Glenn H. Shepard Jr. is an ethnology curator at the Goeldi Museum in Belém do Pará, Brazil. He is working on a book about shamanism, ecology, and sensory experience, with the title ­Sorcery and the Senses. He blogs at Notes from the ­Ethnoground.
 (October 2014)

Follow Glenn H. Shepard Jr. on Twitter: @TweetTropiques.


The Voice of the Shaman

Shaman Davi Kopenawa in the Yanomami village of Demini, settled in the late 1970s near a FUNAI ­outpost that occupied a barracks from the abandoned Perimetral Norte road project, Yanomami territory, ­Roraima state, Brazil, April 2014; photographs by Sebastião Salgado, whose exhibition ‘Sebastião Salgado: Genesis’ is at the International Center of Photography, New York City, until January 11, 2015. The catalog is edited by Lélia Wanick Salgado and published by Taschen.

The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman

by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert, translated from the French by Nicholas Elliott and Alison Dundy
The Falling Sky is several things. It is the autobiography of Davi Kopenawa, one of Brazil’s most prominent and eloquent indigenous leaders. It is the most vivid and authentic account of shamanistic philosophy I have ever read. It is also a passionate appeal for the rights of indigenous people and a scathing condemnation of the damage wrought by missionaries, gold miners, and white people’s greed.


Specters of a Civilization

Selk’nam men dance to drive away the storms and bring good weather, 1918–1924

Martin Gusinde’s haunting photographs of the Selk’nam, Yamana and Kawésqar peoples—now collected and published in The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego—present a way of life that was already on the brink of extinction when he visited the region in 1918–1924 and that has since ceased to exist. “The word ‘Selk’nam’ can mean ‘We are equal,’… though it can also mean ‘we are separate.’” Gusinde’s camera captures the essence of this fundamental enigma of the ethnographic encounter.