YANOMAMI INDIGENOUS TRIBE

The Yanomami of Brazil and Venezuela are one of the largest relatively isolated tribes in South America. Their territory extends for 9.6 million hectares in Brazil and 8.2 million hectares in Venezuela. Their land was demarcated following a long campaign led by Yanomami spokesman Davi Kopenawa, the global indigenous rights movement Survival and the NGO Pro Yanomami Commission.

Today, however, the Yanomami still face many problems: hundreds of miners, mostly in Venezuela, work illegally on their lands, while settlers and farmers have invaded the outer border of Yanomami territory in Brazil. The invaders transmit deadly diseases such as malaria to the tribe. Uncontacted members are particularly vulnerable to diseases brought from outside: following contact, in the past, entire isolated peoples were quickly killed by viruses.

The Yanomami are the best conservationists in their Amazon forest area, which on the Venezuelan side of the border is the second largest biosphere in the world; today, however, their territory is deforested and polluted with mercury.

In addition, the Brazilian Congress is currently debating a bill that, if passed, will open indigenous territories, such as Yanomami, to large-scale mining.

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