The Indigenous Celebration was staged at the Arma Museum in Ubud, Bali, on May 11-13, 2018 and brought together a sense of connection between the Indigenous people of Indonesia and seven invited countries from the Pacific and the tribal lands of Odisha and Nagaland, India. This tribal gathering was an inaugural event, and 200 Indigenous people came from the rivers, jungles and small villages to meet together in Bali for the first time to share their knowledge and wisdom and deliver artists’ performances that resonated with ancient rhythms, songlines and sacred dances.


Cheryl from Australia commented, “This was an incredible event. To bring together indigenous peoples from all these countries and put on performances involving authentic tradition and so many beautiful moments will forever stay in my mind and heart. It was a huge, logistical feat. Never before have I witnessed so much beauty, these magnificent cultures all meeting and performing in one venue. Words cannot describe the whole event adequately. It was truly breathtaking on every level.  As the world grows smaller and Western culture creeps into the East, this hopefully will remind everyone to respect and honour the ancient dance and music of these cultures and let us hope that they will remain alive forever. Thank you for opening my heart and soul to such beauty and reverence.”

The Indigenous identity of these nations, including 34 tribes from Indonesia, aimed to reinforce the purity of Indigenous identity. The celebration achieved this. Along with spectacular evening dance performances against a beautiful stage set infused with mapping (visual imagery) and tribal-themed lighting, intimate storytelling was also delivered by tribal elders and solo poetry reading. Daytime workshops, which included weaving demonstrations by West Timor, tattooing by the Mentawai and Dayak Iban and sound healing by the New Zealand Maori, were just some of the 29 workshops offered. These attractions brought in a crowd of 2,500 people to the event.


Janice commented, “This weekend, I was treated to a unique experience at The Indigenous Celebration. The 3-day indigenous cultural awareness festival brought together people from all over Indonesia and the world to share their stories, dance, music and culture. I learned so much! From finding out about schools that embrace a traditional education learning and sharing environment started in Borneo to preserve an ancient way of life to hearing how honey is harvested. Bees are sung to.  Kudos to the organizers and the people who traveled to Bali to share their wisdom and special gifts, this is what the world needs now to unite the different peoples of the Earth and celebrate our diversity and heritage.”

The Indigenous Celebration has pledged to plant one tree in Kalimantan from each ticket sold, and Emmanuela said, “This celebration event was a showcase for our Indigenous identity, strength, and diversity.


Most of the tribes came straight from the jungles, rivers and small villages. Many did not even own shoes. They had to purchase their first pair of shoes to take the flight to Bali.

A 2-day educational programme at the Green School followed on May 15 and 16, which included the elders from the tribes meeting the young students in the classrooms and finished with a panel discussion between seven tribal groups, including Odisha, India and the Atoni tribe of West Timor.

Meghan Pappenheim, the Founder of Bali Spirit Festival, summed it up perfectly, “This was truly a world-class, beautifully curated event with top performers who inspire us all to be a version of our better selves.”



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