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History of Native Planet

Native Planet founder Jean-Philippe Soule has always felt a strong attraction to rainforests and indigenous people. After many stories of adventurers and attendance at every cultural and travel show he could find, he decided at age 11 to dedicate his life to exploring, understanding and sharing traditional lifestyles. The reality of life with the shamans of a very traditional Mentawai clan on a remote Indonesian island completely changed his vision. He learned that the Mentawai, like traditional ethnic groups worldwide, are vanishing unnoticed, and wondered how he could help them preserve their land and culture. Because unknown people receive no assistance, he decided exposure was the most important gift he could offer these traditional communities. Something had to be done!

An extreme expedition seemed an ideal way to attract media attention, so J-Philippe planned the Central American Sea Kayak Expedition (CASKE 2000), an adventure visit to remote Latin American indigenous communities. He envisioned helping bridge the gap between technology and traditional culture under his own power, one paddle stroke at a time. Luke Shullenberger joined him on the expedition but getting the desired exposure for indigenous people proved the biggest challenge of all. After two years (and all their combined savings), CASKE2000 still didn’t have major corporate support or media exposure, but expedition and website were both a resounding success. Up to 50,000 monthly website visitors shared the adventure through words and photos and emailed encouragement by the hundreds.

Confident that CASKE2000 could do more than just entertain, J-Philippe began documenting remaining traditional cultures, hoping to encourage NGOs to act. He soon realized that there were no better people than Luke and himself to initiate such projects. New goals called for a new name so Native Planet officially replaced CASKE2000. J-Philippe then established a partnership with Citra Mandiri (a Mentawai-managed NGO) and recruited and trained Salim Samuntei, a Mentawai university graduate. Together, they developed a complete strategy to facilitate Mentawai self-empowerment and protect their culture.

Native Planet is unusual among NGOs: all staff members, including J-Philippe, are dedicated volunteers. Despite our limited budget, we are making a difference and so can you. Please help us save this planet’s cultural treasures!

Thank you,
The Native Planet Team

 

MENTAWAI FLASH PRESENTATION

Mentawai Cultural Photo Documentary

View our breathtaking documentary slideshow and discover more about Mentawai shamanism, rituals and daily life.

THE CASKE 2000 EXPEDITION

Sea Kayak & Cultural Expedition

The CASKE2000 ultimate kayak adventure joins cultural and humanitarian aid projects to form Native Planet!

NP IMAGES - PRINT GALLERY

Native Planet Images - Culture & Travel Print Photo Gallery

Vibrant images by Native Planetís own photographer are now available as professional-quality prints. Your purchase supports Native Planet as well as the featured traditional communities.

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