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Focus: GS-I Geography


From the remote rainforests of Brazil, a little-known tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians – to stop the import of gold by the government and companies saying that “gold which has come from Yanomami territory is Blood Gold, gold at the cost of indigenous blood”.

The Yanomami peoples

  • 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.
  • The Yanomami are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into North America perhaps 15,000 years ago, and travelled southward to their home in the Amazon.
  • Survival International says the tribe numbers around 38,000 today, and its members live in contiguous forested territory in Brazil.
  • The Yanomami practise an ancient communal way of life.
  • They 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.
  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief.

Gold rush in Yanomami country

  • Since the 1980s, the Yanomami have been facing an onslaught from illegal gold miners.
  • A fifth of the Yanomami population perished in just seven years.

Why the appeal to Indians?

  • They say that 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”.
  • In 2019, it was reported that one of the states with Yanomami people had exported 194 kg of gold to India since 2018 – and this is concerning as the state in question (Roraima) has NO legal gold mines, but is the state where most of the illegal gold is mined.
  • The report said India was “the fourth largest importer of Brazilian gold in the world”.
  • A report on the Yanomami said a third of the gold produced in Brazil is sold as jewellery in India and China, and that it was difficult for buyers to distinguish between legal and illegal gold.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024