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Cartier Accused of Misappropriating Indigenous Imagery Amidst Amazon Crisis May 24, 2023 (0 comments)


Boa Vista, Brazil--Cartier, the French luxury jewelry giant, recently used images of Yanomami children in verdant fields on its website. The company stated it aimed to showcase and protect the culture of these indigenous people, who inhabit a vast rainforest territory across Brazil and Venezuela.

[Image via Associated Press]

According to an ABC report, critics say the envisaged project for protecting the Amazon has yet to materialize. Cartier's use of the Yanomami's imagery was unauthorized, disregarding the tribe's cultural norms. 

Yanomami life has been ravaged by disease, killing, and prostitution, the consequences of illicit gold mining operations. As per Brazilian statistics, 570 Yanomami children succumbed to malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria between 2019 and 2022. In the report, Júnior Hekurari, a Yanomami representative, questioned the ethics of a gold jewelry company utilizing Yanomami imagery, given the tribe's opposition to the gold industry.

Although Cartier asserts it does not source illegally mined gold, Yanomami leaders advocate avoiding gold jewelry purchases entirely. They argue that the demand for gold inflates its value and invites miners into their territory.

The report stated that Cartier and associated brands under the Swiss conglomerate Richemont reported sales of 11 billion euros ($11.7 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. Cartier’s ties with the approximately 40,000 Yanomami date back two decades, primarily through the Fondation Cartier, a corporate philanthropy established and funded by the company in 1984.

The report noted that Cartier removed the disputed photo and project description from its website in late March when approached by the Associated Press. The company described the erroneous description as "a regrettable oversight." It further stressed that funds intended for a forest-preservation project were reallocated to procure medical equipment for the Yanomami's COVID-19 fight, with a donation worth $74,200 made in June 2020.

Yanomami leaders continue to express concerns about the broader issue of gold mining and its dire impact on their communities. “It is not just a matter of extracting gold. It is a matter of reaping lives,” voiced one Yanomami leader, as per the report.

Learn more in the ABC News report.

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