Environment Indigenous people gain space at COP26 while illegal mining advances and kills isolated peoples in Brazil

The large maloca of the Moxihatëtëa people was spotted during an overflight by the employees of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). (Reproduction/ Funai)

Marcela Leiros – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The native peoples continue to be victims of the advance of illegal mining in Brazil, even if they have gained more space and visibility in world conferences, such as the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. On Tuesday, 2, the Hutukara Associação Yanomami (HAY) denounced, to the competent bodies in the country, the death of two Moxihatëtëma Indians, voluntarily isolated, in the region of the upper Apiaú river, in Mucajaí, South of Roraima.

In the document, directed to the National Indian Foundation (Funai), the Federal Police (PF) of Roraima, the 1st Jungle Infantry Battalion (1st BIS), and the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in the state, HAY reports that approximately two months ago the Moxihatëtëma approached the “Faixa Preta” mining operation with the intention of expelling the invaders from their territory. The groups clashed and the isolates hit three miners with arrows, but the miners killed two Moxihatëtëma with firearms.

The Moxihatëtëma live within the Yanomami Indigenous Land in the extreme northern region of Roraima, on the border with Venezuela in the Brazilian Amazon. In a video, HAY’s vice president, Dario Kopenawa, describes what happened on the Apiau river as “very worrying”. He reinforces the request that the case be investigated by the responsible bodies.

“The Hutukara Associação Yanomami received very worrying information, very sad, that our isolated relatives Moxihatëtëma were murdered by illegal miners. We wrote a letter asking the Brazilian authorities, such as the MPF, Funai, and the Federal Police, to investigate immediately”, he said.

The document also points out the concern about new conflicts, due to the “traditional justice system of the Yanomami culture. Thus, it is possible that the Moxihatëtëma will organize new attacks against the mining centers to compensate for the deaths suffered, which could result in more deaths and slaughters.

Location of the Moxihatëtëma isolates’ collective house and mining areas in the vicinity. proximity. (Reproduction/HAY)

CENARIUM questioned Funai, MPF, and the Federal Police about what measures will be taken regarding the deaths of the Moxihatëtëma and the imminent conflict between the isolated peoples and the miners, but had not heard back as of the publication of this report.

Watch the video:

The vice-president of the Hutukara Associação Yanomami (HAY), Dario Kopenawa. (Promotion)


In international events, the indigenous people of Brazil have been a reference in discussions and debates about the preservation of the environment and the rights of native peoples. In a speech made at the opening of the COP26, the 24-year-old indigenous activist from Rondonia, Txai Suruí, demanded fast and concrete actions from countries aimed at protecting indigenous peoples and forests.

“The Earth is speaking, she is telling us that we have no more time”, Txai declared, also highlighting the homicides linked to conflicts with land grabbers and miners. “While you close your eyes to reality, the land defender Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau, my friend since childhood, was murdered for protecting the forest”, he lamented.

The strength of the native peoples’ discourse has bothered the federal government. According to Txai, after the presentation made at the opening of COP26, she suffered intimidation. “While I was giving some interviews, a representative of the Brazilian government came, kind of trying to intimidate me, asking me not to speak so badly about Brazil, because they were trying to do something [to outline environmental preservation actions] and I said that we [indigenous representatives] were also there to do that”, said the young woman, without identifying the author of the threat.

Other names that are showing the world the disregard for the environment and for indigenous people are the coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) and the first elected indigenous representative in Brazil, Joênia Wapichana, the activist Samela Sateré-Mawé, and the president and vice president of HAY, Davi Kopenawa and Dário Kopenawa, respectively.

At COP26, Joênia Wapichana is also demanding that countries take concrete actions to reduce deforestation, especially in the Amazon. She recalled, in a post on Instagram, the Global Methane Commitment signed on Tuesday, 2, at the Conference. The global effort aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels.

“They only talked about what each country has to do in terms of actions and confrontation, but there isn’t an inspection, a monitoring, a platform that someone can actually see the progress of these commitments that are being made. We need funding for these countries that pollute the most, to keep the forest standing, especially in the Amazon”, said Joênia.

Activist and indigenous Samela Sateré-Mawé is also at COP26 to talk about climate change, global warming and climate justice. “We are in a delegation of about 40 people because we had to leave our territory, our indigenous land, in Brazil, to talk to the big global leaders about what their actions are causing in our territory and what are the impacts we suffer on a daily basis because of the actions of these big factories and these people who only intend to profit”, she highlights.

Samela Sateré-Mawé at COP26. (Reproduction/Instagram)

Yanomami also represent

The HAY coordinators are in Paris, where they gave interviews to newspapers “talking about deforestation in the Amazon” and the “Bolsonaro misgovernment”, recalling that “the violation of the rights of native peoples is increasing”.


See the Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY) document in full:

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