Reconstructing indigenous consciousness: Preliminary considerations (PDF)

Reconstructing indigenous consciousness –

Preliminary considerations


Jürgen W. Kremer, PhD

3383 Princeton Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95405



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.



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.



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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Reconstructing indigenous consciousness – Preliminary considerations   Jürgen W. Kremer, PhD 3383 Princeton Drive Santa Rosa, CA 95405   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 […]