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How did we get the idea to organize an event able to explain the reason of our work? Why did we get such an idea? What is its history? In 1998, for the first time, we had the opportunity to meet a group of Blackfeet from Canada. It consisted in five Natives who were in Italy for some cultural events. That encounter gave us the idea to share their traditions with as many persons as possible. In a month’s time we organized a first “prototype” of what later became “Lo Spirito del Pianeta (The Spirit of the Planet).

In fact, after two months there was another event: a group of fifteen Sioux Sicangu from South Dakota, in Italy for a tour as well. Their leader, Duane Hollow Horn Bear, was (and stillis) a stand-out representative of the native-American culture and he had been consulted during the production of the film “Dance with the Wolves” for all dialogues and scenes concerning the Natives. Moreover, we contacted an Aztec group, taking part to a charity event in co-operation with the pediatric division of a nearby hospital.

That was the year in which a good co-operation started with the Aztec group. The reciprocal knowledge led to the beginning of a common tread and project, which is still going on.

In 1999, a number of events took place, which had the Aztecs as protagonists. In the spring of 1999, a delegation of different North American Natives was sent to take part to some events in the Bergamo province. In 2000, a non-profit organization was set up with the Aztec name Chicuace in Tonatiuh. In may 2000 the first Festival took place and the decision was taken, that its appropriate name should be “Lo Spirito del Pianeta” (The Spirit of the Planet).
This event was based on the awareness that all these people with such deep roots have the same problem: they must come up every day against problems connected with social ostracism and poverty which plague their homelands. We wished to give them voice, let everyone know how much they had to offer, how much of the past still exists in their present and how much they could teach us: “they are defeated by History but the law of the strongest men has not damaged their dignity and their beliefs. Today, in their eyes there is no trace of hate, resentment or revenge. Just much concern for the destiny of their culture and identity. This is the feeling that prompts them to dress their old costumes, paint their faces and bodies according to old traditions, sing and dance their ancestral rites all over the world, confronting themselves with what is survived of our culture. It’s their way of being listened to, their request for respect for neighbors and their diversity, and for our Mother Earth. It’s their effort towards brotherhood, spirit, awareness and responsibility. It’s a kind of mission, with the aim to bring traditions, lifestyles, rites, stories, the ordinary and the extraordinary, past and present of their people back to the world – and all over the world”.

This was the aim of our first Festival. It was our wish to re-discover culture and its roots in a totally different way, “not by reading books or watching a documentary, but by living it and by touching it with our own hands. In the pleats of their dresses, in the notes of their dances, it was possible to discover the history of this people. A history that had lived for centuries to arrive, intact, all the way to us – an expression of indomitable energy, of entire generations who needed to let their voices be heard”. Five representatives were involved, one for each continent, the Aztecs from Mesoamerica, the Aboriginals from Australia, the Apache from North America, the Irish Celts and a traditional group from Bergamo (Italy) for Europe, the Kazakis from Asia and the Woodabe (Niger) from Africa. From the economical point of view it was quite a difficult thing, but from the cultural point of view it was the beginning of a great dream. A dream that grew year after year. The organization itself grew together with the wish to organize a second festival, this time in Chiuduno (Bergamo) where it was held until 2009, with two years of transition in the city of Bergamo.
With the growth of our organization it became possible for us to organize cultural exchanges with a number of ethnic groups all over the world, in order to safeguard their ancient traditions and strengthen the reciprocal respect that must exist between different people. The ethnic groups involved are the Lakota Sioux, the Aztecs, the native community of Taurija (Perù), the Inca, the Maya, the Shuar (Ecuador), the Gia-Luo (Kenya), the Australian Aboriginals, the Tibet monks, traditional groups from Senegal, Congo, Morocco, Sri Lanka etc.; people coming from all five continents, all together in the same place, also co-operating with many traditional Italian groups.

All of them offered the tens of thousands of visitors a “sample” of their culture, both through their dances, songs and music and through the production of a ”multi-ethnic village” made of typical huts, personally made by the groups participating to the Festival. Each year, the Festival is visited by over four thousand school kids from preschools, primary schools and junior high schools in the Bergamo province and in other Lombardy towns.
It has been a unique experience, sponsored by various bodies at different levels: Ministry of Culture, UENSCO Italy, Region of Lombardy, Region of Piedmont, Province of Bergamo, Province of Como (festival in Cernobbio 2003 and Erba 2004), Province of Milan (Festival in Sesto S. Giovanni 2005 and Festival at Pime 2008, also sponsored by the City of Milano), the City of Rome (Festival 2005), the Bergamo Chamber of Commerce, the performances held during the opening of the Ski World Championships in Bormio (Italy) in 2005,

The performances held during Archery World Championship in Presolana (Bergamo), the presentation of the immigrants’ charter of rights (Sesto S. Giovanni October 2007), various communities twinned with the event all over Italy, Associations, many schools, Consulates and Embassies.

It has been a crescendo of dreams coming true: projects were started, the number of ethnic groups involved kept on increasing and international co-operation projects started with: the Tuareg in Niger, orphanages in Mexico City, children in the Peruvian mines, a cultural centre in Burkina Faso, a Buddhist Monastery in India, a cultural centre in Scotland and, the most recent and important, the Maasai in Kenya, where we made a 160 m deep water well, distributed various tons of foodstuffs during dry spells, built a medical dispensary where an average of 500 patients are taken care of every month, delivered medical drugs free of charge, opened two scholarships for two Maasai (a doctor and a nurse), supplied a pick-up which will serve as ambulance in the bush, installed a system with solar panels which gives energy to the refrigerator that contains vaccines for mothers and children, tethanus vaccine and vaccines against snake bites. In January 2007 we introduced our project to Wangari Mathai, the Kenyan winner of the Nobel Prize for peace.

In October 2008, together with other 20 Italian associations we participated to the day dedicated to the memory of native people in the world in Genoa; a place which is the symbol of the conquest which, from our point of view is considered a discovery but which, from the point of view of the native has been the beginning of the end for thousands of millions of natives.

In Milan at the Rho Exhibition Centre, in cooperation with Gefi, during the exhibition L’Artigiano in Fiera “Lo spirito del pianeta” has involved various ethnic groups from Mexico, Kenya, Perù, Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, introducing our activities to the exhibition visitors and obtaining a huge success, which made the organizers ask us to repeat our participation also at the 2010 edition.

Many national and local media have written about our Festival:
1 For the press: Corriere della Sera, la Repubblica, L’Eco di Bergamo, Orobie, La Padania, La Provincia, Gente Viaggi, Gulliver, Famiglia Cristiana, Maxim, Il Giorno etc. (over 60 headings).
2 For the TV: Canale 5 (Verissimo), RAI 3 (National and Regional News, Alle Falde del Kilimangiaro), Telelombardia, TV Bergamo, Espansione TV (Como); Prima Rete TV, etc.
3 For the Radio: Radio Popolare, Padania, Alta (Bg), Number One, Emanuel (Bg), Tarantula Rubra, Carta, etc.

During these 10 years of cooperation with all these ethnic groups we have organized lots of activities at different schools in various Italian regions, theatrical events, meetings, conferences, seminars and performances involving our groups coming from all over the world.