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This article explores how the recent rise of shamans as political representatives in Brazil addresses tensions and contradictions associated with the internationalization of indigenous rights movements. Identity politics and transnational organizational alliances concerning issues of environmentalism and human rights have greatly expanded the political leverage and influence of indigenous activism. However, some transnational environmentalist discourses collide with Brazilian discourses of national sovereignty, and the 1990s witnessed a nationalist backlash against Indians, whom politicians, military leaders, and media commentators have frequently portrayed as pawns of foreign imperialists. Opponents of indigenous rights also seized on apparent contradictions between rhetoric and action to discredit indigenous claims to environmental resources. The analysis examines how the shift to redefine knowledge as the core of indigenous identity circumvents some of these liabilities by shifting the basis for indigenous rights claims from environmental practices to environmental knowledge. As shamans mobilize and speak out against the threat of biopiracy, they blunt the nationalist backlash, repositioning indigenous peoples as defenders of the national patrimony and solid citizens of the Brazilian nationstate. [Keywords: Brazil, indigenous peoples, identity politics, shamans, biopiracy]