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SOS – Save Our Sentinels: A short film on lessons from the last indigenous cultures



Today, on United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity, renowned Indian director Senthil Kumar and photographic artist Jimmy Nelson send out a worldwide call to preserve global cultural heritage by portraying the world’s last indigenous cultures as the sentinels, the guardians, of our planet.

By presenting a never-seen-before compilation of images and the intimate stories of some of the last indigenous communities of the world, Nelson and Kumar proclaim that it is now time to acknowledge and celebrate indigenous peoples as our new role models; they are the living example of how humans can live in perfect harmony with themselves and the natural world.

Planet earth is at risk of losing the cultural identities of many of the world’s most unique indigenous peoples. This is a global issue and a result of many escalating factors, including industrialization, ecocide and globalization. Together these aspects cause a homogenization and westernization of the originally diverse cultures of this world. The world’s cultural colors are fading fast and elementary natural wisdom is on the brink of being lost.

With this knowledge disappearing, a part of the memory of humanity is threatened with extinction. All knowledge that is lost, every ancestor that goes out, is a book that burns, or a library that disappears. Indigenous peoples are the guardians of ancestral knowledge that draws from the environment the solutions of everyday life. These solutions are priceless. It is a treasure for all those who have to face climate disorders because it helps them cope with the worst of its consequences, such as droughts, floods and hurricanes.  Where indigenous peoples on the Pacific Islands know which plants can protect them against possible epidemics, the elders in the Sahel know where to find hidden flows in times of ultimate drought.

We, in the dominant world, have imposed ourselves on the planet and have the habit to take – they on the other hand, have integrated themselves with the planet and are one. We can learn from this.

Indigenous communities are ready to share their traditional knowledge. They are the wise ones, the wisdom keepers,  who can (re)teach humankind on how to live in harmony with nature and each other.

“There has never been a better time than now than to bow and acknowledge the superheroes of the natural world. They can guide us out of these dark times into the light of a healthy future.” Artist Jimmy Nelson

Today Jimmy Nelson, together with Senthil Kumar, is sending out his first call to action. With this short film, he invites the viewer to join him on his mission to safeguard the world’s last cultural identities.