shaman, stood up and replied, “We are not poor. We have the entire forest. We do not oppose development, but my question for you, ladies and gentlemen, is what kind of development is it that destroys nature and poisons the land and the water to concentrate profit in the hands of a few?”

Now Kopenawa has become the first Indigenous leader elected to the century-old Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

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