Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Yellow and inexperienced feathers radiating from his headdress, Davi Kopenawa strode onto the parade route with a mission in thoughts.

Throughout him, town of Rio de Janeiro was pulsing with music and merry-making: It was February 12, and the world’s largest Carnival celebration was beneath means. However Kopenawa was not on the town to occasion.

Relatively, he had travelled greater than 3,500 kilometres (2,000 miles) from his village in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest to unfold a dire message: His folks, the Yanomami, have been in bother.

For many years, the Indigenous Yanomami have suffered by the hands of illegal gold miners, who destroyed huge stretches of their homeland and polluted their rivers with mercury.

However since 2019, the crisis has reached new heights, with lots of of Yanomami dying from situations associated to the mining. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has gone as far as to declare the state of affairs a “genocide”.

“Every single day, we face demise in our villages and assaults from unlawful miners,” Kopenawa, a shaman, advised Al Jazeera.

Davi Kopenawa, centre, poses with parade individuals in Rio de Janeiro [Monica Yanakiew/Al Jazeera]

So this yr, Kopenawa and different Indigenous leaders took an uncommon step. They teamed up with Salgueiro, one in every of Rio’s celebrated samba faculties, to stage an consciousness marketing campaign, proper in the course of the annual Carnival festivities.

The end result was unveiled within the early hours of Monday at Sambadrome, one of many premier locations for Carnival parades.

Floats devoted to the “folks of the forest” sailed down the Sambadrome’s vast parade avenue, surrounded by stands full of 1000’s of spectators.

Among the floats featured larger-than-life depictions of Indigenous peoples, arms outstretched as if to soar above the pavement. One float, nevertheless, represented the demise and destruction wrought by the miners, with feathered headdresses crowning skulls.


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