Tag Archives: remembrance

Water

(Excerpt from my master’s thesis titled “Remembering Our Future: The Search For The Salmon ! of Wisdom”, Naropa University – May 2006)

! WATER
!Water. Myfavoriteplacetobe. “She’sinhernaturalhabitat”,mymomwouldsayaboutme

!The Stanislaus River is the first river I fell in love with. When I was a kid, my family would go rafting down the Stanislaus River on overnight rafting/camping trips, along with my mom’s brother Tom and his family, the McCarthy clan. Those were some of our two families most memorable times, with many enchanting stories shared.

!Atafamilyreunionrecently,myUncleTominsistedweshareouroldstories. “Rememberour rafting trips down the Stanislaus River before they dammed it? Remember the cliffs we dove off of into the warm water pools at Rose Creek? Remember how young Mikey was the first to jump off the cliff? Remember Widow Maker rapids? Remember when Mark Dubois chained himself to the rock to protest the building of the New Melones dam? Those were such amazing times!

!Everyone then began recalling and retelling their stories which at one point in time had been part of our family connectivity, our own river that united our families. But, like a lot of American families, we had built many dams in our own family river system, and the stories stopped flowing. That day at our family reunion, we removed some of the dams, and stories flowed freely. Together we had painted a picture of the river, our river, and our hearts were opening, family restoration was taking place. When we had finished talking story about the Stanislaus, I said “This is the work that I want to do. I want to remember the spirit of the river.”

!Today the Stanislaus River is blocked thirteen times by dams on its way from the Sonora Pass in the Sierras to the San Francisco Bay. After a ten-year battle, the last long whitewater stretch was dammed with the New Melones Dam, which was built to supply the agricultural interests in the San Joaquin Valley by the Army Corps of Engineers, and then eventually taken over by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

!My experiences and memories of the Stanislaus River, and my own personal grief as well as my family’s grief when they dammed the river, has had a profound effect on my wanting to become an environmentalist. It was the actual experience with the river that made a difference. The connectivity dug deep into the core of my soul.

!

Journey into my Polish Indigenous Mind

Journey into my Polish Indigenous Mind

by

Atava Garcia Sweicicki

Thesis

Submitted in Partial Satisfaction of the Requirements

for the Degree of

Master of Liberal Arts in Creation Spirituality

in the

Graduate Division

of

Naropa University

December 2003

Approved: Dr. Apela Colorado

Project Advisor (Signature)

Approved Marlene De Nardo

Reader (Signature)

In memory of Barbara Kay Dean

September 29, 1942 – October 25, 2003

Dedicated to my family, to Polish ally Nancy Connor, and to the traditional farmers of Poland who fed us and loved us.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Writing in Alignment with My Ancestors 1

Chapter I: Origins and Maps 4

Opening Prayer 5

Discovering Creation Spirituality and Indigenous Mind 8

Indigenous Science 10

Remembrance 12

A Map for Polish Slavic Remembrance: The Story of Baba Yaga 13

Feeding the Doll 18

Listening to the Doll: Intuition and Navigation 19

Cleaning the House: Feng Shui as an Initiatory Rite 20

The Doll Works Magic at Night: Dreamwork and the IM Recovery Process 21

Seeking the Sacred Fire: The Forgotten Medicine of the White Hoop 22

Following Jezi Baba’s Trail: Heeding the Call of my Polish Ancestors 24

Chapter II: Stories from the Polish Land 29

The Dragon and the Lizard 30

Discovering the Polish Dragon 31

The Divine Feminine in Poland: Matka Ziemia, Matka Boze, and Mary Magdalene 35

Matka Ziemia: Moist Mother Earth 35

Marian Pilgrimage 38

Mary Magdalene’s Forgotten Chapel 40

The Teachings of the Forest 44

Recovering What Has Been Lost: Finding My Polish Family 49

Chapter III: Synthesis, Antithesis, and Thesis 53

Weaving 54

Lessons in Antithesis 56

The Historical Shadow 57

The Story Repeats Itself 60

Reenactment 63

Dreamtime: Excavating for What Has Been Lost 65

In the Arms of Jezi Baba: In Honor of My Polish Sister Barbara Dean 69

Notes from the Road: The Un-Conclusion 74

Bibliography 80

Introduction: Writing in alignment with my ancestors

“Knowledge in the traditional world is not a dead collection of facts. It is alive, has spirit, and dwells in specific places. Traditional knowledge comes about through watching and listening, not in the passive way that schools demand, but through direct experience of songs and ceremonies, through the activities of hunting and daily life, from trees and animals, and in dreams and visions. Coming-to-knowing means entering into relationship with the spirits of knowledge, with plants and animals, with beings that animated dreams and visions, and with the spirit of the people.” 1

This thesis is my own personal account of coming-to-knowing in a traditional way. I am telling the story about how I, a woman of Polish descent, came into relationship with the indigenous wisdom of my Polish ancestors. The path I walked in this process was the Master’s of Liberal Arts in Creation Spirituality with a concentration in Indigenous Mind. Creation Spirituality honors the original blessing, or sacred nature, of all of creation. Creation Spirituality weaves together the wisdom of western spirituality, indigenous wisdom and post-modern science.

The Indigenous Mind Concentration is a natural extension of the philosophy of Creation Spirituality. In the Indigenous Mind concentration, each student reconnects with their own ancestral culture or cultures. Guided by world-class indigenous elders, the students in Indigenous Mind gain an understanding of indigenous knowledge that is firmly rooted within their own cultural background.

Like many traditional people worldwide, my Polish ancestors have a rich tradition of stories, legends and folk tales. Many of these stories are encoded with cultural, historical and spiritual information. Rooted in this storytelling tradition, my thesis has emerged as a story that weaves together personal narrative, history, folk traditions, mythology, dreams, and indigenous wisdom. Two short videos from my ancestral journey to Poland accompany my written thesis: “Thank You Mother Poland” is a video collage of scenes from the Polish countryside, set to the music of Polish composer Frederick Chopin. “Mary Magdalene’s Forgotten Chapel” documents my and Barbara Dean’s adventure in which we discovered Saint Mary Magdalene’s abandoned and looted chapel at Kalwaria, Poland.

1.F. David Peat, Lighting the Seventh Fire, The Spiritual Ways, Healing, and Science of the Native American (New York, NY: Birch Lane Press, 1994), 64

Telling one’s personal story has power/relevance in the realm of traditional knowledge, the power of specificity. Kim Johnson, whose doctoral research explored the path of a European American woman recovering her traditional mind, writes:

“Elders and teachers from living traditional cultures have taught me that recovery of the good mind, the mind that is healthy and whole, begins in the specificity of each person’s story,. Generalities only point in the direction of healing, while specificity is the place where healing occurs. I can speak in truth from my own experience.”2

As the stories from my thesis developed, I discovered they naturally grouped themselves into three chapters. The first chapter, “Origins and Maps” gives background information and introduces indigenous science and the ancestral remembrance process. In this chapter, I explore a map of the Polish Slavic remembrance process: the fairy tale story of the fearsome witch Baba Yaga. I explain how BabaYaga’s trail led me to follow the path of my Slavic ancestors and make an ancestral journey to Poland.

The second chapter, “Stories from the Polish Land,” the heart of my thesis, arose from my ancestral journey to Poland. These stories reflect my direct experience with Polish people, Polish land and Polish spirits. I tell the story of my encounter with Smok, the Polish dragon in Krakow. In the section titled “The Divine Feminine in Poland,” I relate my encounters with three of the faces of the Divine feminine in Poland: Matka Ziemia (Moist Mother Earth), Matka Boze (Mother of God), and Saint Mary Magdalene.

2 Kimmy Karen Johnson, “On the Path of the Ancestors: Kinship with Place as a Path or Recovery,” (Doctoral dissertation, The California Institute of Integral Studies, 2001) 31.

The video “Mary Magdalene’s Forgotten Chapel” corresponds to the story I tell here about our pilgrimage to Magdalene’s chapel. In “Teaching of the Forest” I tell the story about an encounter with a Polish elder and forest crone. In the final section of Chapter II, I relate the experience of meeting my own flesh and blood relatives in Poland.

The third and final chapter of my thesis, “Synthesis, Antithesis and Thesis”, includes the stories and reflections about my process of integration and coming-to-knowing. In this chapter I delve into the lessons taught to me by the historical shadow o my Polish ancestors/ and discuss how this shadow continues to play out in my own life. “Reenactment” relates my encounter with my first Polish traditional ceremony. In “Dreamtime” I talk about the ways my dreams have supplied valuable information in the remembrance process. At the end of Chapter III, I give tribute to my dear Polish friend and companion, Barbara Dean, who joined the world of the ancestors on October 25, 2003.

Three is a sacred number to my Polish Slavic ancestors. The number three appears any times in Slavic fairy tales, mythology, folklore, and rituals. By structuring my thesis into three interconnected parts, I am symbolically aligning myself with the wisdom of my ancestors. As I do this, I am weaving together these three parts into one complete story. As Lakota scholar Vine Deloria Jr writes:

“Since, in the Indian system, all data must be considered, the task is to find the proper pattern of interpretation for the great variety of ordinary and extraordinary experiences we have. Ordinary and extraordinary must come together in one coherent comprehensive storyline.”3

3Vine Deloria, Jr, “If You Think About It, You Will See That It Is True,” Revision, A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation: Indigenous Science (Washington D.C.: Heldref Publications, 1996), 39.

Successful Teaching of Ancestral Tribal Knowledge

Apela Colorado PhD, Elder

272-2 Pualai St.

Lahaina, Maui, HI.

96761

17 Feb. ’00

Greetings return to you, Apela, and to the Elders (grandmothers) present, and especially to the loyal members of the TKN, in the love and in the light of the ancestors, The Source of Life.

Aloha Kakou!

I am in awe from yesterdays moving performance of sharing, by your humble, reverent, and loyal students of life; good work Apela! I was especially moved by Martina’s ancestral song of honor and all of the beautiful giveaways and story telling

. Thank you Apela for another beautiful day in paradise. I am greatly honored.

Each of those students in this group is striving to use, digest, and diversify the information into the channels of their mind, body, spirit, complex without distortion. The few whom they will illuminate by sharing their light, are far more than enough reason for the greatest possible effort. To serve one is to serve all.

Therefore to teach/learn or learn/teach, there is nothing else which is of aid in demonstrating the original thought (love) except their very being, and the distortions that come from the un-explained, inarticulate, or mystery-clad being are many.

Thus, to attempt to discern and weave their way through as many group mind/body/spirit distortions as possible among their peoples in the course of their teaching is a very good effort to make. I can speak no more valiantly of their desire to serve.

Again, Mahalo nui loa to the Elders (grandmothers) present, to all the students resonating and radiating to the light of the ancestors, and to those who came to observe the clarity of your teachings of the ancestral Tribal Knowledge.

With the permission of the ancestors, I leave all of you in the love and in the light of the ancestors; rejoicing in the power and the peace braided with the cords of patience revealing the tapestry of:

LOVE ALL THAT YOU SEE,

LIVE ALL THAT YOU FEEL,

KNOW ALL THAT YOU POSSESS.

Respectfully, in Service

Hale Makua

Hono Ele Makua

(Council of Elders)

Shamanic Inquiry as Recovery of Indigenous Mind

 

 

 

SHAMANIC INQUIRY

 

AS

 

RECOVERY OF INDIGENOUS MIND

 

 

 

Toward an egalitarian

exchange of knowledge

 

Published in:

Schenk & Ch. Rätsch (Eds.), 1999, What is a shaman?,

Journal for Ethnomedicine, special volume 13, 125 – 140.

Berlin: VWB – Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung

[Page numbers inserted below as P125 etc.]

 

 

Jürgen W. Kremer

3383 Princeton Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95405

jkremer@sonic.net

 

 

[P125] Abstract

 

 

 

 [P126] Dreaming

A few years ago I had a dream which pertains to the issues at hand:

The location of the dream is Hamburg, the town where I grew up in Northern Germany. Sitting on the threshold in the doorway of a pre-war brick house beside my partner I overlook the river Elbe from on high. We are atop the ancient ice age rim of the river, the border of its once miles wide flow, thousands of years ago when reindeer roamed these latitudes. The reindeer now live much farther north, and the river moves in a much more narrow bed; yet it still spreads to considerable widths three hundred or so feet below us, where ferries criss-cross its course and ocean liners enter and leave the harbor. We are not just sitting atop an ancient river bed, but also very close to the old building where I went for Kindergarten shortly after the Second World War. At that time it was a place with a comforting huge tile stove and a garden with plants and trees inviting the imagination of children at play. I realize that there are achaeological excavations in process behind the old Kindergarten. Signs are put up all around it: No trespassing! Stay out! Not to be deterred, I leave my body at the moment of seeing these signs and enter the forbidden grounds. I hover over the ancient ruins which are uncovered thanks to the work of the archaeological team. A round, towerlike structure emerging from the depths of the ground is clearly visible. It appears to extend a good ways into the earth. I understand that this is an ancestral ceremonial structure, as are other similar ones right next to it. The name of the place where this dig into ancient cultural history occurs is Altona[P127] meaning “all-too-near.” Legend has it that an orphan was blindfolded when the burghers of Hamburg wanted to expand their overpopulated city. The idea was to place the new town where the orphan would stumble and fall. But what happened was unexpected. The boy had barely left the city gates, when he stumbled and fell. The attendant burghers exclaimed in surprise that this was all too near, in the local vernacular:  “All to nah!”  – thence the name for this part of the city – Altona. The place where I gain access to the layers below the contemporary city and old ancestral cultural memories is all too close in this dream, right there with my childhood, and fenced in by signs forbidding entry.

 

I wake up bringing with me not only the memory of the dream images, but its self-interpretation at the end. This dream contained an answer to the curiosity and spiritual hunger which I had tried to satisfy since adolescence through the study of native peoples and shamanism in particular.

 

This dream and the image of the abstract at the beginning define my approach to shamanic inquiry. They also point to the cultural struggle of “the west.” The key to shamanic inquiry in the eurocentered context is the remembrance in itself of what it seeks in other peoples – recovering indigenous mind. Cultural history and the prevailing definitions of scientific inquiry make such a project difficult, to say the least. Native American intellectual John Mohawk has put it thus: “I do not want people to adopt Indian rituals because I want people to own their own rituals. I want them to come to ownership out of experiences that are real to them. Then I’ll come and celebrate it with them.”

 

Let me circumlocute this dream by responding to the editors’ request to present my personal interpretation of shamanism. The following statements are purposefully succinct and provocative; they are presented in no particular order or hierarchy. A theorem is the result of something seen (Greek qewrew), whether as mental speculation or at a spectacle or performance. I offer what I have speculated and seen of proceedings shamanic as “conversation pieces” arranged around the dream and the image initially given. This is what I have learned from my work with Native Elders, shamans, medicine people, and noaidis. As such they are my personal contribution to an ancient immanent conversation. This particular conversation disallows artificial splits between the concrete and abstract, between the personal-biographical and the impersonal-general, between transcendent and immanent, etc. It is integral in the profoundest sense of the word. I have presented arguments for my approach elsewhere, references to these publications are inserted behind technical terms or statements warranting explication. Here I am describing my perspective in a personal way. I am doing this with awareness of my maleness, and my mixed Germanic ancestry. I am also quite conscious of my current location in the U.S., and the impact Native American intellectuals and spiritual leaders have had on me. I write for Europeans and people of European descent; others engaged in a eurocentered consciousness process need to see what useful things they may or may not glean from this. I paint black and white, what truly isn’t black and white at all – but all this may be a good starting point for a conversation.

 

 

[P128]

Conversation Piece #1

Shamanism is a construct which mirrors eurocentric thinking.

The Ism of shamanism is the part “made up” or constructed by the early ethnographers and anthropologists serving the abstracting and universalizing pursuit of truth as defined in the western sciences. This definition of science is inherently imperialistic, as it relinquishes its participation in the phenomena in order to grasp and control what is left to be seen after the act of dissociation (1992b). Thus, as shamanism attempts to grasp the desired knowledge it may reflect more of itself in the mirror, than of the native peoples it is interacting with. In this sense the Ism of shamanism is all made up by eurocentric thinking. At this historical juncture I feel an obligation for specific cultural healing to the Tungus ªaman whose exposure to Russian visitors in the 17th century presumably led to the terminology of shamanism (see Voigt, 1984, for a discussions of the etymology and history of the word shaman); had ethnographers written in a similar vein about the yomtas of the Pomo-Miwok people, or the noaidis of the Sámi people, or the volvas of the Norse people, or the hataalis of the Diné people, we now might have the Ism of Yomtism, Noaidism, Volvism, or Hataalism. My interest is in the specificity of the immanent conversation, not just in order to pay hommage to cultural diversity, but to continue and affirm the specific indigenous knowledge (whether ecological, medical, astronomical, or otherwise) which can help us in our times of crisis. The most important questions to ask for any inquirer into matters shamanic is: What is the construction, what is the conversation I am participating in, if I am to inquire into what I am interested in? The Ism is the part where the labors of eurocentric social constructions are most visible, and where the loss of specific understanding of people, places, times, stories, and ceremonies needs to be recovered; the ªaman (or noaidi or yomta) is where the power of individual, cultural, and ecological healing rests through the specificity of the conversation.

 

Conversation Piece #2

Reflection upon and awareness of one’s own cultural viewpoint is a mandatory prerequisite for participation in the conversation.

I view shamanism as a particular aspect of an ancient, immanent conversation which indigenous people all over are continuing to this day (1996b, g, 1997e). This conversation is summarized in the graphic of the abstract. It is defined by its conscious participation in the phenomena (rather than a distancing view of the phenomena; 1992b). People of European descent or people who have entered the eurocentered process of consciousness have split themselves off from this ongoing interaction with place, ancestry, animals, plants, spirit(s), community, story, ceremony, cycles of life, and cycles of the seasons and ages. This dissociation has created a conceptualization of social evolution, in which a major shift has occurred from prehistory to history, from oral traditions to writing civilizations, from the immanent presence of spirit(s) to the transcendence of god(s). In my [P129] analysis, we engage in acts of imperialism – however subtle they may be – as long as we don’t understand our own shamanic and indigenous roots. I find it only legitimate to write about shamanism if what I write is true to my own shamanic tradition (even when and especially when writing about others). We can only be proper participants in shamanic exchange and dialogue if we know who we are as indigenous people. Otherwise we should take our hands off of other cultures. (1996a, 1994a, e).

 

Conversation Piece #3

The inquirer as partner in dialogue.

So, why do inquiry – even shamanic inquiry as recovery of indigenous mind? I can only think of one good reason: To resume an ancient conversation, which has balance as a goal (rather than control and progress), in order to be able to redress the ill effects wrought by an obsession with technological progress, an increase in population, etc. For me to become a partner in dialogue I need to recover my own indigenous roots, not to recreate a past long gone, but to move into the future in a complete, holistic conversation. If this is the context for dialogical inquiry, then there is no privileged access to knowledge nor a privileged preservation of knowledge; “Truth” has become truths or “temporary resolutions” to the issues at hand. As part of such conversation and dialogue it may become apparent that there are certain things to be said, and certain things which we need to be silent about (in our own tradition or in traditions we are exchanging with). (1997e, 1996a, f, 1994d)

 

Conversation Piece #4

If I don’t know who I am as an indigenous person, I should not write about other indigenous people.

Fundamentally, in my book there is no legitimate inquiry about shamanism unless I know who I am as an indigenous person. Of course, as a consequence of knowing that (or parts of that)  the need for inquiry and the nature of inquiry change entirely. If I know who I am as an indigenous or cultural person (however fragmented that understanding may be), then I may be able to relate to other native peoples (peoples still practicing shamanism) as an equal partner in dialogue, rather than arrive as an outsider intent on finding “Truth” (the implicit assumption of the eurocentered paradigm is that this “Truth” then ultimately should also become the tribe’s “Truth” as evolution continues, and the tribe investigated advances on the evolutionary ladder, thus presumably incorporating the “Truth” of self-defined more advanced civilizations). Of course, my guiding interests in shamanic inquiry are bound to change as I understand and remember myself as a person with indigenous roots. As long as we think writing about shamanism is about “them,” we remain unconscious of shamanism in us. (1996a, 1994h)

[P130]

 

Conversation Piece #5

Shamanism is just one aspect of the immanent conversation of native peoples.

For me it is important to keep in mind that what is commonly understood as shamanism is just one aspect of a complex set of cultural practices. (It should be noted that the terms “shaman” and “shamanism” are problematic for many indigenous peoples, Native Americans in particular.) To split the indigenous conversation in such a way that healing endeavors become highlighted serves eurocentered research approaches and their knowledge construction, but distorts what is known by virtue of decontextualization. What appears as unusual, inexplicable or even bizarre through this lense may have entirely different connotations if seen as part of the holistic indigenous conversation. Thus we exaggerate the unusualness of phenomena, ultimately only trivializing it because it is denuded of what it is a natural part of. It splits individual healing from communal or cultural healing, it neglects that individual illness is situated in the context of a process of cultural balancing – history, place, story, ceremony, etc. For me this means that my shamanic inquiry requires that I participate in the entire conversation, and understand healing from that perspectve. “To heal” is etymologically connected with the German heilen, and the indo-european root *kailo-, referring to a state and process of wholeness (“whole” also being related to this root). But “to heal” is also connectect to “holy” (as is heilen to heilig), which gives an ancient root to the reemergent wholistic and transpersonal perspectives on healing. Lincoln (1986, 118) concludes his analysis of “healing” in the indo-european context by stating “that it is not just a damaged body that one restores to wholeness and health, but the very universe itself. … The full extent of such knowledge is now revealed in all its grandeur: the healer must understand and be prepared to manipulate nothing less than the full structure of the cosmos.” For what is stated here regarding the older layers of indo-european thinking we can find analogies in contemporary indigenous traditions, such as the Navajo chantways. (1997h, 1996a, b, g).

 

Conversation Piece #6

Recovery of indigenous mind is the appropriate contemporary definition of shamanism for people of eurocentered consciousness.

Shamanism is commonly defined as the practice of some form of “technology” (including intentional alterations of consciousness) for the benefit of individuals or a community, conducted by practitioners who have been endorsed by this community. It is my contention that the appropriate contemporary practice of shamanism for people ensconced in the eurocentered paradigm is the recovery of their indigenous roots (and this way their own “shamanic” traditions, “shamanic” being a word probably more appropriate for people of Eurasian descent than anybody else). This is the starting point from which all manners of shamanic healing may arise. This then is a healing process on behalf of the individual, family history, history, community; in short, it is the healing of the [P131] dissociative split and the recovery of participation in the phenomena. Physical and psychological healing are a particular aspects of this. Shamanic inquiry becomes recovery of indigenous mind, which becomes the resumption of the ancient, immanent conversation. Ecologist Wolfgang Sachs talks about the necessity to develop the social imagination for sustainability; it is my contention that we can develop such imagination through the restitution of the indigenous consciousness process, where we can inquire about and understand the needs of all participants in a particular place and time. Balance may thus be regained. To presume that any such project of recovery work can arrive within one lifetime at the level of immanent conversation still practiced by contemporary native peoples (even in the face of colonization) would by hubris – recovering the indigenous consciousness process after a prolonged history of dissociation is a multigenerational project.

 

Conversation Piece #7

We need to travel in a way which does not touch “the other” with the virus of progress.

How then are we to travel to other places and do inquiry about shamanic traditions? Maybe we are not to travel there. The minute we cease and desist the “othering” of shamanic cultures we have to question deeply why we are traveling and where we are going. If we aspire to be partners in dialogue, then any conversation requires mutual consent. Additionally, it requires the consent of all participants in the conversation. This means, for example, that I cannot travel without my ancestors. It also means that I need a welcome from the ancestors of where I want to go. Thus it takes an invitation from the partners in dialogue, but it also takes permission from ones own indigenous culture. Dreams are important here. Offerings and conversation with spirit(s) are mandatory. And more. I know that as long as I don’t travel within the framework of this immanent conversation I am bound to infect wherever I go with the virus of dissociation and progress. I can only travel once the other has ceased to be other for me. (See McGrane, 1989 for relevant discussions; Kremer, 1994a).

 

 

Conversation Piece #8

The hunger for shamanism is the denial of the indigenous roots from which eurocentered thinking originated.

The current interest in shamanism reflects more than just a “legitimate research field” (in the scientific view), which is finally receiving some acknowledgement (of course, the legitimacy of this interest is tautologically defined and justified by the scientific paradigm itself). With it comes a cultural hunger created by the loss of indigenous conversations in eurocentered societies. The fascination with exotic other cultures, the nostalgic yearning [P132] for something ideal in the past, or the romantic images of Native Americans riding the plains or retreating into kivas on remote mesas – all this originates from cultural starvation. Of course, there is an incredible amount we can learn from indigenous peoples in general, and shamanism specifically, which may benefit our modernist pathologies, provided this learning occurs in an appropriate context. And, of course, indigenous peoples have never lived in a perfect world, the ideal of balance is always and at best a fleeting achievement. Traditional Hopi stories describing situations where things are out of balance (koyaanisqatsi) are very educational in this regard; see the Hopi Ruin Legends (Lomatuway’ma et al., 1993). Our idealizations are the flip side of evolutionary thinking, and an expression of its shadow. The projection of our hunger onto other cultural traditions is not going to satisfy the emptiness in ourselves. In a sense it is junk food. Being nurtured by our own indigenous traditions and nurturing them in return is what will satisfy and stop idealizations, romanticism, and nostalgia. The research of other cultures and the incorporation of their practices without consent is only legitimate, as long as we act within a dissociative paradigm. Once we regain our own immanent conversation, inquiry and exchange of ceremonial practices need to await guidance from the conversation of all parties involved – ancestors, communities, plants, animals, stars, and all. Or, in the words of Jung: “Shall we be able to put on, like a new suit of clothes, ready-made symbols grown on foreign soil, saturated with foreign blood, spoken in a foreign tongue, nourished by a foreign culture, interwoven with foreign history, and so resemble a beggar who wraps himself in kingly raiment, a king who disguises himself as beggar? No doubt this is possible. Or is there something in ourselves that commands us to go in for no mummeries, but perhaps to sew our garment ourselves?” (1970, 49)

 

 

Converation Piece #9

The cross-cultural differences between indigenous and eurocentered peoples is qualitative, rather than quantitative.

Another way of saying this is: Cross-cultural differences between eurocentered peoples are of the same order, and cross-cultural differences between indigenous peoples are of the same order, but the differences between these two groups are of a different order or quality. I have defined the evolutionary trajectory of the so-called civilizing process as dissociative schismogenesis (1992b, c). This is a run-away pathological process, where the split from one’s origin increases in an addictive dynamic governed by progress ideologies, and where the loss of awareness of one’s root has tremendous power. Phenomena are seen as entirely external, and one’s participation in the phenomena is unconscious. – On the other hand, the immanent conversation of native peoples is aware of its active participation in the creation of the phenomena. The (explicit or implicit) goal of the conversation is not some transcendent state or some evolutionary goal set in the future; the goal is balance within each individual, between individuals, and among all participants of the conversation, balance within the cycles of the different world ages, balance as hunters, [P133] horticulturalists, gatherers or pastoralists, balance as sedentary people or nomads. – This qualitative difference between these two groups of cultures leads to tremendous interactive problems, which remain largely veiled for eurocentric folk. They are the proverbial apples and oranges. The dissociative inquirer can only approach the participative conversation qua dissociative means – resulting in an imperialistic acquisition of knowledge. The participative conversation, because of its values, usually welcomes dissociative inquirers, even when their pathology is apparent (the traditional worldview usually makes such open door policy practically mandatory, and frequently disregards the significant qualitative difference in paradigm, a difference which is also politically highly relevant). The truth generated by this approach (whether in one of the sciences or as new age spiritual practice) is, in final analysis, a validation for the conversation of the dominant paradigm. The indigenous conversation has no need for research other than the ceremonial and spiritual inquiry into what is needed for balancing in a particular place at a specific time in history. To my mind that is more research than most of us can handle. Exchanges with other indigenous cultures are guided by the contents of this conversation. – Wislawa Szymborska’s poem Conversation with a stone describes the distinction I am talking about aptly: ” “You shall not enter,” says the stone. // “You lack the sense of taking part. // No other sense can make up for your missing sense of taking part. // Even sight heightened to become all-seeing // will do you no good without a sense of taking part. // You shall not enter, you have only a sense of what that sense should be, // only its seed, imagination.” ” – These differences in paradigm can easily be illustrated in the area of physical healing, say with herbs: Within the eurocentered paradigm we pick an herb for its curative properties known to relieve a certain ailment. Herb collection is an entirely different event within an indigenous context. Here, it is a ceremonial event which involves spirit, and, especially, the spirits of the plant to be collected. It is a participatory event with the plant relations which presupposes detailed knowledge, including knowledge of their “language.” It requires knowledge of cycles and preparations necessary for gathering. It means understanding plants like any other intelligent people. This is no longer the collection of an herb, but an engagement and appointment with spirit to help heal. What heals is more than the beneficial chemical ingredient in the herb.

 

Conversation Piece #10

Dialog partners have the historic task of healing the history of projective identification in relation to indigenous peoples.

In relation to indigenous peoples colonialism is always an essential ingredient in the context of exchange, dialogue or research. The euro-centered, well-bounded ego frequently cannot see this deep structure of such encounters, which is present whether talked about or left unspoken or unconscious. It is this ego, which is likely to project from its personality make-up whatever it has dissociated from into its own past or onto indigenous peoples. In fact, projective identification may be the most apt clinical term to point to the [P134] psycho-emotional process eurocentered cultures are engaged in with contemporary indigenous peoples (this term also acknowledges that history is carried and handed down specifically in the process of socialization within each individual). Projective identification means that other people are made to feel the highly conflicted and split off material dominant cultures unconsciously injected into them – so that they feel and experience it as if it is their own. Natives feel the eurocentered dissociation from prehistory, ancestry, nature, etc. as self-hatred (“primitives”) which is destructive to their cultures. Of course, self-hatred as an effect of internalized colonization warrants a much longer statement than I can offer here. Notably, in individual psychotherapy projective identification is known to be a pathological process oftentimes quite resistant to change because of its strongly self-reinforcing nature; this would seem to imply that we can assume strong resistance to the healing of the history of colonialism in the relationship between indigenous and eurocentered cultures. I would think that the retraction of these projections is the first order of business; for this we need a different metaphor than “regression in the service of the ego”, which is appropriate for individual psychotherapy. I suggest that the integration of history and prehistory qua connection with indigenous roots (recovering indigenous mind) is an appropriate terminology. The reintegration of cultural shadow material presupposes the possibility of an ego – the indigenous ego in communal conversation, if you wish – which would be differently constructed than our contemporary ego can easily imagine. The revival of shamanic practices can be an aspect of the resolution of historically determined shadow material – or it may perpetrate the denial further.

 

Conversation Piece #11

Psychologizing spirit(s) misses the mark.

For Europeans and Euroamericans the easiest way – other than by anthropological means – to approach native peoples and their shamanism is probably via psychology, particularly transpersonal pyschology. This seems to be the current moving force within eurocentered societies, where the influence of psychological thinking has increased steadily over the years. Joseph Campbell’s approach to mythology and Jung’s archetypal psychology offer attractive avenues in this regard. While these and others can be extremely helpful for people of euro-centered consciousness, they easily become problematic projections when applied to native peoples. Jung himself had actually quite a good understanding of this when he looked toward alchemy as an earlier tradition in his own background or when he stated: “A spiritual need has produced in our time the “discovery” of psychology.” While various forms of psychology may open the door to the remembrance of an indigenous mind process for people of European descent, even transpersonal psychology is hardly identical with it. It is important to be aware that an archetype is not a spirit. Psychologizing spirit is a way of preserving and affirming eurocentered thinking. Faris (1990, 12) has summarized this succinctly in his discussion of the Jungian interpretations of Navajo traditions: ” Such motions … are still popular and [P135] continue to be attractive to both romantics and humanists who seem interested in fitting Navajo belief into some variety of universal schema – reducing its own rich logic to but variation and fodder for a truth derived from Western arrogances – even if their motivations are to elevate it.” To my mind the prerequisite for writing about shamanism is that spirits are or have been present to the author. Otherwise it seems more appropriate to be silent about a universe only partly seen.

 

Conversation Piece #12

Remembering indigenous roots is medicine.

It seems so much easier to see the “medicine” in a plant, a feather or a stone people lodge (sweat) – and it is so much harder to see the medicine offered by the confrontation with history. The land I live on now is not my ancestral land – it is the ancestral land of the Ramaytush-speaking people of the San Francisco peninsula, the first people of this particular land with a name we still remember, the original keepers of this land. The beauty of the land I live on has suffered from the devastating consequences of technological progress. I live in a society where the destruction of its aboriginal cultures is scarcely acknowledged and is not mourned by the majority of people; living in this society I am in a certain way complicit in the ongoing perpetration of racism and cultural genocide. Yet, I also live in a city which seems to be among the most comfortably and richly multicultural places in the U.S., with less pollution than in many other metropolitan areas. My Germanic ancestry puts me in the gateway of the Shoah. I recall Hitler’s perversions of mythology in the service of genocide; I will never forget the image of the Germanic goddess Nerthus cattle-drawn past Hitler, which I saw in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I recall the aberrations of the Vikings, their vicious slaughters and conquering – another guardian at the threshold. Passing these and more guardians, witnessing what they hold, is to heal old collective wounds as they have been passed down to me as an individual, passed down consciously and unconsciously. These guardians don’t stand at the threshold simply to propagate guilt. The guardians are medicine for the collective shadow of the Western world. They are the medicine of remembrance with all that it entails, be it fear, pain, guilt, anger. Ancestry and stories of origins and homeland have been abused for various ideological purposes, usually right-wing and fascistic. The story of our cultural self-understanding is open-ended, necessarily. The exposure to the medicine of the guardians is mandatory in order to counter chauvinistic or nationalistic abuses. The healing power – for individual as well as collective healing – of the witnessing of history with all its perversions, twists, and contradictions, is a) a prerequisite for anybody of European descent as part of shamanic work, and b) in a profound sense more powerful than any animal bone or feather that one might want to pick up.

[P136]

Boring Things

I am bored with the shifting fashions of shamanic inquiry and New Age appropriations – yesterday the Australian aborigines, now the Siberian tribes. I am bored with the fashions of charismatic figures and the disempowerment of seekers.

 

Exciting Things

I am excited about the possibility of the disappearance of the white man (‘white man’ in the sense of the masculinization of the phenomena through eurocentric consciousness). I am excited about the possibility of resuming ancient forms of knowledge exchange, where we all might mirror each other through the original instructions we all received (while taking care of the teaching circles or instructions from the tree of life). I am excited about developing evolutionary thinking which gets us off the linear trajectory through the remembrance of all of our traditional stories (the cycles of history as evolution). I am excited about the possibility to see the history of our planet spoken in multivocality, which respects not only different traditions, but takes care of each place and time to the best of our ancient understandings for today. I am excited about the possibility of universal connection through specificity of knowledge trade rather than dissociation and abstraction. I am excited about the possibility that the oppositions between cultural relativism and scientism may resolve itself into the universalism of the knowledge exchange among immanent conversations.

 

Shamanic Career

The outline of my “shamanic career” can be given briefly: During adolescence I developed a benign form of cancer, a bone tumor. The surgery and subsequent healing process prevented me from undertaking a journey which I had dreamed of since childhood: I had won a scholarship at my school to visit the northernmost part of Scandinavia – Sápmi – and to go to a place which lived most vividly in my imagination: Girkonjárga (which I knew then only as the Kirkenes of the Norwegian language). Many years later I had an unexpected experience which jolted me out of the life course I was on (the practice of clinical psychology), and – finally – led me to that very place in Sápmi: During an experience – commonly labelled “out of body experience” – I appeared as an agent in what seemed a healing for another person. This embarked me on an exploration of various alternate forms of healing, primarily those called ‘shamanic.’ I spent time with shamans and medicine people from various cultures, including Navajo, Cherokee, Pomo-Miwok, Japanese, Cambodian; I travelled incessantly to the tribes and archaeological sites of the Southwestern U.S. In addition to studying these various traditions I fasted, danced, and sweated. I also explored what various proponents of New Age shamanism had to offer – [P137] some of these people were native, some of them not so native or fake native, all of them were decontextualized in one form or another. As I listened to them and researched their claims the meaning of their decontextualization became increasingly apparent to me. After years of study with and of traditional, non-traditional, and anti-traditional people I realized that I could not be a participant in indigenous endeavors unless I knew who I was as an indigenous person. The work with my Oneida colleague, Dr. Pamela Colorado, was instrumental for this process; her conceptualization of “indigenous science” has impacted much of my work. The realization regarding my own indigenous roots led me to review my relationships with people who had taught me and who I had researched, and resulted in a deep exploration of my Germanic ancestry. I worked through some of the shame and embarassment which had prevented me in the past from looking at the older layers of Nordic history. I finally began taking trips not just back to Germany, but to the last remaining people in Europe living in an indigenous frame of mind, the Saami people of the far north of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula, the land they call Sápmi or Saami Eatnan. The meetings with the members of PRATEC from Lima, Peru – facilitated by Frederique Apffel-Marglin – were influential in my own conceptualizations of immanent conversation (particularly thanks to conversations with the late Eduardo Grillo). Out of the many Saami people who met with me during my travels the ongoing work with Biret-Máret Kallio is of particular significance for my recovery work and its conceptualizations. […] (See 1997a, c, 1996e for extensive autobiographical material.)

 

Influences

It seems customary to think about influences in terms of books and teachers. For me other storehouses, “libraries”, or “universities” for ancient knowledge have been at least equally significant, namely rock art and archaeological and sacred sites. On the continent where I live the rock knowledge of the Southwestern U.S. (Horse Shoe Canyon, and innumerable other sites), and sacred places like Chaco Canyon, White House Ruin, Spider Rock, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and others have been of tremendous importance for me. In Europe the rock knowledge of sacred sites in Bohuslän, Nämforsen, and Jiebmaluokta in particular, and places like Čeavceageađge have been of particular significance. Early on the work of Stanley Krippner and the contacts he provided were influential. Other than Colorado, Wilkinson, Kallio, and PRATEC the works by Pentekäinen, Valkeapää, Mohawk, Deloria, Churchill, McGrane, Faris deserve particular mention. The many native teachers who have generously shared their knowledge and ceremonies are gratefully acknowledged.

[…]

[P138-140]

References

Churchill, W. (1992). Fantasies of the master race. Monroe, ME: Common Courage.

Churchill, W. (1995). Since predator came. Littleton, CO: Aigis.

Colorado, P. (1988). Bridging native and western science. Convergence, XXI, 2/3, 49-67.

Colorado, P. (1989). “Indian science” from fire and ice. In J. Bruchac (ed.), New voices from the longhouse. New York: Greenfield Review Press.

Colorado, P. (1991). A meeting between brothers. Beshara, 13, Summer 1991, 20-27.

Colorado, P. (1994). Indigenous science and western science – a healing convergence. Presentation at the World Sciences Dialog I. New York City, April 25-27.

Colorado, P. (1996). Indigenous science. ReVision, Vol. 18 (3), 6-10.

Deloria, V. (1993). If you think about it you will see that it is true. Noetic Sciences Review, 27, 62-71.

Deloria, V. (1995). Red earth, white lies. NY: Scribner

Deloria, V. (1996). If you think about it, you will see that it is true. ReVision, 18(3), 37-44.

Dion-Buffalo, Y. & J. Mohawk. (1994). Throughts from an autochtonous center. Cultural Survival, Winter, 33-35.

Faris, J.C. (1990). The nightway. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Jung, C.G. (1970). Psychological reflections. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Quote from collected works 10, 26f.)

Kallio, B.-M. (1996). Noaidi – jemand, der sieht. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(1), 59-77.

Krippner, S. & A. Villoldo. (1976). The realms of healing. Millbrae, CA: Celestial Arts.

Krippner, S. & P. Welch (1992). Spiritual dimensions of healing New York: Irvington.

Krippner, S. (1986). Dreams and the development of a personal mythology. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 7(2-3), 449 – 461.

Krippner, S. (1995). The use of altered conscious states in North and South American Indian shamanic healing rituals. In R. van Quekelberghe & D. Eigner (Eds.), Jahrbuch für transkulturelle Medizin und Psychotherapie. Trance, Besessenheit, Heilrituale und Psychotherapie. Berlin:VWB.

Lincoln, B. (1986). Myth, cosmos, and society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lomatuway’ma, M., L. Lomatuway’ma, S. Namingha & E. Malotki (1993). Kiqötutuwutsi – Hopi ruin legends. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

McGrane, B. (1989). Beyond anthropology. NY: Columbia.

Pentkäinen, J. (1984). The Sámi shaman. In M. Hoppál (ed.), Shamanism in Eurasia. Göttingen, Germany: edition herodot.

Szymborska, W. (1995). view with a grain of sand. NY: Harcourt Brace.

Valkeapää, N.-A. (1985). Trekways of the wind. Guovdageaidnu, Norway: DAT.

Valkeapää, N.-A. (1991). Beaivi, Áh_á_an. Guovdageaidnu, Norway: DAT.

Valkeapää, N.-A. (1996). Poems from Trekways of the wind. ReVision, 18(3), 45-48.

Voigt, V. (1984). Shaman – Person or word? In M. Hoppál (ed.), Shamanism in Eurasia (part 1) (13-20). Göttingen, Germany: edition herodot.

Wilkinson, T. (1996). Persephone returns. Berkeley, CA: Pagemill.

 

Publications pertaining to my summary of shamanic inquiry

(1997a) Recovering indigenous mind. ReVision, 19(4).

(1997b). Transforming learning transforming. ReVision, 20(1); see also (1994k).

(1997c). BeFORe Gimbutas. ReVision, 20(1)

(1997d). Introduction to special issue on transformative learning. ReVision, 20(1)

(1997e). Editor of a ReVision issue (vol. 20, #1) on Transformative Learning

(1997f). Editor (with Joseph Prabhu) of a ReVision issue (vol. 19, #4) on Alternative Perspectives on Development

(1997g). Editor of a ReVision issue (vol. 19, #3) on Indigenous Science – Further Contributions.

(1997h) Die Schattenseiten evolutionären Denkens – Ken Wilber als Beispiel (Teil II). Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(2).

(1997i). Übersetzung des Artikels Noaidi von Biret-Máret Kallio. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(1), 59-77.

(1996a) The Possibility Of Recovering Indigenous European Perspectives On Native Healing Practices. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen , 5(2),149-164.

(1996b) The shadow of evolutionary thinking. ReVision, 19(1), 41-48.

(1996c) Lingering shadows. ReVision, 19(2), 43-44.

(1996d) The shadow of evolutionary thinking (enlarged article). In submission for reader edited by Rothberg and Kelly on Ken Wilber and the future of transpersonal inquiry – A spectrum of views.

(1996e) Mind on fire. ReVision, 19(3); at press

(1996f) Introduction to special issue on indigenous science. ReVision, 19(3); at press

(1996g) Die Schattenseiten evolutionären Denkens – Ken Wilber als Beispiel (Teil I). Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(1), 41-58.

(1996h). Editor of a ReVision issue (Vol. 18, #3) on Indigenous Science.

(1995a) Evolving into what and for whose purpose?. ReVision, Winter 1996, 18(3),27-36.

(1995b) Introduction: Indigenous science. ReVision, Winter 1996, 18(3), 2-5.

(1994a). Seidr or trance? ReVision, Spring 1994, 16(4), 183-191

(1994b). Trance postures (with Stanley Krippner). ReVision, Spring 1994, 16(4), 173-182.

(1994c). Foreword (with Jean Achterberg). ReVision, Spring 1994, 16(4), 147

(1994d). Shamanic tales of power. In: van Quekelberghe (ed.), Trance, Possession, Healing Rituals, and Psychotherapy / Yearbook of Cross-Cultural Medicine and Psychotherapy 1994(pp. 153-180). Mainz, Germany: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung.

(1994e). Perspectives on indigenous healing. Noetic Sciences Review, Spring 1995, 13-18.

(1994f). Indigenous science for euro-americans, In R. I. Heinze (Ed.),  Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Modes of Healing. Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1994g).Traditional Knowledge Leads to a Ph.D. [Interview with Pamela Colorado and Jürgen Kremer, by Richard Simonelli] Winds of Change 9(4), 43-48.

(1994h). Euro-americans, retribalize! Printed in 1994k

(1994i). On understanding indigenous healing practices. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 4(1), 3-36. (1995)

(1994j). Practices for the postmodern shaman? In R. I. Heinze (Ed.),  Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Modes of Healing. Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1994k). Looking for Dame Yggdrasil. Red Bluff, CA: Falkenflug Press.

(1993a) The past and future process of mythology, In R. I. Heinze (Ed.),  Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Modes of Healing. Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia. [In press]

(1993b). Co-guest editor (with Jean Achterberg) of a ReVision issue (Vol. 16, #4) on Trance and Healing – Psychology Biology and Culture.

(1992a) Culture and ways of knowing. ReVision, Spring 1992, 14(4), 167. [Foreword]

(1992b). The dark night of the scholar. ReVision, Spring 1992, 14(4), 169-178.

(1992c). Culture and ways of knowing – Part II. ReVision, Summer 1992, 15(1),3. [Foreword]

(1992d). Whither dark night of the scholar? ReVisions, Summer 1992, 15(1), 4-12.

(1992e). Prolegomena shamanica. Red Bluff, CA: Falkenflug Press.

(1992g). Guest editor of two ReVision issues (Vol. 14, #4 and Vol. 15, #1) on Culture and Ways of Knowing

(1992h). Memory Lightning Memory. ReVision, 1992, 15(1), backcover. [Story.]

(1991a). Contemporary shamanism and the evolution of consciousness – Reflections on Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances. Open Eye, 8(3), 4-5,9.

(1990a) Vincent Van Gogh: “Great artist and failure in initiation?”. In R. I. Heinze (Ed.),  Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Modes of Healing (pp. 151-161). Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1990b) Sacred crafts (with Debra White). In R. I. Heinze (Ed.),  Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Modes of Healing (pp. 176-185). Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1989a) The shaman’s body. In R. I. Heinze (Ed.), Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Models of Healing (pp. 375-384). Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1989b) Authentic traditions and their confrontations with Western knowledge. Journal of Navajo Education, Winter 1989, VI, 3-12.

(1988a). Tales of Power. In R. I. Heinze (Ed.), Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Models of Healing (pp. 31-49). Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1988b). Shamanic tales as ways of personal empowerment. In G. Doore (Ed.), Shaman’s Path: Healing, Personal Growth, and Empowerment (pp. 189-199). Boston, MA: Shambala.

(1988c) Metanoia – Tales of power and epistemological learning. Journal of Learning, 1(1), 28-43.

(1987). The shaman and the epistemologer. In R. I. Heinze (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on the Study of Shamanism And Alternate Models of Healing (pp. 7 – 21). Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

(1986). The human science approach as discourse. Saybrook Review, 6,65-105.

 

 

The Shadow of Evolutionary Thinking

The Shadow of Evolutionary Thinking

Jürgen W. Kremer

 

This version is a slightly edited compilation of the following publications:

(1998). The shadow of evolutionary thinking. In D. Rothberg & S. Kelly, Ken Wilber in Dialogue (pp. 237-258). Wheaton, Illinois: Quest. (Reprint of 1996)

(1998). Lingering Shadows. In D. Rothberg and S. Kelly, Ken Wilber in Dialogue (391-393). Wheaton, IL: Quest. (Reprint of 1996)

(1997). Probleme mit Ken Wilber’s evolutionären kognitionspsychologischen Annahmen. Teil II. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(2), 132-158.

(1996). Probleme mit Ken Wilber’s evolutionären kognitionspsychologischen Annahmen. Teil I. Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 6(1), 41-58.

(1996). The shadow of evolutionary thinking. ReVision, 19(1), 41-48.

(1996). Lingering shadows. ReVision, 19(2), 43-44.

To all my ancestors!

To all my ancestral relations!

To all my relations!

When I try to fathom what it means to be alive these days in 1996, what my obligation as an individual may be, then I have to be present in a variety of ways. Let me first speak more personally before I explicate my major points in a more theoretical way. I have made an attempt in the style of this paper to reflect my understanding of the indigenous mind process as I am recovering it (see Kremer 1994, 1995a, b, c, 2002). This is why I begin with an honoring, continue with a personal story as an evocation of the recovery of the indigenous mind process identifying the specific place from which I speak, and proceed to a description of indigenous consciousness in a contemporary society. I finish the article with yet more descriptions of the indigenous mind process. In this sense the paper is a compromise between the more common academic writing style (of the middle part of the paper) and indigenous presentations, including my own attempt to speak from a recovered indigenous perspective.

I. RECOVERING MY INDIGENOUS CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS

At the threshold of this coming-to-be-present I encounter a variety of guardians: The land I live on is not my ancestral land – it is the ancestral land of the Ramaytush-speaking people of the San Francisco peninsula, the first people of this particular land with a name we still remember; for the purposes of dealing with the shadow of evolutionary thinking the original keepers of this land. The beauty of the land I live on has suffered from the devastating consequences of technological progress – overpopulation, overbuilding, pollution of the waters, pollution of the air… I live in a society where the destruction of its aboriginal cultures is scarcely acknowledged and is not mourned by the majority of people; living in this society I am in a certain way complicit in the ongoing perpetration of racism and cultural genocide. Yet, I also live in a city which seems to be among the most comfortably and richly multicultural places in the U.S., with less pollution than in many other metropolitan areas.

My Germanic ancestry puts me in the gateway of the Holocaust. I recall Hitler’s perversions of mythology in the service of genocide; I will never forget the image of the Germanic goddess Nerthus cattle-drawn past Hitler, which I saw in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I recall the aberrations of the Vikings, their vicious slaughters and conquering – another guardian at the threshold. Passing these and more guardians, witnessing what they hold, is to heal old collective wounds as they have been passed down to me as an individual, passed down consciously and unconsciously. These guardians don’t stand at the threshold simply to propagate guilt. The guardians are medicine for the collective shadow of the Western world. They are the medicine of remembrance with all that it entails, be it fear, pain, guilt, anger….

Having taken this medicine I see the outlines of an old tree, the tree of the Nordic and Eurasian traditions that is spoken about in a language simultaneously poetic and scientifically precise: At this tree stories are told of the Great Return, the great round of the precession of the equinoxes, the ragnarökir of the past (footnote 1); these stories contain the native scientific star knowledge of my traditions. The spakona and the spamaðr, the women and men seers and healers, travel along this tree across the rainbow bridge, across the milky way – bifrost – to the ancestral souls of the past and future. These seers place those in need of healing at this center of the universe, one of many known to them, to see if they can help the sick find their place of balance. Stories are told at the tree, of ancestors, trade, and migrations. Ceremonies are held to honor the great and the small cycles of the season, to honor the law of balance, of friðr. Community gathers at the tree. I hold ceremony to honor the protective spirits, the dísir, and the máttr og megin or gift which they hold for me; I hold ceremony to find balance and to honor balance. I look at the stars and see the image of a deerlike animal and I look at the rock carvings by the tree and see images of various deer. And I see boats, boats filled with ancestors travelling the skies and travelling the seas. Across the stream three spirits appear. In the rock I see the deer carrying the sun. My conversation which is also a prayer or chant is with all these relations within friðr. I offer amber as I am held by by all these beings and by the guardians.

The only way to reach the tree for somebody like me is to pass the guardians at the threshold and to take the medicine they offer. They offer their painful medicine kindly.

All this helps me understand what my obligation is as I recover ancient memory for the future, today. (For background information on this section see for example: Bonnefoy 1993a & b; Coles, 1990; Crichton, 1976; Davidson 1964, 1988, 1993; Graham-Campbell, Batey, Clarke, Page & Price, 1994; Metzner, 1994; Tacitus, 1967; Titchenell, 1985)

II. NURTURING AND BEING NURTURED – A CONTEMPORARY INDIGENOUS CONSCIOUSNESS PROCESS

The contemporary Andean peoples of Peru have their own way of talking about their obligation. This is how it has been described:

The ayllu is a group of related persons living in a particular place. The ayllu consists not only of a group of related humans but of other beings of that place: the animals, the mountains, streams and rocks and the local deities. The ayllu should therefore not be considered simply a sphere of kinship. Rather one could say that kinship in the Andes extends to the non-human realm.

The conversations held between persons and the other inhabitants of the world are not primarily engaged in for the purpose of “knowing reality.” They are engaged in it as part of the activity of criar y dejarse criar, of nurturing (raising) and letting oneself be nurtured (raised). The verb criar is used to speak of raising children, animals, plants, relationships, etc. It is the activity that fosters the growth and development of any potentiality or generativity. It is a fundamentally mutual or reciprocal activity: as one nurtures one is simultaneously nurtured. The action in the world does not leave the actor untransformed; acting in the world is being in relationship with that world, so the language of conversation is more appropriate than the language of knowledge. There is here no knower and known, no subject and object. Rather there are actors in relationships of mutuality. By acting one transforms not only the world but oneself as well. Therefore it is a fundamentally dynamic world, always moving, always changing, always in flux. There is, as it were, no simple act of knowing as we moderns understand the term for such knowledge-acquiring activity presupposes that there is something to be known, irrespective of who knows it.

This is not to say that conversing with the world does not involve cognitive faculties, it of course does, but that the activity is not primarily and certainly not exclusively a cognitive one. Criar demands not only understanding but love, tenderness, patience. But it is to say that the point of conversation is not the attainment of knowledge through the interrogation of nature, it is rather to generate and regenerate the world and be generated and regenerated by it in the process. (Apffel-Marglin, 1994, p. 9)

III. WILBER´S EVOLUTIONARY THINKING IN THE LIGHT OF AVAILABLE EVIDENCE

The above descriptions of friðr and the knowing and nurturing conversation in the ayllu are illustrations of what can be called rather inadequately ‘the indigenous mind process’ (the reader may consult Valkeapää, 1985 & 1996, for a Saami description of siida life or Colorado, 1988, for an Iroquois description of skanagoah); they are descriptions of an integral way of knowing and being which is difficult to capture in its richness and subleties. They circumscribe my place of analysis and point of departure for dialogue with Ken Wilber’s books.

I am writing this article as somebody who is remembering his indigenous roots without any claim to being native or having shared native experiences of discrimination and colonialism; I grew up as part of the dominant culture in Germany (see Kremer, 1994, 1995a for further discussions of my stance). The endeavor which I call “recovery of indigenous mind” is a process which does not invite romanticism or nostalgia – it is a painful process of remembering back in order to go forward. There is no going back. My way into the future moves through the integration of historical wounds, painful memories and seemingly senseless events in order to work out a future based on ayllu or friðr, based on an ecologically specific notion of balance.

The indigenous mind or consciousness process I am referring to is not based on an essentialist understanding of tribalism or indigenism (footnote 2), but a discourse view in which individuals understand themselves in an ongoing conversation with the surrounding community, in which the local animals, plants, ancestors, and other spirits take as much part as the humans (cf. Apffel Marglin, 1994; Rengifo, 1993; Valladolid, 1995); this conversation is carried on as a part of unfolding one’s own gifts while paying attention to the ceremonial and seasonal cycles as well as the larger astronomical cycles. This is a worldview of total immanence. It is acknowledged that the social construction or conversation in one place is different from other conversations in other places, yet seeing this is to stay grounded in the detailed observations of and conversations with the community and the cycles of the specific place one is in. This is not a mind process where egoic consciousness and transcendence stand in some form of opposition or tension to each other, but where individuals of the permeable, participatory consciousness live with spirits as much part of their community as other human beings or plants. “El mundo es inmanente – the world is immanent” (PRATEC, 1996, 10).

Since the 1977 publication of The Spectrum of ConsciousnessKen Wilber has emerged as one of the most significant and productive transpersonal thinkers. Walsh (1998, p. 33) regards Wilber view as “unique in not only providing a far-reaching vision but also in grounding that vision in contemporary research in fields such as cosmology, biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and ecology.” In 1996 three issues of the journal ReVision, edited by Donald Rothberg and Sean Kelly, critically reviewed Wilber’s work and attempted to engage him in dialogue; the articles were subsequently, together with additional material published in book form as Ken Wilber in Dialogue(1998). The current compilation is based on my contributions to these publications. My primary focus in this article is on Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995a), and Up from Eden (1981). My central question in looking at social evolutionary theories such as Wilber’s is: How do evolutionary theorists deal with contemporary indigenous peoples? Or, to return to my initial descriptions: How would Wilber conceptualize the conversational process of the ayllu in the Andes?

My discussion of Wilber’s more recent work focuses on two major aspects of this broad issue:
1) What is the nature of the indigenous mind process and are Wilber’s descriptions consistent with the available data? My point below is that closer attention to the indigenous consciousness process suggests a different model of history than the eurocentered conceptualizations and cannot be subsumed under stage models without being made invisible. (Discussed below in this section.)
2) If Wilber’s conceptualizations of evolutionary stages imply “losers” (meaning: the so-called ‘lower’ stages and their contemporary “remnants”), then how does his theory deal with this shadow of evolutionary theorizing? The stance which I take is that we can no longer afford to think about evolution of consciousness and so-called civilizations without explicitly addressing the shadow of purported advances. (Discussed below in section IV.)
In addition, I address the following topics:
3) If it is indeed reasonalbe to assume qualitative differences between eurocentered and indigenous discourses, then what are the requirements for the facilitation of dialogues between these two types of discourse? My basic argument is as follows: Dialogues between cultures steeped in a eurocentered worldview and cultures engaged in indigenous consciousness processes have to be conducted in such a fashion as to insure that the voices of both groups have a chance to be heard directly and without intermediaries. (Section V below.)
4) I discuss Wilber’s critical commentary on sections I through IV and VII of this article. (Section VI below.)
5) I conclude this article with a continuation of the indigenous mind process descriptions given at the beginning of this article which suggest alternate conceptualizations of universality, evolution, and knowledge exchange. It is beyond the scope of this article to explicate these alternate conceptualizations fully; all I can do is give the rough outlines and some general parameters. (Section VII below.)

At the root of my concerns is the question of cultural ownership of evolutionary thinking which I have raised in a recent ReVision article (Kremer, 1996), and the call for theorists of human evolution to reflect consciously and explicitly on the cultural biases inherent in their thinking.

Wilber’s model of social evolution is in the tradition of 19th century evolutionary conceptualizations (cf. Winkelman, 1993, 5). Julian Huxley gives a good example of this thinking in the field of biology:
If we accept the doctrine of evolution, we are bound to believe that man has arisen from mammals, terrestrial from aquatic forms, vertebrates from invertebrates, multicellular from unicellular, and in general the larger and the more complex from the smaller and simpler. To the average man it will be indisputable that a man is higher than a worm or a polyp, an insect is higher than a protozoan, even if he cannot exactly define in what resides this highness or lowness of organic types. (Huxley, 1923, 10; quoted from Barlow, 1994)
Of course, if this type of evolutionary thinking is extrapolated into the field of evolution of consciousness and societies, then we can see how the prehistoric peoples of all continents and the contemporary remaining indigenous peoples can be classed as “lower” and the euro-centered as “higher” (even if there are yet higher stages to come). In E.B.Tylor’s words:
Human life may be roughly classified into three great stages, Savage, Barbaric, Civilized, which may be defined as follows. The lowest or savage state is that in which man subsists on wild plants and animals, neither tilling the soil nor domesticating creatures for his food. … Men may be considered to have risen into the next or barbaric state when they take to agriculture. … Lastly, civilized life may be taken as beginning with the art of writing, which, by recording history, law, knowledge, and religion for the service of ages to come, binds together the past and the future in an unbroken chain of intellectual and moral progress. (1881, quoted from Wenke, 1980, 32-33)
Evolutionary thinking concerns itself with the development according to inherent tendencies of anything that may be compared to a living organism (OED). Theories of evolution, whether in the fields of biology, consciousness or culture fundamentally have a mono-causal structure, where things unfold from some point of origin basically in a linear fashion (however complex and multi-dimensional the descriptions of this causal line may be) toward some future or utopian stage which represents the unfoldment of the inherent tendencies, particularly of human beings and their cultures.

Let me give a very brief summary overview of Wilber’s model as it appears to pertain to contemporary indigenous peoples. In Up from Eden (1981), Wilber has delineated dates for stages of the evolution of human consciousness, and he has provided us with updated descriptions since.

— Hominids appear during the uroboric stage which lasted roughly from 3 to 6 million years ago to 200,000 years ago (Wilber, 1981, 28). “Simple sensorimotor intelligence and emotional-sexual drives” are seen as characteristic for the early hominids of this epoch (Wilber, 1983, 240; see also Wilber, 1987, 239 for descriptions of the “archaic”, and 1995a, 153ff.).

— The subsequent typhonic stage lasted roughly from 200,000 years ago to 10,000 B.C.E. (Wilber, 1981, 39 & 87). Here we find “the first symbolic cognitive mode, the primary process, which confuses inside and outside, whole and part, subject and predicate, image and reality” (Wilber, 1983, 240). “Magical thinking” is an important characteristic of the mental process of the typhonic epoch which Wilber describes as follows: “This includes simple images, symbols, and the first rudimentary concepts, or the first and lowest mental productions, which are “magical” in the sense that they display condensation, displacement, “omnipotence of thought,” etc. … The magic realm is the beginning of mind” (1987, 239). He further elaborates that “the mind and the body are still relatively undifferentiated, and thus mental images and symbols are often confused or even identified with the physical events they represent, and consequently mental intentions are believed to be able to ‘magically’ alter the physical world, as in voodoo, exoteric mantra, the fetish, magical ritual, ‘sympathetic magic,’ or magic in general” (1995a, 165).

— The more recent mythic-membership stage lasted from about 12,000 B.C.E. to 2,500 B.C.E., with the high membership period dating from about 4,500 to 1,500 B.C.E. (1981, 87). According to Wilber, “this stage is more advanced than magic, but not yet capable of clear rationality or hypthetico-decuctive reasoning” (1987, 239).

— And the current solar ego stage began about 2,500 B.C.E. (with the low ego period dating from 2,500-500 B.C.E., the middle ego period dating from 500 B.C.E. to 1,500 C.E., and the high ego period dating from 1,500 C.E. to the present; Wilber, 1981, 179-180). Wilber more recently has set the incipient egoic-rational phase at about 500 B.C.E. (1995a, 179). “Egoic rationality and formal-operational logic” (1983, 240) are some of its central characteristics in the individuals of this epoch.

Wilber clarifies (1995a, 172-173) the meaning of his stage descriptions by stating that
these various ‘epochs’ … refer only to the average mode of consciousness achieved at that particular time in evolution – a certain ‘center of gravity’ around which the society as a whole orbited. In any given epoch, some individuals will fall below the norm in their own development, and others will reach quite beyond it. … Thus, in the magical, as I just mentioned, the most advanced mode seems to have been the psychic (embodied in a few genuine shamans or pioneers of yogic awareness); in mythological times the most advanced mode seems to have reached into what is known as the subtle level (embodied in a few genuine saints); and in mental-egoic times the most advanced modes reached into the causal level (embodied in a few genuine sages).
Plotinous and Plato may serve as illustrations for this: They
were situated in an average-mode mythological background worldview (mythic-rational), against which they had to fight (while delicately and unavoidably embracing aspects of it). They spoke from the center of a mythic worldview, even as their own substantive Reason transcended it, and even as their own contemplation transcended Reason; but mythically situated they could not avoid (Wilber, 1995a, 637).

Wilber comments in regard to the contemporary situation that
the majority of individuals in rational societies still settle in somewhere around the mythic-rational, using all the formidable powers of rationality to prop up a particular, divisive, imperialistic mythology and an aggressively fundamentalistic program of systematic intolerance (1995a, 252). The statement “the majority of individuals in rational societies still settle somewhere around the mythic-rational” is somewhat inconsistent with the definition that this is the epoch where “the average mode of consciousness achieved” is the rational mode; this implies that at least fifty per cent of the population is functioning in that mode, particularly if the “high egoic period” is dated to the present. “The majority of individuals in rational societies still settle somewhere around the mythic-rational” suggests more the “low ego period” rather than the time when the next epoch is beginning to emerge, even if only as the low vision-logic period. In any event, Wilber appears to put contemporary eurocentered societies (the modern state) at the rational stage, and he places “the rough beginning of this new emergence (egoic-rational) in the middle of the first millennium BCE … it reaches its fruition with the rise of the modern state, roughly the sixteenth century in Europe” (1995a, 179; similarly on p. 396). All this “brings us up to the present, and the new integration that is struggling to emerge” (1995a, 184), namely “vision-logic.”

Wilber never concerns himself explicitly with the indigenous peoples who remain. He primarily discusses the anthropological construct “shamanism” and “shaman” when elaborating the earlier evolutionary stages. This isolation of shamans and the “shamanic state of consciousness” inappropriately focuses only on certain aspects of the holistic and integral process of indigenous conversation described at the beginning of this article. How this particular lense may be related to some of the problems which I identify in Wilber’s theory should become apparent below. Since contemporary indigenous peoples continue to use ceremonies, for example, in which, according to anthropologists and in Wilber’s valueladen words from above, “mental intentions are believed to be able to ‘magically’ alter the physical world, as in voodoo, exoteric mantra, the fetish, magical ritual, ‘sympathetic magic,’ or magic in general,” (1995a, 165) they could be considered contemporary remnants of the typhonic stage, or at best the mythic stage. In any event, contemporary indigenous peoples still engaged in their traditional cultural practices would not fit Wilber’s various descriptions of the mythic-rational stage or more recent epochs. Nevertheless, as previously quoted, he would concede that some of their authentic spiritual practitioners may be able to reach the psychic or subtle levels.

Wilber is reluctant (1995a, 571) to use anthropological material about contemporary indigenous peoples in order to discuss past evolutionary stages (such as the magic or mythological stages), yet much of the understanding of the past evolutionary stages is based on projection of the anthropological literature of this century into the past (see e.g., Cazeneuve, 1972; or McGrane, 1989). He also does not include the direct voice of indigenous peoples in his discussions of the contemporary situation. (In scanning his approximately 640 references listed in 1995a I found two – Lake and McGaa – where indigenous peoples speak with a voice of their own (problematic as they are to some traditional natives); I was unable to determine during my reading or with the help of the index how these references actually have been used.) I am assuming that this is either because he does not see them as significant for or part of the cutting edge of the evolutionary arc he describes, or that they don’t offer descriptions which illuminate this evolutionary arc. Whatever his reasoning, contemporary indigenous peoples end up de facto as a negligible quantity in his writings. The terms “mythos,” “mythic,” and “tribe” are frequently used in a negative or even cntemptuous sense – indeed, no different from everyday usage in dominant eurocentered discourse; this suggests that racialist thinking is at work (e.g. in 1995a on p. 572 or 582).

The following two illustrations demonstrate graphically the need to question Wilber’s model.

 

The practices of voladores (the flyers) from the Totonac, Nahua, and Huastec natives of the Mexican Gulf Coast [right illustration] is said to be at least 1500 years old. It is sacred to Quetsalcoatl, the Morning Star. It spread from the Gulf Coast to the Aztec Capital Tenochtitlan. It is a ceremonial celebration of a calendrical count that can be traced back to the Olmec culture (1500 to 400 BCE; cf. Hancock, 1995; Markman & Markman, 1992). The rock carving from Bohuslän [left illustration] presently is dated to 1000 to 850 BCE (Coles, 1990) and can be viewed in the context of various descriptions of the Norse tree of life (Yggdrasill) and the contemporary May pole (Brodzky, Danesewich & Johnson, 1977; Gimbutas, 1958; Grimm, 1966). The calendrical and navigational cognitive capacities implied in these images go far beyond what evolutionary theories commonly attribute to humans of these time periods. For example: Wilber sees the “Mexico of the Aztecs and Mayas” at the stage of “mythic membership” (1981, 92). Since the Olmecs preceded these cultures they would have to be regarded either at the stage of mythic membership or the earlier typhonic stage. During the typhonic period “subject and object are undifferentiated, … image and entity are confused, symbol and object are conflated, and thus subject and predicate, whole and part, class and member, are all ‘magically one'”(Wilber, 1981, 49). At the subsequent mythic membership stage “mind is tentatively starting to emerge” (Wilber, 1981, 93, italics in original). In subsequent publications Wilber characterizes this stages as capable of “higher representational thought, but still incapable of formal-operational insight; still anthropomorphic; mixture of logic with previous magic” (Wilber, 1983, 240).

It is somewhat difficult to imagine how people would be capable of crossing the Atlantic one way or the other without having at least mythic-rational consciousness, to stay in Wilber’s frame (unless we invalidate the potential significance of the implied event by calling it chance or accident). Navigational capacities, the art and science of identifying one’s own position and tracking a ship’s course (determination of latitude and longitude), require formal-operational cognitive capacities (cf. Kyselka, 1987, 38-45; Graham-Campbell, Batey, Clarke, Page & Price, 1994, 180/1; or Aveni, 1993, 149ff. for sample descriptions). Formal operational awareness “introduces a new and more abstract understanding of mathematics, logic, and philosophy, but those are all quite secondary to the primary and defining mark of reason: reason is a space of possibilities (italics in original), possibilities not tied to the obvious, the given, the mundane, the profane” (Wilber, 1995a, 231). This description would subsume the possibility to navigate oceans with the help of these capacities. If the Olmec culture is indeed accurately described as “typhonic” or “mythic” in character, then its members should be incapable of the complex mathematics, astromical observations and calendrical calculations the Aztecs and Mayans based their developments on (cf. Hancock, 1995; Aveni, 1980; Closs, 1986). And they should not have possessed the nautical and navigational capacities for the long sea journey from Mexico to Sweden (or Bronze Age people in Southern Sweden should not have been capable of navigating toward what is now called Mexico). Of curse, we could argue that these early navigators were individuals of the typhonic or mythic epochs with a level of personal development that reached significantly beyond the majority of the times. Such an argument would only hold if we do not find too many exceptions to the claims made by Wilber’s theory.

My review of the literature indicates that it is at least questionable to use the “special case argument” (i.e., in these cases especially gifted, highly developed individuals with capacities far beyond the general level of development accomplished these significant achievements). The numerous exceptions to Wilber’s theory deserve at least explicit discussion. The following sampling may serve as illustration for numerous cases in archaeology, anthropology, and mythology that do not seem to fit dominant evolutionary conceptions, including Wilber’s. Winkelman (1990) offered significant objections against the literature used in Up from Eden (1981), yet Wilber has only provided incomplete responses (he claims that his new descriptions and new timelines resolve all these issues and that Winkelman’s relativistic approach is “simplistic and hypocritical;” 1995a, 575).

The following is a brief listing of some examples from past and continuing indigenous cultures, which by all appearances not only require, if they are to be integrated, a fine tuning of Wilber’s theory, but, if taken seriously, a rethinking of the entire model (see Winkelman [1990] for a first extensive list of objections). All these brief descriptions highlight the cognitive aspects of the indigenous mind process in order to show limitations in Wilber’s descriptions and interpretations; the integral nature of this process is implied in each of the examples, but not explicated here. Readers may use their own imagination to see how the various sacred sites mentioned below, for example, represent the indigenous conversation I have described at the beginning of this paper using the examples of friðr and ayllu.

— The first example is the Aztec and Mayan calendars (which can be dated back to the Olmec times) with the calendar of the great pyramid in Chichen Itza as an elaborate example of the thinking and architectural skills of these peoples; we can add to this example Mayan mathematics in general (these civilizations are according to Wilber part of the mythic stage; 1981, 92). All of these instances presuppose cognitive skills which do not fit his descriptions of any of the stages before the rational (Aveni, 1980; Closs, 1986, Men, 1990; Vergara & Güemez, n.d.). How these feats could have been achieved without, for example, hypothetico-deductive cognitive skills is not clear to me.

— The alignments of the pyramids in Teotihuacan (just outside of Mexico City) and the knowledge of the number pi are other examples which do not fit Wilber’s scheme (Aveni, 1980; Hancock, 1995; Stierlin, 1963; Tompkins, 1976); again, according to Wilber, these buildings were erected by a mythic culture, yet the architecture, astronomy, and mathematics embodied in these pyramids require cognitive skills at odds with Wilber’s descriptions of “magical oneness.”

— The Egyptian pyramids, their alignments and architecture, are yet another example of similar feats on a different continent (see, e.g., Bauval & Gilbert, 1994 or Hancock, 1995; see also the recent unpublished research by Hawas, Verner and Dreyer, reported in Anonymous, 1995/6, which pushes the dates for certain accomplishments in the early Egyptian cultures farther back). Wilber considers these Egyptian cultures also at the mythic-membership stage (1981, 92).

— The architecture and alignments of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia (at Lake Titicaca) also don’t fit Wilber’s outline by a long shot; according to persuasive evidence the building of this sacred site can be dated to at least 15,000 B.C.E. (Hancock, 1995).

— The architecture and alignments of Stonehenge, dating to about 3,000 B.C. E., and Newgrange, dating to about 3,200 B.C.E. are European examples which are out of sync with Wilber’s descriptions (Aveni, 1993; Biaggi, 1994; Brennan, 1980, 1983; Burenhult, 1993; Mohen, 1990) in terms of the skills required for the building of these sacred sites.

— Finch (1996, 25) points out that
the Dogon have known (probably for seven hundred years) that Sirius B was a mostly invisible white dwarf that periodically underwent nova explosions which spewed matter (“grains”) into space that ultimately became the stuff from which other heavenly bodies – including our solar system – were made.
This traditional knowledge of an ancient African tribe, which is consistent with the findings of contemporary astronomy, questions definitions of “primitive” and Wilber’s descriptions of the stages prior to the rational (see also Finch, 1991 & 1995; Griaule & Dieterlen, 1986; de Santillana & v. Dechend, 1969).

— We have evidence of very early global travel across the oceans, which again requires cognitive skills not ascribed to peoples of these early stages by Wilber. Examples of such evidence are: (a) the Piri Reis map dating to 1513 which includes an image of the eastern promontory of South America and is
comparable to the most detailed and accurate of nineteenth century maps. It proves that the ancient cartographers who constructed it possessed precise knowledge of the dimensions and shape of the earth, its lands, and its seas (Finch, 1996, 21);
(b) accurately mapped images (Piri Reis, Oronteus Finaeus, Mercator, Buache) of Antarctica before it was covered with the current ice cap (which began to occur beginning around 13,000 B.C.E. and was complete by 4,000 B.C.E.; Hapgood, 1966; Hancock, 1995); (c) the chalice which Hostetter (1991) acquired in Saudi Arabia which led him to the re-discovery of ancient astronomical and navigational knowledge; (d) Mayan, Olmec, and Zapotec (Monte Alban) sculptures and reliefs of individuals found in Mexico which are clearly not Native American, but obviously Chinese, African or European; we have similar evidence from the Moche culture of Peru.

— Gimbutas’ description of early European writing from the 6th millenium on (Gimbutas, 1991, 308ff.; Haarmann, 1990, 70ff.) is also not easily reconciled with the cognitive skills Wilber ascribes to those times in Europe.

— And most recently the rock art of Chauvet thought to be about 30,000 years old (Chauvet, Dechamps & Hillaire, 1995) points to cognitive skills akin to our own.

We could argue in each single instance given in my list above that these feats were accomplished by the most advanced individuals of those times, but this argument to my mind is increasingly difficult to sustain with all the examples given (and this list is not complete). And this argument could hardly be made for the following instances, which represent widespread skills, rather than skills conceivably attributable solely to an elite:

— The cognitive skills required for flintknapping provide an example for the mentations of early hominids. Gowlett (1993, 54/5) gives a detailed analysis of the sophisticated cognitive skills the making of the stone tools of the Oldowan people (in Wilber’s scheme of uroboric times) imply.
The stone-workers knew what was possible, and this implies that they had the whole routine for the tool-making process stored in their heads, somewhat like a computer programme. … Many activities of early man [sic!] which have left traces were co-operative, social ones. Does this then imply the use of language from the time of early tool-making? There is no direct evidence for this, but the sequences of operations involved in toolmaking have parallels in structure with those of producing sentences. (p. 55)
Lewin (1988) suggests that the behavior of early hominids increasingly was governed by complex rules, and that these abstractions seem impossible in the absence of language. “The creation of paintings, carvings, and engravings is surely unthinkable in the absence of language, because such activities represent true abstraction of the mind” (p. 186). These descriptions are a far cry from Wilber’s discussions of the uroboric stage to which this type of tool making is assigned.

— Additionally, Wilber has yet to answer the various points Winkelman (1990) makes regarding evidence for language use among the earliest hominids, the similarities in cognitive capabilities in humans of today and 40,000 – 100,000 years ago, the non-existence of the uroboric stage, and astronomical observations as early as 30-32,000 years ago (see also Aveni, 1993, 23). Marshak (1991) provides extensive discussions and illustrations of the complexity of cognitive processes of paleolithic hominids from 35,000 to 10,000 B.C.E.

All of these examples presuppose complex cognitive processes supposedly unavailable to humans during those time periods. They suggest that a stage model may not be the most appropriate way to take these data into account. Gowlett (1992, 345) suggests
that through the past 30,000 to 40,000 years the brains of modern homo sapiens were similar to our own. Physical and cultural evidence points to lower levels of mental ability and craft skill in the earlier periods. Nevertheless, we may have to concede that the foundations of many basic human skills were laid 1 or even 2 million years ago, rather than at the origins of our own species.
Even Lévy-Bruhl, who wrote extensively about ‘primitive mentality’ stated in his last works that he no longer assumed a structural difference between contemporary Europeans and indigenous humans:
Let us expressly rectify what I believed correct in 1910: there is not a primitive mentality distinguishable from the other by two characteristics which are peculiar to it (mystical and prelogical). There is a mystical mentality which is more marked and more easily observable among ‘primitive peoples’ than in our societies, but is present in every human mind. (Les carnets, 1949, 131-2, quoted from Cazeneuve, 1972, 87)

This seems to lead to what appears like a paradox on the surface: Peoples of these earlier mythic or even typhonic times may indeed have participated in the phenomena, yet they may simultaneously have been capable of cognitive feats requiring skills commonly associated with the much later times of the egoic-rational processes. Mayan architecture, glyphs, mathematics and calendrics may serve as a surviving and continuing illustration (see recently Freidel, Schele & Parker, 1993) that participation in the phenomena and cognitive skills like formal-operational logic are a contradiction in the eyes of the solar ego only.

The pieces of evidence which don’t fit easily with Wilber’s timelines and descriptions lead me to doubt that his model adequately represents contemporary and past indigenous peoples and their mind process. His abstract descriptions and the available data don’t match sufficiently, and if Wilber continues to think that they do, then he is under an obligation to explicate this much more than he has done in response to Winkelman. His descriptions of the”earlier evolutionary stages” render the integral mind and being process of past and present indigenous people invisible in his model and devalue it in these distorted representations.

The rapid developments in the fields of prehistorical research indicate a general trend to date certain cognitive capacities earlier and earlier. This should lead us to be cautious. This trend can be explained not only through previously unavailable evidence but it may also point to research assumptions that hindered the field of prehistorical research: It is possible that a goodly portion of our reconstruction of prehistory is projective in nature. Recent anthropological and archaeological research examples investigating human sacrifice and cannibalism indicate how past evidence had been tainted by its Zeitgeist. Hassler (1992), for example, has concluded that evidence for ritualistic human sacrifice or sacred ritualistic killing among the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples is lacking; he asserts that past discussions are based on eurocentric assumptions, prejudices, and misunderstandings in the communication with indigenous people or that they were based on their deceptive maneuvers. Peter-Röcher (summarized in Anonymous, 1996) developed a similar argument regarding cannibalism in prehistoric Germany. These are two out of a number of examples that should induce utmost caution in our use of descriptions of so-called primitive peoples, past cultures and contemporary indigenous peoples. Wilber, however, believes that “what we call civilization, and what we call human sacrifice, came into being together” (Wilber, 1981, 127). Evidence for cannibalism and human sacrifice, whether among the Hisastsunon (Anasazi), Aztecs, or early Germanic peoples, require complex interpretive maneuvers and special self-reflective awareness of presuppositions (whether idealizing or discriminatory).

IV. THE SHADOW AND PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION

From a native perspective, evolutionary thinking in general has always been problematic because of its (at least implicit) notion of progress toward some better, more complete or more actualized way of being, some outopos (Greek: utopia) or nonexistent place to be realized in the future.
European utopian visions have been used to rationalize a range of criminal behaviors including the enslavement of millions of Africans and the annihilation of entire American Indian peoples as the (sometimes) regrettable but necessary consequence of the construction of some kind of future state of human perfection (Dion-Buffalo & Mohawk, 1994, p. 33).
This statement cannot be taken seriously enough and should be a clear warning signal to pay attention to the shadow of evolutionary thinking. Unless we do so evolutionary thinking will remain misguided and dangerous because there is no reason to assume that it is outside of its history which – at least implicitly – justified cultural and physical genocides. In order to step outside of this intellectual history it is necessary to address explicitly shadow material issues such as the ones Dion-Buffalo and Mohawk mention in their quote. Otherwise whatever is written is at least an unconscious continuation of eurocentered dominance and (cultural) genocide. McGrane (1989) in his critical analysis of the history of “the Other” and anthropology comments that
when the ‘sun’ of civilization dawns on the virgin forest of the Other, instead of nourishing him, it chars and blackens him. … At the very instant they (primitive societies) become known to us they are doomed (108, last sentence quoted from Bastian).
This would mean that one of the most important current historic tasks of eurocentered cultures is to retract its attention and periodic obsession with other cultures and to focus on its own history, including the shadow of its own history.

Wilber talks about the emergence of global market economy and acknowledges that it is “tinged, initially, by remnants of imperialism, which indicated not an excess of reason but a lack of it” (1995a, 178, emphasis added) – an acknowledgment which is far from sufficient given the ways in which the rise of what he considers evolutionarily positive is entwined with rather lethal shadow material. The words genocide, colonialism, imperialism do not show up in the index of the book, and they do not seem to warrant special analysis within his evolutionary scheme. The phrase “tinged, initially, by remnants of imperialism” implies that this is in the past – a denial of the ongoing destruction of native cultures (Bodley, 1982; Berger, 1990); it is also a denial of such continuing imperialism (biocolonialism) as is exemplified by the hunt for certain nutritional plants and plant medicine among native people, which then get patented and resold to the indigenous peoples they were taken from (Abya Yala News, 1994; Mies & Shiva, 1993; Shiva, 1993). Imperialism and colonialism have taken on the mantle of economic development thinking, under which they continue their contemporary expression and continue to have a destructive effect on indigenous peoples (cf. Sachs, 1995 for a history of the term and a critical discussion in terms of sustainability; see also: Pratec, 1993; Parajuli, 1996 for analyses). All of these destructive events are, of course, a result of the increasingly global market economy and the expansiveness of eurocentered ways. While Wilber may label these events pathological within his system, their effect on new emergent and purportedly desirable qualities still needs to be critically reviewed.

Looking at the historical shadow material created by what the dominant discourse of eurocentered cultures calls “evolutionary advances” or “achievements” (Wilber’s rational societies) is not just a question of intellectual honesty or integrity; it is much more a question of doing one’s best to avoid inflation, ethnocentricity, and prejudice. If eurocentered societies are to step out of the continuing history of colonialism, then evolutionary thinking produced by the intellectuals of these societies needs to grapple with the fact that the so-called evolutionary advances have come at a price, and that this price is even now being paid by peoples which can be identified as the “primitive,” “archaic,” “mythic” peoples of contemporary “backward” societies. As Wilber and others would say: these peoples have had their chance, and “they all failed – each in their own special and wonderful and spectacular fashion” (1995a, 243). In evolutionary models, “losers” are inevitable if there is to be evolution, and the winners of today may be the losers of tomorrow. The aura of inevitability is part of the justificatory function of evolutionary thinking. It creates a context in which cultural and physical genocide can easily be understood as a given, ‘unfortunate as that may be.’ The continuation of economic development thinking in relation to so-called Third World countries is part of this genocidal context: The dominant, primarily materialistic, euro-centered standards identify them as inferior societies and cultures, and they are consequently in need of help so that they may join the fold of “developed” countries. This development thinking devalues their own cultural roots and richness destroying communities and killing people in the name of progress.

McGrane (1989) has done an admirably lucid job of tracing the history of the relationship between euro-centered cultures and the Other, the alien, the different – an “archaeology of anthropology,” so to speak. One of his fundamental premises is that “a culture that discovers what is alien to itself simultaneously manifests what it is in itself” (McGrane 1989, 1). He sees anthropology as an endeavor which is “fundamentally involved in the reproduction of Western society… It manifests and highlights that egocentric tendency of our Western mind to identify itself as separate from what it perceives as external to itself” (1989, 5). Wilber’s model, of course, draws on just this anthropological literature. MacGrane’s discussions are also helpful in contextualizing historically the aspects of indigenous lives on which Wilber primarily focuses, i.e. shamanism.

In the Renaissance Christianity came between the European and the non-European; demonology determined that the Other, the fallen, was in need of naming, christening. Trances (and the concomitant healing practices) were seen as a practice which maintained the contact with demons and christianization meant the termination of such evil proceedings; killing or arrests of tribal members during ceremonies, the destruction or confiscation of artifacts (even during recent history, such as potlatch masks in Canada) are a result of this paradigm. During the Enlightenment ignorance was the fundamental coordinate around which the understanding of the Other was constituted: indigenous peoples were living with the errors of superstitution. For example, trances and alternate modes of healing were seen as superstitious practices which could not provide any true help or serve a healthful function. The 17th and 18th century saw the beginning of colonization. The evolutionary thinking of the nineteenth century used the coordinate of time to understand natives as “primitives,” a fossilized developmental stage from the prehistory of European civilizations. Thus trances were conceptualized as contemporary remnants of an outmoded, primitive human potential; their usefulness was superceded by the emergent medical and other sciences. The 19th century saw the height of colonialism and imperialism. It was also the time of in which evolutionary theories were first proposed. MacGrane shows how this notion of the “primitive” is entwined with the idea of progress:
The very identification of and naming of the non-European Other as “primitive,” as “primitive mentality,” as “primitive culture,” presupposed a theory (language) of rational progress, of progress in and by reason (Enlightenment) and/or progress in and by history (nineteenth century). The very possibility of the conception of “primitive” presupposed the prior commitment to a conception of progress. (McGrane, 99)
The notion of progress implies that there is something at least insufficient or even bad in the past and that the good lies in the future.

When we talk about the lamentable and unfortunate price of evolution paid by certain peoples of past and present, but without simultaneously confronting the presumed advances with their own shadow, then we act arrogantly, coldly, and, ultimately, dishonestly. The historical connection between the arising of enlightenment philosophy and colonialism is not just accidental.
Anthropology has been an extremely subtle and spiritual kind of cognitive imperialism, a power-based monologue about alien cultures rather than, and in active avoidance of, a dialogue with them in terms of sovereignty, i.e., the untranslatability and irreducibility of one ‘culture’ to the being and language of the other (McGrane, 1989, 127).
Until we understand the impact of this connection the cultural shadow material will determine what eurocentered cultures are as “rational societies” – to an extent difficult to fathom. Adorno and Horkheimer (1944) have noted how what is suppressed in society inevitably returns through the backdoor – now with increased power.

The U.S. constitution was paid for with the genocide of the Native Americans. The social and economic stability of the colonies rested on the success of pushing the Native Americans out; the possession of the land was necessary for the development of the ideas and allowed the appropriation of native ideas, e.g. during the development of the constitution. What does it mean that the freedom of the early immigrants was achieved at the price of tremendous destruction? What does it say about the civil society that was put in place of the autochthonous cultures which also had elaborate “legal codes”? The best known example is probably the Iroquois confederacy, and its significant impact on the U.S. constitution is largely unacknowledged by the dominant culture (Barreiro, 1992).

In keeping with one brand of rather conventional wisdom, Wilber describes the process of Hawaii becoming a state of the United States of America – its annexation – as follows: “all the basic structures and functions are preserved and taken up in a larger identity, but all the exclusivity structures and functions that existed because of isolation, set-apartness, partialness, exclusiveness, separative agency – these are simply dropped and replaced with a deeper agency that reaches a wider communion” (1995a, 52 [italics in original]; see also p. 245). I doubt that traditionally spiritual Hawaiians (let alone political activists) would agree with this statement as an appropriate abstract principle derived from this specific historical example. Not only is his theoretical statement racist and colonialist when applied to the analysis of actual historical events by virtue of discounting native notions of interconnectedness, history and science (“isolation,” “partialness,” “separative agency”), it also lends itself to the justification of genocide in the the service of the emergence of higher order holons. After all, “each emergent holon transcends but includes its predecessor(s)” (1995a, 51). Wilber may consider such use of his theories abuse. However, his model adds to a justificatory context which facilitates this kind of thinking in contemporary euro-centered cultures. Such justification happens culturally, when “progress” is accepted as a framework, which then inevitably entails the notion of losers in the service of progress. To my mind the Hawaii illustration of his eighth’s tenet does not hold, and his model would be invalidated if it is based on other examples of a similar nature.

When I analyze other instances which his tenet should cover (and the above quote of his principle) then his model becomes increasingly questionable in the form stated. If we look, for example, at the reality of the relationship between Native American tribes and the dominant society, and apply his abstract statement to the specifics of an ongoing history, then his statement is simply ludicrous. The history of invasion and colonization has destroyed native ceremonies, instituted boarding schools, and used missionary activity as a major avenue to genocide (all these are things which are still happening in the present in one form or another); in the process the reservation system was created. I don’t think it is an adequate theoretical precept to subsume this under “the exclusivity structures and functions that existed because of isolation, set-apartness, partialness, exclusiveness, separative agency – these are simply dropped and replaced with a deeper agency that reaches a wider communion.” Wilber’s statement has a certain compelling logic in its abstractness (and if we agree with the implicit assumptions of progress and universalization as he defines it), but this generality obfuscates the inflated stance hidden in it. This inflation is based on the culturally narcissistic assumption that we have truly understood peoples who live in an entirely different consciousness.

Our current challenge appears to be to develop a quality of thinking that is no longer based on fundamentally mono-causal and linear models (models with roots in 19th century thinking and to which I am referring with the lable “evolutionary thinking”). Nitecki summarizes the current scientific Zeitgeist as follows: “The concept of progress has been all but banned from evolutionary biology as being anthropocentric or at best of limited and ambiguous usefulness” (1988, quoted from Barlow, 1994, 49). It seems necessary to remove notions of progress from our descriptions of the evolution of consciousness and civilizations (indigenous civilizations and others), since it is entirely eurocentered. McGrane states pointedly that “if the rather deeply sedimented, institutionalized belief in ‘progress’ disappeared, the ‘primitive’ would vanish” (1989, 99). The notion of progress is an essential ingredient of Wilber’s system and “the primitives” are alive in his model, even if they are not doing so well.

Alternative models of conceptualizing socio-historical changes in structure and process of consciousness would address directly and with specificity such difficult issues as genocide, colonialism, and imperialism; they would address the ancient spiritual foundations of the European peoples, their ancestries, and their ceremonial practices. Such models would self-consciously restrict themselves to self-reflective acts by people of European heritage in order to understand their history of increasing dissociation, the dominance of the masterful, bounded modern self, and the possibilities to remember and recover integral beingknowing (Kremer, 1994). These would be inquiries aimed at resuming the European conversations analogous to those of the Andean ayllu. Other culture would be invited to dialogues dedicated to the mutual exploration of historical and evolutionary meanings. This would break the pattern of colonial thinking assigning non-Eurocentered cultures their status from the domineering vantage point of Eurocentric discourses.

The assumptions we hold about ourselves as modern, scientific and rational people are at times rather self-righteous – if we take the time to look in the mirror. For example, Wilber states: “The modern solution to this developmental nightmare [that the majority of individuals haven’t made it to the rational stage yet, J. W. K.] is that the rationality structure of the democratic state tolerates magic and mythic subholons…” (1995a, 252) While this statement makes sense on the face of it – the sad fact is that it hasn’t and still isn’t working out this way. I don’t think the traditional hill tribe peoples of Thailand or the Saami people in Sweden or the Wintu people of Northern California (to give just a few examples) have an experience of tolerance. Yes, maybe the rational stage theoretically should afford this tolerance, yet it doesn’t in so many cases and development thinking (“help for the Third World”) is inherently intolerant and destructive of indigenous cultures (Berger, 1990; Bodley, 1982). Is this because there is an inherent problem with the rational stage that makes it so difficult for its members to embody this tolerance or is it just the fact that “the majority of individuals in rational societies will settle in somewhere around the mythic-rational” (Wilber, 1995a, 252), that there isn’t enough rationality? From a native perspective the inherent problem of the so-called rational stage is the notion of progress and the “primitive”.

Wilber recommends “regression in service of higher integration – a regression that allows evolution to move forward more harmoniously by healing and wholing a previously alienated holon.” (1995a, 105) This is a somewhat unfortunate analogy to individual psychological theory, since it presupposes the ego constructed by modernity, an ego – as I have pointed out elsewhere (see Kremer, 1995a) – which is constructed dissociatively (from nature, community, ancestry, – from what I have described as the conversation in the ayllu above). Consequently, this ego is likely to project from its personality make-up into the past whatever it has dissociated from. In fact, projective identification may be the most apt clinical term to point to the psycho-emotional process eurocentered cultures are engaged in with contemporary indigenous peoples (this term also acknowledges that history is carried and handed down specifically in the process of socialization in each individual). Projective identification means that other people are made to feel the highly conflicted and split off material dominant cultures unconsciously injected into them – so that they feel and experience it as if it is their own. Natives feel the eurocentered dissociation from prehistory, ancestry, nature, etc. as self-hatred (“primitives”) which is so destructive to their cultures. Of course, self-hatred as an effect of internalized colonization warrants a much longer statement than I can offer here. Notably, in individual psychotherapy projective identification is known to be a pathological process oftentimes quite resistant to change because of its strongly self-reinforcing nature; this would seem to imply that we can assume strong resistance to the healing of the history of colonialism in the relationship between indigenous and eurocentered cultures. I would think that the retraction of these projections is the first order of business; for this we need a different metaphor than “regression in the service of the ego” (an adequate statement in the psychotherapeutic context, of course). The reintegration of cultural shadow material presupposes the possibility of an ego – the indigenous ego in communal conversation, if you wish – which would be differently constructed than our contemporary ego can easily imagine (see Kremer 1994 for descriptions). (Footnote 3)

We know from individual psychology that the shadow, the aspect of the self that is most troublesome and inimical to the ego-ideal, has a significant impact on the conscious awareness of the individual. Individual psychotherapy is in many ways the process of integration of this shadow material. Just as denial of the personal shadow distorts development of self, denial of the cultural shadow – indigenous peoples past and present – distorts the development of our understanding of history and consciousness. My point is that the evolutionary thinking needs to grapple with the fact that there are not only parts of history which have been denied (that we are or can easily be conscious of), but that there may be parts of history, just as with the individual shadow, which we are not aware of and which we need to struggle to become aware of and integrate. The fundamental question is this one: Is somebody who publishes A brief history of everything (Wilber, 1995b) under an obligation to struggle with the non-mediated voices of contemporary indigenous peoples? Since the Rio Earth Summit, if we venture to take that as a watershed event, this seems to be more necessary than ever (cf. Rogers, 1993). Can Wilber legitimately write A brief history of everything without delving into cultural shadow material? My answer would be that any contemporary author writing on social evolution does have this obligation – unless he wants to continue perpetrating an unfortunate history which created the cultural shadows I am referring to.

V. MINDFUL DECOLONIZATION – RECOVERY OF INDIGENOUS MIND PROCESS

Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk (1994) outline three choices which colonized peoples have in response to cultural colonization.
They can become “good subjects” of the discourse, accepting the rules of law and morals without much question, they can be “bad subjects” arguing that they have been subjected to alien rules but always revolting within the precepts of those rules, or they can be “non-subjects”, acting and thinking around discourses far removed from and unintellegible to the West [EMPHASIS ADDED, J.W.K.]… In a world composed of fewer than a dozen distinct civilizations (including the metropolitan West) plus 3,000 to 5,000 distinct indigenous societies, the range of possible experiences is very great indeed. These are the autochthonous peoples whom such luminaries as Arnold Toynbee wrote entirely out of history. Much of what remains of the range of human potential for creating versions of reality exists in the framework of the arts, stories, oral traditions, music and other cultural manifestations of these peoples. Their lived and dreamed experiences are the world’s richest sources of exploration of the human potential. – Gaining access to these experiences will not be easy. Not only are the voices of these distinct “others” remote, the channels of communication are practically non-existent. Few individuals from tribal societies write novels or history texts (p. 35).

“Non-subject” is a double-edged term: It refers not only to the choice native peoples may make not to be in reaction to their dominant societies, but it also signifies how the non-subjects do not show up in the prevailing discourses, because these don’t have the capacity to make them present (traditionally indigenous peoples are present to each other through the appropriate “legwork”, meaning knowledge exchanges set up in an equitable way). The words “acting and thinking around discourses far removed from and unintellegible to the West ” are of great significance. I have explored the qualitative differences between indigenous consciousness and eurocentered consciousness in my other publications (Kremer, 1995b). To put it simply: the cross-cultural differences between Germans and Italians are not of the same order as those between Italians and Navajos. Cross-cultural differences between cultures engaged in the participatory conversation with the phenomena are of one order, while cross-cultural differences between cultures representing a dissociative mind process are of a different order. Within each of these orders comparisons are easier, while they are very difficult between these two broad classes of cultural consciousness processes. The integral consciousness of indigenous minds and their cognitive capacities fall through the cracks of the eurocentered, anthropological lenses; what they allow us to see ends up as earlier developmental stages in models of the evolution of consciousnes (in models á la Piaget, Wilber, Kohlberg, etc.). As such they are a reflection of the eurocentered minds and their dissociation from their own origins and not an appropriate model to capture the worlds of native peoples. Advocates of stage models claim to be able to capture indigenous consciousness as archaic, typhonic or mythic. As I have tried to illustrate above, this type of conceptualization is a categorical error, inappropriately conflating two worlds: the eurocentered conceptualizations of non-subjects make them appear as “primitives” thus making them part of the dissociative eurocentered universe – a continuation of colonial thinking. Until such time when we as eurocentered people begin to pay attention to this error, our impact on native peoples will continue to be lethal.

Wilber doesn’t do any better than Toynbee. The indigenous peoples and individuals have no voice of their own in his writing. Whatever is said about them is written through the lense of received anthropology – a lense which is part and parcel of colonial history (more recent critical deviations within the field of anthropology notwithstanding). The literature by native people may not be extensive, for the reasons that Dion-Buffalo and Mohawk point out, but it is extensive enough to help us question quite clearly the prevailing discourses on legal, transpersonal, scientific and many other issues (see for example Lyons et al., 1992; Wa & Uukw, 1989; Wub-E-Ke-Niew, 1995).

Wilber quotes Roszak affirmatively (1995a, 571) as saying that “it is always risky to infer from contemporary to prehistory tribal groups.” Of course, this needs to be done thoughtfully. All this is contrary to the stance that other scholars such as Martin have arrived at when he imagines “that the speech and artisanry of modern (i.e., sixteeenth- to twentieth-century) hunting peoples is a close approximation of that mesolithic ancestral model” (1992, 35). Nevertheless, one of the examples from contemporary literature which Wilber gives shows clearly the process how native peoples become non-subject. He uses the “Hopi Rain Dance” (1995a, 128) as an example to discuss the distinction between hermeneutics and structural-functionalism. This discussion, interestingly enough, clearly ends up on the functionalist side: “Whether it is really going to make rain or not, or trying to make rain or not, is quite secondary to our concerns; because what it is really doing is providing an occasion that binds individuals together into the social fabric of the tribe” (1995a, 128/9; emphasis added). Wilber later clarifies that the “really” in this quote is indeed his position, and not just a disinterested discussion of functionalism: “Complex systems of mythology, whatever other functions they might have performed, began to serve first and foremost as a way to unify peoples beyond mere blood lineage” (1995a, 169, emphasis deleted). As other examples in his text show, his interpretation of tribal cultures, here even a contemporary one specifically mentioned by name, gets reduced to the “real meaning” which functionalism provides for him and which fits his general evolutionary scheme. The rest of the Hopi cultural practices, which presumably fall under the category of “magic,” are not considered as real and are relegated to the shadowlands. As long as members of the dominant discourse assume that they can intelligently talk about everything (with the implicit assumption that non-subjects are non-existent and with the corollary assumption that the possibility of non-subjects as defined above is a figment of “retro-romantics” or likeminded folk – as long as this is the case it continues to prepetrate colonialism and imperialism. The direct, unmediated Hopi voice is required in these discussions.

The question of how a non-subject might engage in dialogue with Ken Wilber is a tricky one. The fundamental problem is, of course, that a non-subject does not really have any place within the scheme which Wilber outlines except in the historical past as an evolutionarily earlier occurrence. Non-subjects thus only show up as the projections of the civilized eurocentered mind appearing at the earlier evolutionary stages – rather than as past and contemporary subjects in their own right with a fundamentally different way of knowing and being. The only way to gain or claim a place is to engage in a dialogue on the stage which has been prepared by the grand scheme he and others in the 19th century evolutionary thinking lineage. This means leaving non-subjecthood in order to gain or maintain credibility as an academically honorable conversational partner. This is the trap of colonialism and internalized colonialism. When I am striving to be seen through the eyes of the dominant paradigm – and Wilber is a part of that, different as he may appear on the surface – I am losing my otherness as I am trying to communicate using the forms and conventions which are not mine. Obviously, the style of my paper is an attempt to be respectful of the tremendous amount of work which he has put into his writing, while at the same time engaging in a way that is respectful of who I am. If I were to engage on the stage which he has prepared, then I would violate who I am; and if I don’t then my credibility is questionable in the eyes of the conventional discourse. Given this predicament I am trying to frame the dialogue in a way that more than just a meeting of minds may become possible. If Wilber is interested in dealing with his own indigenous cultures of origin and with contemporary native peoples in a way which is not dismissive, then he needs to seek an avenue of conversation and knowledge sharing which is different from standard academic discourse.

I have described the notion of participatory or shamanic “concourse” as a way of having knowledge exchange based on equity in a framework in which all participants are free to choose participation (Kremer, 1992a & b, 2002). The change from discourse to concourse is intentionally somewhat provocative. In reviewing the etymology of both words it becomes apparent that the embodied running of the Latin currere has become the disembodied movement of the mind in current academic discourse. Currere also connotes the running of waters or the circular movement of wheels. Instead of the antagonistic dis of the critical review of reality models (or truth claims), where scholars and others dispute conclusions reached in relative isolation by moving from premises to consequences, I am suggesting the con of communal, social reality creation (this is based on the presupposition that there is no genuine community without conflict and agonistic moves). Participatory concourse would be a circle where the communal reality creation is reviewed through talking as well as ritualistic embodiment; this circle would have space for silence, stories, humor, theater, dancing and other arts.

If scholars were to engage in participatory concourse, then this would mean that they are resuming an ancient conversation (where in ayllu, friðr, or elsewhere). They would understand that consensus about a particular truth claim is not something which can be achieved by means of the rational mind alone. The knowing of the body, the knowing of the heart, the knowing which comes from states of shifted awareness (including the dialogue with the ancestors) are all valuable processes. Even though every consensus will have to withstand the challenges posed in verbal, rational discourse, the words of resolution will have to withstand the challenges from all other human dimensions of experience – somatic, sexual, emotional and spiritual. Such an embodiment of knowing can heal the various splits, such as between body and mind. Any resolution has to include the explicit, verbal expression of agreement as well as the felt sense of common understanding. Any resolution needs to be open not just to be questioned through the pragmatics of testing propositional truths; it also needs to be open to moral and aesthetic (in the Batesonian sense [1991]) investigations. Somatic knowing and intuition need to see the light of the rational mind, while the mind needs to see the light which is in the body. While it is true that we are always challenged to reflect our resolutions in language, this does not mean that language is the sole arbiter of truth. It is in the open and fluid interaction of the different dimensions of the participatory concourse that we can discover how our resolutions of truth address the alignment issues we are faced with. To deny science is foolish; not to acknowledge its participation in the phenomena (in the Barfieldian sense) is equally dangerous. Participatory concourse allows us to appreciate scientific achievements without denying the body, the heart, sexuality, gender differences and the divine.

I have given this rudimentary description to indicate that there are ways in which qualitatively different paradigms could be with each other and explore each other’s knowledge (which takes more than the written word). All the issues which Wilber discusses are of tremendous consequence for eurocentered cultures and those peoples who are at the butt of their paradigm. I wish there were an occasion to engage about these issues in a setting which is respectful to all sides willing to participate. I hope that such a forum will be created and that discussions, such as in ReVision and Ken Wilber in Dialogue (discussed in the next section) may be the beginning of such participatory concourse (See Edwards, 2002, for a contribution to this debate). This would also allow eurocentered people to focus on our own history, the tribal perversions which we know about in our own past, and come to terms with the dissociation from our own prehistory.

VI. LINGERING SHADOWS

In 1996 a number of authors appreciatively and critically engaged with Wilber’s work in the journal ReVision. Editors Donald Rothberg and Sean Kelly developed a generative format for the discussions they intended to facilitate. After an overview by Donald Rothberg, Roger Walsh, Sean Kelly, Peggy Wright, Michael Zimmerman, Michael Washburn, Stanislav Grof, Jeanne Achterberg, Robert McDermott, and I discussed various aspects of Wilber’s publications; in addition, Rothberg interviewed Jospeh Goldstein, Jack Kornfield and Michel McDonald-Smith. Wilber wrote an extensive reply to these contributions. All authors then briefly replied to Wilber. The final words were written by Wilber and the editors. All these articles were published in ReVision (1996), Vol. 18 #4, Vol. 19#1 and #2. In 1998 this dialogue, together with additional contributions, was published by Quest.

Wilber responded to the critique voiced above in this article in three ways (1996, 31 & 46): 1) Future publications will address my concerns in detail and discussion the shadow of evolutionary thinking; 2) he repeated positions previously published without additional explanations; 3) Wilber assumed that my critical points represent a stance that he himself had taken in his earlier publications. Beyond that I did not find any specific responses to my remarks. Indeed, this appears to be the case in his responses to almost all appraisals of his works in these ReVision issues. In that sense the debate does not resemble particpatory concourse, however, the discussion can be seen as solid preparation for such process.

Gregory Bateson pointed out that lack of response is a significant piece of information (rather than no information). I find Wilber’s responses in this discussion disappointing, primarily because they fall short on engagement with the current writings of the contributors, while they are long on restatements of published positions and engagement with previous publications of some of the contributors. The stance that author X “tends to misrepresent my [Wilber’s] overall model” seems to be the stimulus for extensive restatements instead of a detailed dialogue with the thoughtful reflections offered by the various authors. Of course, a perceived misrepresentation can mean at least three things: a) an actual misrepresentation and distortion of something clearly stated; b) a misrepresentation of something open to interpretation or unclearly or insufficiently stated; c) something perceived or framed as a mispresentation, which is acutally a disagreement based on a correct or at least possible reading of an author’s statements. While I can deeply appreciate an author’s concern with the desire to be represented as accurately as possible in the secondary literature, the experience of misrepresentation could at the same time also occasion an introspective exploration of the possible causes that might contribute to such misunderstandings from the author’s side. The small amount of space dedicated by Wilber to dialogue about significant issues as they are described and identified by the present discussants results in less of a conversation and much more of a series of monologues than I had hoped for. But then: Wilber’s vision-logic, and certainly the indigenous mind process I am talking, about calls in part for a different setting and a different kind of interpersonal exchange than a journal can offer.

It is interesting to notice how Wilber reads McDermott and fails to distinguish between critical disagreements, outspokeness and level confrontation on the one hand and put downs, dismissive commentary and demeaning caricatures on the other hand. (And no response to Zimmerman on this topic.) I heartily agree with Wilber’s advocacy for honest disagreements and outspokeness. Yet: Wilber writes about my article that “I find his [Kremer’s] actual argument rather confused” without either saying what his reading of the argument is or why the argument is confused. An equivalent statement would be “I find Wilber’s actual writing rather dissociated.” Either of these remarks may be true, but they may be stated dismissively or in engaged level dialogue; the latter requires different wording and the creation of context through argument and explication.

One of the central issues around Wilber’s conceptualization of our evolutionary past is his image of peoples of previous historical stages. Stephen Jay Gould, who can hardly be called a “retroromantic,”discusses the nature of many of these assumptions commonly held about prehistoric peoples in a recent article about the Chauvet Cave art: “Old should mean rudimentary – either primitive by greater evolutionary regress toward an apish past or infantile by closer approach to the first steps on our path toward modernity. (…) This equation of the older with more rudimentary both violates the expectations of evolutionary theory when properly construed and has now also been empirically disproved by discoveries at Chauvet Cave and elsewhere. (…) The hypothesis of progressivism in paleolithic art cannot hold” (1996, 17, 72). Gould, of course, also advocates that the notion of progress be removed from evolutionary thinking.

Let me address some more of the specifics in Wilber’s reply to my article: Wilber points to my lack of his discussion of Winkelman’s reviews of his work. However, Wilber’s critique of Winkelman’s approach is quite beside the points which I am trying to make – no need for me to respond to his criticism. To use Wilber’s words: “Alas, you have misread my model.” My model is not one of cultural relativism and Wilber fails to explain how the performative contradiction identified in Winkelman’s work applies to my article. And Wilber has yet to answer to the detailed objections by Winkelman and myself regarding available archaeological and anthropological evidence which challenge his model as a whole (a discussion of cultural relativism, even if valid, is no response to these specific points).

Wilber’s statement about a society’s center of gravity is a restatement of his own published wordings and not a response to the inherent contradictions and unclarity related to Wilber’s work I point out in my article, especially in regards to his contradictory statements about rational societies and the present stage of the majority of its members.

Wilber finds my discussions of the indigenous mind process neither “fair, balanced, [n]or anthropologically representative.” This reminds me of debates around racism where one of the defensive responses to discussions of the Middle Passage is: “Well, African peoples had slaves, too.” Indeed – but it misses the point of engagement with the complicity in racism and colonialism. Naturally, within the euro-centered place where Wilber stands he has to find my discussion unbalanced – which is exactly what my critique addresses.

I find nothing in Wilber’s responses that persuades me that his model is not complicit with the continuation of racism and colonialism, I am sorry to say. The shadow of modernity continues to loom.

No author can be expected to address all the critical issues raised in the ReVision issues, yet Wilber’s selection of topics for his responses is disappointingly non-dialogical. – Wilber’s contributions to the field of transpersonal theory are impressive, yet, vision-logic, to my mind, requires a quality of dialogue about these issues which I have yet to see manifested in his response. The groundwork for the emergence of that possibility may have been laid with these ReVision issues. I am eager to be engaged in a quality of discourse (which I have called participatory concourse) which would do justice to the stage which Wilber sees emerging. His perspective and provocative engagement will be desirable in a context of shared assumptions about the nature of such a critical dialogue.

VII. ALTERNATE FRAMES

Let me return to the beginning of this paper and add some descriptions, which point to alternate frames for history, evolution, and universality through grounding conversations in the astronomical cycles and facilitating universality through equitable knowledge exchange within a consciousness of the same indigenous quality. The constraints of this article don’t allow for the elaboration of these practices of being and knowing, but I will briefly sketch some of the fundamental assumptions. The knowledge exchange between peoples in a dissociated consciousness process and peoples in an integral, non-dissociated consciousness process is likely to be governed by a paradigm of domination (driven by the dissociative process), while knowledge exchanges among peoples in an integral, non-dissociated consciousness process have a greater chance of being equitable. Universality is created in the latter exchanges through the specific understanding of relatedness and the sharing of the specific conversations engaging each other – the ceremonial context of such exchanges supports equity and reaches for global connections and universality in a different way than the process of abstraction. Deloria gives a succinct description of such an indigenous perspective from one of the Native American traditions:
The Plains Indians arranged their knowledge in a circular format – which is to say, there were no ultimate terms or constituents of their universe, only sets of relationships which sought to describe phenomena. No concept could stand alone in the way that time, space, and matter once stood as absolute entities in Western science. All concepts not only had content but were themselves composed of the elements of other ideas to which they were related. Thus it was possible to begin with one idea, thoroughly examine it by relating it to other concepts and arrive back at the starting point with the assurance that a person could properly interpret what constituted the idea and how it might manifest itself in concrete physical experiences. … A list of the most important components of the Indian universe:… The universe is alive … Everything is related …All relationships are historical … Space determines the nature of relationships … Time determines the meaning of relationships. (Deloria, 1996, 40ff.)
Returning to the Andean peoples of Peru we find the following descriptions of the indigenous mind process:
The chacra is the piece of land where the peasant lovingly and respectfully nurtures plants, soil, water, micro-climates and animals. In a broad sense chacra is all that is nurtured, thus the peasants say that the llama is their chacra that walks and whereof wool is harvested. We ourselves are the chacra of the wakas or deities that care for, teach and accompany us. …[There is a] continuous conversation and reciprocation between the relatives with the Andean ayllu, forming an organicity that facilitates the nurturing of the chacra, through practices of mutual help… This help takes place in an atmosphere of fiesta, with joy and always asking permission of the wakas or Andean deities. (Valladolid, 1995, 23 &46)
What happens between the Andean communities of humans, deities and nature is reciprocal dialogue, a relationship which does not assume any distancing and objectification between those dialoguing, but rather an attitude of tenderness and understanding towards the life of the other. Such dialogue does not lead one to a knowledge about the other, but rather to empathize and attune oneself with its mode of being, and in company with that other, to generate and regenerate life. It is a dialogue … that leads [not to knowledge but] to wisdom. (Rengifo, 1993, 168, translation by Apffel-Marglin)

These are descriptions of a process of an immanently present visionary socially constructed being, which is sustained without a need to progress or overcome some insufficient state – conversations are held for balance’ sake. These descriptions are different from Wilber’s definition of vision-logic. Given the space limitations let me just briefly sketch some coordinates. The two quotes and my initial sections above describe the immanent, ongoing conversation with everything, including spirits, which constitutes the community for human beings. Within this framework, if individuals do not know their ancestry, place in the community, the cultural stories, the land they live on, the cycles of the seasons, the stars, etc. – then these persons are lost to who they are, and pathology ensues – these individuals are in need of healing or balancing. These indigenous models, which to my mind require cognitive skills akin to Wilber’s vision-logic, allow for an alternate understanding of time, history, and the variety of cultures; they also allow people to be in participation or conversation while exercising high level rational skills. Part of this conversation is the observation of the precession of the equinoxes and other larger historical cycles. This indigenous conceptualization allows each culture to understand its historic spiritual mission in its own ecological niche, so to speak. It is not just that this type of model is preferable, I would suggest that it has greater accuracy because it is more complete and integral. It facilitates cultural exchange because it establishes equality among prospective partners of knowledge trade and avoids implicit or explicit imperialistic thinking. From this particular perspective Wilber’s evolutionary story is a sad one, because it seems so desperately to seek that place of balance and healing of dissociation – but, sadly, continues to speak from a place of dissociation from parts of the self which indigenous consciousness considers essential for well-being; it continues to perpetrate the splits from participatory or conversational self, shadow and historical roots. As long as there is a trajectory of progress and as long as vision-logic is described without full attention to all aspects of the conversation in the ayllu (Wilber, 1995a, 185), we further the dissociation from the ancient conversation of balance, and Wilber’s grand scheme remains additive holism still in need of further integration.

Much of the current interest in native peoples – especially among New Age folk – is permeated with nostalgia and romanticism. The Hopi Indians of Arizona have been the object of such inappropriate and insufficient understanding. Yet, their history and stories show a complex struggle for balance, which all too frequently ends in kooyanisqatsi or social disarray – with all the gore of killed fellow tribal members, burnt villages, etc. (see M. Lomatuway’ma, L. Lomatuway’ma, Namingha & Malotki [1993] for illustrative stories narrated by Hopi people). I am giving this reminder so that the reader may resist temptations to see my descriptions as amounting to some form of ideal or perfect image of native peoples which can be – maybe nostalgically or romantically – projected into the past. There is nothing ideal about these descriptions in the contemporary sense of the word. The present dialectic of the ideal and the flawed are machinations of contemporary discourse fueled by the shadows of its past; the creation of these figments support its addictive hunger for power and domination. Life is never ideal, it never has been. Human follies and fallacies have always been there. Trading in ideals is the narcissism of the dominant culture. Good-bad, ideal-flawed have always been contextualized, relative, historical. Romanticism and nostalgia are the the reaction to the denial of the presence of indigenous mind and non-subjects in contemporary life; neither know who they are in terms of the indigenous framework which I have just described. Both are lost to the sacred obligation which humans have to all their relations on this planet.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Eduardo Grillo, one of the founding members of PRATEC and their primus inter pares, who unexpectedly passed away on April 23, 1996.

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Footnote 1: The precession of the equinoxes (the westward drift of the vernal equinox through the zodiac) is caused by the wobble of the earth; as a result her axis points to different parts ofo the sky at different times (e.g., while Polaris is the current North Star, Vega will have that position 13,000 years from now). See Kyselka & Lanterman (1976) for a basic overview discussion of this astronomical phenomenon. De Santillana & v. Dechend (1969) have written the fundamental work – from the European perspective – for an interpretation of myths in astronomical terms, demonstrating how the language of ancient stories can be simultaneously poetic and scientifically precise (especially in regards to the example just given in my text).

Footnote 2: Cf. Warrior, 1995 for a discussion of these positions; cf. Vizenor, 1989, 1994a, 1994b for an example of Native American discourse stance.

Footnote 3: Thanks to Betty Bastien for our conversations about internalized colonization which led me to conceptualize the dynamic in terms of projective identification.

 

Reconstructing indigenous consciousness: Preliminary considerations

Reconstructing indigenous consciousness –

Preliminary considerations

 

Jürgen W. Kremer, PhD

3383 Princeton Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95405

jkremer@sonic.net

 

1999

Ethnopsychologische Mitteilungen, 8(1), 32-56.

[Page numbers inserted below as P32 etc.]

 

[P32] Introduction

This article addresses issues which do not have a clear domain in eurocentered thinking: they are neither psychology nor anthropology nor philosophy – while touching upon all these domains and using the discourses they offer. These prelimary remarks are intended to lay the groundwork for an indigenous discourse or conversation originating from eurocentered traditions and designed for eurocentered traditions; as such they use the tools offered by these discourses in a self-reflective and critical fashion. This point is crucial: No attempt is made to speak on behalf of indigenous peoples or to interpret their situation or needs or perceived historical trajectory. This contribution focuses on the indigenous roots of eurocentered traditions by way of a self-reflective look at their histories and the contemporary eurocentered situation.

 

My discussion is in contrast to concerns indigenous peoples might have. Issues of indigenous consciousness are quite different for people(s) who either have a living tradition or who have lost connection with their indigenous roots only during very recent times. The common genocidal threat to native peoples is a factor absent from the eurocentered traditions, who represent the colonizing forces. The significantly greater availability of oral traditions, ceremonies, indigenous healing practices, etc. is another difference. The latter point means that issues of indigenous consciousness within eurocentered traditions have to be largely reconstructive because of the multigenerational interruption of any practices resembling a native lifeway (this applies despite the fact that isolated remnants are surviving in various forms).

 

If we reject the option of imitating indigenous practices from other cultures, then we are left with the challenge of working our way through our own historical trajectory in reconstructive efforts to discover what it might mean for eurocentered folk to be present in their indigenous minds. Such endeavor certainly does not and should not preclude the learning from contemporary indigenous peoples – in fact, it is only wise to seek their help. But it means that the alternative to the imitation of existing indigenous traditions is the Wiederaufarbeitung of the historical development which brought us to where we are now – a critical Vergangenheitsbewältigung which also integrates, appreciates, and validates as it attempts to heal that which constitutes pathology from an indigenous perspective.

 

All traditions, whether indigenous or eurocentered, have always changed. However, the nature of change is different in either paradigm: the maintenance of an intact or somewhat intact indigenous discourse or conversation follows the course of a spiral as the circles of greater and lesser completeness move through time. The change in the eurocentered [P33] traditions has been an increasing distance from, denial of, and devaluation of their indigenous roots – the line of progress. Consequently, the critical review of the changes looks different in the latter case and has to confront whatever problems and advancement eurocentered history has wrought. We cannot leap out of our historical situation, we have to work our way through it, embracing the light and embracing the shadow material and the creative energies released in this fashion.

 

The crucial point here is, according to all the native and indigenous people (shamans, medicine people and intellectuals) I have spoken to, that indigenous roots are always recoverable. Indeed, indigenous leaders see such task as a historic necessity in our times. This is where their hope for the resolution of the current crises, particular the ecological crisis, rests. For example, Bob Haozous, Chiricahua Apache, has stated: “Don’t come to Indian people and look for feathers and sweats and medicine men and stuff like that. Go back to your own history and find out who you are so that you can look at yourselves and see how beautiful you are” (1994). Implicit here is an assumption about “original instruction – words about purpose, words rooted in our creation, words that allow the human being an identity beyond the illusion of civilization,” as Native American writer Gabriel Horn puts it (1996). Reconstructing indigenous consciousness is, in a sense, about the remembrance of these original instructions and the indigenous conversation with all beings they guide in a particular place at a particular time. The concern of many of my past publications – as in this one – has been the demonstration that this process can be argued for within the eurocentered framework, not just from an indigenous perspective. While the current piece is an exercise in abstraction, I have also offered a more concrete application discussing the available material in the Old Norse traditions about the Vanir gods or spirits (Bjarnadóttir & Kremer, 1998).

 

Dion-Buffalo and Mohawk (1994) outline three choices which colonized peoples have in response to cultural colonization.

They can become “good subjects” of the discourse, accepting the rules of law and morals without much question, they can be “bad subjects” arguing that they have been subjected to alien rules but always revolting within the precepts of those rules, or they can be “non-subjects”, acting and thinking around discourses far removed from and unintellegible to the West [emphasis added, J.W.K.]… In a world composed of fewer than a dozen distinct civilizations (including the metropolitan West) plus 3,000 to 5,000 distinct indigenous societies, the range of possible experiences is very great indeed. These are the autochthonous peoples whom such luminaries as Arnold Toynbee wrote entirely out of history. Much of what remains of the range of human potential for creating versions of reality exists in the framework of the arts, stories, oral traditions, music and other cultural manifestations of these peoples. Their lived and dreamed experiences are the world’s richest sources of exploration of the human potential. – Gaining access to these experiences will not be easy. Not only are the voices of these distinct “others” remote, the channels of communication are practically non-existent. Few individuals from tribal societies write novels or history texts (p. 35).

[P34] If there are three choices for indigenous peoples, what are the equivalent choices for participants in the eurocentered discourses? The analogous choices would be to be good subjects accepting the given rules, to be bad subjects revolting against the precepts of the given rules (as critics within postmodern philosophy, transpersonal psychology, the new age movement, etc. are doing), or they could become non-subjects and recover a conversation that is not just removed from the current dominant discourses, but that questions their dissociative precepts. The latter choice is, as should be apparent, a difficult one, since it implies the radical deconstruction of the eurocentered individual who we are accustomed to be.

 

The choice of the good or bad subject are choices within eurocentered discourses, choices for the continuity of some form of dissociation from participation in the phenomena. The choice of the non-subject is the choice of the continuation of some form of original participation among indigenous peoples or the choice of recovery of indigenous mind and participation for the eurocentered discourses and for others who have lost connection to their native roots. The non-subject choice is the choice for participation in the phenomena, for a dialogical, nurturing knowledge creation. The current article endeavors to develop some basis for the latter choice.

 

I will present my considerations regarding the reconstructive efforts of indigenous consciousness in eurocentered context in the following fashion:

  • First I will establish a context for my approach in a fashion which is appropriate for indigenous presence.
  • Then I will discuss the nature of participatory consciousness.
  • Thirdly I will describe the historical process of the loss of or dissociation from particpatory consciousness.
  • Then I will highlight the differences between the worlds of participatory presence and the worlds of dissociative presence.
  • And, finally, I will discuss the epistemologies of recovering participation.

 

 

  1. Context

A few years ago I had a dream which pertains to the issues at hand:

The location of the dream is Hamburg, the town where I grew up in Northern Germany. Sitting on the threshold in the doorway of a pre-war brick house beside my partner I overlook the river Elbe from on high. We are atop the ancient ice age rim of the river, the border of its once miles wide flow, thousands of years ago when reindeer roamed these latitudes. The reindeer now live much farther north, and the river moves in a much more narrow bed; yet it still spreads to considerable widths three hundred or so feet below us, where ferries criss-cross its course and ocean liners enter and leave the harbor. We are not just sitting atop an ancient river bed, but also very close to the old building where I went for Kindergarten shortly after the Second World War. At that time it was a place with a [P35] comforting huge tile stove and a garden with plants and trees inviting the imagination of children at play. I realize that there are achaeological excavations in process behind the old Kindergarten. Signs are put up all around it: No trespassing! Stay out! Not to be deterred, I leave my body at the moment of seeing these signs and enter the forbidden grounds. I hover over the ancient ruins which are uncovered thanks to the work of the archaeological team. A round, towerlike structure emerging from the depths of the ground is clearly visible. It appears to extend a good ways into the earth. I understand that this is an ancestral ceremonial structure, as are other similar ones right next to it. The name of the place where this dig into ancient cultural history occurs is Altona – meaning “all-too-near.” Legend has it that an orphan was blindfolded when the burghers of Hamburg wanted to expand their overpopulated city. The idea was to place the new town where the orphan would stumble and fall. But what happened was unexpected. The boy had barely left the city gates, when he stumbled and fell. The attendant burghers exclaimed in surprise that this was all too near, in the local vernacular:  “All to nah!”  – thence the name for this part of the city – Altona. The place where I gain access to the layers below the contemporary city and old ancestral cultural memories is all too close in this dream, right there with my childhood, and fenced in by signs forbidding entry.

 

I wake up bringing with me not only the memory of the dream images, but its self-interpretation at the end. This dream contained an answer to the curiosity and spiritual hunger which I had tried to satisfy since adolescence through the study of native peoples and shamanism in particular.

 

This dream (and its implicit epistemology of recovery) can be seen as a description of my approach to inquiry of matters indigenous or tribal and my reconstructive efforts described below. It also points to the cultural struggle of “the west.” The key to such inquiry in the eurocentered context is the remembrance in itself of what it seeks in other peoples – recovering indigenous mind. Cultural history and the prevailing definitions of scientific inquiry make such a project difficult, to say the least. Native American intellectual Mohawk has stated: “I do not want people to adopt Indian rituals because I want people to own their own rituals. I want them to come to ownership out of experiences that are real to them. Then I’ll come and celebrate it with them” (quoted in Spretnak, 1991) When we extrapolate this statement to the area of ways of knowing (of which ritual is one) then we could say that participants in the eurocentered discourses need to recover and own their shamanic inquiry before natives will engage in and celebrate their ways of knowing with them.

 

 

  1. The epistemology of indigenous conversation or participatory concourse

If reality is not a simple given (since it cannot be accessed directly ) but emerges out of the subject – object interactions of specific, encultured human beings, then we have to conclude that the world we live in is created by us in some fashion. In representing the as-yet-[P36]unrepresented we create what we call reality. This should not lead to the superficial and voluntaristic conclusion that we can create any reality we want as our consensual reality. There are at least two major constraints bearing upon what we can create as reality: 1) There is something ‘out there’ – there is an external reality with which we engage. 2) What we can create and perceive is limited by what our embodiment provides (our sense organs, brain, gender, etc.). The reality we live in is created in interaction with what is ‘out there’, it is a co-creation with the external reality we engage in or are engaged by. We have constraints as specifically embodied-knowledge-seeking beings and these are limited and modified by an external reality. But within these constraints there are many different solutions to the problem of creating a world of phenomena to live in. These solutions are represented in the consensual practices of different cultures, with the embeddedness of knowing in culture and history constituting yet another stratum of constraints.

 

One helpful exposition of this epistemological view has been made by Barfield (1965) in his book Saving the appearances. He criticizes the Enlightenment project by tracing the different ways in which we are engaging in the phenomena throughout different stages of the evolution of consciousness. The term ‘phenomenon’ refers to the sensational and mental construction of the “unrepresented”, Kant’s noumena or Dinge an sich (Reilly, 1971). We always participate in the phenomena, but this participation may be conscious or unconscious, it may be directed by strict or loose ego boundaries, it can be reflected or unreflected. He argues that in the subject – object interaction between human beings and the ‘out there’ (external reality, the unrepresented), we may participate in what we consider phenomena in radically different ways.

 

Barfield distinguishes three major types of participation which are of epistemological relevance: original participation, the loss of or the unconscious participation of modernity, and final participation. The latter term is problematic (how do we know it is final?), and I prefer to call this process of regaining participation in the phenomena “recovery of indigenous mind.”

 

In short, Barfield describes the rise of Western consciousness as the rise of human consciousness from nature leading to high levels of conceptual reasoning and reflections without conscious participation in the phenomena, even with the denial of the involvement in them (cf. Detienne, 1996, for a discussion regarding these changes in archaic Greece). This is also the masculinization of the phenomena. This process can be seen as an explanation why it is so easy to deny nature in human consciousness. This antithetical, dissociative process between human beings and the phenomena has found its acme in the Western enlightenment movement. It is out of the dark night of the masculinized scholar that participation can be regained – not as return to the previous process state, but changed by the historical experiences of the dissociation from the phenomena; this is the recovery of participatory indigenous consciousness. Let me add more detail to these three processes, however, before doing so I would like to clarify that I see this succession of processes as a valid perspective on the history of eurocentered consciousness and its future; but: I do not [P37] assume that these are necessary or inevitable stages or even that these are stages (rather than processes of a different quality); I also do not assume that they do or should apply similarly to peoples not of eurocentered consciousness.

 

In what Barfield calls ‘original participation’ (the interaction with the phenomena in past and present indigenous societies, for example), the embeddedness of human consciousness in nature is experienced and lived in a direct way with very permeable boundaries between self and phenomena. This synthetic type of consciousness allows an experience of our systemic connection with nature. “Original participation is … the sense that there stands behind the phenomena, and on the other side of them from [the human being], a represented, which is of the same nature as [the human being]” (1965, 111, Barfield’s emphasis). Barfield further assumes – mistakenly – that in original participation perception is undifferentiated from the whole, that the participation in the phenomena is unconscious, that there is little reflectiveness, and that thinking occurrs in images rather than concepts; as we will see below, there are many examples of cognitive feats by peoples who were arguably engaged in the process of original participation which contradict these assumptions (which stem from the unfortunate racist assumptions of early anthropological and evolutionary thinkers).

 

Oftentimes this process of original participation is discussed with racist implications which puts it in the pre-historic past of the European peoples and defines contemporary native peoples still engaged in this particpatory process – despite the history of colonialism – as backward and a prehistoric remnant. Let me give some contemporary descriptions of this process and de-mystify it by mentioning some of the accomplishments of peoples who – by all accounts – must have been in a process of original participation at the time.

 

The contemporary Andean peoples of Peru talk about participation in the phenomena as follows:

The ayllu is a group of related persons living in a particular place. The ayllu consists not only of a group of related humans but of other beings of that place: the animals, the mountains, streams and rocks and the local deities. The ayllu should therefore not be considered simply a sphere of kinship. Rather one could say that kinship in the Andes extends to the non-human realm. (Valladolid, 1995)

The conversations held between persons and the other inhabitants of the world are not primarily engaged in for the purpose of “knowing reality”. They are engaged in as part of the activity of criar y dejarse criar, of nurturing (raising) and letting oneself be nurtured (raised). The verb criar is used to speak of raising children, animals, plants, relationships, etc. It is the activity that fosters the growth and development of any potentiality or generativity. It is a fundamentally mutual or reciprocal activity: as one nurtures one is simultaneously nurtured. The action in the world does not leave the actor untransformed; acting in the world is being in relationship with that world, so the language of conversation is more appropriate than the language of knowledge. There is here no knower and known, no subject and object. Rather there are actors in relationships of mutuality. By acting one [P38] transforms not only the world but oneself as well. Therefore it is a fundamentally dynamic world, always moving, always changing, always in flux. There is, as it were, no simple act of knowing as we moderns understand the term, for such knowledge-acquiring activity presupposes that there is something to be known, irrespective of who knows it.

This is not to say that conversing with the world does not involve cognitive faculties, it of course does, but that the activity is not primarily and certainly not exclusively a cognitive one. Criar demands not only understanding but love, tenderness, patience. But it is to say that the point of conversation is not the attainment of knowledge through the interrogation of nature, it is rather to generate and regenerate the world and be generated and regenerated by it in the process. (Apffel-Marglin, 1994, p. 9)

 

These descriptions of the knowing and nurturing conversation in the ayllu are illustrations of the indigenous mind process or original participation. Valkeapää (1985, 1996, no p. #) has given a poetic description of Saami siida life and participation:

How I respect

the old Sámi life

That was true love of nature

where nothing was wasted

where humans were part of nature

 

Not until now have they realized

that the people who lived here

ten thousand years ago

melted to become the Sámi (…)

 

I see our fjells

the places we live

and hear my heart beat

all this is my home

and I carry it

within me

in my heart

I can hear it

when I close my eyes

I can hear it

 

I hear somewhere

deep within me

I hear the ground thunder

from thousands of hooves

I hear the reindeer herd running

or is it the noaidi drum

[P39] and the sacrificial stone

 

Of course, our modern eurocentered mind leads us to looki for words – stories, myths, descriptions, definitions – which evoke participatory conciousness. From an indigenous vantage point such profound “libraries” or records as Stonehenge, Newgrange, the rock carvings of Northern Europe and elsewhere, the Gundestrup cauldron are, in a sense, more accurate and more complete. Creation stories, as the Sámi Mjandasj story, may do something similar. (See also Colorado, 1988, for an Iroquois description of skanagoah, the great peace, the center of the indigenous conversation). This indigenous mind or consciousness process I am referring to here is not an essentialist understanding of tribalism or indigenism, but a discourse view in which individuals understand themselves in an ongoing conversation with the surrounding community, in which the local animals, plants, ancestors, and other spirits are a part (cf. Apffel Marglin, 1994; Rengifo, 1993; Valladolid, 1995); this conversation is carried on as a part of unfolding one’s own gifts while paying attention to the ceremonial and seasonal cycles as well as the larger astronomical cycles. (See Warrior, 1995 for a discussion of these positions; cf. Vizenor, 1989, 1994a, 1994b for an example of Native American discourse stance.) This is a worldview of total immanence which acknowledges that the social construction or conversation in one place is different from other conversations in other places, yet seeing this it stays grounded in the detailed observations of and conversations with animal, plants, and the various cycles of the specific place of conversation. This is not a mind process where egoic consciousness and transcendence stand in some form of opposition or tension to each other, but where individuals of the permeable, participatory consciousness live with spirits as much as part of their community as other human beings or plants. “El mundo es inmanente – the world is immanent” (PRATEC, 1996, 10).

 

These are descriptions of a process of an immanently present visionary socially constructed being, which is sustained without a need to progress to transcendence. They describe the immanent, ongoing conversation with everything, including spirits, which constitutes the community for human beings. Within this framework, if individuals do not know their ancestry, place in the community, the cultural stories, the land they live on, the cycles of the seasons, the stars, etc. – then these persons are lost to who they are, and pathology ensues – these individuals are in need of healing or balancing. These indigenous models allow for an alternate understanding of time, history, and the variety of cultures; they also allow to be in participation or conversation while exercising high level rational skills. Part of this conversation is the observation of the precession of the equinoxes and other larger historical cycles. This indigenous conceptualization allows each culture to understand its historic spiritual mission in its ecology, so to speak. It is not just that this type of model is preferable, I would suggest that it has greater accuracy because it is more complete and integral. It facilitates cultural exchange because it establishes equality among prospective partners of knowledge trade and avoids implicit or explicit imperialistic thinking.

 

[DP40] It is important to remember that the peoples active in participatory consciousness have done things which we can only regard as incredible and major acknowledgements. Whether this is star knowledge, travel, navigation, metallurgy or many other things – the range and depth of cognitive feats is frequently astonishing and difficult to deny despite the force of the continuing prejudices regarding the “primitivism” of early peoples. (I have discussed this issue at greater length in Kremer, 1998a, b; 1997c; 1996b, c, d) All this makes clear that some of Barfield’s assumptions regarding original participation (lack of reflection, unconsciousness, lack of differentiation from whole) are not tenable.

 

Gowlett (1992, 345) suggests

that through the past 30,000 to 40,000 years the brains of modern homo sapiens were similar to our own. Physical and cultural evidence points to lower levels of mental ability and craft skill in the earlier periods. Nevertheless, we may have to concede that the foundations of many basic human skills were laid 1 or even 2 million years ago, rather than at the origins of our own species.

Even Lévy-Bruhl, who wrote extensively about ‘primitive mentality’ stated in his last works that he no longer assumed a structural difference between contemporary Europeans and indigenous humans:

Let us expressly rectify what I believed correct in 1910: there is not a primitive mentality distinguishable from the other by two characteristics which are peculiar to it (mystical and prelogical). There is a mystical mentality which is more marked and more easily observable among ‘primitive peoples’ than in our societies, but is present in every human mind. (Les carnets, 1949, 131-2, quoted from Cazeneuve, 1972, 87)

 

All these points lead to a suggestion of what appears like a paradox on the surface: Peoples engaged in original participation may indeed have participated and continue to participate in the phenomena, yet they may simultaneously have been capable of cognitive feats requiring skills commonly associated in evolutionary thinking with the much later times of the egoic-rational processes. Mayan architecture, glyphs, mathematics and calendrics may serve as a surviving and continuing illustration (see recently Freidel, Schele & Parker, 1993) that participation in the phenomena and cognitive skills like formal-operational logic are a contradiction in the eyes of the dissociated, modernist ego only.

 

 

  1. The loss of participation and the pathology of dissociation

According to Barfield, by the seventeenth century the center of perception and thinking had changed from the phenomena to the self, with the mind moving outward toward the unrepresented and the phenomena (rather than from the phenomena inward) — thus the mind had severed itself from its connection with nature. This second epistemologically [P41] relevant process internalizes meaning and treats the phenomena as existing independently. “… A representation, which is collectively mistaken for an ultimate — ought not to be called a representation. It is an idol. Thus the phenomena themselves are idols, when they are imagined as enjoying independence of human perception, which can in fact only pertain to the unrepresented” (Barfield, 1965, 62). I have termed this process dissociative schismogenesis (Kremer, 1992b) – the progressively and addictively increasing split from participation and one’s origins. give more definition

 

McGrane (1989) has done an admirably lucid job of tracing the history of the relationship between euro-centered cultures and the Other, the alien, the different – an “archaeology of anthropology”, so to speak. His analysis is helpful for understanding the loss of participation in greater detail. One of his fundamental premises is that “a culture that discovers what is alien to itself simultaneously manifests what it is in itself” (McGrane 1989, 1). He sees anthropology as an endeavor which is “fundamentally involved in the reproduction of Western society… It manifests and highlights that egocentric tendency of our Western mind to identify itself as separate from what it perceives as external to itself” (1989, 5). Using McGrane’s conceptualization we can break down the process of loss of participation as follows:

 

  • In the Renaissance Christianity came between the European and the non-European; demonology determined that the Other, the fallen, was in need of naming, christening. Trances (and the concomitant healing practices) were seen as a practice which maintained the contact with demons and christianization meant the termination of such evil proceedings; killing or arrests of tribal members during ceremonies, the destruction or confiscation of artifacts (even during recent history, such as potlatch masks in Canada) are a result of this paradigm. While epistemological questions were certainly part of the philosophical discourse (we can trace them in eurocentered thinking to Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Empedocles), epistemology as a separate discipline had yet to arise.

 

  • During the Enlightenment ignorance was the fundamental coordinate around which the understanding of the Other was constituted: indigenous peoples were living with the errors of superstitution. Trances and alternate modes of healing were seen as superstitious practices which could not provide any true help or serve a healthful function. The 17th and 18th century saw the beginning of colonization.

 

  • The evolutionary thinking of the nineteenth century used the coordinate of time to understand natives as “primitives”, a fossilized developmental stage from the prehistory of European civilizations. Thus trances were conceptualized as contemporary remnants of an outmoded, primitive human potential; their usefulness was superceded by the emergent medical and other sciences. The 19th century saw the height of colonialism and imperialism. It is during this time period (in 1856) that the word epistemology was first recorded to label “the theory or science of the method or grounds of knowledge” (OED). In Germany the word Erkenntnistheorie began emerging among the Kantians beginning in 1808, to be firmly established by Zeller in 1862 with his Über die Aufgabe und Bedeutung [P42] der Erkenntnistheorie (Klaus & Buhr, 1970). Dion-Buffalo and Mohawk (1994, 33) comment that “the psychological and social foundation of this period of conquest and colonization is found in the ability to coerce the peoples of the world to accept the rules by which European politics and ideologies claimed the power to determine what is legitimate about the human experience.” It is no coincidence that this was also the time in which evolutionary theories were first proposed. Epistemological and evolutionary thinking emerged out of the increasing split from the participation in the phenomena in order to understand and legitimize this dissociative logic of progress: Peoples participating in the phenomena become uncivilized with no possibility to discern truth because of insufficient dissociation. Habermas (1997) makes this point clearly when he discusses the benefits and limitations of Cassirers Theorie der symbolischen Formen (a theory I could have used instead of Barfield’s to discuss the present issues): It is the logic of progress and the process of civilization – Aufklärung – which destroys and needs to destroy the impact of participation in the phenomena. (See Wilber articles for details, Kremer 1998 a, b)

 

Most models of social evolution (such as recently Wilber’s, 1995; cf. Winkelman, 1993, 5) are in the tradition of 19th century evolutionary conceptualizations. Julian Huxley is a good example for this thinking in the field of biology:

If we accept the doctrine of evolution, we are bound to believe that man has arisen from mammals, terrestrial from aquatic forms, vertebrates from invertebrates, multicellular from unicellular, and in general the larger and the more complex from the smaller and simpler. To the average man it will be indisputable that a man is higher than a worm or a polyp, an insect is higher than a protozoan, even if he cannot exactly define in what resides this highness or lowness of organic types. (Huxley, 1923, 10; quoted from Barlow, 1994)

Of course, if this type of evolutionist thinking is extrapolated into the field of evolution of consciousness and societies, then we can see how the prehistoric peoples of all continents and the contemporary remaining indigenous peoples – as McGrane has illustrated – can be classed as “lower” and the euro-centered as “higher” (even if there are yet higher stages to come).

The very identification of and naming of the non-European Other as “primitive,” as “primitive mentality,” as “primitive culture,” presupposed a theory (language) of rational progress, of progress in and by reason (Enlightenment) and/or progress in and by history (nineteenth century). The very possibility of the conception of “primitive” presupposed the prior commitment to a conception of progress. (McGrane, 1989, 99)

The notion of progress implies that there is something at least insufficient or even bad in the past and that the good lies in the future. It is the

powerful ideology of progress that proposes human history as a story of mankind’s inexorable advance toward a more perfect society and projects all changes with few [P43] exceptions as part of this process. The tradition of historical presentation in the West has had a strong tendency to select events in a way that constructs a story supportive of this largely unspoken thesis” (Lyons, in Lyons et al., 1992, 17).

 

From a native perspective, evolutionary thinking has always been problematic:

European utopian visions have been used to rationalize a range of criminal behaviors including the enslavement of millions of Africans and the annihilation of entire American Indian peoples as the (sometimes) regrettable but necessary consequence of the construction of some kind of future state of human perfection (Dion-Buffalo & Mohawk, 1994, p. 33).

This statement cannot be taken seriously enough and should be a clear warning signal to pay attention to the shadow of evolutionary thinking. (I have discussed some of this more extensively in Kremer, 1996b.) Unless we do so evolutionary thinking will remain misguided and dangerous because there is no reason to assume that it is outside of its history which – at least implicitly – justified (cultural) genocides. In order to step outside of that intellectual history it is necessary to address explicitly shadow material issues such as the ones Dion-Buffalo and Mohawk mention in their quote. Otherwise whatever is written is at least an unconscious continuation of eurocentered dominance and (cultural) genocide. McGrane (1989) in his critical analysis of the history of “the Other” and anthropology comments that

when the ‘sun’ of civilization dawns on the virgin forest of the Other, instead of nourishing him, it chars and blackens him. … at the very instant they (primitive societies) become known to us they are doomed (108, last sentence quoted from Bastian).

Or in the word of Lyons (Lyons et al., 1992, 17): “At the moment of contact and conflict peoples are spotlighted briefly and their images are frozen forever in time.” The historical connection between the arising of enlightenment philosophy and colonialism is not just accidental. Using Barfield’s terminology: The appearances had to become idols before Kant could call out Sapere aude! and before the colonisation of native peoples could be “scientifically” justified.

Anthropology has been an extremely subtle and spiritual kind of cognitive imperialism, a power-based monologue about alien cultures rather than, and in active avoidance of, a dialogue with them in terms of sovereignty, i.e., the untranslatability and irreducibility of one ‘culture’ to the being and language of the other (McGrane, 1989, 127).

Until we understand the impact of this connection the cultural shadow material will determine what eurocentered cultures are – to an extent difficult to fathom. As Adorno and Horkheimer have pointed out: that which is repressed inevitably returns through the backdoor – with increased power (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1944).  This would mean that one of the most important current historic tasks of eurocentered cultures is to retract its [P44] attention and periodic obsession with other cultures and to focus on its own history, including the shadow of its own history.

 

Postmodernity helps us to think about issues like “tribal” or “indigenous” or “participation” differently, yet it is still “us” thinking “them.” Despite the increasing breakdown of the grand narratives and the increasing multivocality in discourses, postmodernity is but yet another advance within the game of dissociative epistemologies. Even though postmodern epistemologies have split Truth into truths and we can conceive of an increasing number of epistemologies, the politics remain the same: it is eurocentered thinking as the game master, even as the margins increasingly encroach. Postmodernity can easily be interpreted as the yearning to regain participation in the phenomena. The concern with tribal epistemologies is part of this yearning. And historical need.

 

 

  1. The world of participation and the world of dissociation

Before discussing the epistemologies of reconstructing indigenous consciousness it is important to highlight the differences not just in world views, but in worlds between participatory and dissociative consciousness.

 

Barfield’s most important point is that the worlds of participation (whether ‘original’ or recovered) and the worlds of unconscious participation or dissociation are different. It is not just that we see things differently in each of these worlds – but the worlds are  different. We can apply this thinking not just to the different stages of evolution which he presupposes, but also to differences between cultures in general. At times our conversational language even admits that much:”The Navajos live in a totally different world.” Indeed, they do. It is not just that they see the world differently – their world is not ours! The Mt. Taylor we see is not the same as the Tsoodzil  the Navajos see. When we see this mountain while driving along the interstate toward Albuquerque, then we see all its beautiful physicality and sheer massiveness; we may see the snow on the mountaintop and gaze in wonder at the way the mountain rises rapidly from the valley floor. Its size and beauty might inspire awe in us. Traditional Navajos actively participating in their way of life (and not in contact with the Western paradigm) would see the physical mountain also, of course, but they would also be aware of the turquoise color and the blue wind which dwell in this mountain. They would participate in it as the South Mountain which helps to contain the sacred land which provides for them. First Man and First Woman

fastened [the South Mountain] to the earth with a great stone knife, … they adorned it with turquoise, with dark mist, she-rain, and all different kinds of wild animals. On its summit they placed a dish of turquoise; in this they put two eggs of the Bluebird, which they covered with sacred buckskin. … The Boy who Carries One Turquoise and the Girl who Carries One Grain of Corn were put into the mountain to dwell. (Wyman, 1967, unpaginated)

[P45] Seeing the mountain is seeing part of what it means to live in hózhó,  in beauty and balance. This is why soil from this mountain is present in the bundle for their foundational ceremony, the Blessingway. Participating in Tsoodzil is participating in part of the creation story. While our experience of seeing Mt. Taylor is that of seeing something out there, Navajos would participate in Tsoodzil (or Dootl’shii Dziil, meaning turquoise mountain) as a part of themselves necessary for walking in old age on a trail of beauty (sa’a naghái bik’e hózhó).  If we were to imagine a successful recovery of indigenous consciousness, then we could surmise that we would also experience the spirit of the mountain, and that we would enter its beingness in a way which makes it no longer ‘out there’, and we would do this in a way which allows us to be conscious of our movement of boundaries.

 

But what about the concrete, the things we can touch and presumably all agree on? I would argue that the pragmatic, ‘real’ stuff which for which the Western enlightenment paradigm would like to provide agreements is nothing but the least common denominator (arrived at and agreeed to by dissociative perception and conceptual language). In holding a bead of turquoise in our hand we will probably be able to agree with any Navajo on its shape, color, the beauty of its veins, how we might polish it further, how it could be embedded in silver jewelry, how heavy it is, etc. (We would presumably be unable to agree, for exmple, on the question whether this is a semi-precious stone, since it is the most highly prized stone within the Navajo culture.) But what is meeting in such a conversation are two tips of icebergs, overlapping to a minimal degree. Of course, the tips of two icebergs cannot physically overlap — we can only make them overlap by way of lining them up in our perceptual field; the overlap thus created is the least common denominator which the Western enlightenment paradigm pursues. Below the eurocentered tip of the iceberg is the monstrous denial of our participation in the phenomenon ‘turquoise bead’ (which only imagination can recover). Below the Navajo tip of the iceberg is “the grand cosmic scheme of ‘hózhó’ ” and how turquoise ” functions as a lubricant to enhance this scheme or to restore it when it is disrupted… It is special because it is a means of harmonious communion with the other[s] … in the universe” (Witherspoon, 1987, 73-74). Thus we find that the tip of the Navajo iceberg is, in fact, the tip of a mountain, and that this mountain is only submerged for participants in the epistemology of modernity. We could say it is the tip of Tsoodzil. It is also the tip of all the chantways which maintain and restore beauty, happiness, health and harmony. We arrive at our supposed concrete, realistic view of the world at the expense of dissociation. For the Navajo a turquoise bead is a piece of art and as such “not divorced from subsistence, science, philosophy or theology, but is an integral part of both common activities and cosmic schemes” (Witherspoon, 1987, 60). While the tips of icebergs and mountains cannot physically touch at the top, they can touch at the bottom. Below the tips of the least common denominator we find the conscious or unconscious cultural practices which lead to differing participation in the phenomena. Yet  even further below we may enter unitive states of consciousness and find, among the silent spaces, realities where cultures and their peoples touch in ways which are yet to be fully explored (cf. Forman, 1990).

 

 

[P46] 5. Epistemologies of reconstructing indigenous consciousness

Barfield termed third epistemologically relevant process of ‘final participation,’ however, I prefer to talk about it as recovery of indigenous mind or consciousness. It allows us to regain participation and to participate intentionally in the world of phenomena. Barfield looks to Rudolf Steiner, Goethe and the romantic poets for guidance toward the synthesizing process of future participation in the phenomena among eurocentered peoples. He saw them as consciously and actively participating in the construction of the very world itself. Since Barfield overlooks contemporary indigenous peoples, he disregards the help they might have to offer for the recovery of participation. He suggests that the tension between the original participation of our ancestors and the modern Western consciousness can be resolved in the conscious experience of participation through our imaginative and creative faculties. I would add that it can also be resolved through the integration of those aspects of living and knowing from which the eurocentered discourses split themselves off: Ancestry, prehistory, nature, the feminine, etc. “Some say that evolution has now reached a stage at which [the human being] is becoming increasingly responsible for it. … I think the same; but I do not see that responsibility at all as others see it. … I am certain that our responsibility will only be discharged, if at all, not by tinkering with the outside of the world but by changing it, slowly enough no doubt, from the inside” (Barfield, 1979, 92). This internal work is the integration of all those processes which have followed the eurocentered discourse as its shadow.

 

This brings me to the viewpoint from which I am writing this article as somebody who is remembering his indigenous roots without any claim to being native or having shared native experiences of discrimination and colonialism; I grew up as part of the dominant culture in Germany (see Kremer, 1994, 1995 for further discussion of my stance). The endeavor which I call ‘recovery of indigenous mind’ is nothing nostalgic or romantic – it is a painful process of remembering back in order to go forward. There is no going back. There is no innocent or naïve recovery of participation. My way into the future moves through the integration of historical wounds, painful memories and apparently senseless events in order to work out a future based on the conversational model of the Andean ayllu and its European equivalents, based on an ecologically specific notion of balance.

 

At this point it is important to review specifically the epistemological issues relevant for a recovered participatory conversation within eurocentered discourses. I will do so by discussing notions of truth, participatory discourse, and the relationship between the recovered aspects of participatory knowing and being.

 

So what happens to the notion of truth when we allow for the validity of different worlds? If truth is no longer capitalized – does that mean anything is as good as anything else? Is there any way left to speak about things being true, any means of evaluation? Are we thrown into a groundless abyss of endless relativism? If truth is no longer the eternal verity [P47] that science purports to achieve, then it assumes the status of narrative. Then, how do we evaluate narratives of truth, different stories about the phenomena?

 

Instead of talking about truth, a term associated with the certainty and absoluteness as defined by the logocentric worldview, I prefer to talk about the resolution which different worlds provide in their interactions with the phenomena. Von Frantz (1970), in discussing psychological interpretation as a way of telling a story, asserts that we should never presume to have arrived at the truth. In assuming finality in our interpretation we cheat ourselves. Once we have an interpretation which “clicks”, we nevertheless still “crave the renewal that comes from understanding archetypal images” (p. 32). Resolution is never permanent, it is always temporary. The eurocentered notions of truth try to shirk their mantle of impermanence by dissociating from the participation which is its foundation. However, no dissociative state is ever safe from the play, the trickery and the chaotic invasion which ‘the other’ is prone to stage. The subcultures of Western technological societies, wilderness or nature, the feminine, the arts, dreams, the body are among the domains through which ‘the other’ continues to make itself known. Resolution aims at healing breaches, while truth needs anthropocentric dissociation from the phenomena.

 

Habermas (1984) has described five forms of rationality, five ways in which validity claims and their concomitant form of argumentation can be made:

  • The propositional truth or efficacy of teleological actions can be argued in theoretical discourses about cognitive-instrumental expressions; this is the domain with which the scientific, positivistic paradigm concerns itself to the exclusion of the other four dimensions; the positivistic research paradigm can be seen as the examplary mode to dispute propositional truths.
  • The normative rightness of statements can be argued in practical discourses about moral-practical expressions. This is the realm of ethical debates.
  • The comprehensibility or well-formedness of symbolic constructs can be argued in explicative discourses (this would include the ability to engage fellow scholars in dialogue). From this perspective we can dispute how clear, compelling and even evocative the different expressions of our relationship to the phenomena are.
  • The truthfulness or sincerity of expressions can be argued in therapeutic discourses. (Habermas uses the Freudian psychoanalytic discourse as the exemplar.)
  • The adequacy of value standards can be argued in aesthetic discourses.

 

While the positivistic approach to knowledge would like to make us believe that it is only the propositional truth of claims which matters, Habermas’ model implies that each utterance, considered in context, lays claim to acceptability in all the above five ways (Kremer, 1986; Wood, 1985). The five forms of rationality integrated constitute reason. What began with the Western enlightenment movement allowed us to distinguish these five forms of rationality; these distinctions are differences in the knowing process which Kant and others helped us make. Yet, as these distinctions become more significant and absolute, they also become more problematic.

 

[P48] The postmodern condition is the fragmentation and reification of these shimmering facets of reason into separate domains which are only minimally engaged with each other. While the rationality of the propositional truth is cherished throughout scientific inquiry, the other four dimenions of reason are relegated to ‘the other’, to the shadow. In the ordeal of the postmodern dark night the scholar is challenged to integrate what has been thought asunder. We are unresolved in our relationships to wilderness, the feminine, the body, the spiritual – ‘the other’ is what we cannot resolve.

 

Most theories of truth are concerned with the correspondence between what is asserted in scholarly discourse and what is considered ‘out there’, the phenomena. What is the goodness of fit? Habermas (1971) proposes a discourse model of truth to transcend the problems other models have encountered. Here the knower engages in dialogues with the community of knowing subjects in order to determine whether the truth ascertained can be defended in discourse and critique; this would be a dialogue in which we are challenged to engage in all five dimensions of reason. I would ascertain that this consensus model of truth is the only one appropriate for the epistemological approach I am describing and allows us to develop a eurocentered analogue to the Andean conversation in the ayllu. If worlds or realities are understood as intended, then it is no longer meaningful to look at the correspondence between the world described and the phenomena (die Dinge an sich). However, it is meaningful to dispute whether the facts described in the consensual narrative are consistent with the descriptions. Do we actually succeed in making the world which we are purportedly creating qua our narratives? The dark night experience of the scholar is the realization that the world which the epistemology of modernity claims to create is falling apart in the process.

 

It now becomes apparent that the truths consensually agreed upon by an integral use of rationalities can only be temporary and historically grounded resolutions. As cultures and knowledge change, so does truth. What reason accepts as truth is, in fact, the best resolution to a question or problem we can provide at the time. The limits of today’s resolution may only  become apparent tomorrow. Feyerabend (1984) has presented many critical discussions which affirm this point. Gregory (1988) describes at length how physicists invent a physical world. If these arguments are valid, then it will indeed be useful to think about reality in terms of the conversational model suggested by Andean people like Rengifo (1993), Valladolid (1995, 1997), Grillo (PRATEC, 1996), and others.

 

Resolutions which are – at least temporarily – satisfying because what they propose is efficacious, morally defensible, an expression of shared values and comprehensive aesthetics, sincere and beautifully expressed are what make up intentional worlds. We can see the Andean world of the ayllu as just such an intentional world. Or the recovered fridhr community of the Vanir times. Or the siida groups of the Sámi people. These resolutions are not subjectivistic or voluntaristic as long as they engage a community in discourse. (This is not to claim that resolutions which are experienced as satisfying cannot contain distortions related to power structures ). And as long as ancestry, place, history, and ecology are part of the discourse. The Truth with a capital T is the death threat to [P49] resolution. Truth does not allow for the conscious participation in renewal of intentional worlds, because it has to be dissociated from important aspects of reason. In renewing worlds we may strive for better and better resolutions or we may find that the resolutions which constitute our intentional world are quite satisfying and successful (on their own terms!).

 

Obviously, within the model of intentional worlds or community conversation which I have presented the evaluation of truth claims does become problematic. This is a crucial issue for the change in the quality of the eurocentered discourses. Is there any way to look at claims to resolution and to compare them? Is there a way of saying that one intentional world is better, more resolved than another? That the present is better or worse than the past? If we move from the evaluative stance which gives grades for worldviews, then we can begin to look at ways in which we might compare worldviews without consciously or unconsciously annexing them. Such comparison can reasonably only happen within the discourse model of resolutions previously discussed. Comparisons then become dialogical encounters and are then part of an effort to make cultures speak to each other, rather than a quest for a singular model containing all (at the expense of diversity).

 

Conversations about different resolutions or intentional worlds address what I have called alignment issues. When aspects of the participatory conversation are not aligned it means that the participants have dissociated from parts of the conversation. Alignment means that there is an open dialectic or exchange possible between all the different dimensions which make up participatory or indigenous conversations. Resolutions which involve splitting or dissociation are out of alignment, so to speak, and lead to anti-thetical results (with the dissociated parts floating about in the individual and social unconscious); resolutions which avoid splitting and dissociation lead to greater alignment and synthetical resolutions. Obviously, alignment is not a static or mechanical issue, but an issue of the openness of various processes toward each other. The questions of alignment can  be asked within the following domains which pertain to the openness of the participatory conversation:

  • How does a resolution affect the alignment of the different aspects within the human being (i.e., the state of the dialectic between cognition, emotion, the body, the numinous and the sexual, and between the individual understanding of ancestry, history, place, and cycles)? How are these aspects boundaried, how are they valued and how are they made to speak to each other?
  • How does a resolution affect the alignment between human beings? How is the relationship between genders defined? Does it facilitate the establishment of constraint-free and sincere interactions? Does it facilitate interactions which include all aspects of the human being? Do our socio-cultural creations support sincere, mature, and open communications? Does it facilitate the discussion of shadow or deviant aspects of society, history, economy, ancestry, etc.?
  • How does a resolution affect the alignment between human beings and wilderness or nature? In this domain we would raise all the issues which ecologists have begun to address.

[P50] • How does a resolution affect the alignment between different elements of nature (which has become a critical issue only since the the human intervention in our wilderness has proved to be severely destructive)? (cf. Kremer, 1987)

 

It is easy to jump to conclusions about a certain normativeness inherent in the way I am asking these questions about alignments and their domains. However, even the questions, boundaries of domains, terminologies (such as ‘mature’) need to be potentially part of any alignment conversation. Whatever implicit normativeness is or seems to be present can always be raised as an issue for conversation and exploration.

 

I have described the notion of participatory or shamanic “concourse” as a way of having knowledge exchange based on equity in a framework in which all participants are free to choose participation (Kremer, 1992a &b). The change from discourse to concourse is intentionally somewhat provocative. In reviewing the etymology of both words it becomes apparent that the embodied running of the Latin currere has become the disembodied movement of the mind in current academic discourse. Currere also connotes the running of waters or the circular movement of wheels. Instead of the antagonistic dis of the critical review of reality models (or truth claims), where scholars and others dispute conclusions reached in relative isolation by moving from premises to consequences, I am suggesting the con of communal, social reality creation (this is based on the presupposition that there is no genuine community without conflict and agonistic moves). Participatory concourse would be a circle where the communal reality creation is reviewed through talking as well as ritualistic embodiment; this circle would have space for silence, stories, humor, theater, dancing and other arts.

 

The shamanic coming together in a circle is the idealized prototype to which the term ‘shamanic concourse’ alludes. This would be a circle where the communal reality creation is reviewed through talking as well as ritualistic embodiment; this circle would have space for silence, stories, humour, theatre, dancing and other arts. The name ‘shamanic concourse’ seems appropriate as an acknowledgement of the fact that shamans appear to be the primary model of practitioners actively engaged in world creation and world maintainance; these are people who appear to be conscious (although not in the Western sense) of the relationship between knowing and creating and who are constantly engaged in dealing with issues of alignment; they are, frequently, aware of other cultural worlds, respect them and find ways to engage with them without abandoning the world which they are intent on maintaining. For them knowing is a practice of living. Living is the practice of knowing. They seem to have tools which can help us to be more conscious of the knowing process. Bean and Vane point out that “shamans, having control of ‘altered states of consiousness,’ were religious specialists in charge of the relationship between [human beings] and the supernatural…, in effect philosophers” (1978, 662, emphasis added). They can serve as models on how to participate in the phenomena while remaining conscious (in a new way) of that participation.

 

[P51] If scholars were to engage in participatory concourse, then this would mean that they are resuming an ancient conversation – the recovery of their indigenous roots and participatory consciousness. They would understand that consensus about a particular truth claim is not something which can be achieved by means of the rational mind alone. The knowing of the body, the knowing of the heart, the knowing which comes from states of shifted awareness (including the dialogue with the ancestors) are all valuable processes. Storytelling, star observation, conversations with plants, animals and ancestors are equally valuable. Even though every consensus will have to withstand the challenges posed in verbal, rational discourse, the words and stories of resolution will have to withstand the challenges from all other human dimensions of experience – somatic, sexual, emotional and spiritual as well as ancestral, historical and ecological. Such an embodiment of knowing can heal the various splits, such as between body and mind. Any resolution has to include the explicit, verbal expression of agreement as well as the felt sense of common understanding. Any resolution needs to be open not just to be questioned through the pragmatics of testing propositional truths; it also needs to be open to moral and aesthetic (in the Batesonian sense [1991]) investigations. Somatic knowing and intuition need to see the light of the rational mind, while the mind needs to see the light which is in the body. While it is true that we are always challenged to reflect our resolutions in language, this does not mean that language is the sole arbiter of truth. It is in the open and fluid interaction of the different dimensions of the participatory concourse that we can discover how our resolutions of truth address the alignment issues we are faced with. To deny science is foolish; not to acknowledge its participation in the is dangerous (as our current crises illustrate all too vividly). Participatory concourse allows us to appreciate scientific achievements without denying the body, the heart, sexuality, gender differences and the divine, without denying ancestry, place, history, and astronomical cycles.

 

In the Native American ceremony of the rock people lodge (sweat lodge) the medicine person evokes and invokes a world which is different from our consensual Western world. We are specifically engaged on levels which include the feminine, which invoke all aspects of nature, which shift our awareness of the body, and which open and invoke a spiritual dimension normally not present for those initiated in the Western technological worldview. In this process of ritual knowing we participate in the phenomena as they arise in a way different from those of the masculinized Western scholar. The way we are aligned within ourselves, with others and with nature is part of this process of knowing. It is also something we can engage with in participatory concourse to understand and explain its claims to resolution.

 

The model Western enlightenment ceremonial of experimental verification of propositional truth engages the masculinized scholar with the phenomena in a different way. Here the scholar is trained to focus attention on just one aspect of experience and rationality: the mind and truth as defined by a positivistic criterion. It is these operations which define the ground of ordinary reality as seen in societies invested in the Western technological worldview. The resolutions which these operations of knowing provide as a world to live in can be discussed in a participatory concourse engaging all domains of alignment.

 

[P52] Once the Western scholar has been defined as a ritualistic practitioner of world renewal, we can begin to regain consciousness about our participation in the phenomena. The dissociation between the ‘out there’ and the knowing act can be synthetically resolved into the conscious participation in the phenomena. Here scholars are the Western analogue of the shaman. As such they have responsibilities which exceed by far what the positivistic paradigm calls for. The inclusion of the different domains of knowing and alignment might engage the academy consciously with the practice of world renewal. Education then becomes transformative learning and the continuous practice of world renewal. The boundaries between cosmos and psyche are redrawn and redefined. The conscious experience of the world as intentional allows us to participate in change and renewal. The participatory concourse can save us from the aridness of Habermas’ discourse model without throwing us into the postmodern abyss of fragmentation, irresponsibility and cynicism. The epistemological framework I have presented uses participatory concourse in order to review claims to truth and resolution. Such process includes silence, shifts in awareness, the body and the remaining dimensions of ‘the other’, thus modulating language as words and grammar intend worlds.

 

Thus we may reconstruct what indigenous consciousness might be for eurocentered peoples today.

 

Zusammenfassung

Die Dialektik von Bejahung und kritischer Negation eurozentrierter Zugänge zum Wissen wird in diesem Aufsatz in der Möglichkeit einer Affirmation des rekonstruierten indigenen Bewußtseins aufgelöst. Dieser Ansatz wird anfangs mittels eines Traumes vorgestellt, der die im Nachfolgenden dargestellte rekonstruktive Epistemologie enthält – eine indigene Darstellung dieses Wissensansatzes. Partizipatorisches, teilnehmendes Bewußtsein – der Geistesprozeß vergangener und gegenwärtiger indigener Völker – wird dann anhand von Barfields Begriff der ursprünglichen Teilnahme (original participation) diskutiert. Eine kritische Untersuchung seiner Definitionen erlaubt ursprüngliche Teilnahme als wechselseitig ernährendes und bereicherndes Gespräch zwischen allen Gesprächsteilnehmern gegenwärtig zu verstehen. Die Trennung oder Dissoziation von dieser Qualität des teilnehmenden Bewußtseins wird dann in historischer Sicht beschrieben. Der Verfasser betont, daß die Unterschiede zwischen teilnehmendem und dissoziativem Bewußtsein nicht nur einen Unterschied in der Weltsicht darstellen, sondern in deutlich unterschiedlichen Welten oder Realitäten resultieren in denen die Gesprächsteilnehmer leben. Die Schlußabschnitt diskutiert einige Problematiken der Rekonstruktion indigenen Bewußtseins unter Zuhilfenahme einer kritischen Benutzung des Diskursmodells der Wahrheit, das Habermas beschrieben hat; vorgeschlagen wird das Konzept des participatory concourse (teilnehmender oder schamanistischer CONkurs). Verschiedene Dimensionen des alignments, der synthetischen oder nicht-synthetischen, integrierenden oder nicht-integralen Aufeinanderausrichtung, werden als [P53] vielversprechender Ansatz zur Einschätzung von Projekten der Wiedererinnerung und Wiederherstellung indigenen Bewußtseins angesehen. Damit wird die Möglichkeit der Integration und Beibehaltung der Beiträge der Moderne und Postmoderne geschaffen – bei gleichzeitiger Praxis des indigenen, nährenden und bereichernden Gesprächs. Repräsentanten indigener Kulturen betonen die Notwendigkeit, daß sich eurozentrierte Menschen an ihre eigenen indigenen Wurzeln erinnern; der vorliegende Artikel unterstützt diese Vorstellung mit Argumenten, die sich aus den eurozentrierten Diskursen der Moderne und Postmoderne ergeben.

 

Summary

Transcending the dialectic between an affirmation of eurocentered approaches to knowing and their critical denial, this article suggests the affirmation of reconstructing indigenous consciousness as a third way – the indigenous path for eurocentered peoples. This approach is first introduced in an indigenous way by recounting a dream which contains the reconstructive epistemology outlined in the subsequent sections. The nature of participatory consciousness – the mind process of past and present indigenous peoples – is then discussed using Barfield’s term original participation. A critical review of his definitions allows the reframing of original participation as mutually nurturing conversation among all participants. The split or dissociation from this quality of participatory consciousness is then traced in a historical outline. The author subsequently emphasizes that the difference between participatory and dissociative consciousness is not just one of world view or epistemology, but leads conversation partners to live in distinctly different worlds or realities. The final section discusses some of the problematics of reconstructing indigenous consciousness by reviewing Habermas discourse model of truth and suggesting the notion of participatory or shamanic concourse. Various dimensions of alignments are seen as a promising way to assess projects of recovery of indigenous mind thus allowing the retention and integration of the contributions of modernity and postmodernity while engaging in a nurturing indigenous conversation. Native Elders have emphasized the necessity for eurocentered peoples to remember their indigenous roots, and this article supports this notion by using arguments available from eurocentered modern and postmodern discourses.

 

 

 

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Remembrance: An Intercultural Mental Health Process

Remembrance, An Intercultural Mental Health Process

by Pam Colorado

Mental Health is a European, western derived construct which, in the context of colonialism, has been imposed upon Native peoples. thus one could question the health of “mental Helth”. I propose that it is possible and timely to create processes and models of mental health which are intercultural and have, as their first order of business, the healing of mental health practitioners…myself included!

Issues of mental health and culture are central to my life. I am a traditional Oneida woman, married to a Hawaiian, Kuhuna Kalai Wa’a and Kii, that is, a man who has the Huna or secret knowledge of how to carve traditional ocean going canoes and images. We live on the island of Maui where I commute to California to teach in the Traditional Knowledge Program—a doctoral program for tribal people worldwide. I am also of French ancestry and travelled to France during my early twenties to make peace with the conflict I felt as a mixed blood person.

In twenty years of activism my model of mental health practice evolved from a largely clinical social work/community organizing focus (with a few cultural touches) to an almost completely cultural, spiritual practice that drew on western psychology when necessary. Although reluctant to draw on extra cultural approaches,I found psychology and its terminology to be helpful in dealing with deadly colonial wounds, notably alcoholism. Counselling methods also became a bridge to the western and professional world and to assimilated parts of my personality. In fact, western counselling helped me to decolonize and to embrace my true cultural identity.

But joining Native and western approaches to mental health has always made me uncomfortable. First of all, there are no guidelines or mutually established ethics to govern the linking. Second, the concept of mental health is inextricably bound up in relationships of domination and power. Prior to the invasion of North America there wasn’t even a concept of mental health! Native cultures sought and were an expression of grounded lives lived in balance and intimate communication with all living beings. third, western practitioners’ denial of the power dynamics between Natives and westerners emotionally charge the counselling process. Fourth, whether we like it or not, there is no part of Native life that has not been violated or desecrated. As a result, we carry enormous and undifferentiated anxieties and pain; often we swing back and forth between western and Native behavior without conscious choice. Finally, as my genetics suggest, there is no escaping the obvious fact that American Indians and Euramericans (with their mental health practices) share a land and a reality. We must address the intercultural mental health conundrum and transform it into something good.

Recently, I worked with a French American person whose wife had suffered with terminal cancer for ore than two years. I began the work in my usual way, as a cultural person who used western concepts to communicate and engage. Four months later, when the work was complete, I had been taught a way of doing Native mental health in the western world; moreover, a westerner had entered my Native paradigm and healed aspects of my life. I refer to the process as remembrance and share some of it with you now.

A stormy twilight sky holds the ocean in an indigo embrace. Moving smoothly through the cold spring ocean, I hesitate for a moment, questioning the wisdom of a swim so late in the day. Hawaiian elders warn against this. As I realise I am alone in the water, a sense of vulnerability rises; I do not recall how I got here. I want to return to shore but am powerless to move. The growing density of the night time sky is matched by a sense of growing danger in the water. Suddenly, I am aware of an enormous and awesome presence—Mano! The shark1

My reaction is instantaneous. Rolling over on my back I lie suspended in the water and I wait. Mano is one of the most powerful animal spirits in Hawaiian cosmology. The shark empowers priests, healers and intellectuals; it is an Aumakua, the head of a major clan system and it is Mano that accompanied and protected the first Polynesian voyagers to settle the Hawaiian islands. Lying motionless is the only act of reverence available to me. I can feel him approaching from my right; swift and smooth. He transverses the length of my body, as if appraising me. Death may be imminent. I am afraid. I am hopeful. The shark turns and heads directly towards me. Bright blue lines of electricity stream from either side of his head. Reaching my still body, he races beneath me, around me, wrapping me in blue lines of vivifying intelligence and power. Then he is gone.

I awake, shaking and weeping with joy. Gathering up my medicine bag, I pull on some clothes and head to Launiopoko Beach to make an offering of thanks. Pulling Indian tobacco from its pouch, I call to Mano. Laying a gift of tobacco in the water, I wait. Was it a true dream? A few moments pass, doubt begins to enter my mind. Just then a movement about fifty feet off to the left catches my eye. It is a shark fin, standing nearly one foot out of the water. This must be a great animal. As quickly as it moves towards me, it turns and disappears from sight.

As I drive home, I wonder at the beauty and power of Native ways. The feelings that went through me when I saw the shark acknowledge the offering! I wonder what the meaning of this experience is and what is expected of me. A few days later, a stranger stops by our house to look at Hawaiian art work. It is Mr. Robert Requin (Mr. R), an elderly gentleman of enormous wealth and great political repute.

It is not usual to greet someone of Mr. R’s standing, so I paid attention to what happened. As he entered our house, he went almost directly to the scale model canoe, “Lele O Ke Kolea”, the canoe that brought the first Hawaiians here. As I approached Mr. R to welcome him a spiritual presence, nearly palpable, filled the room. My traditional training enabled me to see it my western mind interpreted it as a crucial bonding. I was shocked because I had never had such a moment with a non Native person.

Any traditional Native person will tell you that ordinary reality is not real at all. This world is spiritual and beings of great power, like Mano, move through the veil of our conscious minds. Like Creator, Mano touches us. It is only an instant but in that moment we experience something timeless and real—our own truth. Truth, according to Native thought is meant to be lived. When a dream comes, work of transformative nature is sure to follow. Because the work is spiritual and difficult, it is important to interpret the direction of the dream accurately.

In the weeks that followed, I struggled for understanding and direction. I spoke to another traditional person who responded, “A strange thought just came to me—your visitor is Mano!” The truth of the message was so strong, it took my breath.

Identifying the Mano as the spiritual protector and power of my visitor, gave me a beginning point for determining how we were related. For a few days, I struggled trying to remember anything I heard or knew of the relationship between Mano and the Thunderers—my clan. The answer came in the middle of the night when I awoke thinking of a petroglyph from the Northwest Coast (where I learned the process of deciphering the ancient language).

On a large rock, located in the tideline, is a carving of the Shark and Thunderbird, held together by a huge lizard—the protector of water and change of consciousness. This 15,000-year-old carving is predictive of transformative learning—of movement into a higher integration of knowledge which will be sensory or predictive. The Lizard also implies genealogy or ancestral communication. In a western sense we might say I had determined an archetypal relationship. I understood that this was a powerful connection but I lacked a course, or even a next step of action.

One day, during a phone conversation with Mr. R, we discussed our French family histories. Realising that our ancestors had arrived in the New World about the same time, I decided to check my family tree, a lengthy document. Turning to a random page, I glanced down and discovered that a man from my family and a woman from his had married in 1560; furthermore, this couple moved to the New World and became the progenitors of both his family line and mine! This confused me. If I had found a mutual Indian ancestor, I would know what to do or who to contact. I was in for a surprise.

Mr. R had purchased a number of traditional Hawaiian art pieces of my husband’s and had asked me to bless them. I readily agreed, until I turned to do it and discovered the purchases included Lei o Mano—weapons of war constructed of sharks teeth and a wood that women do not touch! How do I, as a woman, pray over weapons of death? Is this proper? Do I have the authority? These questions took several days and the pieces were to be delivered the next day. Finally, I understood the next step.

Moving the weapons into the sunshine, I made my prayer but something didn’t feel complete. So, I meditated some more and realized that I needed to do a night ceremony as well.

That night on the lanai, the spirits spoke in unmistakable messages. Mr. R’s wife had survived because two, vainglorious physicians, eager to win the respect and approval of her wealthy husband, had used extraordinary means to keep the woman alive. She had been tortured. I knew it because for a brief moment the spirits made me feel what she had suffered; it was agony. I was told that her end would come soon and I was given several other pieces of information for Mr. R.

When I came in from my prayers, I was shaking with fear. I knew I had to tell Mr. R but I doubted myself. What if I was wrong? What if I had misinterpreted something? And I questioned my right to even tell someone such news. Nevertheless, the following morning while burning sage, I called Mr. R and shared, as gently as I could, all of what had transpired. To my amazement, he nearly wept with relief. In the next few weeks, everything happened just as I had been told. I was stunned at my self doubts and with the power of these old ways.

I was also pleased that ancient Native ways could help Mr. R—in fact, even seeming to complement his devout Catholicism. But two weeks after his wife’s death I learned that my sister was alcoholic and suicidal. Thee generations of family addiction came crashing down on me. All my work in healing did not seem to stop the destruction and death in my own family. I was terrified.

Another dream came to me. This dream revealed the origins of the family addiction problem. It rested in an event that happened in France nearly 700 years ago—an event that Mr. R’s family shared. I awoke from the dream, it was near midnight. Heading directly for the closet, I rummaged around until I found my baptism candle (although raised traditionally, I had also been baptised Catholic, perhaps to cover all the bases!) I took the candle out to my rock altar and then stopped. I didn’t know where to put it. How could I respect these two ways and still bring them together? Desperate for my sisters life, I finally placed it on the lower right hand corner. Then I began my prayer, in my Indian way, explaining what I was trying to do and why. I asked permission to proceed. It seemed okay, so I picked up the candle, stuck it in the damp tropical earth, and lit it. I wasn’t sure how to pray. I tried all the Latin prayers I could remember but nothing felt genuine. Then I tried it the Indian way, by calling to the ancestors. Suddenly, the sultry, leeward night was hit with a cold wind from the North. It came down on me so hard and fast, I had to cup the flame to keep it from going out. I was scared. I knew I had pinpointed the cause and I knew I needed help.

The next morning, I called Mr. R and asked him to help in the tradition of his French Catholic religion. He agreed and for the next three days he prayed for us.

About a week later, Mr. R and I spoke. I thanked him and told him the astonishing news. My huge French-Indian family had finally acknowledged the problem of addiction in our family and was preparing for a family intervention for my sister. He was not surprised because he had felt a peace come over him the first night of his prayers. We both wept and laughed on the phone. Who would ever have guessed the combined power of a Pagan and a Catholic!

I used to think that darkness was evil but an Elder once told me, that darkness is safety, security, like the womb. In the darkness we are all one; separations cannot be seen. Perhaps this is the Huna, or inner secret Hawaiians know. For Mr. R and I to heal required great risks and trust. We both stepped into our shadow many times but we were not alone. At night, in a dream, the shark spirit came to give me the power to do the healing work. Although I doubted myself, I still went to the beach and made a thanksgiving offer. A real shark came proving the truth of the dream as well as the value of facing self doubt.

Mr. R knew of the terrible things his culture has done and continues to do to Native people, but he stepped through that history when he asked for my help.

I entered the shadow again when I turned to my French genealogy; used my candle and asked Mr. R for his help. It was difficult to do. Yet, the evil visited on my family—the multigenerational alcoholism derived from and depended upon the continuing hatred and divisiveness of Catholic and tribal people.

Most likely I will never see Mr. R again, but in the dark moment we shared, a beautiful healing emanated. Two people—from vastly different political, socioeconomic backgrounds, one traditional Indian, the other Catholic—joined using western psychological language and simple loving prayers particular to our own cultures. We healed. Nothing happened, yet everything changed.

First Reading, Vol. 13, No. 3, Sept 95 ESPC

Radical Presence

 
 
 
 
Radical Presence
Beyond pernicious identity politics and racialism
 
Jürgen W. Kremer
3383 Princeton Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
jkremer@sonic.net
© 2002
 
[Published in ReVision vol. 24, #3, pp. 11-20.
Page numbers insert below in boldface.]
 
 
The burden of forgetting will worry their hearts.
(Rytcheu 1997, 242)
[P11] In the past I have used such words as “recovery of Indigenous mind” and “nurturing conversation” and “participatory or shamanic concourse” and “decolonization” to point to a particular consciousness practice or way of being present in the world or form of inquiry (Kremer 1997b). These terms point to a radical way of overcoming persistent identity politics and racialism as a consequence of historical wounds, supremacist thinking, collective amnesia, and the ensuing shadow material. For myself they implied the provocative, even outrageous, challenge to look at ancestral roots that were so obviously deeply marked by Nazi and Viking violence. Labels, such as “recovery of Indigenous mind,” can be a dangerous thing — whatever the initial clarification they may offer, they may just as easily turn out to be explosive or meaningless; discussants may wield them as mental swords trying to destroy each other’s careers; or they may become divorced from the live process to which they originally referred and this reification then turns “it” into something that may be “politically correct” — and then not. “Multiculturalism,” “white,” “traditional” or “Euro-centered” make this all too obvious. While we cannot do without labels entirely, what we can do is to use them lightly, maybe even with a sense of humor or irony. At worst “recovery of Indigenous mind” could be seen as a narrow path for true believers. Such quality of certainty would be as troubling as the certainty of dissociated, distancing objectivity that reflects the lostness of the white mind and soul. “Participatory or shamanic concourse” may always remain sufficiently obscure so as to be inured against such uses. What I am trying to point to is remembrance beyond the husks of identity modernity offers. And I would like to use words, labels, or concepts that admit to fluidity, that preserve the sense of the shifting ground our conjoining of reality and its interpretation always is.
The question I am asking myself is this: How can I imagine myself and my story outside the molds provided by the modern cultures I have been a part of? N. Scott Momaday has written that “we are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined (1975, 96).” These words may have even greater urgency for those who have left their Indigenous roots long behind than for Native Americans. Paula Gunn Allen comments that “the way of the imagination is the way of continuity, circularity, completeness. The way of the intellect is the way of segmentation, discontinuity, linearity (1987, 563).” So, how can I use my intellect to imagine myself with place and time, yet outside the paradigmatic stamps that had brought me to adulthood? How can I develop a story of self in search of continuity and completeness? I am not sure what this measure of imagination all might mean, especially when I think that continuity also means the persistence of chance and such trickster figures as Loki and Till Eulenspiegel in my German background. What I am struggling with is an attempt to imagine my personhood as it has migrated between different places and through different times. Not as a linear list of segments, but an attempt at narrative continuity, however incomplete.
[P12] Presently I like the label “nurturing conversation” best for this process, because it carries an implicit modesty and mundaneness. I would prefer to say even more simply that presence in and through conversation is all this is. Such use of the word “conversation” is a paradox: From the perspective of presence and participation, from an Indigenous perspective as it were, its meaning is obvious and, in some sense, trivial. Yet, from the perspective of modernity and dissociation it desperately needs an epithet to indicate the quality that is not obvious to the contemporary modernist mind. Presence is nurturing, as a teacher who is present to a student is nurturing. Therefore the addition of the adjective “nurturing” seems appropriate as indicator of the quality I am trying to point to. The inspiration for this terminology came from the Andean group PRATEC which uses the phrase criar y dejarse criar, nurturing (raising) and letting oneself be nurtured, to describe the reciprocal activity of conversing with the world (Apffel-Marglin with PRATEC 1998). As I converse with other beings and presences I hope to nurture them and as I listen to them I may be nurtured — speaking and listening we give nourishment to each other as the conversation moves in its circles (among humans it shows itself in the flow of narrative realities). Of course, a conversation does not have to be verbal, and neither does it have to be serious — it can be in the exchange of food, in the dance movement, in the intake of air, in the rush of the waterfall, in the play of air currents in the bunch grass, in the song offered to the mountain, and in the melody brought down from high peaks on the wind. Conversations may be abstracting, serious, funny, witty, as if, ironic, tricky, long, short… Now I don’t like the label “nurturing conversation” quite as much anymore, since it only insufficiently covers the actions of the ceremonialist, the buffoon, the philosopher, the farmer, the writer, the scarab, the flintstone, and of so many other conversationalists. But I will use it for now, speaking it lightly, hoping that it will be read lightly.
So, what is this that I am trying to point to with this label and brief description? What practice does it require? It means that I make myself present to the current moment and to what went before, to present and past; it means to be present to the cycle of seasons, the celestial movements, the weather, the land, the past of the land, the plants and animals, and to fellow human beings; it means seeking a place in community, whether natural or intentional, where story, ceremony, cultural history, and individual history matter; it means the struggle to align rational, emotional, somatic, and spiritual senses, understandings, and meanings; it means remembering the stories of languages, the history each word carries; it means looking at shadow material and acknowledging and healing internal and external splits and denials. It means not just thinking about rights, but also obligations. It means discovering spirits in symbols and using metaphors to create the possibility of spiritual presence. And then there is the creative play of chance, vision, and insight, the movement of tricksters. Visionary narratives of this kind are boundaried by the land lived on, by the seasons, by the movement of animals, now seemingly chance, now predictable. Tradition, when alive, is mirror and inspiration, it challenges and is challenged as old vision rubs against new. This is something quite different from an asphyxiating traditionalism. Tradition is never singular, except in the minds of some mythologists or anthropologists; living tradition is always an agonistic play of contending interpretations. More than anything the practice I am trying to point to seems to mean listening and inner quieting, rather than speaking.
Such practice values the individual, yet needs to occur outside of an individualistic ideology. It is not a dis-course, but a con-course, a shamanic coming together in a circle in which truths are unfolded and refolded. Here communal reality creation is reviewed through talking as well as ritualistic embodiment. This circle has space for silence, humor, theater, dance, and all the other arts; scientific claims to truth need to rub shoulder with other aspects of human reality as they all struggle to align with each other. This is a practice of world creation and maintenance. Knowing is a practice of living. Living is the practice of knowing. Beingknowing. And evolving knowledge cannot find its point of alignment without vision. Truths cannot be achieved by means of the rational mind alone. The knowing of the body, the knowing of the heart, the knowing which comes from states of shifted awareness all need to inform agreed upon truths. Every consensus, temporary as it may be, has to withstand the challenges posed in verbal, rational discourse, yet such resolutions also have to withstand the challenges emerging from somatic, sexual, emotional, and spiritual experiences as the present embraces ancestral past, history, and ecological presence. Somatic knowing, intuition, and visionary insight need to see the light of the rational mind, while the mind needs to see the light that comes from other realms. Not an easy task at all. We will always remain challenged to reflect our resolutions, our truths in language, yet language is not the sole arbiter of truths in this process. This way we may appreciate scientific achievements not just abstractly or for the promise of their technological value, but by also connecting them to what our hearts know and what gender differences tell us. And we may appreciate them by connecting them to our somatic knowing and what they may look like in the face of visions across past and future generations. I would call this the practice of participation or the nurturing conversation. It is the work of preventing dissociation from various aspects of life and of healing splits that have occurred. Its opposite is normative dissociation, the socially enforced splits from aspects of life that are integral to Indigenous presence. The tragedy of the Western mind is the conviction that closure, Truth, and certainty are possible and desirable goals. Viewed [P13] from a distance this appears to be not only a loss of wonder, presence, and comedy, but an altogether ludicrous folly in view of the historical realities human beings have been engaged with. The overly serious questers for ultimate scientific truths are so often blinded and fail to recognize the comedy they are a part of (cf. Kremer 1992a,b).
Although the implications of these summarizing statements about the nurturing conversation can be read in a utopian vein, I am trying to talk about a humbling practice of conversation that struggles to honor and respect the right of individual beings, humans and others. Utopian visions may have been an inspiration to many on one occasion or another, yet, they have more than anything else spelled disaster and death in such dystopian forms as the search for the New World and manifest destiny, communism, or Nazism. Grand theories, utopian and otherwise, more likely reflect the end of a conversation in the mind of men desirous to impose their thoughts and obsessions than an opening to an evolving play of individual and collective narratives on a scale that humans can not only participate in with awareness, but can also enjoy. Such awareness and play would include the struggle with splits, denials, and shadow material. It seems improbable that the grand vision of a single individual or theory can correct the collective ills we are faced with. The individual practice of the conversation, however we understand it as unique individuals, seems to be an inevitable ingredient in the development of social engagement, community building, critical theory, and cultural exchange. Listening to ourselves and others patiently and with compassion and forgiveness seems to be mandatory. As human beings we seem to be terrifyingly unskilled in this. This is apparent whether we think of the history of racism, the Native American holocaust, and slavery in the U.S., the Shoah perpetrated by the Nazis, or even positive attempts, such as the various ways to deal with communist history in former East Bloc countries or the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Amnesia always seems to be the most tempting route to deal with the shadows of history. I am not sure that there have been times when we were better at it, but I am sure that our present times require it desperately, maybe more than ever.
One could argue the case that we humans already have sufficient means in hand to address successfully our contemporary ills, such as environmental destruction, poverty, sexism, or the incredible number of children dying all over the world every day. Yet, we seem to fail to be committed to, or perhaps lack the psychological makeup and skills for utilizing the resources, the technologies, and the information we have at our fingertips to relieve the suffering and destruction that stares at us daily on tv, in the newspaper, and on the computer screen. It would be difficult to make the case that ecocide, children dying because of insufficient health care, the death penalty, lack of medical services, etc. are unavoidable in the face of all the riches, monetary, technological, and otherwise, we have available to us. We are constantly making choices as humans. Now that we can see so much of the world in an instant we are all complicit in the choices we are making. Complicity is the flip side of global awareness and interconnected knowing. Yet, within a particular framework of evolution and progress, within a particular understanding of the market, money, and commerce, the often disastrous results of such complicit choices seem inevitable consequences, a price that needs to be paid now in hopes that the situation will be remedied sooner or later. Whether it is the reluctance of the U.S. to empower a world court for crimes against humanity or the refusal (together with Canada, Japan, and others) to support the significant reduction of hot house gas emissions; whether it is in the refusal of rich nations to cease the exploitation of so-called Third World countries (where poverty, more than anything else, is the result of the destruction of ancient economic bases and the foreign exploitation of resources); whether it is the destruction of Indigenous languages and the increasing predominance of English through the worldwide web; whether it is the refusal of certain Christian organizations to cease missionizing Native peoples; whether it is the development of school curricula and testing procedures that re-create human beings as functional robots in front of the computer screen — all these are actions guided by choices that could be made differently. Obviously. So often we forget to question the framework within which choices are made.
However, the accelerated disappearance of animal and plant species, the increase in pollution, the continuing violence against Indigenous peoples, the frightening rate at which humans die because of war, starvation, and illness uncared for are simultaneously confronted by a wave of optimism that seems to see resolution of these ills in successful globalization and ever faster computer technology and information management. Fiber optics, the “evernet,” and other advances induce a new form of utopian thinking in which these technologies are expected to give rise to a new economy, not to produce smog, to give us access to unfathomable amounts of information in an instant, to abolish old job hierarchies, to make services location-independent, and to abolish the curse of alienation as people take charge of their destinies. Leisure, the arts, entertainment, friendship, creative pauses, and reflective thought may get drowned in all-encompassing economic activities that are done with ever greater efficiency (cf. Denby 2000). The success of these developments may create, with much greater universality than previously anticipated, the one-dimensional woman and man Herbert Marcuse (1964) talked about (and, indeed, the word “man” in One-Dimensional Man seems appropriate here given the male vision from which such human beings result). Doubtful as it seems, it is not altogether impossible that the potential inherent in such ongoing interconnectedness and instant transfer of information may also lead to the breakdown of national boundaries and age-old chauvinisms; to independence from work commute and hierarchical organizations; to a reduction in environmental destruction; to the preservation of endangered languages; and more. Paradoxically, the price for such developments may be the overarching success of the one-dimensional framework of American language based commercialism, the final success of a particular type of colonization of self, other, and world. Yet, all this is a matter of choice. The notion that progress can only be measured in terms [P14] of market value is the surrender of choice and responsibility. As long as profit remains the sole measuring rod for change and development we are participants in a one-dimensional paradigm that resists reflections upon its premises by invoking the specter of the loss of competitive edges.
Whatever incredible developments computer technology may be capable of, we still may want individuals who have the intellectual, moral, and emotional capacity to deal with the billions of bits per second arriving in their computer. What does it matter that I can download the Library of Congress or innumerable old movies in seconds or that I can nab countless tunes from the net if I don’t have any way to absorb these riches? What could be enrichment becomes mere noise and a certain number of bytes in the computer. What about cave painting from Ural mountains or the yoik of Sámi singers Mari Boine or Ulla Pirttijärvi in my computer if I can’t make myself present to them? What is the impact of information about persecutions and deaths in Chechnya, Iraq, Tibet, and elsewhere, if I don’t allow for the time to make myself present to such inhumanity? Yet, we could. We could at least try. And in that case things may slow down a bit and choice may enter as felt option. The increasing wealth of information available to more and more people still needs individuals to absorb, administer, use or enjoy it. Presence has the potential of developing alternatives to the one-dimensionality of the market, while lack of presence or normative dissociation increases the profit margin.
Our contemporary predicaments have prompted significant segments of the population in the U.S. and elsewhere to look for alternatives outside of the dominant frameworks. Buddhist meditation practices, Hindu rituals, mind altering substances, channeling, shamanic ceremonies, and intentional communities are among the avenues sought out. The interest in Indigenous peoples roams as the market place dictates which tribe and culture is presently sellable. It seems ever so easy to project nostalgically the lack and need of the culture we are a part of onto the tradition or teacher of choice. The resulting idealization and romanticization is ultimately self-defeating and may even be dangerous. It appears urgent and mandatory to learn from other traditions in these times, yet it seems crucial that we do so within a framework that is respectful of others and otherness and that does not impose implicit supremacist values. To do this without taking into account possible limitations, personal wounds of colleagues, friends, and teachers, or cultural shadow material would be folly. An even greater folly would result from the avoidance of one’s own personal and cultural shadow material, the catalyst for idealization and romantic projections. If people of white or Euro-centered mind, of whatever actual skin color they may be, are to engage in a conversation with fewer splits, then a painstaking conversation to recover aspects of self, culture, and history lost in personal and normative dissociative processes seems mandatory — and it is only then that the need for idealization may disappear and the other has a chance to appear as conversation partner. Real … denials … painful memories, and all — human.
The word Indian is not only a mistaken identification, but also a continuing signifier for the supremacist discourse of whiteness. As Gerald Vizenor and many others have pointed out, Indians were invented by the latecomers who could not see the Natives for who they were and are. Socialized as a white man in Germany it was Indians I had been trained to perceive. My idealizations of Native American people were initially fed by the romanticism the German writer Karl May infused in me as a child; Carlos Castaneda and others continued on grounds well prepared. Significantly, all these influences opened an avenue for my search for Indigenous knowledge, but they also made me susceptible to the impact of Indians acting out their traumas on my back or tempting me with essentialist or fundamentalist notions that perpetrate an unreflected authoritarianism (the seeds of fascism). Any survivor of genocide has to deal with the painful consequences of post-traumatic stress syndrome (or whatever else we might call it). When such suffering is not addressed, but acted out, alcoholism, family violence, sexual abuse, cruelty, deception, mistrust, unstable relationships, and other symptoms are the result. My idealizations have at times made it difficult to see these symptoms and I suffered from them in consequence. More importantly, they prevented me from true compassion and empathy, since I was not present in ways that could overcome the dynamics of victimry and tragic history. Racialism may rear its ugly head in any quarter. In consequence, while teaching, I have on occasion become party to cultural healing garnered at the price of divisive games of dominance rather than the appreciation of difference and the caring respect for different needs (nonetheless much healing happened in the midst of all of this). Part of my continuing challenge is to deal directly with romanticism, racism, and victimry when learning communities consist of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Idealization, in final analysis, is the persistence of shadow material and the refusal to engage with the reality of who we are in all our complexity.
This is, of course, a dynamic that is furthered by the New Age market and the mono-myth ideology developed by Joseph Campbell and others. Native peoples tell stories, not myths. Shamanic states of consciousness, at least in one sense, are subjective experiences beyond time; or encounters with eternity; or individual experiences of everpresent origins (Gebser 1985). When stories of such experiences are taken out of their historical Indigenous ceremonial context, then myths result. Dangerously, if these are further interpreted and decontextualized, as in Eliade’s (1963) in illo tempore, then we quickly get on the road to authoritarianism and fascism and the hypostasis of an individual altered state as social utopia easily birthes Iron Guards or brownshirts. Mythology is fundamentally the invention of white men that came to fruition in the middle of the 19th century when the emergent nation states were in need of defining epics akin to Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad. At that time Elias Lönnrot created the Kalevala based on Karelian sung poems which later became the Finnish national epos. This represents maybe the clearest example of the invention and use of mythology in service of contemporary politics. It is important to [P15] remember that nation states are not natural communities, but, as the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has aptly pointed out, they are stressful and formed through stress. “Modern nations are not what traditional historians pretend they are, namely historic explanatory and originary communities; they are much more and fundamentally psycho-political suggestion bodies that have the character of artificial communities of stress. Thus they are of radically autoplastic nature, because they exist only to the extent that they arouse themselves, and they arouse themselves only to the extent that they tell themselves their reason for being in powerful fictive narratives and autosuggestive, stress-creating news” (Sloterdijk 1998, 44-45). Myths are the stressful creations of ethnographers as they take down the oral story and make it stop quivering as it reaches print. Nations supersede the intimate knowledge practices of tribal communities as abstraction and writing become increasingly important. The assumption that print is an evolutionary advance is ideological in view of the losses sustained in the abolishment of oral knowledge transmission. Yet, myths can be resuscitated at any time and return as stories.
Jorge Luis Borges wrote a dream story entitled Ragnarök, in which the gods make an unseemly appearance: ”Centuries of feral life of flight had atrophied that part of them that was human; the moon of Islam and the cross of Rome had been implacable with these fugitives. Beetling brows, yellowed teeth, the sparse beard of a mulatto or a Chinaman, and beastlike dewlaps were testaments to the degeneration of the Olympian line. The clothes they wore were not those of a decorous and honest poverty, but rather of the criminal luxury of the Underworld’s gambling dens and houses of ill repute. A carnation bled from a buttonhole; under a tight suitcoat one could discern the outline of a knife. Suddenly, we felt that they were playing their last trump, that they were cunning, ignorant, and cruel, like aged predators, and that if we allowed ourselves to be swayed by fear or pity, they would wind up destroying us. — We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods.” (Borges 1998, 322). Indeed, these gods (and goddesses) need to be killed, since their life is sustained by chauvinistic visions and colonial desires.
Carl Gustav Jung suggested that the Germans of the Third Reich were possessed by the god Wotan. Gods and goddesses are part of the paradigm of mythology — spirits make their appearance in Native stories. After all, the older word goð, on which the word god is based, was used by the Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturlusson to refer to spirits. It was abstracted, just as the Tungus word šaman became shaman, to serve the unfolding conversation of European peoples, a conversation dissociating and abstracting from the specifics of time and place. Maybe Borges’ dream story prefigures the possibility of killing the worn out contraptions gods and goddesses have become as Hitler and others have pressed them into their service. This then may make a different quality of spiritual presence possible. Maybe we need to draw our revolvers and exultantly and compassionately confront essentialist notions about life and world. Maybe this is the ragnarök that is ahead of us as the Great Year of 21,000 or so years changes (which may be the cosmic drama described in Old Norse poems like the Magical Ravenchant or Hrafnagaldr Óðins). This event refers to an astronomically observable event at the time of the completion of one cycle of the precession of the equinoxes: on the day of the winter solstice in 2012 the sun will be at the intersection of the ecliptic and the galactic equator, right in the v-shaped opening of the milky way (Kremer 2000b). What this rare conversational event may mean is for the interpretive work of the nurturing conversation to understand. We may story it in terms of ragnarök, a fateful spiritual moment in time (where we could say that the sun dips deep into urðrbrunnar, the well of memory, touching memory of old as the new Great Year begins); or the end of the Maya calendar (as the warrior twins descend down the Road to Xibalba, the black road to the place of fright, for renewal); or the Hopi prophecies (as the Pahana, “the white brother,” returns to contribute to the creation of balance in accordance with the original instructions). Or we may enter a Borgesian dream and work to purify ourselves of misguided utopian thinking, fundamentalist conceptions, and grand theories, thus seeking the play of unfolding narratives. The magic of that moment depends on the depth of human presence rather than any inevitable cataclysm or opening of the doors of heaven.
The proposition that a German connect with Indigenous roots is a difficult one. I have been exhorted to do so by Native American friends and colleagues on numerous occasions. The only way I could conceive of doing so was by painstakingly tracking the various historical changes and distortions of what might be called the layer of an Indigenous paradigm analogous to the wina·má·bakěya’ or Diné paradigm (the Pomo and Navajo people of the dominant discourse). I do not regard this dimly visible layer as ideal, not at all, however, I do think it mandatory that we give it greater presence in the awareness of the Eurocentered mind and that there are important paradigmatic matters we can learn from it. Simplistically, I distinguish three major historical layers to be worked through for the purposes of the connection with my own indigenous roots. The most recent layer is circumscribed by the Nazi abuse of Germanic mythology, with Richard Wagner as one of the important figures paving the way for Siegfried, Brünhilde, Wotan, Erda, and Walküren to be part of fascistic machinations. I associate the prior layer particularly with the Viking times, with the patriarchal and so frequently violent times of Óðinn, Sigurðr, Sigrdrifa, and Valkurjar (and the protagonists of Der Nibelunge Not). Beyond the Æsir layer of gods I can faintly see the Vanir spirits, maybe of megalithic times, the times of Freyja — a shamanic universe. To be sure, this is a rough outline; the knowledge we have about these traditions indicates complexities and the blurring of distinctions and connections. The fact that German prehistorians seem to have dealt insufficiently with the ways in which they made their subject matter a handmaiden of the Third Reich continues to stand in the way of a deeper understanding of the Old Europe of the more northern latitudes.
For me there is no presumption at all that Indigenous roots help us remember some ideal paradise from which retro-romantic minds can concoct yet another utopian system. But what I believe matters is the difference in paradigm [P16] between modernist thought and Indigenous paradigms. Here, it seems, the modern mind can learn something urgently needed for the future. Not dealing with the presence of Indigenous European roots and the history of distortions empowers romantic and nostalgic projections onto Native American and other tribal peoples. The “ecological Indian” and similar notions are birthed out of the perverse dynamic of idealization and an unconscious yearning to be Indian or some other Native on the one hand, and racism and Indian hating on the other. That we were all tribal at some point in history is trivial, what is not trivial is the lack of integration of tribal pasts and the resulting racist and genocidal machinations. Each tribe or people or nation has to deal with its history, including the history of whatever violence has or is occurring (whether slavery, cannibalism, clitorectomy, or whatever other atrocities). What remains stunning is the difference in scale and quality of the colonial violence (against women, nature, and Native peoples) that the modern Eurocentered mind has perpetrated; I fail to see something comparable in the violence among peoples engaged in what I have described as the struggle for conversational presence and balancing in a particular place and time.
Altered states of the shamanic kind come easy, in a sense. With the right know-how or for the right amount of dollars anybody can begin to explore alternate realities. The affirmation of such human potential is important, yet seems utterly insufficient as an isolated process. The shamanic work of Indigenous cultures is embedded in cultural practices akin to the nurturing conversation I have been talking about. Most such conversations have become fragmented and incomplete due to colonization and missionization, in places still vibrant, in others partially Christianized, in others almost folkloric remnants. Therefore the experience of alternate spiritual realities seems to require as prerequisite the experience of a specific alternate state of consciousness more difficult to attain than the shamanic state of consciousness taught in weekend workshops: compassionate presence to the various histories different peoples are a part of; empathic awareness of historical wounds and violations, of chauvinisms and white supremacy, of fractures and fissures in history as told by victors; listening presence on the land lived on. And compassionate presence to the ills that are being wrought today and that are part of all our lives. Prolonged presence to suffering seems to be a fail safe recipe for insanity since it is so prevalent all over the world. The difficulty of remaining present to such abundant pain and fear and anger is obvious. Just brief periods of intense awareness can drive me to despair, depression, anger, and other intense feeling.
What is at times seen as the classical shamanic initiation can be described as a process in which the initiand is entirely picked apart, down to each single bone, before being put back together. It seems to me that the contemporary shamanic initiation for people out of their Indigenous minds not only requires something of that sort, but also the prior dark night experience of our collective situation, past and present. Unless we allow ourselves to be picked apart by the monstrosities we have created in history we may not be able to re-create ourselves as human beings capable of a nurturing conversation without significant splits while holding those splits that seem inevitable for the moment in compassionate awareness. This I consider the healing of history and the washing of words. The spirits that lurk in the shadows are just as real as the spirit helpers a practitioner may wish to acquire. For me these issues became obvious as I was looking at the historical relationship between European and Indigenous peoples and as I was trying to understand what equitable knowledge exchange and a cross-cultural nurturing conversation might mean — I could not conceive of it without becoming present to the violent events of colonization, Christianization, genocide, and internalized colonization. And with it I had to acknowledge the state of consciousness, the normative dissociation, that enabled such global violence. This type of split seems to be the psychological ingredient necessary for the scale of violence we are faced with. Painful awareness of historical shadow material started a slow healing process.
The Chukchi writer Juri Rytcheu, in an article on The Future of Memory (1999), reports a conversation with the Inuit singer and dancer Nutetein, in which he told him that human beings are not merely to be measured in height and width, but also in terms of their depth of memory, since only that is what makes them spatially real, graspable, and visible. He continues: “Nutetein’s words admirably connect the human memory of tradition and cultural inheritance with the coming-to-consciousness of individuality and irrepeatability. Because a human being without roots and without acknowledgment of the ancestral cultural inheritance is — as Herbert Marcuse said previously — flat and one-dimensional, even if s/he claims to be a person of all the world cultures.”
I have undertaken a journey from origins in Germany to the recovery of the practice of the nurturing conversation, incomplete and flawed as it undoubtedly is. At first I had to deal with my conditioning as a German white man. This motivated the integration and transformation of the demons of the past. Work with Native American students demanded of me, I felt, that I become present not just to the colonial history of this continent, but also to the history of my ancestors that led to the paradigm enabling such global violence. At one point, while I was out in the desert fasting, the shoah was urgently present in my awareness. As part of confronting my feelings of shame I was trying to work through a story (Jewish poet Paul Celan’s Conversation in the mountains) and an Old Norse poem (Hrafnagaldr [P17] Óðins). My self sacrifice of food and dialogue with poetry and nature opened the vista to faint traces of cultural practices not immediately marked by structural violence and dissociation. While traveling in the arctic north of Sápmi I tried to be present to the shadow material that I carried as individual and as an individual representing a certain culture. I had to confront not only a history of colonization and missionization, but also of German occupation during World War II (Kremer 1998b). I have come to a place where I can envision spiritual and shamanic practice in a way that is also present to the violent history of the places of my settlement and the surrounding lands. For me the conduct of ceremonies provide an inspiration to see cultural and individual healing not as separate. To use images from the Old Norse literature: The fertilizing clay lifted from the well of memory need not become a folkloric or fairy tale image, but can be a shamanic vision that facilitates the presence of natural reason as people move in and out of trance, remember the fertile power of shadow material, and listen to different versions of origin stories. Indeed, history may speak then, in the way that the rill gurgles and the raven calls and the summer triangle sparkles overhead — and all of these may get listened to.
Undergoing the dismemberment by the demons of history is the recovery of the nurturing conversation. Occasional laughter at our follies, hypocrisies, and ludicrous grandiosities may be a useful additive to compassion and empathy in the struggle for more encompassing truthfulness. This may enable us not only to imagine how we might right historical wrongs, but also how we might use the powerful technology, the abundant resources, and the wealth of information in our hands for the benefit of individuals and communities. Shamanic initiation is the death of the self that we grew up to be and the rebirth of this self enlarged and changed by spiritual presences. Historically, people of Euro-centered mind generally have forced Native peoples to die as sovereign people engaged in their own and unique visionary nurturing conversation in the place they inhabited and, if they survived physically, forced them to be reborn as people of Euro-centered mind. The residential schools all over the American continent were the most obvious illustration of this genocidal violence; there the educational structure was designed to kill the Indian so that a person of European mind might live. Presently the challenge for people of white mind seems to be to die as the dissociated selves they have become and to be reborn as selves that can exercise not just their rationality but other neglected aspects of self experience. Thus they may re-awaken their potential to become present in the way of Indigenous peoples. This would increase the capacity to honor the multiple truths humans can create.
The problems our forebears were faced with are not the same challenges we have to answer to today. There is nothing simpler in earlier historical periods, just a different kind of complexity. Not reviewing the past amounts to the avoidance of complexity in service of the linearity enforced by market economy. If people who have left their Indigenous ancestry behind a long time ago want to re-enter such a framework they need to take account of the historical changes as well as the history that traces their split from the nurturing conversation. (Aboriginal peoples are confronted with similar issues in order to address the consequences of colonialism and genocide in a way that is self-affirmative and discontinues the victimization they have suffered.) In either case a creative and visionary and critical practice seems to be called for, not the folkloric or essentialist or fundamentalist re-creation of a world past. I would like to believe that this is what communities in their Indigenous or participatory mind have tried in the past when free of the threat of genocide, war, hunger, and similar overpowering dangers. The current ideological biases of much evolutionary thinking would like us to believe that such visionary self-actualization of self and community was uncommon among peoples frequently relegated either to pre-history or contemporary remainders of evolutionary stages considered long obsolete (cf. Kremer 1998a). While these communities or individuals probably rarely, if ever, have been ideal in the sense the romantic mind demands, they do provide a framework or images for a practice of being and knowing, an ontological and epistemological understanding that seems remarkably relevant today (beyond specific knowledge Indigenous peoples hold, such as the medicinal properties of herbs, ecological knowledge, etc.). All our dazzling computer technology seems to have increased actual work time in the U.S. rather than reduced it. Current technological developments hold the utopian promise that we may work always and forget about such diversions as leisure. Yet, peoples commonly labeled “hunters and gatherers” seem to have worked 3 – 15 hours per week — enough time to self-actualize with stories, crafts, ceremonies, love-making, ecstasies, etc. Abraham Maslow’s insights regarding self-actualization, so important in the field of humanistic psychology, thus appear as the remembrance of things past, but urgently needed for today.
We don’t need to share Bruce Chatwin’s enthusiasm and narcissistic idealization of “the nomadic alternative” in order to advocate freedom of movement. The movement of our ancestors seems to constitute a significant part of human history, whether in the form of the migration of the early Indo-Europeans into central and northern Europe; or the völkerwanderung of the European tribes (the Langobards, the Goths, and others); or the tribal movements in Africa; or the migration of the peoples known as Iroquois from what is now Mexico to their present location; or the Sámi peoples herding the reindeer on seasonal routes; or the movement of Warlpiri and other Aboriginal Australian peoples along their songlines. While some of us may prefer a sedentary life to nomadism or migration, the option of free motion, unconstrained by state powers should be there for everybody. Individuals and communities need to have the sovereign right for the visionary creation of their particular brand of conversation with the land they live and move on. Each place allows not just for one resolution of creative conversations with humans, animals, plants, stars, and spiritual presence, but for a variety of insightful solutions. The star constellation ursa major can be seen in many different [P18] ways and stories may give these particular stars different significance. The way Altair re-appears in the arctic north in the midst of winter to hail the return of the sun can give rise to a variety of ceremonies celebrating celestial movements and spirits. In so many cultures such narrative resolutions are balanced, or threatened, by the chaotic and disturbing presence of a trickster or clown figure. The resulting diversity of conversation can hold, integrate, digest, and even amuse itself about the facts empirical sciences are able to create, replicate, and apply. And such diversity of conversation can also integrate the positive values of the civil society that have largely arisen at the price of much human life, whether during the Nuremberg trials or on other occasions. Human rights, notions of egalitarianism, freedom, etc. can and need to be part of any nurturing conversation. The pejorative use of the word “tribalism” may point to areas of Indigenous discourse where indeed notions of traditionalism may be unduly restrictive or at odds with rights of the civic society — yet such finger pointing often simplistically seems to imply the inevitable superiority of the modern Euro-centered discourse while barring reflection upon its serious structural limitations. Each of these different discourses needs to find its own resolution for restrictions (mental, historic, economic, and otherwise) that may impede the visionary and creative unfolding of who we potentially can be as human beings. Equitable knowledge exchange is what is called for; otherwise mutual learning is impossible and exchanges are structured by implicit or explicit supremacist assumptions.
Gerald Vizenor has developed a discourse of sovereignty that transgresses beyond notions of inheritance and tenure of territory. In his discussions sovereignty appears as transmotion, as vision moving in imagination, as the substantive right of motion. “Sovereignty as motion and transmotion is heard and seen in oral presentations, the pleasures of native memories and stories, and understood in the values of human spiritual motion in languages. Sovereignty is transmotion and used here in most senses of the word motion; likewise, ideas and conditions of motion have a deferred meaning that reach, naturally, to other contexts of action, resistance, dissent, and political controversy. The sovereignty of motion means the ability and the vision to move in imagination and the substantive rights of motion in native communities” (1998, 182-3). He associates transmotion with natural reason, natural creation together with other creatures, and Native memories. Sovereignty of motion is described as mythic, material, visionary, the ethical presence of nature, and natural reason. I believe his descriptions question Eurocentered notions of sovereignty and challenge modern and postmodern discourses to reintegrate a dissociated past.
Umberto Eco (1998) has rightfully warned against the dangers of Ur-Fascism in New Age and related thinking. Yet, interest in the older traditions of Europe, her Indigenous knowledge, continues to be present. The increasing number of books of lesser and higher quality about Celtic, Norse, and other traditions attest to this. Calling for the suppression of this interest because of past fascistic abuses or contemporary fascistic tendencies is an insufficient response. After all, Wagner’s seductive sounds of Ur-Fascism continue to be played in opera houses around the world. We need to develop a discourse that is intelligent enough to take legitimate concerns, such as the possibility of Ur-Fascism, into account, yet recovers the potential of a nurturing, Indigenous conversation of European peoples. This would mean to develop a discourse, a nurturing conversation as it were, that critically turns European Indigenous thinking to deconstruct the limitations of modernist and postmodernist notions without resorting to a cult of traditionalism or irrationality, and without rejecting analytical criticism or values integral to civic societies, however imperfectly realized. Vizenor’s writing calls for a self-reflective response from within Euro-centered thinking.
While we can conduct the conversation I am speaking of as a retro-romantic endeavor that hearkens back to times imagined as ideal or desirable, we can also conduct it as visionary enterprise where the story, ceremony, and history of place and people can find a creative presence in contemporary times — real, not folklore or re-enactment; faithful to all that has occurred, not New Age fancy. True origins are never singular. The struggle for truthfulness needs to be unceasing, but skepticism of ever reaching complete truth equally needs to pervade each action, dream, performance, piece of writing, and ceremony. Seeking to understand our exact place in the weft and warp of the fateful lines created by the nornar from the auður, the riches, in the well of memory is necessary. Yet we should only do so by acknowledging our likely insufficiency for the task. Paradoxically, we may be destined to live up to our fate but incompletely. This makes the conversation a modest and humbling practice indeed.
At one point in my struggle to recover the connection with my roots I identified myself as “Teuton” or “Myrging.” I was standing in a circle of Native Americans who were affirming their presence amidst the projections and denials the dominant culture had foisted upon them. From the Native perspective such affirmation of ancestry seemed entirely natural (Kremer 1996c). But from a German perspective this identification may look anywhere from silly to nonsensical or ludicrous. I don’t think it was any of this. The labels Teuton and Myrging are as problematic as the label German, albeit for different reasons. Teuton provokes a connection with a memory not only of an unsavory part of German history, but also those parts of my ancestral history that are denied the presence that can heal the Karl May projections onto Native Americans of the desire for the mythic, the wild and natural, and communal connection. German is a label that is doubly problematic when applied to myself: First, I have crossed the boundaries between (at the time) the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America. After twenty years on the Native American continent I am neither German nor American, even though in both countries I can get away in either pose. My German upbringing is heavily coated with American experiences (as reflected in all my writing). Second, the label German is the figment of a particular nationalistic imagination and political construction that has little to do with the past or present possibility of Indigenous presence in the place I was born to; [P19] ultimately it is the shrinking of imagination into the essentialism of bloodline and heritage (Germany continues to determine citizenship predominantly by bloodline). That my bloodline could be considered pure is as much an accident of history, the chance encounters of my ancestors, as it is a particular way of constructing ancestral lines (and possibly the denial of Jewish heritage). It may be wise for Germans to remember that human beings were given blood by the trickster Loðurr or Loki, and a tricky affair it becomes when we forget such origins. The trickster has been in the blood since the earliest creation story we can associate with the Germanic peoples. During the Third Reich they forgot that the trickster has no stability, no center, no identity, just as blood is fluid and not stable, and is insufficient to provide originary identity. Loki — man, crossdresser and all — was too tricky for the German nation and they denied the trickiness of blood in consequence, just as its earliest history is now suspect and largely shunned. Fate is a never merely a bloodline, it is a creative vision that may limit itself as it enters blood and as blood enters vision. Thus I am neither German nor American and the Teuton or Myrging serves as a provocative and comic stand-in for a tribal figure whose absence has inflicted endless colonial violence onto Native peoples the world around.
Salman Rushdie, in discussing Günter Grass, describes the full migrant as a person who suffers, “traditionally, a triple disruption: he loses his place, he enters into an alien language, and he finds himself surrounded by beings whose social behaviour and codes are very unlike, and sometimes even offensive to, his own.” He then goes on to describe Grass’ life “as an act of migration, from an old self into a new one … The first dislocation, remember, is the loss of roots … The second dislocation is linguistic. And we know … of the effect of the Nazi period on the German language, of the need for the language to be rebuilt, pebble by pebble, from the wreckage; because a language in which evil finds so expressive a voice is a dangerous tongue … And the third disruption is social (1991, 277-278).”
I have migrated from what was then the Federal Republic of Germany to the U.S., I have become fluent in another language, and I have adjusted to new social codes, out of which the continuous denials of Native American presence and history may be the most offensive beside the unrelenting celebration of profit and money. My old self was rather safely moored to a critical, progressive modernist understanding of society and individual, nurtured through the student rebellion and activism of the late sixties and early seventies. I have begun a second migration from this self by deconstructing its modernist roots and the monstrosities of Nazi and other distortions, thus entering an imaginary borderland that, at first glance, appears out of place and time, but is defined by the concrete coordinates of collective shadow issues and the creative vision that arises from them in a specific place and time. Rushdie also wrote that “the very word metaphor, with its roots in the Greek words for bearing across, describes a sort of migration, the migration of ideas into images. Migrants — borne-across humans — are metaphorical beings in their very essence; and migration, seen as a metaphor, is everywhere around us (1991, 278).” As a metaphorical being I seek to evoke and vision myself in migratory motion across the boundaries and categories enforced by an attritive imagination. I seek to evoke and vision myself within a conversation where the tracks of history, shamanic imagination, natural cycles, and social conscience gather in nourishing creativity. Gerald Vizenor wrote, “the trick in seven words is to elude historicism, racial representations, and remain historical (1988, xi).” In our contemporary world so many people are migrants, people of mixed blood, culture, and tradition. The figure of the trickster giving humans blood may acquire new meaning.
So, here I stand on the place of my settlement, on Nomlaki land, where the people are absent to my German and American mind, yet present to the story my Teuton and Myrging mind tells and present to the stories the Vanir people, the pre-Indoeuropean people of the north, told. My presence arises not through the label Teuton or Myrging, it arises from lineages that emerged from Lithuania and the Alsace, from these border crossings that constitute my ancestral lines and from my own border crossings inside and outside. My presence arises from the boundary crossings of twinning, the androgynic and hermaphroditic exploration of memories in Waltoykewel and by the river Elbe. The Old Norse image of memory with the three women by the well spreading the white fluid of memory and destiny across the lands, with the guardian of the ages standing on top of the tree, has sexual connotations in the deepest sense of creativity. Reaching into memory to tell as complete a story as possible is creative and healing, re-generative. It celebrates the lifeforce we carry and the imaginative possibilities of our visionary presence boundaried by the cycles of the seasons and the flight of the raven. The observation of the black feathered bird is as important as its mythic counterpart Raven. The presence to Indian warriors, mission bells, digger pines means the double presence to scarlet red and brownish purple flowering plants and grayish-green pine trees as well as presence to the history of genocide with its creation of a tribal absence.
The three nornar, the fateful spirits of the Old Norse, weave destinies from thread that is spun from the sun and fastened to the moon hall. It is work that deals with the life giving force of the sun and the cycles of the moon as they reach into the spaces from which humans can envision themselves. These creations are nurtured by the imaginative act of the three women reaching into the well and providing lifeforce, auður, riches of memory. Selective memory throttles lifeforce. Digger pines need to be seen for what they were, what they have become, and what they can be. Germans need to be seen for what they were, what they have become, and what they can be. Teutons need to be seen for what they were, what they have become, and what they can be. The star Altair needs to be seen for what it was, what it has become, and what it can be. The Shift of the Ages needs to be seen for what it was in different stories, for what it has become in our understanding of these stories, and for what it may [P20] become as we deepen awareness. Our imagination is the horizon on which natural cycles, memories, plants, animals, and stars meet to create what may be generative and re-generative. The achievements of modernity may thus be part of our balancing act for the sake of the future. I no longer imagine myself as German or even as Myrging or Teuton. The idea I have of myself arises from the gap of gaps, the Old Norse gap ginnung, and the world snake, miðgarðsormr, holds me in the home that has never been my home as ravens fly overhead and bears flatten my tent.
I am a white man. White is short for “socialized into a Eurocentered frame of mind.” White is the name of forgetting. Forgetting so much of how we came to be where we are. I am a white man. Boxed into a box that likes to forget its name. I do not walk alone. Like other white men something walks with me. With me walks a shadow. Before me I project the shadow of forgetting where I came from. Behind me trails the shadow of the tears of native peoples. Below me I march on the shadow of the lands my peoples have raped. Above me looms the shadow of the spirits which I am blind to. All around me walks the shadow of domination, witchhunts, genocides, holocausts, sexism, racism. I do not walk alone. So, here I stand, with stories coursing through me as my imagination is fueled by memory and vision, as I am aware of Nomlaki presence, as I am aware of the stories of Germany and her tribal peoples. The vanishing Indian is a concoction of genocidal imagination. The Karl May Indian is the denial of the multiple and Indigenous origins of Germany. I move now, uphill and downhill, following the line of song, following the threads that are spaces laid out for me by the nornar, covered with white clay. White thread in my ear. Maybe like my ancestors when they offered reindeer outside of Hamburg. The white thread to the sun, a sign of self sacrifice to vision and imagination. I continue to move, uphill and downhill. White. And not. Humbled. Crossing boundaries. A metaphorical being. Modern and postmodern. Real. Remembering. Imagining.
References
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Colonization, Genocide, Missionization, and Racism Healing the Impact of on Indigenous Populations

Healing the Impact of
Colonization, Genocide, Missionization, and Racism
on Indigenous Populations
 
Betty Bastien, Jürgen W. Kremer, Rauna Kuokkanen, and Patricia Vickers
 
Jürgen W. Kremer
3383 Princeton Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
jkremer@sonic.net
 
© 2001
To be published in:
S. Krippner & T. McIntyre (Eds.), The impact of war trauma on civilian populations. NY: Greenwood Press. (At press.)
 
Violence, in an Indigenous context, stems from many sources, including the social sciences which wield “epistemic violence” (Spivak, 1990). Epistemic violence is a continuation of genocide. Genocide is balanced by survivance stories. Survivance is “the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name. Native survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, tragedy, and victimry” (Vizenor, 1999, p. vii).
The epistemic violence of the social science is represented by concepts like the “noble savage” and the “vanishing Native.” This chapter attempts to face the genocidal realities of Indigenous peoples, and the politics forced upon them, without succumbing to contemporary expressions of stories of the “vanishing Native.” Stories of survivance contain the greatest healing potential for Indigenous peoples.
 
Who Are the Indigenous Peoples? — Political Context
 
In the legal and political contexts, especially within the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations, Indigenous people often use the definition provided by the International Labor Organization convention: The term “Indigenous peoples” refers to
 
tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions (International Labor Organization, convention #169, 1989)
 
Frustrated in their attempts to work with nation-states, many Indigenous people have taken their concerns to the international level. In 1957, the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted one of the first international instruments to recognize Indigenous issues, the Convention No. 107 on Indigenous Populations. In 1982, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations was established. The Working Group has provided a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. So far, only a few of the articles have been adopted by the nation-states. As long as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remains unadopted, the ILO Convention No.169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples from 1989 provides the strongest support for Indigenous rights internationally. The Convention states that Indigenous peoples have right “to control, to the extent possible, their own economic, social and cultural development” (article 8).
This chapter focuses on three examples that are taken from geographical areas where initial colonial violence has given way to other forms of violence:
 
1) The Sámi people of north Europe.
2) The Tsimshian people of the Canadian Northwest.
3) The Niisitapi in southern Alberta, Canada.
 
Genocide and Violence
 
Defining genocide
In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution stating that “Genocide is the denial of the right of existence to entire human groups” (Stannard, 1992, p. 279). Chrisjohn, Young, and Maraum (1994) discuss “ordinary genocide” as a form of genocide that is relevant for many Indigenous peoples:
 
“Ordinary genocide” is rarely, if at all, aimed at the total annihilation of the group; the purpose of the violence … is to destroy the marked category (a nation, a tribe, a religious sect) as a viable community. (p. 30)
 
Defining violence
 
The word violence means in its root “vital force.” In this sense we understand violence as the assertion of one’s vital force at the expense of another. This definition is a modification of Galtung who (1996, p. 4) distinguishes three forms of violence: direct, structural, and cultural. Direct violence refers to the brutality of murder, slavery, displacement and expropriation. Structural violence refers to the direct, everyday policies that impact the well-being of people. Cultural violence refers to racism. Epistemic violence (Spivak 1990, pp. 125-126) refers to a process whereby colonial and imperial practices impose certain European codes. Psychospiritual violence is another term we use to discuss the impact of genocidal policies.
 
The Process of Colonization
 
The indirect violence following direct violence can be seen in various dimensions. Economically it means the destruction of Indigenous self-sustaining economies and the imposition of market or socialist economies. Politically it means the destruction of traditional forms of governance. Legally it means that Indigenous oral law and historical rights are invalidated. Socially it means the destruction of rites of passage. Physically it means the exposure to contagious diseases. Intellectually it means the invalidation of the Indigenous paradigms and the dominance of an alien language. Spiritually it means the destruction of ceremonial knowledge. Psychologically, survivors of genocide show symptoms of post-traumatic stress symptom.
 
Colonial Violence Among the Sami
 
The Sámi are the Indigenous people of Sápmi which spans central Norway and Sweden through northern Finland to the Kola Peninsula of Russia. A rough estimate of the Sámi population is between 75,000 to 100,000. During the early Middle Ages, the surrounding kingdoms became interested in the land and natural resources of Sámiland.
Due to the competition, Sámiland became a war zone during the 12th and 13th centuries. By the end of the 13th century, Denmark and Novgorod had divided the Sámi area by a mutual treaty and in 1751, in the Treaty of Stroemstad, Norway and Sweden imposed the first foreign boundary on Sámiland. An individual Sámi was no longer able to own land, and grazing and hunting rights on the other side of the border were abolished.
The impact of colonization in Sápmi has various dimensions. Economically, colonialism has destroyed the local subsistence livelihoods of the Sámi. Mining, forestry, hydroelectric power plants, and tourism have put growing pressure on Sámi lifeways. The first churches in Sápmi were built in the 11th century and since then Christianity has gradually destroyed the Sámi world view by banning shamanic ceremonies, executing the noaidis (the Sámi shamans), burning and destroying the Sámi drums, and even banning the Sámi way of singing and communicating called yoiking.
Colonialism also gradually eroded the traditional Sámi system of education by imposing a compulsory school system. However, in many ways, the Sámi are in control of their own education through their own education councils. There is a Sámi College which trains Sámi teachers. In most places in the Sámi region, children are able to study the language at least a few hours per week.
In 1992, Sámi language acts in both Norway and Finland gave the Sámi the right to use their mother tongue when dealing with government agencies. In Sweden, the Sámi language is considered one of a number of minority languages. In Russia, there is no special law protecting the Sámi language. Of the four countries where the Sámi live, as of 2001 only Norway has ratified the ILO Convention No. 169 on the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples. In Finland, a recent legal study demonstrated that the Sámi have had an official title to their land as late as in the early 20th century. This has led to a situation in which the state cannot ignore the ownership question any longer.
Considering the material conditions of most of the Sámi, an outsider could come to the conclusion that the Sámi are not colonized. In this sense, the colonial process has found its completion by ideologically cloaking its own violence. Internalized mental colonization has been so exhaustive that even though the Sámi have their own elected bodies, welfare system and some control over education, none of these are based on Sámi cultural. The Sámi movement of the 1960s and 1970s led to the establishment of Sámi parliaments, first in Finland in 1973, then in Norway in 1989 and in Sweden in 1993. The Sámi parliaments are not based on Sámi models of governance or their spiritual and cultural practices, and they do not have much decision making power even over issues directly concerning their own culture.
Spivak’s concept of epistemic violence provides probably the best understanding for this situation. The Sámi episteme, their knowledge system, has been replaced by colonial Scandinavian and other European systems to such an extent that it has created Sámi subjects with foreign worldviews. Even though a Sámi person may speak the language fluently, it may be used to express the worldview of the dominant culture. The survival of the Sámi language is not matched by the survival of the Sámi Indigenous worldview.
While the recognition of Sámi political issues has led to an improvement, this improvement may have been achieved at the price of the surrender of the Sámi episteme. Epistemic violence is a fact of Sámi reality and its makes colonial violence less visible. Structural violence is largely hidden from view as the structure imposed by the dominant societies has been accepted and is used.
 
Colonial Violence Among the Tsimshian and Niisitapi
 
“Cultural evolution” is a concept that has formed the philosophical basis for genocidal policies. Within this framework, Indigenous peoples are commonly seen as in need of development. The ideological rationale of colonization has been the presumed need to alter Indigenous people’s lifeways to a way of life considered “civilized.” Such civilization was to be achieved, first and foremost, through the process of Christianization. Despite the fact that today numerous anthropologists and archaeologists disavow it, cultural evolution continues to have an impact (assumptions cf. Kelly, 1995; Kremer, 1998).
The “Norwegianization” policy of 1879-1940 reflected the nationalism and social Darwinistic thinking of the times and regarded assimilation as the only way to bring “enlightenment” to the Sámi people. The current crisis in Indigenous identity formation has resulted in social science theories evolving that fundamentally continue practices of assimilation. Evolutionary thinking, in Nietzsche’s (1967) sense of “truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions,” has been the foundation of assimilation policies. It is this cognitive framework that created and perpetuates genocide.
The Canadian Indian Act of 1867 (Sec. 24 subsection 91 of British North American Act) had given the Canadian federal government exclusive control over Indigenous territories. The Royal Proclamation of 1873 strengthened the economic base of the dominant culture by establishing procedures for acquiring the lands occupied by Indigenous peoples. Although recognizing Indian title to lands not colonized, it outlined the beginning of an apartheid system. This gave rise to the 1885 policy, which forbade Indigenous people to leave the reserve. These acts gave the government exclusive control over economic activities.
Colonialism engenders dependency through legislation, destroys the traditional economic base, and enforces an alien education system. Colonialism denies people the capacity to make intelligent decisions based on cultural knowledge. Such knowledge was repressed by the Canadian legislation of the 1920s and 1930s. Legislation in 1920 made attendance compulsory for Indigenous people’s children, and, in 1930, non-compliance was legally defined as a criminal offense. These efforts characterized the spiritual and psychological violence that altered the worldviews of Indigenous people.
While residential schools were introducing the new imperialist culture that defined Indigenous peoples as “savages,” the newly formed colonial government of Canada had already introduced the Indian Act of 1867 declaring Indigenous peoples as wards of the government. Chief Joe Mathias (Mathias & Yabsley, 1991) defined the Indian Act as the conspiracy of suppression of Indian rights in Canada. While Indigenous children and youth were being conditioned by British imperialist values, the government of Canada was imposing a political structure in all Indigenous communities. All communities were redefined as reservations and reduced to smaller territories ignoring tribal history, land use, and understanding of landownership (cf. Wa & Uukw, 1989).
The federally imposed political body of Chief and Council ignores the traditional systems in Indigenous communities. All federal funding is relegated through this system creating a fertile environment for internalized oppression to flourish. The Tsimshian live on the northwest coast of British Columbia where their territory is divided between two areas. Having been banished to reserves, the Tsimshians are now struggling with internalized oppression in the attempt to find balance in a rapidly changing world.
The notion of cultural evolution, the rationalization of necessary progress, perpetuates violence through psychological control. Indigenous peoples have been described as “victims”. Victimry is a pose and dynamic that feeds the game governed by rules of dominance. The social sciences serve this ideology. The notion that the objectified self is the universal nature of humanity describes the process for the desacralization of Indigenous relationships within a universe that is premised on the concrete relationships of a harmonious nature. The detachment from these processes, as enforced by those who design the policies for Indigenous peoples, is the distinguishing mark of ordinary genocide.
 
Internalized Colonization In Residential Schools

The theoretical frameworks that are used in the perpetuation of psychospiritual violence can be found in the European epistemology. Theories of psychological development are freighted with assumptions that violate the essence of Indigenous peoples’ understanding of human nature. Such assumptions include: each human being has an isolated cognitive self that can best be understood through its components. This assumption underlies all manifestations of European life and constitutes violence to the holistic identity of Indigenous people. In psychospiritual violence the holistically constructed Indigenous self is forced to become the fragmented Western self.
These assumptions of the nature of humankind have allowed for the genocidal polices of residential schools. The residential school era was the most significant and comprehensive governmental effort, in cooperation with the churches, to alter the reality of Indigenous people. Chrisjohn, Young, and Maraum (1994) point out that, “in any intellectually honest appraisal, Indian Residential Schools were genocide” (p. 30). In these institutes the Tsimshain were systematically conditioned to believe that their ancestral ways were inferior to British ways of interpreting the world. When they returned to their communities they found themselves alienated. It is no surprise that addictions and family violence increased.
 
Post-traumatic stress symptoms
The consequences of the survival of the direct violence of genocide and of the subsequent structural and cultural violence can be interpreted in terms of what Western psychiatry calls “post-traumatic stress symptoms.” The statistics published in the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (Chrisjohn, Young, & Maraun, 1994) reveal dramatic figures. The rate for suicide among the total Indigenous population is 25.4 %, for family violence it is 36.4 %, for sexual abuse it is 24.5 %, and for rape it is 15%. Beahrs (1990) discusses post-traumatic stress disorders as follows:
PTSD is characterized by intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma, persistent avoiding of the trauma or numbing of responsiveness, and persisting symptoms of increased arousal. (Beahrs 1990 p. 15)
In a discussion about Native American genocide Rivers-Norton has pointed out that
Genocide is often viewed within the psychological literature as the most devastating and debilitating form of traumatization because it causes enormous physiological and psychic overload, shock, numbing, and grief. It involves the severe devastation caused by cultural destruction, enslavement, relocation, and massive loss of life. (Bastien, Kremer, Norton, Rivers-Norton, & Vickers, 1999, p. 18)
 
 
Cultural Affirmation and Healing Colonial Violence
 
Understanding the masks of violence
Within Northwest Coast art forms, the mask is a representation of a character’s or animal’s spirit. “Masks give form to thoughts. Masks are images that shine through us from the spirit world” (Steltzer & Davidson, 1994, p. 96). The dancer wearing a mask portrays the characteristics and behavior of the spirit the mask represents and in doing so becomes familiar with the function of that spirit. We can understand this process as the deconstruction or decolonization in Spivak’s (1990) sense: “The only things one really deconstructs are things into which one is intimately mired. It speaks you. You speak it” (p. 135). Naming the mask and knowing the song and dance of colonization is the process of deconstructing our present reality.
The Tsimshian have a societal structure that is matrilineally comprised of four Clans or pteex. Each clan has a number of houses or walp that has a head Chief with Chiefs of lesser rank. The hereditary names in each house or walp hold territories and rights to fishing and hunting within those territories. The Tsimshian societal structure contains methods to address conflicts, disputes, and violations as well as protocols for naming, rites of passage, marriage, and divorce; they also regulate inter-tribal relationships. Individuals within the clans and families were trained to implement the procedures to resolve and bring restitution to any challenging circumstances within village life. If there was an accidental death through carelessness, the family of the offending party is responsible for recounting the incident in a family meeting where they were responsible for giving gifts of restitution to the victim’s immediate family members. Once the victim’s family decided the gifts were sufficient, the incident was forgiven and the offending party was cleansed of their wrongdoings.
 
Four critical aspects in healing colonial violence
1) “Re-membering” acknowledges the destruction that colonization brought; it is identifying the impact of destruction with the willingness to let go of the blame. Each Indigenous nation on the northwest coast of British Columbia has a cleansing ceremony for the purpose of washing away grief and hatred to prepare for healing. The initial step in preparing for the cleansing and washing ceremony is to name the offense. “Research suggests that through a narrative process, through sharing the stories of suffering, individuals begin to organize, structure, and integrate emotionally charged traumatic experiences and events” (Bastien, Kremer, Norton, Rivers-Norton & Vickers, 1999, p. 18).
2) The re-connection with ancestral healing methods is another critical ingredient. Ancestral teachings have remained in the conscious and unconscious of Indigenous people despite the changes wrought by ongoing colonial and genocidal policies. For example, an individual may approach an Elder to ask how to wash away the shame and grief from the past. The individual may be advised to fast and bathe for four days all the time letting go of hatred and destructive energy that surfaces each day. This is called si ‘satxw in the Tsimshian language. Through the act of cleansing the individual practices awareness. This awareness is one where individuals observe their behaviors and beliefs following each to the root of behavior (Levine, 1979). Healing takes patience, requiring cultural support. Indigenous healing programs, such as NECHI (a Cree word meaning “friend”) in Canada, use Indigenous approaches combined with Western psychotherapy, in order to deal with issues of alcoholism.
3) The third crucial ingredient in healing the impact of colonization is through reaching out to others. Once one has learned to love and value one’s self, it is much easier to love and value one’s neighbor. Confronting oppression in communities requires education and a willingness to make relationships that respect self and others.
4) A fourth crucial ingredient in healing from colonial violence is the reconstruction of Indigenous concepts of community. By reconstructing Indigenous understandings of community we are able to restore our values and spirituality, not as something arbitrary and superficial limited to occasional prayer or song, but spirituality as our personal and daily relationship with the environment and our community (cf. Brascoupé, 2000, p. 415).
 
Reaffirmations of Cultural Knowledge
The pervasive impact of colonial violence needs to be healed not just on the individual but also on the cultural level. The self within its Indigenous cosmos is the necessary context for healing. At this point, our chapter turns full circle as we explain one particular Indigenous worldview. This is important in order to avoid psychologizing the ongoing structural and cultural violence to which Indigenous peoples are exposed. It also prepares our discussion of what non-Indigenous people working with Indigenous populations are to do. It gives an opportunity to retract the idealizing or discriminatory projections of the dominant cultures.
The example we give is an attempt to develop a curriculum based in Niisitapi epistemology and ontology. Niisitapi can literally be translated as Real People. They consist of the following tribes: Aamsskaaippiianii — South Peigan; Aapatuxsipiitani — North Peigan; Kainah — Blood/Many Chiefs; Siksika — Blackfoot. Early explorers estimated the population of the Blackfoot-speaking peoples to be 30,000 – 40,000 (McClintock, 1992, p. 5). At present, there are 8,840 members who occupy 535.6 square miles of reserve land. There are 3,072 members between the ages of 5 and 19 among the Kainah, but only 20 of these members are now fluent speakers (0.65 %).
 
Affirmation of the Niisitapi worldview
The Niisitapi self exists only in relationships. The self is intricately linked with the natural world. The process of knowing is founded upon an intricate web of kinship, the relationships of natural alliances. Knowledge is understood as a source of life, which strengthens the alliances among the cosmic and natural worlds. Knowledge is created and generated through interrelationships with natural alliances. The alliances among the Niisitapi are regenerative and renew the ecological balance of the world.
These alliances can be understood by examining the word po’nstaan, “the giving of gifts in ceremony.” The cultural meaning provides us with two natural laws: one, that the universe is cyclical and it works on the basis of reciprocity; two, reciprocity is founded upon the principle of “strengthening and supporting life,” niipaitapiiyssin. Po’nstann refers to what one is willing to give up in exchange for something sought or desired. The common usage refers to giving up aspects/orientations of one’s life in exchange for the rebirth of a way of life governed by responsibilities.
The second principle is the nature of truth — niitsii-issksiniip – “knowing.” Truth is the essential meaning of experience. This principle guides the process of knowing and the knowledge revealed as both are consistent with natural laws. These natural laws support the framework for the interpretation of experiences and are the keys to understanding the meaning of the sacredness of life. Understanding this worldview is crucial for anybody outside the culture attempting to understand the depth of genocide and the requirements for healing.
 
Niisitapi ontology
Education and socialization are guided by cultural orientations. In “seeking to understand life,” nipaitapiiyio’pi, and in “coming to knowing the source of life,” ihtisipaitaoiiyio’pi, the primary medium is through “transfer,” a’poomo’yiopi.
The method of inquiry among Niisitapi is entering into relationships and alliances with the spirit of knowledge. The way of coming to know is through participating with and experiencing the knowledge of the natural order. “Knowing,” issksiniip, is the active participation in relationship with the natural order. Knowing is “experiential,” omohtaanistsihsp. Knowing and knowledge are living entities, which, through relationships, live in the actions of the participants. In this case, reference can be made to “the way of life of the Niisitapi,” Niipaitapiiyssin, which encompasses the knowledge and wisdom.
 
Niisitapi epistemology
In the traditional context, knowledge is connecting with ihtisipaitaoiiyio’pi (spirit). Ihtisipaitaoiiyio’pi manifests through a sacred power, one that is pervasive and manifests through all of creation. This sacred power is gained in the “dream world” and is incorporated in to the everyday world of work and play (Harrod 1992). Knowledge and wisdom come through the ability to listen and hear the whispers of the wind, the teachings of the rock, the seasonal changes of weather, and by connecting with the animals and plants. Knowing and knowledge are the expression and manifestations of relationships that align with the natural order of the universe.
Knowledge or knowing is not directly transferable; it is gained through the alliances of interdependent relationships. Knowing is a process of “interpreting experiences with the alliances of the natural world,” isskskataksini/aisskskatakiop’i. This knowledge and understanding becomes a basis for effectively participating and functioning in society.
In summary, Niisitapi epistemology manifests in the “transfers,” a’poomo’yiopi, the theory of knowledge that all knowing comes from the source of life and through kinship alliances. It is through a complex web of relationships that Niisitapi “come to know.” Inherent in knowing is the responsibility of living the knowledge; and living the knowing is a fundamental aspect of identity and the source from which “self” emerges. These characteristics become the essential elements for interpreting the environment and for experiencing the world.
 
Niisitapi pedagogy
Transfer, a’poomo’yiopi, is a process of renewing the alliances of kinship relations. Transfers are found in ceremony. The ceremonies take the form in which a common sense of transformation and transcendence is experienced, and the people (Harrod, 1992, p. 67) share the meanings associated with the transfer. As long as the people retain their connection through their ceremonies, they will retain their transformational and transcendent ways of being through the renewal of their responsibilities as instructed in the original transfer from the sacred spiritual alliances.
Knowing comes with the participation and experience of alliances. Learning is a developmental process that involves an all-inclusive process of living life. Aatsimoyihskaani is a concept that addresses the inter-dependencies that are involved in the processes of coming to knowing. Knowing is through the “active participation with all the alliances of life,” kiipaitapisinnooni, and, subsequently, knowing is the living knowledge of these relationships.
Niisitapi language education is essential in the process of coming to understanding the alliances essential to participation in a balanced world. Language is spirit. Language is the medium for entering into the relationships forming the Niisitapi culture and society; it allows humans to define their reality and the social order in which they exist. The language is the expression of the natural alliances of Niisitapi and embodies the consciousness of the people. Language has the ability to distinguish and define humanity. In other words, language links “self” to the “universe” (Bastien, 1998).
 
Decolonization for people of the Euro-centered or “white” mind
 
Non-indigenous persons may wonder how they can be helpful in the healing of colonial genocidal violence. From an Indigenous perspective the primary need is dialogueing about epistemic violence. Confrontation with the history of genocide and colonization is urgent. Structural violence must be addressed. Persons who are working with Indigenous peoples should reflect critically on the context in which they are working, whether their work explicitly or implicitly is continueing colonial violence. Persons who are invited to work with Indigenous people need to work particularly on the unconscious forms of epistemic violence their mere presence may perpetrate. Helpers of European descent need to be willing to face the impact of Euro-centered dominance in their personal history and to talk openly about its dynamics with the willingness to work toward positive change.
The importance of awareness of the significant difference in self-construction cannot be stressed enough, as should be obvious from the preceding sections in this article. Working with Indigenous peoples in the process of decolonization means that people who are not Indigenous are willing to decolonize themselves and to confront their own historical Indigenous and ancestral origins (Kremer, 2000). This is a difficult task that goes to the core of reality. In this way there can be a gradual interruption of the cycle of genocidal violence.
 
Conclusion
 
In the process of healing colonial violence the fundamental step is to remember and affirm an Indigenous, culturally specific framework that provides the context for the consideration of educational, psychological, and other interventions. Use of Indigenous culturally available resources is a mandatory ingredient in any healing endeavor. The participation of Indigenous healers and Elders, both in education and psychological interventions is important. Use of Indigenous languages are invaluable, both as a means of cultural remembrance and affirmation as well as the expression of the Indigenous self. The narration of the experiences of genocidal violence holds tremendous healing potential both for individuals and communities. Witnessing the impact of past and present violence may lead to the release of generative visions that facilitate the remembrance of cultural knowledge, the celebration of relationships and alliances, the impact of Euro-centered knowledge on the basis of Indigenous paradigms, and the expression of Indigenous self and community not as retro-romantic folklore, but as viable, vital, and creative knowledge for future generations — sovereignty, in a sense, that transcends Euro-centered notions and deletes their epistemic and other violence.
 
This article is dedicated to the memory of Ingrid Washinawatok.[i]
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Synchronicities

Synchronicities
Heather Annette Seeley

At the moment I seem to be basking in the bounty of the synchronicities of the work

of Indigenous Mind. The light that balances the shadow is prevalent. I feel honored to see

this light of synchronicity at the moment. When I decided to delve into the work of

remembering I realized that there would be amazing moments, glorious remembrance and

the beauty of reconnecting with my ancestors. I never imagined that I would be blessed with

My Great Grandfather Ward Seeley is showing up quite often these days. After an

extended conversation with my Aunt Marion, my father’s half sister, in which we told stories

of birth and death, of joy and sorrow and family history. Marion found herself in the midst

of the conspiracy of spirit. My Step Grandmother, Marion’s Mother, Kaye Seeley resides in

an Assisted Care Facility in Minnesota. One day a new neighbor showed up and Grandma

Kaye decided to welcome her. This woman asked if she was related to the Seeley’s from

Michigan. She had worked for a doctor in Mayville and Detroit Michigan. This woman was

Ward Seeley’s secretary for many years. He delivered her children. Marion, after relaying the

story to me, indicated that had this happened a month or even a couple of days prior to our

conversation she would have thought of it as mere coincidence. But in the wake of our

conversation she found herself awe struck by the serendipity of it all. Each day in my prayers

I thank Ward Seeley for his presence of my path.

There is a long line of doctors, nurses and healers on both sides of my family. In the

living generation there are three western doctors and I. (I am not quite sure how to label my

connection to healing at the moment, besides the fact that I am involved with plants and

ancestors.) After my maternal grandmother, Annette Bickel’s, passing the duty came to the

grandchildren to decided who would have possession of the medical bag that had been in

the family for at least two generations. A dark leather medical bag, embossed with E.H.

Bickel in gold print under the buckle that held the bag together it held old tinctures, scalpels,

medical mirrors, tools of the trade and items that took you back to the time of house visits

and non-corporate medicine. Most of the cousins bowed out of the drawing realizing that it

had great significance to the doctors but one cousin wanted to be a part. The drawing came

down to my two brothers (both are MD’s), my cousin and myself. My cousin won. My

brother’s were deeply distraught by this turn of events. Neither one of them being readily

emotional turned within in sadness. I sat dumfounded and disturbed. The event evolved

into a family drama in which three hours later my brother’s found themselves with my

cousin trying to convey to her the importance of this object in their lives. She was

unresponsive to their pleas. The wounds were inflicted. Both of my brother’s have

expressed their need to have the medical bag continue to be passed down to the doctors in

the future generations as a rite of passage into the healing profession. They have not heard

any response from the Bickel Family.

After the second conversation with my Aunt Marion, she found herself in the

basement going through the trunks of old things that she had inherited after my

Grandfather’s passing. I came home to find a message on my voice mail, “ Heather, it’s your

Aunt Marion. I was going through some of Dad’s old things and I came upon Ward Seeley’s

medical bag and I thought that you and your brother’s might like it.” That was it. A simple

message that send chills down my spine as tears flooded my eyes. Was this true? Had Ward

Seeley once again left me awe struck and humbled by his presence? I went to bed that night

with tears of joy in my eyes and a smile streamed across my face.

There have also been immense synchronicities within my dreams and waking life.

This has come as no surprise and still leaves me pondering, reeling and thankful for the

connections of the waking world and the dream world. My Great Great Grandmother,

Ward’s mother came into my dreams the other night for the first time. I didn’t even know

her name until a couple of days ago.