Natural Peoples

The film Shan illustrates the situation of Natural Peoples, invisible cultures that, however, are an integrating part of humanity.
The Natural Peoples, or the indigenous populations or Natives of the planet, are cultures that do not have ethical or spiritual references in the major religions that have appeared in history; on the contrary, they live their own specific way of seeing and relating to life.
The maximum reference of the natural Peoples consists in their direct relationship with Nature and its intrinsic values. Nature understood as the manifestation of a mystery that gave life to man and to the universe, that is, to Shan.
In this pragmatic rapport lived with Nature, the natural Peoples find the directions for the development of their spirituality; they find individual harmony and common references.
Even though they have different ethnic origins and inhabit geographic areas distant one from the other, the natural Peoples are intimately linked by the same reference and life experience.
The natural Peoples are the manifestation of very ancient cultures tied to traditions that are lost in the dawn of the history of humanity. Cultures that have not taken part in the conventional development of the history we belong to, but have preserved their own specific cultural identity. According to an estimate of the United Nations, these cultures make up more than 20% of the entire human population.
These traditions exist in every continent, including Europe. The ancient European Druidism is the expression of a precise knowledge and at the same time it is the bond between different ethnic groups that made up a cultural constellation definable as the Celtic area of all of Europe.
The presence of these invisible traditions, still today living and active, leads us to distinguish two principal cultures existing on our planet, quite distinct one from the other but with equal cultural dignity: that of the so-called natural Peoples, as followers of ancestral traditions, and that of the majority society characterised by the great historical religions.
The film Shan gives a voice to the exponents of these invisible traditions and denounces the profanation of their identity and of their sacred sites.
Rosalba Nattero and Giancarlo Barbadoro, Representatives of five of these indigenous Communities, work in conjunction with the United Nations Human Rights Council to safeguard the religious rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Shan tells the stories of some of these emblematic cases.

The Profanation of the Apache Sacred Mountain

The violation of Mount Graham, the Sacred Mountain of the Apache people, is in exemplary case that summarises the problems of all the native peoples of our time. The desecration of the Sacred Mountain of the Apache tribes is an example of the cultural abuse that many native peoples still today are subjected to. Around Mount Graham, an ancient and traditional religious icon of the Apache people, specific interests of the great religions have come into conflict with the right to free spirituality of the natives.
The mountain in question has been violated by the construction of an international astronomical observatory. Many of its sponsors have withdrawn citing poor visibility and accepting the protests of the Apaches. Other sponsors are continuing the construction, like the observatory run by the Vatican State, which has declared that there is no reason why the place should be considered sacred and therefore, the natives have no right to protest.
Ola Cassadore, leader of the Apache Survival Coalition, for 16 years has been leading protests against the desecration of the Apache people's Sacred Mountain.
The Apache natives in this case, like many other natural Peoples of the planet, have been despoiled of their most elementary rights, and their protests are ignored and, as has happened already in the past, outside interests fuel the mystification and the misunderstandings to take force from their own protests.

The Struggles of the Australian Aborigines

The natural Peoples who are fighting for the survival of their traditions exist on every continent.
Today native Australians are combating in an action to recover the mortal remains of their ancestors held in museums all over the world. Gary Murray, president of the Wiran Aboriginal Corporation, is conducting a battle to get back the ancestors of the Wamba Wamba and has recently held a ceremony to rebury the remains of thirty-one deceased in the sacred territories of the Wamba Wamba Community. The ceremony was an example of the force with which the Native Australians are defending their traditions, their culture and teir spirituality. For too long now the lands and the traditions of the native Australians have been profaned. This celebration was only the starting point towards the recognition of the value of their traditions.
The symbolic value of the Natives' struggle to recover the remains of their ancestors lies in their determination to defend and to give continuity to their beliefs and safeguard their sacred territories. The native Australians, like all Natural Peoples are bearers of ancient knowledge that regards the origins of humanity and the events that followed, which have been lost by ordinary memory. This fact, together with their indisputable right to manifest their traditions is a further reason to give space to them and to reconsider their culture.

The Defence of the Sacred Mountain of the Natives of Cameroon

The Confrérie Mbog-Parlement of the Bassa People in Cameroon has been fighting for years to defend their spiritual identity and to gain recognition of the indigenous populations of Africa. Specifically it denounces the profanation of the Sacred Mountain Ngog-Lituba, a natural and spiritual sanctuary of the Bassa people. This despoliation is perpetrated by the Catholic Church, that wants to make this important site of pilgrimage, cradle of the 12 Bassa tribes, it's landed property thanks to its monopoly in Cameroon, a secular country. This explains the erection more than 10 years ago of a cross and a statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the mountain.
The Bassa population is also carrying on actions to recover their traditional heritage and their spiritual vestiges, held by European museums since the period of Cameroon colonisation by France, Germany and Great Britain.

The Struggle of the Taino People

The United Confederation of Taino People unites all the natives of the Caribbean and is committed to actions to defend the identity of the Taino population.
Specifically, it condemns the racial stereotypes that damage the indigenous populations, that are perpetuated in books, films and magazines, such as, for example, in the recent film produced by Walt Disney, "Pirates of the Caribbean", in which the Taino People are depicted as wild cannibals.
Another important struggle that the Taino people are conducting is the defence of their sacred places; an example is the take-over of the Caguana Ceremonial Center in the town of Utuado, Porto Rico. This is a remarkable megalithic site, which used to be used by the Taino People as a ceremonial area; today it has been transformed by the State into an archaeological Park. The restructuring has made the area inaccessible to the local Tainos, who see this action as a violation of their religious freedom.
The Taino are protesting against the abuses perpetrated at these archaeological sites and the loss of their indigenous ceremonial and funerary articles. Their burial sites, sacred places and their ancestral belongings are being profaned and destroyed.

The Breton Menhir in Cages

Today the ancient traditions of Europe survive in autochthonous communities that have kept alive the ancient traditions of Native Europeans. Many of their sacred places are still today used for religious and social ceremonies.
In France, at Carnac (Brittany), there is the case of one of these traditional communities, which is today being subjected to strong intimidation and prevented from freely expressing its spiritual identity; its people are asking to be helped. Even though the French State does not provide for identities different in its national integrity, this community, that can be defined as European natives tied to their thousands of years old traditions, is demanding its specific identity and asking that access be restored to Carnac, the megalithic area that it considers its sacred site and millenary symbol of its identity; the access to this area is currently forbidden, as is also forbidden its free traditional uses.
The megalithic area of Carnac in question was requisitioned by the French government, which, with the excuse of protecting it from the damage of tourism, has fenced it in, effectively preventing the traditional community that lives in the area from accessing the site.
Since 1991, the inhabitants have not been able to enter the site because of a project that plans for the transformation of the area into an archaeological park for commercial purposes. The traditional Breton community has not surrendered their ancient reference and has undertaken a protest that has been going on for 16 years. The protest is led by the "Menhirs Libres" movement that has become the spokesman for the Breton community. Their protest has become stronger and stronger with the passing of time.

The Archaeological Remains of the Native Europeans in the Piedmont Area

The film gives space also to the presence of the culture of the autochthonous people of Piedmont. In Italy, too, many traces of megalithism exist, but different from what has occurred in other countries of Northern Europe, the megalithic areas of Piedmont and of Italy generally have been abandoned for many centuries, so that many megalithic sites are without indications and can no longer be located. Piedmont has always been a land of abbeys and monasteries that have dominated the area. Groups of ancient religions were converted to Christianity and they held the temporal power, with which they fought the real ancient religion that supported the peasants and their rebellions. These groups probably destroyed the traces of the ancient effective beliefs.
But the megalithic presence in Piedmont is so massive that not even the determination to wipe out the ancient culture, combined with the indifference of today's local authorities, have been able to completely eliminate the traces. In the territories of the Piedmont valleys, there still exists a legacy of ancient legends, megalithic ruins, ceremonies and customs that enable us to feel the presence of ancient traditions that are still living and viable.