Indigenous Science

A Physicist on Indigenous Science – Dr. Sam Kounosu

Dr. Shigeru “Sam” Kounosu is a Japanese nuclear physicist who now lives in Canada. He worked with notable figures such as Robert Oppenheimer, and is widely respected and known for his scientific and scholarly achievements. He was appointed as Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge in Canada.

In these lecture drafts and personal letters to friends, Dr. Kounosu candidly expresses his unconventional, cutting-edge ideas, most often exploring the connections and disconnections between physics and native science. He is among the first scientists of western training to do so, which adds to the significance of these documents to the development of the indigenous science paradigm.

WISN director Dr. Apela Colorado, who has valued and kept all her correspondence from Dr. Kounosu for 25 years, has opted to share his letters to her in the hope of furthering the bridge between the sciences, and between the indigenous and western mind.

Great care was taken to preserve and respect Dr. Kounosu’s unique voice in his writings, and with this intent, editing done on his letters was kept to the barest minimum.

Chilkoot Cultural Camp (PDF)

Chilkoot Cultural Camp: A Tlingit heritage is passed…

By Dan Henry

“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.”

When Chief Sealth (Seattle) of the Duwamish tribe wrote these words over a hundred years ago, he meant to explain to President Franklin Pierce the close-knit bond between Native people and the earth. Hew was also trying to point out that all people must live with the ways of nature if we are to live at all. Despite the fast-paced highly technological world we live in today, there are still a few who hold on to this premise as the key to our future.

Here in the Haines area we are fortunate enough to be called home for people who are still concerned with the welfare of the children of future generations, of the earth from which we draw our livelihood. This three-part series will explore the people and ideas that have been drawn together at the Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp to assure our children’s children that a long-established heritage will not be forgotten.

Five weeks ago, the camp site on the Chilkoot River consisted only of a smokehouse in a clearing in the berry bushes. A few young people had been brought to help clear the land further and start erecting tents in anticipation of the upcoming session. Chilkoot Indian Association president Roy Clayton stood among the busy youngsters to supervise their activities. He seemed eager to tell about the forthcoming cultural event.

“We want to teach young people the old style of Tlingit living,” Clayton emphasized. “we want to revive the cultural heritage.”

Clayton pointed out the ways that the program had shown growth. The number of teachers, volunteers, and participants was expected to rise from last year’s trial camp. “People want to come out here and work for nothing,” he said. “They just want the kids to learn.”

The enthusiasm generated from the pilot program last year had been enough to raise funds for a bigger program this summer. Clayton elaborated: “The kids really loved it. They went right to the legislature for more money.”

The response was positive. This year’s camp will operate on funds from the summer youth training program, the State Council for the Arts, Older Alaskans Commission, Johnson O’Malley grants, and private contributions. The money is used to create facilities and pay the way for a number of Tlingit elders to pass their knowledge along to the youngsters.

One of the local elders, Chilkoot chief Austin Hammond, is the source of inspiration for the popular summer program. Through his vision for the future, Native and non-Native people have organized into a strong, enthusiastic force. Hammond described the meager beginnings: “Three years ago I put up a smokehouse for the fish. Then someone asked me, why don’t you have a children’s camp so they can learn how to put some dried fish up? I said that I don’t know how I’m going to get the money. Just that smokehouse, it cost me over $3,000. It was my own money.”

Hammond’s concern for the cultural heritage did not end with the question of funds. Assistance from other concerned citizens, such as Julie Folta, helped make enough money available to start the camp.

The vision has continued to see the program grow and touch many people in the community and the state. Hammond emphasized his concern for personal growth among the students and the physical expansion of the camp facilities. “My father’s side, they talked with me and they say, ‘This place we’re going to call Sockeye Point. So they give it to us and we own the whole place up to the Glory Hole. But now the state holds the ground. Sealaska holds the ground. That’s why I can’t get a regular house here. You see the tent—they told me if you build a house, you’ve got to take it down. But I would like to have this ground back for the grandchildren that you see. I want to get the whole place not for myself, but for the other ones; they’re going to grow. My children, they’ll have children—that’s why I’m working on it.”

Some of the unique aspects of the cultural camp are the diversity of educational offerings and the variety of students who have come to learn the culture. Each of the elders specialize in an area that they know best to pass along to the children. The curriculum includes storytelling, beading, survival, cooking, carving, and musical skills such as singing, drumming, and dancing.

The diversity of participants is what keeps the program running. Austin Hammond stressed the positive differences in the camp. “All of these different trees around us, they’re all together. That’s the way I feel about the white children, colored children, whatever they are, they all have to learn the culture. Our white brothers, we are learning what they learn. They teach us, why not teach them? We can get together all as one. What we need, they can help us.”

Even the Tlingit teachers have come from diverse backgrounds to assure the students of a broad cultural knowledge. Hammond tells the stories of the Raven clan while Ed and Cecelia Kunz have been invited to explain the ways of the Eagle clan. “I can’t talk about the Eagle’s side,” Hammond explained. “Just the Raven side is what I can talk about. The Tlingit don’t want to tell the other’s stories. All the other villages can come here. The land they’ve got to know, so I told them when they get back home, when you see your grandfather tell him to tell you about the land so it wouldn’t be lost.

Camp director Matilda Jackson has been instrumental in organizing the teachers for the various skill classes. Her staff includes beaders Lillian Hammond, Anne Keener, Louise Light, counselors Tom Jimmy, Jr. and Diane Light, master carver Nathan Jackson and his assistant George Lewis, survival instructor Archie Klaney, storytellers Austin Hammond, Ed and Cecelia Kunz, Helen King for fish preparation, Rachel Johnson for singing and drumming, and Elsie Hughes for general food preparation.

Two sessions of the cultural camp have already taken place in July. The last 10-day camp, involving 10-17-year-olds, began on Monday, August 6. “Anyone is welcome to come out,” Roy Clayton stressed. “They are invited to volunteer or just watch.”

This article is first in a series dealing with the Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp. The second segment will deal with the teachings of the elders and the third will focus on the response from students and their parents.

Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp: Let the Elders Speak

Part two in a three-part series.

By Dan Henry

There is a story behind every timeworn face. The story involves not only the history of a single person, but includes the legends, attitudes, and lifestyle of an entire race of people. The elders who have gathered at the Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp have dedicated their time and energy to “protecting a heritage.”

Their hope lies in the children. Native cultures such as the Tlingit have relied for countless generations on the oral tradition to preserve the ways of life. For the last century, however, the presence of non-Natives in this part of Southeast Alaska disturbed ways that cultural knowledge was passed along. Euro-American lifestyle, religion, and language stifled the Tlingit ways of life. The culture became a shadow of what it had once been.

Three years ago Chilkoot chief Austin Hammond envisioned a camp setting where traditional Tlingit lifestyle would be taught to youngsters. Last summer, a pilot program was attempted. The success of the camp can be measured in the enthusiasm felt by the young and old people involved. Many of the children lobbied the state legislature for further support. These and other efforts by a growing circle of friends resulted in a full-scale program this year to preserve time-tempered traditions.

The Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp, which just concluded after a month of activities, featured customary Tlingit skills like beadwork, singing, dancing, drum-making, survival techniques, carving, food preparation, and storytelling. Elders from all over Southeast gathered to pass along their understandings to Native and non-Native young people.

Rachel (Dixie) Johnson is a local craftsperson who has dedicated much of her summer to teaching musical skills at the camp. She found that while the students at first appeared shy or stand-offish about singing and dancing, they warmed up to the ideas when they discovered their own personal involvement in the Tlingit heritage.

“What a difference in the children’s attitude toward their culture from when they first came today,” Dixie marveled. “Before, there was no interest whatsoever in what their clan was, but after they learn the clan song, you know they wanted to know which one they could come out to dance to because they didn’t know what they were. We’re digging in and trying to find what they are so they’ll know and have a little pride in themselves.”

Tlingit custom maintains that members of the tribe belong to different clans based on bloodline. Early in each camp session the elders at Chilkoot helped to identify what clans the children belong to by tracing family lineage.

“They’re different stories altogether, depending on different clans,” explained the song master. Like we have Eagles, then under the Eagles we have Wolf, Bear, and they all have a story behind how they got their clan. Most of them know what clan they belong to, but it’s hard today because of all the intermarriages where they’re not supposed to, like a Raven and a Raven, or an Eagle and an Eagle. We feel that if a Raven married a Raven then they are marrying their own bloodline. I tell them their histories through song.”

Music is a vital part of the learning experience, claimed Dixie. It pulls the group together, creates a bond among young and old, Native and non-Native. Dixie described a few occasions behind the songs that are commonly performed.

“We have the warm-up song that is done before you ever come out in front of people. These weren’t performances, like the ones you give in front of tourists, these were given when you’re consoling the opposite clan. There might have been a death in the family, or maybe you’re helping them rejoice at a new birth in the clan. Or maybe there was a wedding.”

As is common with all the elders’ teachings, there is a story behind each one of the songs or dances. Virtually all of the skills are intricately woven into a long-standing history that provides depth and reason behind the activities.

“We have what we call an entrance song,” Dixie began. “We call these trade songs because they arrived by trade. They used to take trips into the interior. Austin Hammond’s great uncle had taken a trek into the interior and on the way back hurt his foot so he couldn’t walk and rather than endanger his nephews’ lives he told them to go on ahead and leave him. He taught the nephews the songs he had traded and those are the songs we use.

“Some of our songs have Tsimshian. We didn’t know this until we sang in Ketchikan and they asked us where we got it, but we didn’t know what people they were traded from. And then they told us it was Tsimshian.”

A feeling of interconnectedness pervades all of the activities described by the elders. The recent arrival of Tlingit oral tradition has caused the Native people to scrutinize their historic past to find out their own identities. Often they find strong similarities between the past and their present chosen path.

“I love this,” Dixie exclaimed. “I didn’t know that my dad had been a songleader too. Then somebody from Sitka came up and told me. He said I didn’t just get this haphazardly, but my dad was one too. Now I have two songleaders—my sons.”

One distinction of the Chilkoot camp is the feeling of family between the elders and the children. Indeed many of the youngsters are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of their insturctors. However, the elders are cautious not to play favorites, and stress the notion of togetherness as the tread that binds them as a much larger family unit. Elder Lillian Hammond is enthusiastic about the opportunity to unify young people by teaching a common history.

“I think it’s wonderful to have this chance to pass our knowledge down to our grandchildren,” the beading instructor said. One thing I wanted to say, we’re trying to teach our kids in school—some of them whites, half-breeds, whatever—but we’re all together now. A long time ago white people did not like our Native people, now we marry white people. We’re all mixed.”

Hammond joins many of the other elders in her belief that language helps to bind the children together. Although a 10-day camp is hardly enough time to fully learn the Tlingit tongue, applicable words are incorporated into the daily lessons.

“It’s funny,” Lillian noted, “our Native kids grew up learning to speak teh white language and they don’t start the Native Language, so now it’s harder to teach them. In my beadwork class I teach them how to say thread, needle, bead, things like that. I tell them to say it so they can tell others what they are learning in our language. It’s funny how the kids will sing the Tlingit songs. they know how to say it, how to sing it, but they don’t even know what it means.”

Lillian expressed a common concern among many of the elders: support within the community for teaching traditional Indian ways. She noted that while many visitors had come out to observe the camp, the many needs of the group—including that of future expansion—were up in the air because of uncertain funding.

“This is a community affair,” Lillian said. “We’re all mixed in. The town should help us with food for this camp. People should think about donating something. The other day Julie (Folta) brought some ice cream—she paid for it—and one of the kids said, ‘Hey we’re going to have white man food.’”

In addition to food for thought, the camp must also meet the children’s needs for physical nourishment. The Chilkoot camp focused on providing many traditional foods as a major part of the diet. The meals often included salmon and salmon roe, halibut, and wild berries.

Helen King spent much of her time showing students how to prepare salmon in a number of ways. Frank and Elsie Hughes also invested a large part of their time as the cooks for the camp. Frank Hughes, who worked full time as a volunteer, described the effort invested into providing meals for the camp.

“We put in 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week for these kids,” Hughes noted. “Things that everybody else takes for granted are things that we don’t have here and it’s necessary that we don’t have it. This way we can get a taste of what primitive living was. We’re not actually primitive cooks, but we’re trying to give them the food of the land.”

Although the campers have met with limited success catching the fish, people have been generous in their donations. Klukwan resident and survival instructor Archie Klaney caught most of the fish himself for use at the camp. Even passing visitors have contributed to procuring food and supplying various services.

Hughes recalled a man who stopped by for two weeks to build a fish wheel for the camp. “He had to move on, but said, ‘When I come back if you haven’t done anything with it I’ll help you put it up.’”

Hughes was quick to point out that the camp experience was a two-way street; the elders often learned as much as did the students.

“The staff is learning moods and attitudes of children, which is important. You can’t always get out of a kid what you want. We have to stand back and say ‘Hey, slow down a little bit and try a different angle; maybe we can get in through the back door if we can’t get in through the front door.’”

The teaching staff at the camp agreed that there are many ways to approach the students. After several weeks of living with the young people, the elders began to recognize differences in learning styles and attitudes.

Wood carver George Lewis believes that much of the teaching was a matter of getting past “interferences.”

“It’s pretty hard sometimes to get past that child’s fantasy,” he said. “They have a certain imagination that you have to play with. But you can get past that. The whole thing is similarities in language and also interferences. Once you get past the interference with, say, a Japanese child, or a Tlingit or a Haida, some don’t seem to respond like our white brother. But actually they’re listening to you. We found out they learn fastest through their eyes.”

Woodcarving skills particularly apply to Lewis’ theory on learning. He found that straight lecture did not work as well as did “hands on” experience.

“The kids are growing with respect,” Lewis said. “They’re growing with their patience. Some of them wanted to handle the sharp knives right away. As a consequence, two or three people got cut the first week. Those who got cut have learned a lot more than those who haven’t.”

Wayne Price, a form Haines resident now living in Angoon, also senses the growth and enthusiasm of his students. Since many of the young people are from urban centers such as Juneau, Sitka and Fairbanks, Price feels that it is important to “get them in tune” with traditional methods.

“All this young energy going to traditional use is pretty nice,” he admits. “It’s enjoyable just witnessing what these kids are accomplishing. I had one group here that was carving away while a bunch of kids were beating the drums and singing Indian songs at the same time. It feels real good.”

Though relatively young, Price was asked to teach carving because of his broad background in the field. He learned much of the trade from teachers like Leo Jacobs and John Hagen at Alaska Indian Arts, Inc. in Haines. The carver is now working on an extensive project in Wrangell to restore the historic Chief Shakes house. The work includes creating six new totem poles for the house. Price said that the Chilkoot camp was a good break.

“The kids are great,” he noted, “I told them I’d be back next year. They really catch on—look at the work. It’s fabulous. The whole idea of the camp is a real good thing. Kids really don’t get exposed to this anywhere else.”

Another vital aspect of traditional training involves basic outdoor survival. Archie Klaney worked extensively to give the students a broad background in Native woodsmanship, including firestarting, edible plants, primitive shelters, and orienteering.

Klaney related an example of how to find your way out of the woods. “I took the kids out in the woods. It was cloudy. We went in big circles, then I said, ‘Which way to camp?’ The children were all quiet, then one speaks up. ‘Say, I know the way back to camp.’ Then Julie says, ‘You do, eh? Which way?’ The little girl pointed right towards camp. Then Julie says, ‘How do you know?’ ‘Oh,’ she says, ‘I listen to Mr. Archie and I hear that waterfall so we’ll go that way.’ That made my day. I told them if you can’t see the mountain in the clouds, listen for the waterfall.”

The concept of effective listening plays a necessary role at the camp. The elders are concerned about the accuracy of the children’s memory once the camp has ended. After all, the legends of their people have already been altered through the course of time. Chilkoot chief and storyteller Austin Hammond explained the importance of listening carefully to cultural history.

“The children, they’ve got to listen,” Hammond said. “Some of the younger ones don’t listen, but you’ve got to tell them what’s going to happen. My grandfather used to tell me stories. One night he told me a story. I was nine years old. the next night he said, ‘Tell me the story I told you.’ I got to shaking, sweating. Then my grandfather turned me around and said, ‘Grandson, if you don’t tell me that story, you’re not going to learn. You have to tell me. From where it ends I can start talking again.’”

Hammond feels that it is necessary to tie the various skills together with stories of the the ancestors. No single class is more important than the other; they all tell the story of a cultural experience that is much wider than that of a single person. The camp setting provides context in which the old ways may be continued, just as the knowledge was passed down for centuries.

Frank Hughes summarized the feelings expressed by many of the elders as they reflected on their experience. Looking back on the camp, he noted that the outstanding lesson is “trying to show love to my fellow man and to the kids, to the staff. I’m not doing this for money, it’s got to be for love.”

(This article is the second section of a three-part feature which is intended to describe the structure of the Chilkoot Cultural Camp, the teachings of the elders, and reflections on the experience by teachers, students, and parents.)

Chilkoot Heritage: Camp prepares for future

By Dan Henry

As we measure human history, it was not long ago that the headwater site along the Chilkoot River was home for an active healthy tribe of Tlingit Indians. These were the Chilkoot people, a subculture that had lived for centuries in harmony with the salmon, bear and eagles at the place where clear water flows out of Chilkoot Lake.

According to Austin Hammond, contemporary leader of the Chilkoot people, one year a sickness came through the settlement. Many members of the tribe were killed by the mysterious illness. A few survivors went to see the Wife, who might know of the medicine with which to combat the scourge. She said, “I don’t want them to catch any more of my sickness. I will call all the skeletons to go up there on the mountain.”

The dead were then all taken to the high ridge on the east side of the river, where their bones supposedly remain today. Hammond added that “there’s no grass on the graves. Since that time you will hear no owls here.”

If one stands on the road near the old village site and looks across the river toward the steep cliffs, it is not hard to make out the form of a large eye silhouetted in the rock. “That’s where the eye of the woman is since we’ve had our people killed,” Hammond concluded.

Visions of Heritage

The eye on the cliff reminds the Chilkoot descendants of their place of cultural birth, of their heritage. For the past two summers, the ancient site has been used again for the purpose of breathing life into the near-forgotten traditions of the Tlingit people. The Chilkoot Indian Cultural Camp comes from a vision belonging to Hammond, and subsequently many others, that the “old ways” not be lost by the crush of modern society.

The camp, which attracted Native and non-Native youngsters from all over the state, ran for five weeks in July and August this year. Last year’s pilot program offered a 10-day session. Next season, the camp staff hopes to see the program touch even a broader cross-section of young people for a longer period of time.

Camp director Matilda Lewis noted that “some of (this summer’s) kids were wanting us to reserve them some space for next year. They kept saying, ‘we want to come back.’”

Diverse Groups

The summer camp brought together many Native elders, craftpersons, and a diverse group of volunteers to teach the traditional ways to children. The lessons included a broad spectrum of Native skills from woodcarving to storytelling. Campers were placed into a live-in situation so that they might be able to absorb as much of the culture as possible with a minimum of outside distraction. For many of the children it was necessary to start teaching from the most basic level.

One of the primary organizers, Julie Folta, explained that “there were some kids for whom this was just an introduction. We had to teach them what clan they belonged to. There were a few who didn’t even know who their grandparents were.”

The program was geared for young people from varied backgrounds. The staff felt that the traditions were important for anyone to learn, no matter what their ethnic heritage. “We don’t just take Tlingit kids,” Folta emphasized. “We take everybody; they will grow together.”

Two-Way Learning

As the staff reflected on the summer’s work, a number of successes became apparent. Most of the teachers expressed great satisfaction with the enthusiasm and interest shown by their students. Organizers of the camp also felt strongly that the learning process had been two-way, affecting the teachers at least as much as the students.

Matilda Lewis was frank with her side of the learning: “To me this was on-the-job training. We all learned. Those working next year will know better what to do after this.” She added that even more help will be required as the program expands. “Next year we will need a lot of local help,” she said. “Next year we will also need food and lumber donations.”

Julie Folta considered a major success to be the “teaching of the traditional Tlingit way of thinking. The Tlingit way of problem-solving is important. With the bear, for example (see August 9, 1984 issue). All the things that happened helped us realize the interrelationships that always exist. The problems we dealt with revived an interest in the old wisdom.”

Austin Hammond felt that the outcome of the Chilkoot camp could be measured by the level of interest he perceived in the students. He noted that many had worked hard carving totems, sewing beadwork for headbands, or simply understanding how to effectively use a knife. Overall, Hammond observed that “the camp was a lot better this year than last. Some of the kids who went back on the ferry didn’t want to go. They kept singing the songs we had taught them, singing them over and over.”

Hammond stressed the importance of spirituality as a permeating theme throughout the teachings of the elders. This aspect of traditional understandings became apparent in his particular class: storytelling.

“The story of our people from here is connected with the Bible,” Hammond explained. “We have to believe in God—the only thing we’ve learned from Raven is what we already knew. My grandfather used to say ‘don’t get on top of people, stay under them.’ The Bible id under the Tlingit story.”

Community Effort

The camp staff came to understand through their experience the necessity of working together as a community. A primary concern expressed by the workers was that more citizedns of Haines and Klukwan needed to get involved. The number of visitors to the camp averaged “about a dozen,” daily, with passing tourists accounting for the majority. Many donations are needed to keep the program on its feet next year, but the life of the camp depends most of all on basic community support and appreciation.

Matilda Lewis remarked that she thought that the “tourists often seemed more interested than the locals.” Julie Folta summarized the general feeling by noting that “most of all, people just need to come out to see what’s happening.”

Parental Concern

The Chilkoot staff’s message that comes through again and again is the unique opportunity to learn about an original culture from those who have lived it. Sonny Cropley, a Native man who took his two young boys from Sitka to experience the camp, maintained that this was one of his last opportunities to pass along a heritage that even he had never quite understood. Like many of the staff members, he too sensed the urgency of Hammond’s vision.

“I am second removed from the culture, my boys are third removed, and we are feeling now that it is important to understand the heritage,” Cropley said. “My sons are caught in a crossfier. All the continuing culture after us will not be a lived culture, but a learned culture.”

The Chilkoot camp, he felt, was an appropriate means to reverse the trend away from living the culture.”

The aboriginal settlement that once flanked the shores of the Chilkoot River will never be duplicated. That part of the culture has been tucked away in the memories of a few surviving descendants. Because of a vision, however, those recollections will be shared with a younger generation so the pride of understandiing one’s heritage might continue to live. So these children will teach woodcarving to anothe generation. So the children will know the sonfgs of the ancients. So they will be able to tell the story of the Wife’s eye in the cliffs above the Chilkoot River.

[Articles from Chilkat Valley News August 9, 16, & 30, 1984]

Haines Respiritualization Meeting, May 17, 18, 19, 1985 (PDF)

Original Transcription

Haines Respiritualization Meeting

May 17, 18, 19, 1985

Persons attending: Donald Peter, Anchorage; Dr. Pam Colorado-Morrison, Juneau; Eber Hampton, Boston; Bella and Simon Francis, Ft. Yukon; Jonathan Solomon, Ft. Yukon; Howard Luke, Fairbanks; Paul Olin, Galena; Blake Jones, Hydaburg; Matilda Lewis, Haines; Austin Hammond, Haines; Helen Andon, Anchorage

Guests: Doug Patterson, Juneau; Tommie Jimmie Jr., Haines; Mr. and Mrs. Peter Charles Johnson Sr., Haines; Dr. James Matthews, Fairbanks

May 17, 1985

Meeting begins with prayer by Austin Hammond

Our Father we are looking up to you this morning as we gather here as a family. We need your help, what we will say and what we need, we are asking you to give it to us. The word we use for each other that we could learn from each other, so we are here together. So pour thy blessing upon us and be with us. That I ask in Jesus name. Amen.

Pam: This is our third meeting, and final meeting of the task force. We have some nice things planned for this meeting. Austin is going to see to it that we can get out to the Chilkoot camp site while we are here. It is a really nice day, so it would be good if we could try to get out there this afternoon. Blake Jones is here from Massett, B.C. and he has brought a really good tape with him. He has helped set up and run the ReDiscovery program down there. It is a survival camp and it has been going since 1978. He is here to offer his help in any way that he can for those of us who are trying to get camps going and also to share his tape with us. It is really well made. I think we have (Ha-sha-goon) here too. It is Austin Hammond’s tape. It gives us the background on what happened before this camp got set up. We probably want to spend some time talking about where everybody is with their camps, how far along we are, and what the plans are for the future. We are supposed to have a guest drop in today, Dr. Matthews who is with the University of Alaska, Cooperative Extension. He is the director of the whole thing. He has been hearing a lot about these task force meetings and a lot about the spirit camps. So he should be by sometime today. The final thing before we break up, Don and I would like to talk with everyone here about a meeting we are getting ready to go to next week regarding the future of these camps, and maybe some funding and support. That’s about it, what I have taht needs to be discussed. Do you have anything else, Don?

Don: I appreciate you all coming down here. Some of you came a long ways. I’m kinda excited, and not excited about going to Paris next week, but I think we need to set down some facts about how to deal with those people. Maybe we can do that this afternoon like Pam said. Dr. Matthews, who sits on my policy board for my office, is coming down this afternoon. We are saying this will be our last and final task force meeting, but I doubt it. I see us getting together 2-3 times a year. I think this group gives us a lot of strength and setting down our objectives and goals for the respiritualization project. I keep telling Pam that we keep getting calls all the time from people who are interested in this project. I feel that something will come out of it. I look at 1991 as a last chance for Alaska Native people. I think we need to work with our own people to set their minds on who they are so they can deal with these different issues that are coming up, to determine their destination. In 1991, we will be the same as anybody in the State, hopefully. The resolution that AFN is taking to Washington D.C. to get some amendments on the land claims act, that will open the land claim act up to everybody. Anybody that wants something to do with Alaska, the different societies, organizations, they all want to put their two cents in there. It is possible, if they open up the land claim act that it might go on for another 10-20 years, but we don’t know that. I guess you don’t know at the AFN special convention, Ft. Yukon was probably the only one that voted against all the amendments. The people had a meeting up there and they said they want to take their chances and leave it like that. They are trying to get some education to deal with those 1991 issues. To deal with the issues, we need education. A lot of our people are getting that, becoming attorneys, and entering different fields where we need them at. We also need something from down here to work on these different issues and I think that is what we are getting at with these spirit camps. A lot of things are falling into place, like Pam said. There are probably some monies available from BIA and we have some monies available too. This is a start. It will be interesting to see what happens in Paris next week when we meet with UNESCO. Maybe they will have their checkbooks open, I don’t know. Also, I was talking to Gary King, from the Kellogg Foundation. They have been pretty good to us. They have been supporting our project for the past 2-3 years, with 2-3 million dollars. He told me that if we go to Paris and it really doesn’t work out, he actually said they have an open checkbook for us. They give out about 450 million dollars a year in grants and funds to especially to projects like this. I think the last thing, like Pam said, the weather is pretty nice so maybe we can go to the Chilkoot camp. We have a couple of hours to get some of our feeling across and talk about what we need to talk about.

Matilda: At our last meeting in Ft. Yukon, we talked about a helping hand, and the times we have mentioned that you might be able to help us. I think right now our main concern is our building. Next month our cultural program starts and we still haven’t move our building. We just never seemed to get the money from somewhere to help us move it. It will be the quarters for the young people.

Don: Well, Pam and I have been talking about that and we think we will be able to come up with some things. We will work on it.

Pam: Woody was saying today he was going (we wrote a proposal for subsistence and one of the items was to cover that for sure) to add two additions to Raven———-, with luck we should know about that in a couple days. If not, then Don will see what he can do, but it has to be done fast.

Don: That was Dr. Matthews who just drove up. His wife is with him, he will bring her in and introduce her and then she is going out shopping. But he wants to sit in and see what is going on. He makes a lot of the monetary decisions for my office so he is pretty vital.

You know, the Cooperative Extension Service, for the last couple years has spent more in the State of Alaska than they have ever done in their existence. I give credit to few organizations for doing that. They work with everything in the villages from gardening to tanning to developing educational curriculum. The legislature is looking at them as a vital entity in the State and it is developing the whole State. That’s why Dr. Matthews is here, he is interested, he is not a nosy white man.

Introduction of Dr. Matthews and Barbara Matthews, and the task force members.

Don: Dr. Matthews is interested in things like this with Alaska Natives and that is the reason I asked him to come down.

Pam: I wanted this morning to look at Blake’s tape.

Blake: The equipment is still coming down. Tome went to get it. The paper I have here is about the program in B.C. on the ReDiscovery project, so we will have a copy for each of you take back with you. After we see the video, you can read up on this. It is good to have this paper, if you are going to get a copy of the video. It tells what our camp is all about.

We started this camp in 78, in Massett because we found that we were having a lot of trouble with juvenile delinquents in the court house. We started off with, every two weeks we would have six kids out with three guides. Now our camp has expanded and we have six guides, two cooks, and maybe 3 or 4 volunteers every two weeks and we have 14 kids out there. Plus we have about 3 or 4 elders fly out to our camp and spend 4 or 5 days with the kids. They talk about the old villages around where our camp is set up. They teach them basket weaving and some of the old guys would talk about the carvings and old petroglyphs that we have around the old village sites. Since we started this program, like I said, our court rate, 40% of the list was juveniles. But since we started our program our court rate went from 40% to 18%. So we dropped it to half for juvenile delinquents in our village. Besides having this summer program, we have a follow-up program in the winter in the youth center. That includes all the elders of the village teaching them button blanket making, carving, there are some wood carvers and some of the guys carve in argillite, and basketweaving. We also use the elder’s homes when we get fish and stuff, we show them how to preserve the food. The way that works is, what our kids do in the village is, half of what we can up or preserve for winter, half will stay with the ReDiscovery program and the other half will be distributed in the village to the elders that can’t go out and get the stuff themselves. We have a big list in the office of the elders and we will distribute it out. It is hard to describe the program until after we see the tape, but out at the camp it is a wilderness survival camp and cultural heritage. What we are trying to do is bring back the heritage that the elders used to have. We are getting it back slowly into our village now. We teach kids how to survive. We tell them when the tides out, your table is set. When we first talk about it, they don’t understand but after 3-4 days with us they finally get to see what we mean the tides out, your table is set, because there is so much food out there. Plus in the forest there is so much stuff that they can pick and use for food, and build shelter out of driftwood on the beach. A couple of you read this article yesterday. The camp we have has a few simple basic rules that we use. We tell the kids what you kill, you have to eat. At our camp, we tell them that if you need any building materials, don’t cut any live trees down. Go down the beach and take the driftwood up and start building your campsite out of that. Instead of cutting live trees, even cutting the branches down, we don’t cut anything up. We try to keep our camp as natural as possible. On this program, we have a 35-mile hike down the west coast. The funny thing about this hike is that, our Armed Forces people did this hike one way, 17 miles for them. They were carrying a small day pack, a canteen of water and trail mix. It took them 3 days to do that hike. When they got back into Massett they wrote up a report for the government and they said this hike is not recommended for amateurs. Since we started doing that hike, we have 4 hikes down the coast every year, on the whole thing we have never had an accident on the hike. In our camp the only thing we had was a twisted knee in the 7 years we have been operating out there. The Attorney General and Social Service agency has given us a number one rating for summer camp and for helping out with the younger people. The social services use us in the summer. If they are going to put someone in a foster home and they don’t have a home right away, they refer the to our program and the kid will come with us for two weeks. It give the social service time to find a new home for them. If they can’t find a home, they ask us if we can keep them for another session, and we say —Sure, no problem, we will keep them for another session. It is for both Native and non-Native, this camp we have. Since the Armed Forces moved in we have a lot of their kids come out. When the Armed Forces first moved to Massett, we had a lot of trouble trying to adjust to them and them trying to adjust to us. We could feel the prejudice between the Armed Forces and the Natives in the community. But now that we have this program, we go up to the Armed Forces when they get new people into the village and we talk to them about our summer camp and about the people in the village, orientate them to living in a small town, how to act around us. If we say “Hi” to them, to stop and talk or something. Before we started doing that, when we used to say “Hi” to them they would just walk away with their nose up in the air. We finally started getting mad at them and told them—We’re here, and we have been here longer than you so don’t try to pull that high and mighty stuff on us. For awhile there were a lot of fights between the Armed Forces and the Natives. But now that we started orientating them, some of the people have been coming to our camp as volunteers.

Don: I think one good point that Blake was talking about is that the spirit camps have to include everybody. You know we have to work with groups here in Alaska, it doesn’t matter if they are white, blue, green or yellow. When 1991 gets here, they will work with us. We even have a couple Outside Indians here to work with!!, or Dr. Matthews!

Paul: Ever since I went to the meeting in Ft. Yukon, I have been thinking about how can we start one over there in Galena or Ruby. Yesterday when I was getting on the plane, I heard one of my friends tried to shoot himself, and he shot his arm off. Two weeks before that I had another friend who shot himself. It is a problem, to me it is a problem. To the elderly people, it just tears the hell our of them, the suicide. I am very much interested in Blake’s tape. There has to be a way to help these troubled individuals.

Don: It is good to hear about different aspects of camps around the state and around the country. The good thing about it is we can use it for our own camps. We have to realize when 1991 comes, those kids will be 21-25 years old, leaders.

Blake: What we found in our program is that for the staff and participant ratio is 2 participants for 1 staff member. You find with that ratio that you have more personal contact with the kids. We divide them up in groups, there will be a junior guide and a senior guide with four kids. When we do it that way, by the end of the two week session, there is such an attachment between the youth and yourself as a guide. They will come to you and talk about problems they have in town. You have been out in camp, but you also know what has been going on in town. You can take them aside and talk to them. There is one part in our program. We call it the Wanagun Spot, what we do is, every morning after breakfast, we give the kids pen and paper and tell them to go out there and find a nice quiet spot and stay there for 15-20 minutes by yourself. Write down your thoughts or even make a drawing of the spot you picked. We make them do that every day and then we look at it and get some of their stuff written down and use it in newspaper articles and magazine articles. On the last day we make them do it, we give them a pen and paper and an envelope. We say—Write down your thoughts or make a drawing, seal it in the envelope and put your name and address on there, figure out where you will be two years from now. In two years we will mail you what you wrote. What we try to do is not have too many kids come back every summer. There are so many different youths on the islands, we try to get them to go one year and take one or two years off and then come back. We found that it seems to work real good. We get new kids every summer. I have seen some of our staff, senior guides, that big macho ones in camp who are looking after them all, but when it is time to leave, I have seen those big macho senior guides with tears in their eyes because the kids are leaving. They grow so attached to each other in the camp. After that, when you get back into Massett, we’re out all summer, an d the mail is stacked in the office from kids who have been in the program.

Austin: Since I came from Ft. Yukon, I have been going to that elders meetings that we have in Juneau. The time when I came back I went to the Governor’s Mansion. I think you all know that they gave me the honor for what I am doing. We had it the Governor’s Mansion and then the ANB Hall, same thing. All this what we try to do for the children, I tried to explain, not only for this camp I am working for. I work in Juneau at the school with Julie Folta. She is teaching the small children. This is what I was talking about. Something we have to think about for the children. They need to learn what we know. The paper on the wall, my grandfather’s name on it: Jim David and Joe Whiskers. They are the ones who told me stories. They talk to me about the time coming, when they call on me. Grandson, sit by me. The story we been telling you since you were 9 years  old, I want you to pass it on to your children and your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, they have to know it. If you don’t tell that story with the children, when you die, everything is going to die, what we are telling you. So pass it on, so they could learn it. This is what I am doing in Juneau, when I am talking to the teachers over there in a meeting. I told them, I need your help, you are teaching my grandchildren. What I have to say. I told them how the Tlingit work together. When I was sitting there, like what Don has here (tape recorder) put it down. And I don’t have nothing. I am just talking. How they train me through my grandfathers when they teach me what to do. That’s when they tell me about the little baby, you are going to have children. You have to talk to them. I got all girls. So what they tell me, I talk to them. When you talking to the newborn baby, just leave it in your arm and talk to them, before you drink water, before you wash your mouth, just talk—You are going to be a girl, you will become a woman, a married woman, you will have children. You have to listen to whoever is talking to you. This is what they tell me, even the boys side—You will be a man when you grow up. You will learn how to work for your children. All this, what they tell me, it is inside of our heads, it is stuck like glue. When that little baby listen, it stays there, everything what we say. Anytime when you start talking, everything is going to come out in front of you, like the tape when it starts talking. That’s the way it is. That is the reason why we have to talk to our baby, newborn baby, so it will stay inside the brain, what we try to teach. So this is what they do with me. I didn’t write it down. I didn’t go to school. I am just learning from what we are doing with each other. I never used to talk English. When I am working, I am learning. It stays with me, what they tell me. This is what I am doing with the children. The way I put it out in front of the teacher. These trees we see all around us, the roots are together. Spruce, hemlock, pine tree, birch, everything. What is growing under, some berries, salmonberries, raspberries, everything that is growing has roots. All the roots stays together. Then the grass grows and the flower grows. Right now you see the trees that are coming out now, just like a newborn baby they start growing and coming out. Our grandchildren now, they are just like a flower growing under the trees. Anyplace where you look there are different colors. When I opened the camp here, they asked me—What are you going to do, just the Tlingit, you are going to teach them? I told the—No, that is for everybody. From Hoonah, they told me I am crazy. I told them maybe I am crazy. We used to be crazy ourselves. We used to fight with our white brothers. Now we adopt them, different colors. My son was married with white girl. My daughter was married with a white. Some of them are married with the Filipinos. They are all different colors. This is what the flower is. All different colors, what is growing. This is the children, they are growing as the grass and the flower. They are newborn babies, they have to learn.

When I was talking there, the teachers were listening. This is what I want my grandchildren to learn, everyone of them. Like what I mention, all these different trees; we are all in the family. The trees have a life like we are, anything that is growing has a life, even the grass. My grandfather used to tell me—This grass growing, it is nothing to you, but to us, there is something in there that will help us. Any sickness that we get we will pick it out what will help us. So you have to respect it, just like you respect the one sitting next to you. All the flowers, the trees, you have to respect. Before you drop, you have to talk to that tree. Where you are going to drop it, you have to put something there, so it won’t break. Then you talk to the tree—I have a bed for you now, to lay down on it. Just to help us out, lay down on it. We need you. When it drops, it don’t break. Some people don’t do it, they just drop it. If they drop it on a rock, it will break. They have a spirit just like we do. This is what I am teaching at the school. All the salmon, all the seal, all the animal on the mountains, they are like us. So I told them—God create us in this world. Different place where we stay, we have to work to take care of it. If we go someplace, like I went to Arizona, they have the flat country. They have all different kinds of animals to take care of. This is the reason why I really started this place, I have to tell my grandchildren all what we have on the mountain.

There is a story about mountain goats. He (a man) got stuck on the mountain. He was chasing the mountain goat. Where it went there was a little trail. He followed it. There were a thousand feet to fall and that man got stuck. He just start shaking. He said the mountain goat has to go back. The mountain goat is eating it and he picked it out and give it to that man who was stuck there. So he start eating it. The man was stuck there. To him where he got stuck, it just flattened out for him. He has to stand up and the mountain goat has to go back with him until they get in a safe place. The mountain goat walked, and he didn’t kill it. So this is the story we have to learn together with our white brothers, whoever they are. We have to respect everything, like that tree when you are going to drop it. After you kill the bear, you can’t just take the knife out and skin it there where the sand is or the mud. The spirit is always watching you. This is what they are telling me. Stand behind you from that bear. If you fix it, put the branches and roll it and put another on the other place. When you are cutting the meat, you have to put something there again. When the spirit goes back, like us sitting here if somebody comes through the door—How did they treat you. Well, they treat me nice, the way I was laying down. They put some bed under me. The way they put everything there. Then they tell it, now you hear that, you go to that man. But if we don’t take care of it, if he tells we don’t take care of it right, then they will tell it—don’t go there. This is the reason why we got lots of killing from hunting, if we don’t take care of it. So this is what I have been teaching to the children, even our village. Tell the story about where you are born, what you know about the village, let them know it. I hear brothers talking about 1991, what they are going to do. Now the ones growing, if we don’t tell the story, like what I am saying now, if the time comes, if they need it, what they going to bring it up if we don’t tell the story about our land. I got a box there, there is a Chilkoot blanket in there. It is not writing like this. The Raven show us how to put it on. That is our history that I have there. We learn it from the Raven. This is what we have to teach the children. Our land, now that blanket I was talking about. That is a Chilkoot story on it. If I bring it out, if you see it. I don’t know if you can tell me the story on it. But we know it. Because we don’t tell you the story  you can’t learn it until I tell the story with you, then you know it. I got quite a few of them in there.

So it is good to talk about the camp, about where he is teaching. Now this mountain I was talking about, the mountain goat. Some man is going to come up to teach the kids how to go up on the mountain. This is what we need in Alaska. You can see how high the mountains are, with the snow. This is what I was talking about, the mountain goat. Mountain goat they call them, but they don’t stay in the mountain in the winter time. They have to come down to the shelter, under the tree. I went hunting over there. That is when I see a place where the mountain goat gets together like we are. There is a lake there. They could see the sign of the mountain goat, the way they have been sitting around the lake. They get together, they are learning what we are learning.

tape 1, side 2

Austin: Brown bear, big ears. They could hear when we are talking about them. If I say something bad about the brown bear, I am not going to go very far. They will get after me. All these things what I try to tell. They know it. They are learning more. Even the fish. A long time ago, we used to use linen driftnet. Now we use nylon, all different colors. Now if I put linen in there, I wouldn’t catch any fish. They already know it. Our people used to live with the fish for one year under water. How many white people live with fish for one year? This young man, when he came back to his hometown, he became a Shaman. He is the one who told us how the salmon live. We know all the animals, all the fish, how they live. So this is what I was telling the white people when I go to the meetings. So they listen to me. We were talking about our subsistence. Right now, today, I was supposed to be with the Governor, but for this meeting, I have to come over. But I told Woody Morrison about it, my feeling, and he will be there. What we need to learn together, like what I said, there are all different kinds of flowers growing. Our people, our children, grandchildren, they are going to grow together. They have to know the feeling with each other when they are growing together. My grandfather used to tell me that story, I know it. They call me all in Juneau—Grandpa, even here in town. A little girl came to me, a white girl—Grandpa, you have to sit by me. This is what I am doing. I don’t want to push anybody out. I want them to be in, to work together. So we are here, and we have to learn from each other. That is what I want to talk about. Thank you.

Simon: I never been to school. I was raised out in the woods. At that time there was no school. But today I have a carpentry job, a good job. I like to learn at this meeting. I like to help people from other villages. We need help, a lot of people need help. A lot of teachers need help. We do things that look hard, it’s hard for us, because we don’ t know, but not hard because we find a lot of good things. From this meeting, a lot of things are going on stronger. We need peace. Maybe, someday someone will come in and thank you for helping. That way we learn. Since the Ft. Yukon meeting, I think about it. I like to help my people. My wife feels the same way too. When I was raised out in the woods, a lot of times my father went fishing and hunting every day. What my father catch we eat everyday, fish or meat or rabbit. We never see that kind of life nowadays. It is so easy. A lot of kids just don’t know, they need help today. I am glad I came on this trip. I feel good this morning. The weather is so nice. I hope God be with us. Thank you.

Howard: It is like Austin was saying. It is a good thing. That is what I am doing too. There is a story behind everything. Like the birds. Just like the dance, you know the twist. Everybody figure the twist came from the white people, but it didn’t. That is what I tell people. I work in the schools in Fairbanks. I don’t care who they are, I am willing to teach them. Some of the kids ask if I get paid for this. Some I do get paid, some I don’t. They are honest about it too. I tell them right from the bottom, I don’t leave nothing out. I go right straight through, how I learn and what I learn from people. I learn quite a bit from you people, how you are talking. I was here last summer and I learned quite a bit. Everywhere I go, someone has my work. Everywhere I work, I leave my work. Like these things here, the fishwheel and snowshoes. I leave my work. This way they remember, and they say—Where did that come from and they say—Oh, Howard Luke made that for me. Therefore they can follow it, they can see how it is made. Now that I am trying to do now, I have one kid to teach this summer. I am going to take him all over with me and I am going to teach him how to cut birch and how to bend it. I am going to tell him stories and tape it. He is from here, he is Tlingit, but he is going to talk mine. That is what I want. He wants to learn. A lot of people want to learn, but they just don’t know how to go right. It’s just like the drinking problem. I had my problem. I go around too, and tell people and talk to them about how it was done. I go over to the University once in awhile and talk to people about how it was done. What I say, I say—Nobody can help you, it is just on your own. You got to take it on your own. that is what I did. I just went out on my own. I was losing my friends. The only time I had friends was when I had money. My mother told me—Now is the time you better step forward. I won’t be living with you all the time. What I taught you, you got to pass it on. Pass it on to your nephew, to everybody. So that is what I would like to do. I work mostly around Fairbanks, but next winter, I will be travelling around to most of the schools. Whoever wants me to work in the schools, I will work there. That is what I will be doing. I would like to take that kid with me, but he has to go to school. In 1991 these kids, the younger generation, some of them won’t be able to speak for themselves. So I want to try to tell them to teach the young generation. Where I work, they listen. Last year there was a Spirit Days in Anchorage. I talked, I made everybody make speech. Nobody said nothing. I talk everywhere I go. So I said—Everywhere I go, I always talk to young people. People said—Oh, the young generation, they don’t listen. It’s not what I’m saying—they are listening. After I got through talking a young girl got up and said we are listening. We will use what you are telling us. It is a good thing too. These things you got to carry on. I tell a lot of my people that too. In Minto and Nenana, that is practically my hometown. I try to tell them that. I told one old man down there. He said—I try to, but they don’t listen to me. I tell him they are listening, but they aren’t going to tell you right away. He said—I learned the hard way so they have to learn the way I learned. I said, It’s not the way to look at it. I was brought up poor. My mother was the one that taught me all this stuff. How to cut birch, and all of that. I hunt for old people and they teach me how to do these things—when the moose is going to lay down. I tell the young kids that too. It is a good thing, so these things will carry on just like the dances and stuff like that. Some of them up there, it seems like they don’t want to carry it on. This year is the first year I am going to miss that meeting in Holy Cross. I wanted to go down there, but I don’t think I can make it. That is what I bring up at the meetings. I talk about these things. Some of them say they are going to start one down in Minto, last spring. They have a school everynight, but they don’t have a survival camp or nothing. If I start my camp around there, I don’t know where I am going to get, I guess most of the kids will come from Fairbanks, but I want to get them from all over. That way they will learn. I want to get a kid who knows how to do these things, so they could carry on. This kid that I am going to teach, that is what he will be doing too. Seems like he is going to catch on right away, the way he act. I know it will be good for them. That’s about all I got to say.

Dr. Matthews: I have listened and read the report of your earlier meetings and talked to a lot of people over the years and you have a very eloquent statement of concerns and trying to figure out how best to do something about it and striking on some way that makes a lot of sense such as the camp ideas where people can learn things and pass on traditions. It is a way of doing it that makes a lot of sense. It is one way and there needs to be, I think, lots of other ways like Austin was saying, getting more into the schools so that different settings for the stories so that young people could be exposed to different ways to do things. Not only in the schools, but university settings too so that there will be a broad understanding of some of the concerns. I think trying to figure out how best to put an educational setting together, I think the way you are doing it here is a good start. How to bring it about and extend into other structures is a real challenge. I’m interested in seeing how that will all come together. I think the next step is to bring people from those kind of structures into the sessions. I know, Don, we have talked about that. It is very, very important to move slowly and steadily I guess. I like the idea you had for camp, the results you have with young people by giving them positive experiences.


Don: The information we can talk about, what we need for our trip.

Pam: This afternoon, or tonight, I want to talk to you folks and get your ideas. When we go to Paris, one of the things they want to discuss with us is how do we know that what we are doing is working, how can we tell other people, in other parts of the globe, who are indigenous people trying to face the same situation with forced rapid change and problems with alcohol and drug abuse. They want to know what we are doing, and how we know what we are doing is working. I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. I have some ideas, but I would really like to have a discussion about it. That is the main thing on my mind for this evening as far as getting us ready to go overseas. Two years ago, two women from Ketchikan went over the United Nations office. They were from the Health Systems Agency in Ketchikan I had worked with them on other projects. It sort of threw them the way I got to know Don and how we came to form this support team and task force. Well, the women went to Paris and met with people at UNESCO and started talking about the idea of a cultural spirit camp. At that time, there were two officers within UNESCO who were really interested in this idea. They said they would like us to submit a proposal last fall. Of course, we weren’t even a task at that time, it was too soon for us. Now we are a task force, we are pulled together, but in the meantime something happened. The President of the United States pulled the United States out of UNESCO. So the meeting that we are having in Paris is called a informal meeting because that is political protocol. In reality we are meeting with a fairly high-level person there. They moved us up one level from last year in who we are talking with. Instead of calling it a formal meeting it is called an informal meeting. Maybe we just break even on that, I don’t really understand.

I think it will be good after we see this tape, we can get an idea of how after seven years a camp operation looks. tomorrow, we need to hit hard on what people are doing and what the status of all the camps are.

Dr. Matthews: One of the things I was thinking about while you were talking, and also listening to Howard is that camp is a real learning setting for Indian people, traditionally. In another perspective a camp is more of a recreation activity. How can we best describe camp as a very high potential learning kind of a situation so it means what we are trying to do with it. What I have heard from listening to Don talk about it, it seemed like a very interesting idea, but I didn’t really appreciate the significance of it.

Jonathan: Nobody does. You are learning by just being there. It doesn’t have to be an organized camp. Even if you go on the Yukon River and go to any fish camp it becomes a spiritual camp when three people speak their own language. Of course, when three people speak their own language, the Indian spirit is there.

Pam: It occurred to me last night that when we have been talking about camp, we have talked as though they all have to look the same way. Originally, when we were discussing this, we never imagined that every place that had a spirit camp would all be the same. Howard, when we were in Ft. Yukon, you talked about taking 2 or 3 young people as apprentices. That i a kind of a camp too. And what Jonathan was saying about dropping people off at fish camp, they don’t have to be formal, organized camps. It seems that the conversations we have been having are carrying us this way. I don’t want to close the door to other ideas especially since each community will have to come up with what will work best. That is the only thing I was thinking we have to cover in the next day and a half. Do you have anything that you would like to see added into our discussion?

Don: I would like Eber to speak about some of the the things we heard this morning from Austin and Howard and Simon and Blake.

Eber: I was telling Don when I was listening to people talk this morning it seemed like I heard different strengths and different approaches in different places that are all necessary and valuable. When I was listening to Austin, I heard that the stories are strong teaching stories. They teach values, identity, the basics of teaching a person how to live. Because our ethics or our values or the choices we make—whether to sell the land or not to sell the land, or to fish in one way or to fish in a different way—those things are not just in our minds, but also with our feelings. How we feel about the animal stories, or the land. So I heard that coming through on the stories and then when I was listening to Blake, I heard a different way of teaching. He was talking about the experiences, and the students writing a letter to themselves to read two years late. It seems like there was a different kind of survival skills that he was talking about. They were survival skills not just for wilderness, but survival skills for living in non-native society as well. When Howard was talking, I heard the Native technology, Native skills, Native arts and crafts—how we actually do these things. It seemed like for a cultural camp that all of those three were a necessary part of that for the learning. That is what I was thinking about when various people were talking. I was also remembering something about how do you get the camp manager. Or how do you find the right manager for the camp, how do you get the teachers, and the right staff. That seems very important. What Dr. Matthews was saying—how do you teach the teachers, or how do you get into the school. There needs to be some way of, maybe in the places where there is a camp going now and it is working well, maybe to bring in a few people to be teacher trainees or camp manager trainees. They could have the experience of actually seeing how it is done in a way that works.

Matilda: I think it is like what I said in Ft. Yukon. We had the same questions—where do we find all these people to teach the children. In looking at our own people we found that we didn’t have to look far. We found out our own people had a talent that they could offer. We found a survival skills consultant, a silver carver, a wood carver, a drum maker, a storyteller. We got a Raven and a Eagle storyteller on a volunteer basis. All the teachers we needed we found among our own people. So we have the ability to teach the young people ourselves. After all, the idea is to pass on to them what our parents taught us. I was just trying to imagine in my mind the kind of camp that Massett, ReDiscovery camp has. I still can’t untangle it in my mind yet, but in my mind I can see a camp. It is hard for me to visualize. I would almost have to go there and spend two weeks. I am camp manager here and I am still learning. That is the only way our people can be teachers now as far as taking it upon themselves to help the young people. Everyone here has an ability that some of us don’t have. I think it has been good for us to use our own people because in turn, it helps them too because they are helping Indian people. At lot of times, most of out teachers were senior citizens. When you get that old, and they feel they have nothing to do, they are put on a shelf. Well, that is not so because their mind is so full of ideas and things that they can pass on to the young people. I sure would like to go to the ReDiscovery camp. I learn more by seeing.

Jonathan: I agree with her. You can go to any village in interior Alaska and the resources you need for a camp is walking down the street. If an Athabascan woman can’t run a camp with 12 children, she is not an Athabascan woman!

Viewing of ReDiscovery Video Tape

Austin: Story about the dream.

Come out by the table there. We will find out why you are here. He doesn’t have anything in his hand. So he let me sit on the corner like this. In the middle he put his hand. He is talking in his own words. I don’t understand what he is saying. Then he turned around. there is nothing against you, what you are doing to help the people. So there is nothing that you are doing wrong. I woke up and I told my wife. When I fall asleep again, he came to me again, that man, a second time. He told me—Now this time you go up on that big table there. For sure we will find out. So I got up there, same thing he was doing. Everything was on that big table. It was full, there were a lot of people sitting around it. He was putting his hand on it. He came to me again. For sure there is nothing against you. All that is on this table belongs to you, whatever you want to do. So I have to stand up and pass it around. This is the reason I am not afraid of doing all this here. When I woke up I told my wife again about the dreams. When I got through, the last one, when I fall asleep, the same man came to me. This time he told me to go on the platform up there. We will give you something that you could go with it. So he came with a big box, square and high. You take this and look for the manager and the coach and give it to him. So I went and I keep asking—Do you know where the manager and the coach is? He is way over there. I keep walking. All the people are around. When I keep asking, they told me—Well, they are standing there. So I bring that box to them. They told me, they sent me with this box, to give it to you. I don’t know what’s in it. I give it to them, they opened it. There was a little piece of paper in there and they read it to me. Then they turn it over to me. When they opened the box and took that out, it is a catcher’s glove. It is all gold and shiny. The man who put it on told me, anyplace we are we are going through the whole States. Your name is going to be all over the world. What you give it to us. That is what they told me. This is the reason why I am not afraid to fix this one (video tape). I talked to my dancers and song leader about what we have to do. So this is what we got on the tape. That is why I send it all around. Some people buy it. So the children could see what we are doing here. So they will show you what I am talking about. That is the Chilkoot. That is what we fix about it, we talk about the subsistence, our landmarks. When we go up there, I will show you the other one since the flood. What lies there. It is there, up on top the mountain. I could show you that one.

Viewing of Austin Hammond’s Tape

Don: Films like this is really helpful for us to understand people from around the state, how they live and what they are asking for. I appreciate something like this. It gives us a better insight while we are down here and when we go out to Chilkoot camp. It helps us to understand things like this. It’s the same way people in Elutna are doing, and people losing their land in the North Slope due to oil. I wish we could do something like this for all the different areas around the State. I know that Dr. Matthews appreciates this. Being a non-native and a outsider!

Science and Third World Issues (PDF)

Dr. Shigeru “Sam” Kounosu, Japanese theoretical physicist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, worked with notable figures such as Robert Oppenheimer. In his candid letters and lecture drafts, Dr. Kounosu explores possible connections between physics and native science, one of the first scientists of western training to do so.

For International Discussion Group

(Draft II. Jan.22, ’90.)

What “Science” got to do with the Third World Issues?

Problem Solving, Discourse, Learning and Enoblement.

Let us try Word Association Game. What is the first thing that comes to your mind in hearing these two words; “Science” and “Third World”?

It may be “Scientific-Technological Aid to the Third World”. We see the Third World Nations are sadly lacking in Science. So send “Science” to Africa, Asia, or Latin America? But how can we send “Science”? Do we mean text books on science? Information or data? Instruments? Medical supply? New variety crop seeds?

They have something to do with Science, but that is not quite the same as “Science”. “Science” is a mental entity and cannot be packaged and shipped off. So we send scientists? That is ok as a short term measure. But, in the long run, it may become a neo-colonialist domination of these nations under intellectual supervision of our scientists. That does not “empower” people in Science, but rather make them more dependent.

Science are often said to be Objective and Materialistic. But Science used in producing material objects and appreciated by consumers is in the Minds of people who make these things. Viewed from producer’s side, Science as a “Power/Ability of Thinking” is more to do with Imaginations, Adventure, Dream than Material Objects.

Beyond that we can think of Science as “Power/Ability to Reason” (i.e. Theoretical sense of Science) which has nothing to do with material objects. Moreover, “World Citizens” are interested in development of the “Power/Ability to Understand” which is one step higher Science than the Power/Ability to Reason.

(It may be of interest to you to look back how the word/concept of “Citizen” emerged in our History. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others talked of distinction of “Citizen” from Slaves, Subjects of Master/Rulers. Citizens have certain Powers and Sovereign Will They were talking of political issues, but we could think of meaning of “Citizenship” in Science. Are we not mere passive consumers in Science, and hence slaves?]

For emergency situations, material aid is necessary. But “Development” is aimed at eliminating the need of “Aid”. In that sense, we have to think of Third World Issues in terms of Empowerment at least, if not in terms of Mutual Understanding. And in this, the consumer sense of Science is inappropriate. The Dependency is the problem. We have to think of ways to foster Third World Science, which is not dependent on our Science (EuroAmerican Science).

“Scientific Colonialism” in our mind has to be eliminated first of all.

Well, some think of inviting students from former colonial countries into Canadian universities and make them scientists that these countries need. We are doing that to some extent.

But then we might think of “Brain Drain” from poor countries to wealthy countries like Canada and the U.S. The third world countries not only have very small number of scientists, but they “export” a large number of scientists to the “First World”. In the U.S., some 1/3 of graduate students in Science and Engineering are from foreign nations. Some do go home after receiving degrees, but the most of them do not, for a simple reason that they cannot find job in home countries.

For that matter, I can tell you that the majority of Physicists of my age or above in the U.S. wer born in midwestern states, such as North and South Dakota. They were sons of famers in the “Dust Bowl”. They became PhD. physicists and moved to Cities at eastern sea coasts and in California. They did not go back to their home states. The economics dictates where scientists go.

Some of you might ask why we do not start “Science Transfer” by doing Science Education right in the Third World nations. The First World nations could donate money for facilities, teachers, library materials, and scientific information. Although, Science (and Technological) Education is 3 to 4 times expensive per student relative to the ordinary Education, UNESCO, for example, see it imperative and would welcome that. I myself once went on a CIDA mission to an African country. I taught Mathematical Theory of System Control to 3 Master and 2 Ph D. program students in a university. I can tell you what it was like.

It does not work. The reason is a bit complicated, but I think it is important that we understand this — that is; if we care about the Third World Issues beyond the level of donating money for Emergency Relief operations.

2. We are looking at problems of long term Development, which takes different level of thinking.  Unfortunately, we do not really think about Development, but rather think of “Rescuing” operations. Pardon me to say this, but even World Citizens Centre directs its appeal to “Pity” on, if not “Guilt” for “Unfortunate Poor People”. The appeal comes with “shocking news” about extreme poverty, deprivation, oppression and tragedy. In that sense, World Citizen’s Centre is a Philanthropic Organization, which is beautiful. But in usual sense, “Philanthropy” is understood as a matter of feeling. And from that point of view, the Third World Issue has nothing to do with Science. Science is perceived as a “cold hearted” intellectual exercise that some intellectual elite, specialists do.

[Incidentally, the number of professional scientists in the world today is about a million or so, and 90% or more is in the “First World” countries.

However, this number depends on how we define who are to be called “scientists”. We shall have to discuss this problem. But, you note that if we identify “Science” to be what these professional scientists are doing, it amounts to be an activity of a very small number of specialized people. It is like 2 in 10,000 people, and the rest of people have nothing much to do with Science.

If people could not care less about science, that is entirely natural.

Of course, this is a misperception. But the existence of the misperception is related to the essence of the issue of Development. It is not enough to say it is wrong. We have to discuss and learn how the misperception is created and find ways to correct it.]

Naturally, people feel they have nothing to do with Science even in their daily life in Canada, let alone seeing its relevance to people of the Third World countries.

[Dr. Hellen Cardicott said “Science is and Intellectual Masturbation”, when she came to Lethbridge to give a lecture. Dr. Cardicott was not too far off the mark in characterizing what we today identify as “Science”. But I think it not so harmless as she characterized it.

perhaps, it is more accurate to say “the Science today is Bureaucratization of human intelligence”. It can be powerful like a huge machine for the service to the Power. But for the service to people, it is totally inoperable machine. Many individual scientists have humanitarian ideals and good intentions, just as bureaucrats as individuals do. But as long as the system is unchanged, it is almost futile to try any thing within. Individuals might do some spectacular good, but they then will be promoted out of reach of people, and the system remain intact. They may change office space arrangements — such as “open space concept” —. But the Inhumanity of the system has only increased, every time it moved to new office building. Likewise, the remoteness of Science from Humanity has only increased, every time new specialization was added to Science and research grant money increased.]

I do not deny the beauty and importance of Humanitarian concerns and Moral feeling. They are starters. Without that, nothing can be done. But, they are the Gates, through which we come to learn something more than the atrocious living condition in the Third World countries. I think of this process of “Learning On” to be the essence of “Science”. This is critically important point, in my view.

Pity, Sympathy, Concern, Empathy, Interest, Benevolence, Love, Care, are important. I think they are essential and beautiful. But a critical question is “Are we Learning?”

Putting it bluntly, are we not patronizing — no doubt without intending to be so? We think we are fortunate enough to be in some position to help these people in the Third World. That is true. But then, are we not thinking as if we are “Teachers” who know, able to think better, and to tell these people what to do. We want to Teach our superior knowledge to those who are not as knowledgeable and smart as we are. It does not often occur to us that even Teachers have to Learn.

I admit we university professors are worse. We think we are so superior in knowing things that we need not Learn for teaching — we do research just for getting salary increment and personal prestige. In teaching we have a funny notion inherited from good old days. Old fashioned teachers apparently felt that they could not show any sign of Learning in front of their students, because that means lack of “authority” in their part. This attitude came from “teaching” in Religious institutions. In my  view, one cannot do Science in such an attitude. I hope today they are extinct in science education in elementary and secondary schools. But it certainly persists in universities, where professors pretend to know everything and have nothing more to learn, particularly in science teaching. I think “Teaching” as such is the opposite of Science.

For that reason and others, I think Science ought not be taught, but ought to be Discoursed. Discourse is Learning in a group of people, by a community. It has to be Participatory and mutual.

I think when Brandt Report called for “North-South Dialogue”, it meant Discourse. But people might have taken “Dialogue” to mean just talking or negotiating. The report implied, but did not stress “Learning” sufficiently clear. Of course, people connected to World Citizen centre got the meaning right. If so, saying that “Both Development and Science is Learning” is not strange to you. Perhaps, some of you had word association among “Development, Science, Learning” instantly. But if I may say so, association of Science/Development and Discourse is not quite easy and there are “good reasons” for that.

For one thing, in ordinary word usages, “Development” means Economic Growth, such as making factories to make things for export. and Science means Knowledge — that “Dead Knowledge” printed in text books which we are forced to memorize for no rhyme nor reason. The common usages of these words represent what we actually do with these things. That we begun to disagree with the common word usages signifies that we have come to feeling the problems.

But having problems is the starting point of Science and Development. For Science and Development are Problem Solving. We cannot have one without the other — I think of analogy to Love Affairs; relations that are not somewhat problematic is not really Love Affair. They have to be somewhat imperfect. The humbleness to acknowledge imperfections and vulnerability is the sign of Science, as opposed to Religious Teaching. To say “I know”  is a characteristic of Religion. To say “I do not know’ is the distinguishing mark of Science. Religions cannot be wrong. Science has to be fallible and open to change. For this reason, if we get every thing too easy, intellectually or otherwise, we are in trouble.

Human beings who do not know come together and do Science, and they do so because they have problems. Those who have no problem would not waste time for it, though there is an intrinsic sense of pleasure in meeting with people, regardless of its excuse. The “come together” (i.e, Participation) makes the Discourse. It has to do with process of knowing, but Knowledge is not Discourse hence not Science. In this sense, A.A. meetings are doing real Science. What Scott Peck is describing as “Wonderful Experiences” in Different Drum are “Discourses” and “Science” in a verb sense.

[As to this sense of Science, I wrote a story “Raven The First Native Scientist”. My “Requiem for Chester Heavy Runner Jr.” also written for what I think “Science” out to be. I do not know whether I was correct as to Native Science or not, but that is my way of trying things out. Copies enclosed.]

In the above sense “Science” is “Human Development” in a communal/social scale. Some economists have talked about this in terms of “Infra-Structure” to Economy. Phrases like “Human Investment” has been used to talk about this in Developmental Economics. But, vocational education of individual ability for market competition was still a strong overtone to Economists’ talks. Economic cannot easily change its metaphysics of utilitarian rationality. A few economists pointed out a need of Paradigm Shift in that science, but there is little sign that a new Paradigm is emerging. [*1]

Likewise, social thinkers have started to talk of “Human Development” — needed in the First World Nations. Jane J. Mansbridge in Beyond Adversary Democracy wrote;

“A few philosophers have recently sounded the alarm against the increasingly self-interested focus of public life. They call for a return to preadversary conceptions of the common good, lllll and to relations of fellowship and community.”

[Basic Books 1980. p. 302. JC423 M353 U.L. Lib.]

That is “Development” is not just a problem in the Third World Nations, but it is a problem for the people in the First World Nations; i.e., us.

The “Human Science” has a task of constructing an alternative metaphysics which is humane, environmentally healthy and capable of providing basis for non-adversary human/social relations. That is why I talk of Love, Care, Grace, etc., though they are not considered in European Science today. However, in the 18th century, thinkers such as Rousseau, Hume, Mills, or even Hobbes did think of them to be proper subject of Science. Adam Smith was a professor of Moral Philosophy and he meant he was doing a Science. Of course, their Science established Utilitarian Rationality. That was equivalent to the establishment of Newtonian Physics. What we have to do is equivalent of constructing Relativity or Quantum Theory, alternatives to Newtonian Mechanics.

[*1. As to “Paradigm Shift” see; Drew Westen. Self and Society. Cambridge U. Press 1985.

BF698.9 C8 W47 U.L.Lib.

He talks of 4 Phases in changes of “Culture” (Collective Mind/Science of society) as well as in changes of individual mind (psyche, intelligence, self-concept). Interestingly, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Wm. Blake’s Four Zoas, etc, also exhibit the same “4 Phases” of change.

“Human Science” has been in existence, but so far, not recognized as “Science”. These books contain interesting “clues”, here and there. That is why I make mention of them to you.]

3. The “Wonderful Experience” stories make us to ask a harder question for ourselves — that is, if we do not wish to be “Couch Potato” spectators of Science, deluding ourselves in psychological identification with our intellectual or spiritual hero/heroines, like we do with Wayne Gretzky. What is stopping us from Discoursing=Developing=Sciencing for ourselves?

To be sure, some of us may be so conceited to see no problem like common people, and may complain that there is no problem to science with. In such a case, I would recommend to put oneself in the position of program coordinator for World Citizen’s Centre. That will guarantee t o provide as many problems as one wish, in terms of relating to people or getting them interested in Third World Issues. Or we can say to Yuppies that if they need “Quality Time” for their mental health, they can do that in discoursing on the Third World problems. If they do not have time and be deprived of “Quality Time” as such, that is a problem for them to science with.

But I think most people are fortunate enough to have problems. Rather we deny the problem and resist learning. We are like Alcoholics, intoxicating in our pride of being far above these “miserable poor ignorant people” in the Third World and protecting it by an elaborate network of delusions, deceits. “Support Network” is a popular cliche nowadays. But we have it, in terms of legitimizing and maintaining our “comfortable feeling” about our affluent consumer life style. It is a Network of Narcissism. Of course, beneath our smugness is a Fear. We feel we have a lot to lose, if we do anything to change the system. We do not wish to fall off from our “respectable” position in the Network. So we compete like in a Hell, which give rise to Yuppy life style that we all suffer. In actual matter of fact, the feeling of Powerlessness, Meaninglessness, Lovelessness, bitter cynicism, nihilism are widespread among us like epidemics. We are so afraid that we cannot admit and face our problems.

Our basic mental posture is that of Defense. Whereas “Learning” (Discourse, Science) is an openness, hence vulnerability to unknowns. One does not know what troubles one gets in, when involvement get to be “intimate”. So, we avoid that. We can learn about that problem—if there is nothing else. And it so happens that that is the same Problem as that of Development. If we cannot do Human Development, we cannot do Social Development either — or rather the two are “co-comitmental” and “Discourse” deals with both.

However, to discourse on the problems of Discourse we need something a bit more than Philanthropy. World Citizen’s Centre used to call itself a “Learning Centre”, and The Learning is the Science. But it appears that Learning Centre has had difficulties. I actually do not know enough to say this, but my impression is that Learning part of the Centre has not been easy. In terms of getting people engaged in Learning, the Centre is struggling — to put it politely. AndI would like to know what the difficulty is. I suspect it has something in common with Third World Development problems.

To argue for my contention, let me cite problems in Third World Development. Even in a very narrow technological science we do find reports of problems. Here, I cite a fiction from Mother Jones magazine [Oct 89.: “Doctor Kamikaze” by Ayi Kwei Armah. p 34-38, 46., see copy.]. It is a story of a native woman who try to do “Developing work” but shifted out of the country to a high UN office. I think fiction is based on real experience and treat it as such. (the reason why it cannot be published in the form of factual report itself is an indication of the problem that we are concerned about.)

The trouble with Dr. Kamikaze was that she did not have local participation strong enough to overcome the politics that sabotage the Development project — local politicians pocketed the Aid money and the President of the nation could not do anything much about it, because he was dependent on the “old-boy support network”.

It was a problem of Human Relation. She did not learn about Human Relations in her WEstern Education. Her Scientific (technical) Rationality was not functional in the situation. The story is sympathetic to Dr. Kamikaze and talks of the corruption of local politicians. But the story did not suggest she had paid much effort in Discoursing with local peasants either, nor did she appear to have cared to learn anything much about petty politics of the nation, other than got angry at it. It does look that this high minded lady, with Ph D from European University, descended upon local situation with an air of superiority, just like foreign scientists from UN Development Agency or CIDA would have done. Local people did not obey her command, and she get angry.

Her anger is quite justified. But “Good Will” and “Desire for Betterment” were there. the President and officials around her was rather “Kind” to her. In fact they admired her attitude of “No Bull Shit”. But “Science” was lacking. Problem was there, and everybody knew the problem. But “Problem Solving” (=science) was not there. I do not mean “Political Science”, “Social Science”, “Psycho-Science” that universities teach. I mean real Science of Discourse.

[We ought to note that the inefficiency of “corrupt petty politics” is comparable to the inefficiency of Bureaucracy. Inefficiency is not a peculiarity of “backward countries”. We have it around us, if we ourselves are not part of it.

In addition it ought to be pointed out that “Careerism” exists in any agency, and the poison fo careerism is just the same as that of corrupt petty politics. Self-interests (or self-preservation0 must take the priority over anything else, even in the career in Development Agencies. Since nobody cares about you, it is entirely justified and rational for you to look after your self-interest. Even humanitarian project becomes the means to feather one’s own nest. It is legal and rational in the Utilitarian sense, but no different in principle from the corrupted petty politics.]

Another thing we ought to note is that knowing some fantasy fictions like Black Hole sounds “Scientific” and has Academic respectability. But knowing how humans interact in intimate senses does not look like “intellectual” thing to do. It may not be “rational” nor “reasonable”. It is a favorite subject the “Pop-psychology”. But, no high paid profession so far had anything to do with human relations in the intimate sense — except perhaps “psychotherapy”, but it only deal with “pathological cases” at individualistic basis, not “normal” people in normal life at communal/social basis. Therefore Universities did not see any profit in offering a “science” for it. By the same reason, “Development” is not a subject that universities deal with, other than as a part of Political Science, Economics etc, which concern only with Utilitarian values.

Moreover, the science of human relations may have to do with Morality, Justice, Peace, or even Grace. That sounds very opposite of what we think of “Science” or “knowledge”. Our “knowledge” is mainly concerned with Power and Utility — how to exploit nature and to control/manipulate people for utilitarian purposes, in a metaphor with Newtonian Mechanics , not “wishy-washy stuffs” like Love, Care, Respect, Grace.

4. Now, suppose one tries to do Human Science, including Love, Care, Respect, Grace, in addition to Power. I am thinking of doing Science in the sense “Raven The First Native Scientist” did. In our European Cultural norm, that is a strange thing to try. One will quickly find a wall of silence, indifference, contempt, rejection. It is rare in our life style that even two people engage in discourse with earnestness. We can argue and debate in a competition, if any of us want to “make a point”. But that is in “Adversary Competition”, not in “Participatory Learning” and hence not “Science” in Raven’s sense.

This is not, however, because people are ignorant nor because they are “nasty”. It comes from much deeper roots than what we can see on the surface. For one thing, whoever try to do stuffs like “Human Development” becomes an alienated “Outsider” by a mere fact of trying odd stuffs that ordinary people would not do. In a sense, one who tries is between the world of “what is of the reality” and the world of “what can be of human community”. He or she is trying to build a Bridge between the two worlds. That means, she or he does not belong to neither one.

That is, Discourse id a Bridge, sensitive, but transient, unstable. One becomes vulnerable in that sensitivity. The position is similar to Natives in city ghettos, Native Youths adapted by Non’Native families, and worst all “Half Breeds”. In their suffering, they are doing the Bridging, not in an intellectual sense, but by their body and soul. We need to appreciate this precarious position.

I would recommend for people interested in “Human Science” to read what Paula Gunn Allen talked about “Outsider” in The Sacred Hoop, or Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony, etc.

I am trying to tell you that the being “Outsider” is common to you who attempt to Bridge two Worlds, or two Cultures and those who live in pain at the margins of society. This commonness is the precious element — Natives would say “Medicine” — that has the power of transforming the both. If there can be anything like Understanding between people, between Cultures, between the First and the Third World, this is the Medicine. That is the basis on which empowerment, ennoblement, spiritual liberation, and perhaps even grace develop.

If one is not willing to be an “Outsider”, she or he would stay in the smugness of the conventional life, or of performing bureaucratic routines. It is a voluntary servitude (Neitzsche called it “slave” life, Fromm called it “Escape from Freedom”). That one feels pain and outrage in such a life is a blessing, for the pain and outrage give one needed energy, spiritual incentive to “Science” the system as such. Human Science is not for “Power” that stands above, commands and moves society, but rather for (powerless) Love/Respect of people in “marginality” and for ennobling oneself by ennobling people involved. According to Simon de Beauvoir, Sartre after a life long struggle with “Being and Nothingness” (Cartesian Hell) finally reached to an idea of “Participation”. But Sartre did not elaborate the idea to a level of Discourse. I think what Human Science, Human Development, has to do is to go on doing what Sartre failed.

Of course, people might resent that, for they do have repressed pain and outrage and having a hard time denying them. The “Bridge Builders” are disturbing their “Peace of Mind” — as Dostoevski’s Grand Inquisitor eloquently pointed out to returned Jesus. I am not a Christian, and certainly do not advocate “Jesus Delusion” to anybody. But being an alienated “Outsider” is similar to that. One get to be one, not by choice, but by “circumstance” or “karma”. If your are born with sensitive mind, that is your misfortune. But as much as you cannot shut your sensitivity off, you might just as well to make the best use of your “brain defect”. You are Human Scientist, not because you have a superior intelligence, but because you are “victim”. At least to think like that let one to avoid patronizing attitude and get on with Discourse. If you find at the end that you are truly noble person, that is one way of ennoblement.

However, I suspect that most anybody has problems in one sense or another. We should not be deceived by the appearances that people put up in defense or in vain pride. You look into Yuppie life style to find a lot of problems. People who appear to be “successful” or “powerful” also have problems. It is not just alcoholics, nor poor people in Third World countries, that have problems. If any thing we are the ones who are handicapped by our unwillingness to acknowledge our problems, so that we lag behind in science.

At any rate, if I do talk about Science, Development, Morality, Spirituality, etc, it is not because I know anything better, but because I too am an “Outsider”, in Limbo, in Purgatory, on Bridge (Buddhist metaphor) by different reasons. It is more of cry or appeal than “knowledge claim”.


Native Geometry: Letter, 11 December 1987 (PDF)

Dr. Shigeru “Sam” Kounosu, Japanese theoretical physicist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, worked with notable figures such as Robert Oppenheimer. In his candid letters and lecture drafts, Dr. Kounosu explores possible connections between physics and native science, one of the first scientists of western training to do so.

Dec. 11, 87.

Dear Pam

You say you wish to pursue Native Math. If so, how about looking into “Native Geometry”? The book: Native Mathematics talks only of Number Systems and a little bit of Astronomy. Frankly, that is disappointing. Native Geometry is better. I explain why I think so.

Geometry includes Space Perception, How to deal with Motions, Fields, Relations, hidden, visible, and imagined. It also includes Time Dimension, future, past or side ways. It deal with Order, Disorder, and Nebulous. In short, it is a Cosmology, but relevant to practical life on the ground.

And a “Culture” always come with an implicit, but a fundamental Geometry. [Jung Thesis]. For example, ancient Greeks included “Geometry” as one of 9 Muses, along with Love Songs, Tragedy, Comedy, etc. It was a part of Wisdom of Goddess Sophia. And the Goddess of Wisdom was a representation of the “Collective Intelligence” of the ancient Greeks.

Native Culture also had a Geometry. It is just that you do not give a proper recognition to it. Most Europeans do not recognize the Geometry in their subconscious either. The only exception is Jung, but he did not go too far.

Greek Geometry was also a “Practical Art” for artisans. It was the first “Practical Philosophy” in helping people how to organize thinking and guide social scale actions. [Actions, involving more than few people and lasting for a duration beyond what individuals can manage by “reacting to immediate situation”, require a Vision which constitute a “Collective Will”. The Vision is a Geometry.] It was the first disciplined social scale exercise in Imaginations. It was also the first “Science” ever to be systematized in a Logical Structure. The Structure was built in order to have a basis for social scale communication. Naturally, it became the Mother of European Science. If I exaggerate a bit, the implicit Geometry, as the Pattern of Imagination, was the “Mind” of the Civilization.

Newton learned Euclid Geometry, through Descartes’ analytical method — which Angels taught Descartes in dream — and Projective Geometry from an Architect friend. This Architect was older than Newton, but perhaps he was the only friend Newton ever had. Incidentally, his school did not teach Geometry. Newton went to school, probably because he wanted to become a Theologian, not a scientist. Geometry was just a fun. Yet, his Mechanics was based on a Geometry and the “Language of Differential Calculus”. He wrote somewhere that, in writing Principia, he wanted to emulate Euclid. Euclid invented, aside from the Geometry, the prototype for Scientific Stylism.

From a modern view, what Newton did was simple addition of Time to Euclid Geometry. The reason Mechanics became stucked with Motions of Objects is that Euclid Geometry was Geometry of “Points and Lines”. Geometry of “Fields” has not been developed until Einstein’s time, some 250 years after. Michael Faraday had a vision of Fields, but there was no Geometry then to “Verbalize” the vision.

Einstein barely managed with the little he knew of Geometry. His patron teacher, Prof. Minkowsky, taught him Geometry, but apparently Einstein was a poor student. Minkowsky was the one who admitted Einstein into the University by bending the admission rules. A story is that Minkowsky got mad at delinquent Albert and said to him “I do not wish to see you, never ever.” [If I come to teach you Geometry, I might have to say the same thing to you. You know not everybody can be patient and nice like Mouse Woman.]

But, it turned out that Einstein revived academic interests in Geometry, which was an obscure subject that nobody really cared about in the 19th century. Minkowsky got famous, because of Einstein. Now, the market value of Geometry is down again. Nowadays, high schools hardly offer Geometry. Universities seldom offer courses in Geometry, except in a few special places like Princeton. [Harvard has never been good at Geometry.] Number Mathematics is a lot more popular. The reason, I suspect, is that Geometry is Visual and closer to Art. Intellectual snobism in Universities in general , and Mathematicians in particular, looks down on Geometry as “Unpure”. It uses “Intuitions”, “Perceptions”, “Creative Imagination”, “Images”, “Gestalt”, “Metaphors”, etc. none of which is acceptable to the “Pride of Logical Rigor” of the Mathematicians today.

Yet, the entire Physics can be looked at as “Applied Geometry”. All “verbalizations” of observed phenomena, if they are approaching the level of physics, are implicitly Geometrical. This can also be said for Economics, Social Theories, Psychology. Geometry is the bridge between Observation (Imagination included) and Verbalization. Geometry, therefore, has Hermenuetical elements — that is, if one cares to look at how Geometry use Language.

Whether you know it or not, your talk on Ghii Lii is a talk on Geometry. Your Tree Vision is a Geometry. It is different from the European one, in that it is a “Field Geometry”. Euclid Geometry was a “Geometry of Points and Lines”. You have at least Einstein’s level of Geometry already, surpassing Euclid-Descartes-Newton.

[It is my task to convince you that you started a fantastic thing. By uttering wards like “Native Science”, you opened Pandora’s Box. You probably did not mean anything. But “Bears” are around, and overheard that. Because, the word mean something, you get into all kinds of Shits, including ones from me. If you knew what you were talking about, you would not have dared to utter the word. Europeans have a nice expression for that. They say “Where angels fear to step, fools trot.”]

There is one important thing about Field Geometry which you’d better know. The kind of Mathematics that is needed in Field Geometry does not depend on Numbers — called Topology — but numbers can be used. And Differential Geometry (Geometry of Manifolds) is the standard tool today.

You might ask how anyone can do Differential Calculus without “Quantifying” by measurements. That is an Euclidian prejudice. Just because Euclid Geometry needed measured quantities such as “Distance” and showed off its “Numerical Accuracy” as if that is the “Proof” of it being Accurate Science, it does not mean that Science cannot be done by without “Accurate Number Measure”. In fact, fantastic mathematical acrobatics in formula manipulation etc. can be demonstrated without anything to do with “Accurate Numbers”. Topology is a “Fuzzy Science”, and the “fuzziness” requires a lot more sophisticated thinking than “accurate number mathematics” needs.

If you are thinking of Social-Human Science, the “Fuzzics” that is emerging from Geometry is an ideal tool. This goes against the fundamental Paradigm of European Social Science today. But, it can liberate one from the much worshiped Numbers in Social science today — or from the European Science as practiced by the majority today.

Needless to say it is difficult. Time and time again, even those who do Geometry fall back to Euclid Number Thinking. That includes Einstein himself. When one does not have numerical values, one loses confidence. Or one feels that people would not understand Geometry, therefore they sink into Silence. Since Geometry is repressed into silence, people do not learn it. The community remain ignorant. That makes communication more difficult. So one dares not talk about it. We have a Vicious Circle.

Now, I have a vested interest in Native Science, because I see there a possibility of Field Geometry. I need you to tell the Geometry. You are the poor victim. You have been receiving shits from me, because of that. On the top of it, I am now asking you to look into Native Geometry. That is a bad deal!

I know women over 30 are on “down hill” and cannot learn nothing much new. For that matter, men are no better after 20. (I learned that the only way to get you interested is to make you angry. So I am trying the trick.)

Besides, I know being a mother is a full time occupation. Add 1/3 for being a wife, however a bad wife you are. Then add another 1/3 for being a teacher, even if you are a poor one at that. And whatever else you do? You have probably 200% excuse for not doing anything beyond.

[One day, I was watching a girl with her little brother coming onto the bus I was in. She must be age 7 or 8. I saw a determined tension on her face to look after her brother who may be 5 or so. She let her brother put changes into fare box. Her attention was just like a “Mother” would have had in doing the same. The word “Responsibility” is not quite right for that. I do not know what that can be called. But I got impressed by her greatly. Somehow, she learned it from someone somewhere. I wondered if school education could do anything like it. In comparison to that, stuffs like Geometry is trivial. However, I have nothing better to offer you.]

But then, why do you utter words like Native Science? I take it that you meant it. You would not like me to patronize on your weakness. But you have no idea how to make it real, doing it in the present condition of life.

But, perhaps, there is no harm in trying, even if you cannot hack it. So I make you an offer of making inputs from that side. It is from European Science, but a little better shit than Newton-Euclid ones. Raven would not hesitate to take advantage of whatever available for the means.

However, as to Native side, I do not know anything. that should give you ample opportunity to hit me back. We can be even at that. And more importantly, I tell you that unless you speak out, you learn nothing, and I learn nothing from you. You see a lot of people who are defending their Pride with thick armor, not realizing the self-imposed armor is a prison, the “Box”. Children learn a lot quick, because they are not defensive. They say what they think, right or wrong. And they can accept things, because they are not worried about their vulnerability.

I am thinking of “Learning by and for Community”, as a new strategy replacing “Ego Knowledge”. That calls for “childishness” in learning. However, in this, I do see a difficulty.

Namely, Natives have great deal of concern about their Dignity. It has a good reason, for if they lose their Dignity, they are finished. That is why Elders talk of Tradition, or The Old Way of Doing things. But learning is a Creation. And Creation means Death of the Old. To learn something is not “addition” like putting money in banks. It require a structural change, which means dying and “borning”. Sensitivity that required for Creative thinking is inherently “Unstable” , if not Catastrophic. In that Creativity is the Arch-enemy of Constancy.

I am also aware that “Environmental Conservation”, “Peace”, “Harmony”, “Steady State Economy” etc. come with in metaphors of Constancy. But you note that what a Big Change is needed to achieve any one of these ideals. And here Hopi Philosophy is correct in saying that nothing is constant. Hopi Prophecy is for catastrophic changes. It may be more of the “Traditional” Spirit to be “radical” than fixated in an illusionary Constancy on surface.

This ought not be taken to be disrespect of Elders, nor disregard of Native Culture. I think the respect has to do with learning of the Original Meaning and Creatively Applying it to the changing situations. It takes more profound understanding of the Ancient Spirit and Creativity to live in the present difficulties than just following formalities as routines. I talked of Speaking Up, but I am not ignorant of the value of Silence. Silence can be louder than any big noise. Besides, “speaking” has to be matched with “listening”. As to how to work out these balances, we have to think about it further.

Maybe, this problem of Tradition and Radical Creation holds the key that we need. To reject someone, something in contempt is too easy. To understand something we do not like in respect requires learning of the level we try to achieve. The problem is a gift. It is interesting to note that you Ghii Lii story came out in a context of you talking of “Going back to the Source”. We all get very much impressed by your lecture. Now, it is your turn to listen to what you said, and get impressed by its profound meaning.

In a sense, the real test of “Validity” on Geometry or on any other Theories, Philosophies or Teaching, is whether or not it helps us to deal with such problems. Castaneda’s story, or D.Bohm’s Theory is “Valid” in so far as they help people in troubles. If not, it matters little if real Don Juan existed or not. I think Geometry — i.e. Vision — does help. I am not a magician, nor a guru. But can I make you interested in Native Geometry?


Sam K.

Raven, The Original Scientist (PDF)

Raven, The Original Scientist

Written by Dr. S. Kounosu, PhD

Edited by Dr. W.F. Morrison, JD. (Haida)

Dr. Shigeru “Sam” Kounosu, Japanese theoretical physicist and  Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, worked with notable figures such as Robert Oppenheimer. In his candid letters and lecture drafts, Dr. Kounosu explores possible connections
between physics and native science, one of the first scientists of western training to do so.


Among Haida there is a story of how Raven brought Light to the World. I found it to be an intriguing story, for it takes us to the beginning. This is but one variation of many, many stories of Raven and, like the others, it teaches us many things. Often the things learned are not only the result of things heard, seen and remembered but also things felt. This story tells you and me what we might remember when experiencing problems.

Today this telling of Raven’s story is a story about Science and Scientists. There are many kinds of science; all peoples have their own, but I am a scientist in the “western” tradition. That is why I choose to tell the story in this way. I have a scientists interest in understanding; not only in understanding science but also understanding myself as a child of the universe.


This tale of Raven begins in a time when Earth was covered by a blanket of darkness, either there was no Sun or Earth was covered with a blanket of clouds so thick that almost no light penetrated the darkness. Shapes, like faint blurs, were discernible but without definition. It is entirely possible that millions of years ago this phenomenon actually occurred.

Western scientists have found evidence that in geologic times many disastrous things had happened to Earth. In recent news we learn that scientists from Alberta (Canada) went to the Gobi Desert and there discovered a dinosaur graveyard. Today the Gobi is a very dry area, too dry to provide the habitat for the dinosaurs of prehistoric times. But, millions of years ago the area was a big, warm swamp. In any event, at one time in history the area harboured herds of dinosaurs. Those Canadian scientists think that the Gobi dinosaurs were related to the ones that once roamed the Alberta seashore. The are we now call Alberta was once covered by a body of water now called the Gulf of Mexico. Dinosaurs are, of course, now extinct. But, locating the remains of prehistoric creatures in an area that today could not support those life-forms tells us that the climates of Earth, at different times, have been quite different from that which we are now familiar. Maybe this “Dark-time” of the Raven story is the one that killed off the dinosaurs. Who knows?

Raven, the Original Scientist*

Without the Sun to give heat and light, all was cold and dark. Imagine it being like a cold, starless winter night all of the time. People did not like this very much. Raven the Scientist was not happy either. So what did Raven do? Raven was a scientist, so turned it thoughts to the problem. But, more than merely unhappy and hurt by the suffering resulting from the dark and cold, Raven was driven to respond; this was Raven’s domain. Thus Raven was obliged to find a solution to the problem. Raven the Scientist thought long and hard, “What can be done to remove this blanket of darkness and cold from the World?”

Raven’s name (Nang Kilst laas) describes a spirit-being who is able to assume whatever physical shape and substance appropriate for the occasion. When assuming the Raven (bird) shape, Raven’s feathers are pure-white and, Raven’s power is derived from the ultimate power of Creating. So Raven is not “all-seeing” and “all-knowing” in the sense of the Christian God. Instead, Raven travels, watches, listens, and senses. Then, whenever encountering a disturbance of any sort Raven assumes the appropriate form, one which carries with it the knowledge, wisdom and specialized attributes of the thing into which it has changed. Thus when the “blanket of darkness” enveloped Earth, Raven had to “consult” al the knowledges and wisdoms contained in its ability to transform. This could be like many, many scientists combining all of the knowledge and information at their disposal for the purpose of finding a solution to the dilemma.

In the darkness Raven encountered difficulties. It was like a group of people trying to organize in the dark; bumping into one another, arguing and having difficulty in determining the order of speakers. Thinking was also difficult in the darkness; the mind wanders trying to see in the dark.

*An adaptation of an original Haida story of how Raven, a supernatural, spiritual being got the Sun, Moon and Stars.

Often when we know that something is wrong but cannot identify the nature of the problem our minds wander. The “Darkness” meant “Ignorance”. So, the manifestations of Raven had to do a lot of blundering and groping around. Even today, scientists do the same. Some people say that blundering and groping are the essence that makes Science. They say, “Trials and Errors” make science. I might add that the arguing/fighting are also important. For, we must talk with each other to make Science; no one knows everything. The Haida story simply says that “Raven bumped into things in the dark.” But I think it means that there were a lot of difficulties even in figuring out what was the problem.

Int the blundering around Raven the Scientist learned to be patient. Then, while casting about, attempting to understand the nature of the problem, Raven, from the corner of its eye, saw in the distance a small flash of light. Raven thought maybe it was something in the eye – trying so hard to see in the dark that – it created its own light. But rather than pass it off as something “in-the-head”, Raven focused on the spot where the light “may” have shown itself. Raven then, without rest, for fear of losing focus on the spot, moved slowly and carefully in that direction. This is the same way today’s scientists work. the little flash of light could mean a “flash of intuition”; something that the Scientist must have. Almost none of the important discoveries were made without it. Like Raven the Scientist, today’s scientist must focus on it and hold that focus, not letting anything interfere with it.

As Raven neared the spot where it seemed that the light had shown itself, instead of finding Light, it heard a small voice singing. This often happens in science, and if one is not careful, one misses important clues. You do not send off a large number of questionnaires, collect responses and find the answers in statistics. You have to go to that place, or, like Raven, a true scientist is “driven to respond”, though you do not know where it is taking you. You discover unexpected, and expected, things at totally unexpected places. And, listening to the “small voice” is all important.

The small voice was coming, Raven the Scientist later discovered, from an old man in a big, cedar-plank longhouse. He was singing:

“I have a box, and inside the box is another box, and inside it are more boxes, and in the smallest box of all is all the Light of the World. It is mine and I will never give any of it to anyone; not even to my daughter. Because, who knows, she may be as ugly as a sea-slug. And neither she nor I would like to know that.”

The old man, out of fear of the unknown, chose to keep himself in ignorance. You must understand one thing here. It was Dark, the daughter could be seen only indistinctly and, she might also have been as “beautiful as hemlock fronds against the Spring sky at Sunrise”. The “Dark” here may also mean “in doubt”. The old man must have had good reason to have become nasty, devious, stingy and lonely. He had all the Light of the World, but he did not want to share it with anybody; even deprived himself of the Light. One might suspect that the Darkness may be referring to the demented state of the old man’s mind. The Light may be intelligence, but he suppressed it deep inside the “box inside a box, which was inside a box, which was inside…”. People do this. They may have a beautiful thing in their minds, but keep it secret from everyone else. And, by doing so, they themselves do not see it either.

But, Raven the Scientist did not give up easy. He began planning his strategy for acquiring the Light for People. It would be difficult. According to the Haida story, Raven himself had doubts. Then, he noticed the old man’s daughter, the one in the song, who was living in the house with her father. He began to think about her. He could have been falling in love. But, it occurred also to him that she might be as “ugly as a sea-slug”. “on the other hand,” he thought, “she might just as well be as beautiful as a hemlock frond against a bright Spring sunrise.” The uncertainty of what her appearance might be kept Raven the Scientist in anxious ambivalence. And, like any young man who thinks he might be in love, the possibilities stirred Raven’s imagination. Science textbooks do not tell you, but this “stirring of imagination” is  a very important element of science. If you do not have it you cannot do science. You can do routine technical works and “fake-it” as if you are really doing science, but that does not create anything new.

The Haida story tells that “in idle speculation”, stirred by thoughts of the daughter, Raven formulated an idea. Other versions of the story tell that Raven the Scientist tried many tricks and failed each time. This is also important. In science, you fail 10 times before you succeed once. You try and fail. You think again and fail. But Raven the Scientist did not give up; he was persistent. Any young guy can be romantic, but persisting in Love is not a usual quality among that age group. “Romantic” ideas in science are the same thing. The one who is persistent will usually get results.

In many ways Raven was tricky. He often tricked people. But, we forgive Ravens for those times because even when Raven does not mean to do so, he does many good things for people. In this case, tricks or shortcuts would not work. So, Raven decided to put the plan he had formulated into action. He figured out a way to get inside the old man’s house where the “boxes” were kept.

Raven noted that at regular intervals the daughter would go to a small pool of water, fed by an underground stream, to drink. In doing so, she would kneel at the edge of the pool, put her lips to the surface of the water and suck the water into her mouth and swallow. By drinking in this manner, the daughter could not see what she was drinking and, she was blind to whatever might be happening around her. Armed with this knowledge, Raven waited for his opportunity. From this incident, Haida learned a number of lessons; rely on “underground” water for your water supply, it does not freeze in the winter; do not lower your head to drink but bring the water up to your lips (incidentally, if a Raven’s feather is dipped into the water and the water beads up and drips off, the water is pure. But, if the water clings to the feather, it should not be drunk); and, a woman (for the above and other reasons) is never supposed to get water after dark.

Raven, in carrying out the plan he had formulated, waited for the daughter to go for a drink. He waited until after she had knelt at the water’s edge and began lowering her head. He flew up to her, transformed himself into a hemlock needle and dropped to the water’s surface, directly below where her lips would touch the water. And, as anticipated by Raven, she sucked the needle up and swallowed it with the water. The hemlock needle is soft and pliant and easy to swallow.

The story goes on that Raven “slithered down deep into her insides and found a soft, comfortable spot, where he transformed himself once more. This time into a small human being, an went to sleep for a long time. During his long sleep he began to grow.” You can guess that he became a baby for the young woman.

She did not know what was happening to her; something was growing inside her and, later, she could feel the thing moving. the old man, because of the darkness, was unaware of what was happening to her body. But, in due time, Raven, preceded by a gush of water, was born as a human grandson to the old man. The story says that he was an ugly, noisy boy, crying all the time; like Ravens do. the grandmother, suspecting that this “baby” was Raven, made a bed for him from moss, like the Raven’s nest.

The old man grew to love this new member of the family; he made toys for the boy and played with him. Today, that same relationship is enjoyed by Haida grandparents and their grandchildren. But, whatever the old man’s reasons for shutting the Light “inside a box, inside a box…” and his refusal to share this gift of life were, the key to unlocking the old man’s heart was Love.

Raven is a powerful Supernatural being. He could have simply taken the Light by his power, or transformed himself into a powerful human and simply wrested the boxes from the elderly man. I would imagine, if Raven was a scientist of the Euro-American type, he would have used force and took possession of the Light. But he did not force the old man to give up the Light, even for the good of the World. Rather, Raven the Scientist went through an elaborate strategy of gaining the Love of the old man. Had Raven simply used Force, the gift to people would have been flawed. In any event, it took a very patient effort over a long time period. That is the way of Native science.

As the story goes, Raven the Scientist gained the love and trust of the old man, one box at a time. This is also the way of Science. You do not come to know the heart of things all at once. You study things and find out one level of understanding before moving on to the next. You may be happy for a while with the Discovery, achieved by much love and devotion, but there is the next box to discover. “Discovery” means, “Take the Cover Off”, that is, “Open the Box”.

Raven the Scientist, discovered a box inside a box one by one. The “learning” took a long time. And, eventually, only a few boxes were left. Finally, Raven was down to the last box. A strange radiance began to show from inside this last box, and it gave off a wondrous warmth. Raven the Scientist/Grandson begged his grandfather to let him hold the Light with the heat for just a moment. Of course, the old man refused Raven’s requests.

In a way, the old man was not consistent. If you remember, the old man actually let Raven the Scientist know the Light was in the box by his singing. He meant to give the Light, otherwise he would not have sung his song. Often the older generations are funny in giving wisdom to the younger generations. They wish to give all they have to the young, but it cannot be given. They have to let the young learn.

For example, just before his death, Chief Dan George wrote a poem which reads;

“My grandchild … you carry my blood

and shelter my Hope.

There is wisdom in youth and there is

wisdom in age. One is loud and seeking,

the other is silent and true.”

This is a near universal feeling of the older generation. But the many pains in life, humiliations, and disappointments make the old look “nasty”. And the youth cannot see what is hidden “inside the box”. We the young say, “that drunken old Indian don’t know anything, let alone science”. By that, instead of opening one box, we put it into another box. Eventually we put the whole thing in a coffin box and bury him six feet deep, not knowing what is in it.

Well, the story of Raven the Scientist, however, has a happy ending. Raven finally succeeded in his efforts to persuade his grandfather to give the Light to him. Raven the Scientist carried the Light to the people and removed the “blanket of darkness” from the world. He may have employed “tricks”, but his Science was for the people. That is how people came to have Sunlight, and we have the Daylight, Moonlight, and Starlight today.


I think there was real astronomical phenomenon corresponding to the story, but the story of Raven the Scientist is not told for the purpose of asserting the truth of the matter. It is but one of the stories of Raven, which tells how people came to learn their Science. Incidentally, in the Light, the daughter turned out to be beautiful, as beautiful as a hemlock frond against a spring sky at sunrise.

Wayfinding and the New Sun: Indigenous Science in the Modern World (PDF)

Wayfinding and the New Sun: Indigenous Science in the Modern World
by Pamela Colorado
Note: The last few years have seen a re-assessment of the knowledge held by the indigenous peoples of the world, and a desire to understand traditional ways of life and the wisdom they contain. One of the most exciting possibilities to emerge from this revival is a synthesis, a real dialogue between ancient and contemporary modes of knowledge. The following article is one such contribution to that synthesis. It is adapted from a talk between Jane Carroll of Beshara magazine and Pamela Colorado, founder of the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN).
Pamela Colorado was born an Oneida Indian, meaning “people of reality’ (called by white settlers the”Iroquois”) of the tribe of Ongwehahwe (“the people of the long-standing rocks”), and was brought up on a reservation in Wisconsin. She was one of the first Indian women to attend an American university and completed her doctorate work at Harvard University where she started her attempt to integrate within herself Native and Western systems of knowledge. This led to the founding of WISN, with participation from tribal elders, scientists, artists, and others; its purpose is to forge links between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples throughout the world, revitalizing ancient forms of knowledge. Of special interest are the great migrations of pre-history, and correlating the oral accounts of these events with modern archeological discoveries.
Adapted with permission from Beshara, Issue 13, Summer 1991.

My thoughts concerning indigenous science first came to me while I was completing my doctoral dissertation in 1977. At that time I was having great difficulty communicating with my doctoral committee. I had excellent instruction and a thorough curriculum, but I just could not communicate in the way that was expected. One day I was sitting in my apartment in Cambridge, and it came to me that it was not just that, as Native people, we look at life differently. Even the way we come to knowledge and present that knowledge is totally different from the Western way. The I heard myself say out loud: “It’s almost as if we have a science of our own!” And as soon as I thought it, or heard myself say it, I realized that is what needs to be said, because up until that time it was only the West which “had science”.
Of course, a lot of what is in the Native American worldview, or indigenous worldview, falls beyond what would normally be thought of as science in a Western sense, although there are some things that are directly parallel–for example,the knowledge Native people have about the environment. But because I felt our view is so much broader I thought it a good thing to call it “science”. Some people have called it natural science, others have called it life science, some have called it woman science. But for my own purposes, I go back to sciens/scientia, which meant “to know” in its largest sense Native science is a way of bringing people to a higher knowledge, and one of its goals is to bring us to the Gii Lai–“the still quiet place”. Ind other words, our religion and our spirituality are built into our science. And Native scientists, through their rituals, songs, dance, are working all the time with energies–the energies of the Earth–in very precise ways.
Now in 1977 it seemed quite radical to think that tribal peoples would have anything at all to contribute to Western knowledge. And indeed nothing much happened until several years ago. By that time, the environmental crises had deepened, threats to the survival of tribal peoples had sharpened, and attention to environmental issues like the rainforests had to some extent focused the world’s attention on tribal peoples. Then in 1987 along came the Bruntland report. It is rather weak in its understanding of tribal peoples but at least the commission’s report says, in effect, go and learn from indigenous people, because they are the last reservoirs of knowledge of how to live sustainably with the environment. They did not do anything to ensure this would happen or make any suggestions about how it could come about. But it was from this that the inspiration came for the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network.
The Dark Sun
Had I tried to do this work before now, it would not have happened because in tribal peoples’ view, at least in the Americas, it wasn’t appropriate to talk about certain kinds of knowledge. These things were considered secret; we just didn’t share them, not among tribes and definitely not with the Western world. Oral tradition says there was a very definite decision made, at some point, not to talk, not to share our knowledge. Recently I discovered that one such policy originated in Mexico at Tenochitlan in 1521.
People knew then that we were entering a time they called the Dark Sun, which was predicted for 468 years.During this time consciousness would go through darkness. Prior to the arrival of the Dark Sun, the spiritual and scientific community prepared the people for what was to come. These preparations were four- or five-fold. The first was that the sites of knowledge–the pyramids and petroglyphs sites that dot the Americas–the traditional “universities” would be closed. The knowledge would no longer be recorded, neither written by Aztecs and Mayans, nor enacted in the big centers of ritual like the pyramids. This is why, when the white people came, they found so many of the ancient sites apparently abandoned.
Secondly, the people were told that the ancient teachings would have to be preserved withi family structures, and moved to the personal domain of our own hearts. Thirdly, Native tribes would stop their cycles of international gatherings and, as a result, the knowledge would become scattered to all the directions.
Many people still assume that the Native peoples of the Americas always lived just as the new wave of Europeans in the 1500s-1600s found them. But that is not true. What they found were people who were under attack, and who were implementing the instructions they had been given for survival through the Dark Sun. For instance, at the time of contact, many of the Native communities had become palisaded, stockaded villages, and people weren’t mixing with each other anymore. When they did mix, the contact was often hostile.
Before this, according to our oral history, there had been many, many conacts, not only between the different peoples of North and South America, but also across the Pacific Ocean and across the Atlantic Ocean. There were established trade routes, and ways of exchanging knowledge. The contacts began to be different in the 1500s. For instance I comre from a northeast tribe and my people used to go to Mexico City for what we might today call “conferences”–policy-making sessions–about every six years. These meetings were attended by peoples from all over the Americas, and also by tribes which came across the Pacific Ocean by boat. They stopped after 1521.
So at the time of the Dark Sun, it was said that only two things would stay open. We would keep our languages alive, because so much knowledge of our ancestors is in that,. Secondly, we would keep our spiritual contact with the Great Spirit, and that would saty open always. It was understood that this layering of activity would encode teachings on our consciousness, just as the ancients carved their knowledge into rocks. And like the rocks, the knowledge or consciousness can be entered into, now, only with the correct “key”.
I have a document which records this prophecy, which I found just recently in Mexico City. In it are the words of Cuautemoc, one of the last Aztec chiefs. Cuautemoc had the job of standing in front of the thousands of people and delivering the horrific prophecy of the Dark Sun, telling them this is how they were to live, how they were going to survive for the next 400 years:
Our sun has hidden.
Our sun has disappeared from sight,
And in complete darkness
it has left us.
But we know that it will return again.
That once again it will emerge
and will shed its light on us anew.

But while it is there in the place of Silence
let us quickly reunite,
let us embrace one another.
And in the center of our being let us hide
all that our heart loves
and which we know to be a great treasure.

Such a document exists because it was recorded by a Spanish Catholic priest already present at the gathering. It is written in Spanish and Nahuatl, the Aztec language.
All this is in our oral history. Evidence of this, in addition to the written documents, is the reading of wampum belts. These are beaded belts, several thousand years old, made out of shells. They are mnemonic devices, used to trigger the mind, and they’re memorized; people who read those belts are trained from early on to be able to do it. After I heard about the Dark Sun prophecy in Mexico, I visited one of my chiefs in the north and asked whether it was true, and whether there was the degree of migration and contact which I have described. He said, “Yes, it fits.” I was very happy, because I had validated this in a traditional way.
From All the Directions
It was also said that after the 468 years, according to the Aztec calendar, there would be a new sun–which started in approximately 1987. Other Native peoples have a similar prophecy. They may not have put it in mathematical form, but they’ll tell you in another, maybe symbolic, fashion.
What is prophesied as the end of the Dark Sun is that the condor (that is, the land of the South Americas) and the eagle (the land of the North Americas) will be re-united, and the knowledge of the Earth will re-emerge and the knowledge that we have will become whole. When we say “the Earth’ in our language, we don’t mean just the physical Earth, but rather something you might call “energy”. During the Dark Sun, the knowledge became fragmented. This ancient knowledge will rise again, only this time the key to it is integration, and we have to do it with “all the directions”.
One way of understanding all the directions is that these are the colors of the races of humankind. As the fragments of knowledge start to come out, we will meet people and each will have a certain piece, and as we put them together they will start to become whole again. Many people today don’t realize that the different tribes do not understand each other any more. While I can understand most of the Iroquois people, for example, I cannot understand our neighbors, the Sioux, except for a few words. And yet all of our languages (more than 1000 in North America) contain “universal” words, as well as unique local words. Indians love to hear each other’s language, because it gives us the chance to discover how, by what kinds of words, we are united and how we are different.
The Overview Effect
How might this integration occur? Some while ago I read about an intriguing phenomenon described by space scholar Frank White. In his boo The Overview Effect, he talks about what happened to the astronauts when they went into space. Some of them had what I suppose would be called profound spiritual conversions. White describes the experience of looking down on that which we think of as separated things, and seeing it is all one, “the universal insight”. Then he goes on to talk about “the overview effect”, your simultaneous recognition that you too are a part of what you are seeing. He wonders if we could find some way of creating the possibility for human consciousness to be transformed to this state without blasting everybody into outer space.
Combining this with things I have read from Thomas Berry and other environmentalists, I have come to feel that the biggest problem we face in terms of the Earth, and the whole of humanity, cannot be tackled by technology. We already have the technology to do the job, to heal the Earth–but what matters is the attitudes we carry in our minds and in our hearts. A transformation in worldview needs to occur.
So, how to provide opportunities for large numbers of people to achieve “the overview effect” and “the universal insight”? That is the question if the the Earth is to survive. Again, clues come from Native science.
Between the Worlds
Our oral history, which we would estimate goes back more than 30,000 years, describes four periods in the past when the Earth was created and destroyed. One was destroyed by fire, another by wind, another by ice, and another by water. This information is recorded on teh petroglyphs in the Americas, for example, as well as in story form. The petroglyphs give rise to two interesting questions–when were they made and why were they made?
In each of the four periods or “worlds”, there arose a situation from which humanity had some great lesson to learn–and every time there was a mistake made.Sometimes there were warnings. Sometimes people could see they were making a mistake but were unwilling or unable to rectify the error. And so nature herself made an adjustment. The greatest thing we can accomplish in our science and in our lives is to be in balance with the universe. But each time, in each of these four worlds, people were unable to maintain that balance–they made mistakes which led to the destruction of their world.
I have done some research into these four worlds in association with Hanson Ashley, a Navajo medicine man and a transpersonal psychologist. We wanted to know how we could begin to talk about the concept of worlds to the West, and developed the hypothesis that they could be described as the evolving consciousness of humanity.(When I say “evolving”, it has to be understood more like a “revolving” consciousness, because as Native people we don’t look at things linearly.) We also wanted to be accurate in what we said; we didn’t want to distort knowledge in an effort to communicate across cultures, so Hanson spent time talking to several elders about the nature of the worlds. He now has a detailed history of each of them–and this includes the specific teachings or learnings which were of each world.
The elders agreed that you could, indeed, think about the worlds in terms of human consciousness. But the situation was more complicated than we had thought, for Hanson also found out that the people did not learn the most important lessons within the worlds–but between the world cycles. “Between the worlds” was the time when humanity had to do things to put itself in accord again–in accord with life, or with the natural world, however you want to say it. The four worlds were not the worlds of “man”, but were worlds in which nature herself went through her growth, challenges, transformations and realignments to come into balance.
So if we are interested in discovering how to create a shift in attitude, which is necessary now in order to save the planet, and how to integrate Native thought, we also have to understand what happened between those worlds. What happened that somehow saved the day and permitted humanity to move into another world–or, one could say, another form of consciousness? And how did our ancestors’ choices accommodate or block the Earth’s natural evolution?
The Wayfaring Mindset
Many things happened “between the worlds”, but one of the primary events was a journey or migration. These journeys can be described as wayfinding, and it was during these great movements or migrations that knowledge of how to live in balance with the Earth was recorded in the original rock carvings and petroglyphs.
This was a time when people physically moved around on the Earth or on the water. They moved in a patterned way; it wasn’t just any old way, for they knew they were going to some place for a specific reason. They were usually led by someone, one who had the inspiration or vision of where to go. As the people moved about, there were lessons they learned, mistakes they made, risk they took, and out of those experiences they learned rituals, songs and strategies that prepared them for movement into the next cycle.
One of the things the Indigenous Science Network is working on now is to recreate some of these migrations. Our focus is not so much on recreating the exact journeys, but rather the recreation of the protocol, the mindset that came into being as a result of lessons learned during the migrations. We are inviting our white brothers and sisters to join us in this because we believe this is something we are meant to be doing.
Bridges to the West
To communicate with the West we need “bridges”, models of migrations. One good example comes from the Polynesians:
In 1976 the Polynesian Voyaging Society was established and its first task was to recreate a traditional double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe, the “Hokule’a”, that would be capable of trans-oceanic voyages. But they soon discovered there were no Hawaiians who knew how to navigate in the traditional way–without instruments! as they searched they eventually found Mao Piailug from Micronesia, an elder who still knew the traditional methods of non-instrument navigation. He was brought to Hawaii to work with a young Hawaiian native, Nainoa Thompson. Nainoa drew from Western and indigenous sciences: He studied satellite weather charts and astronomy, and then he studied with Mao, who used stones to teach what our ancestors had known.
The result of this integrated education was the 1976 voyage of Hokule’a from Hawaii to Tahiti. This voyage was accomplished without the benefit of any instruments or charts. In 1985, on a subsequent voyage from Rarotonga to New Zealand, a distance of 1700 nautical miles across open sea, Nainoa steered a course which was only 100 miles farther than the shortest distance possible between the two points. The only reason for the extra miles was severe weather conditions.
The interesting question is, how did he do it? Well, that gets to something mentioned earlier–the overview effect. As Native people, we learn to train our minds from the time we are children, to be centered where we are, grounded in reality, and see all the signs that are around us. For the purposes of navigation, it is necessary to see the roll of the waves, the movements of the fish, the birds, the winds, etc. Ind addition, you have to have the ability to project yourself out, “to see what it’s not possible to see”. I’m just learning this myself, but I know that it is an ability that our people have known for thousands of years, and still practice. Now our task is to see that this mental acumen, this capacity of “the good mind”, is not lost. So this wayfinding mindset, the ability to project ourselves out, is a knowledge that is necessary if we are to create a healthy relationship with the Earth.
A New Sun
Nobody said that the Dark Sun was due to the coming of the Europeans. (In fact there is evidence of much earlier contact with the Europeans; but then the relationships were different.) Who tells the sun how to move? Not the Spanish or the English!
We don’t like what has happened. We surely didn’t want it. On the other hand, that’s life–the cycles of life. Perhaps the best way to say it is that we really value accommodation as a universal principle. Accommodation to life is more important than judging what needed to have happened. Now what is important is that we are entering a new sun.

The Art of Human Navigation (PDF)

The Art of Human Navigation
“For the earth is ocean. And rising everywhere in it are islands. Go find the islands…”
From An Ocean in Mind.

Karen Chandler

Such was Nature’s strong, persistent message for ancient Polynesian voyagers and native tribes of the Pacific Northwest Islands. Written in the stars, on flotsam, and in bird migration paths, came word of distant, undiscovered islands. Called seaward beyond the horizon clouds, native peoples of the Pacific Rim did indeed find islands scattered throughout a sea spanning half the surface area of the earth. Out they went and back they came, home again to Samoa and Tahiti, to the Prince of Wales and the Queen Charlotte Islands. How? asked western navigators centuries ago. Skillfully, the legends tell us, consistently tracking nature’s guideposts.
Without instruments navigation was a human act. The map was in the mind of the wayfinder, whose whole being had been trained and opened by chants, long hours of observation and elder’s patient teachings. He or she learned to recognize and interpret nature’s clues to judge direction, distance traveled, time and final landfall. Under sail in a circle of sea and sky, memory, awareness and the physical senses formed part of a dead reckoning system linked to ocean, atmosphere and sealife
Wayfinding was a well-developed art according to Will Kyselka, astronomer and author of a book on Polynesian wayfinding. For hi it was as precise as math and logic, with the magic of ritual and intuition. For Native American and social scientist, Dr. Pamela Colorado,founder of the Indigenous Science Network, it was and is, science in the full meaning of the word, “a holistic way of knowing nature, fully human, aligned with self, nature, and spirit.” It is proof, according to her and cultural anthropologists, of the intentional peopling of the Pacific through exploration, trans-Pacific gatherings and established trade routes.
For the ancient navigator apprenticed to the sea, wayfinding was a way of life embedded in his being. It was part of a culture that still watches, rearing seamen as meticulous observers of natural phenomena. These new wayfinders, schooled in modern astronomy and experienced in ways of the sea, are learning to trust their senses and their minds once again on a journey in search of the ancient mind. Their goal is to sense and feel their way back into harmony with nature, a state of being so needed, many claim, in a high-tech western culture trained to dominate, not cooperate, with nature.
Each ocean voyage began with two points on the navigator’s reference course. “You knew where you started, and where you wanted to go,” says Hawaiian steersman Na’ilima. He recently returned from a wayfinding voyage to Tahiti on the Hokule’a, a modern replica of an ancient sailing canoe. “Between home and that distant island may lay thousands of miles of open sea,” he says. “It did for us.” It did, no doubt, for the Haidas people of Prince of Wales Island. They sailed, Dr. Colorado tells us, to Japan and back. Along such a route, everything had meaning: ocean swells, the color and shape of the clouds, currents, and the pitch and roll of the canoe.
“Native sailors knew what to expect,” says Dr. Colorado. “They knew the wind and sea conditions all along the way from chants, personal accounts, and petroglyphs, or symbolic rock drawings.” According to her research, Indians of the northwest Pacific coast may have planned their trips using star maps and tidal clocks written in the changing pattern of tideline rocks.
Navigators, like the Nootka women of Vancouver Island, had songs and special rhythms keyed to the surface movements of the sea. “Everything we ever knew about the movement of the sea was preserved in the verse of that song,” writes Anne Cameron, quoting an elder in her historical novel on Nootka tribal history. “There was a song for goin’ to China and a song for goin’ to Japan. All she (the steerswoman) had to know was the song and she knew where she was.”
“We had the rising sun and the swells to steer by too,” says Na’ilima. “Like other wayfinders, we also knew where reference islands lay along our path. And most of all, we had the stars. They showed the way.”
According to Na’ilima and others, navigators set their course, their time, their latitude,and their distance traveled by the night sky. Each target island has its guiding stars, points along the margin of an imagined compass that was studded with other well known lights. In the center sat the wayfinder, watching and memorizing the patterns. The steersman nosed the “compass needle” along a predetermined path of successively rising or setting stars. In the mind’s eye of the crew, the sea and reference islands flowed past a stationary canoe, from beneath one star position to another. Synchronous pairs of rising or setting stars, charted just above the horizon, told latitude. Other stars at zenith marked the location of target islands like Tahiti and Hawaii.
At dawn the navigator read direction in the swells against the pattern of the morning sky. “We always knew where north was–our reference point for daytime steering,” Na’ilima explains. It was never more than a few handwidths away from a sun that rose just north and south of east.”
Wayfinding was very effective but less precise during the day. It required more clues and more concentration to assimilate and process them. But the swells were always there, and seasonal trade winds blew in consistent patterns written in the color and shape of horizon clouds. The wayfinder could estimate speed from the sound and feel of the canoe and determine currents from the shape and direction of waves. At times he or she just knew the direction to set–with or without external clues–drawing upon intuition, perhaps, or a subtle communion with the sea itself that was the essential mark of a seasoned wayfinder.
The final destination lay to windward of the reference track, surrounded by what Kyselka calls “concentric circles of life”, coastal fish and homing birds, land clouds, and wave defraction and refraction patterns. These diverse though predictable signs of a landmass could expand a small island into a sizable target or bridge island gaps in an archipelago, creating a large block to aim for. With a shift in focus to the nearfield, the wayfinder pieced together each island’s signature. Carefully, knowingly, the crew tracked the evening seabird flight paths and the directional streaks of transient deep phosphorescence.
That final destination, Dr. Colorado reminds us, is also a mindset. It is a way of seeing and being in balance with nature, gleaned from living a ceremonial life. Each wayfinding voyage, she points out, reminds us of our human potential to integrate analysis with intuition, and ritual with western science. “The greatest thing we can accomplish in our science and in our lives,” she concludes, “is to be in balance with the universe.”
Renewed interest in wayfinding presages a time when scientist and seaman alike are in balance and in open communication with nature. Recent voyages have proven that it can be done again. In Hawaii the Hokule’a has made three successful wayfinding voyages to Tahiti and back. The first was led by Mau Piailug, a traditional Polynesian navigator; the last two by Hawaiian Nainoa Thompson, one of the new breed of wayfinders. Na’ilima’s expedition, called “No Na Mamo” (For the Next Generation), symbolizes the intention of native peoples and organizations like the Indigenous Science Network, to share traditional knowledge. Other trips are planned. Canoes will gather from around the world on Vancouver Island in 1993 as native tribes convene to rekindle the art.
“We are still missing pieces of information”, says Dr. Colorado. “Some of the art remains hidden. Some may have been lost.” Or not yet found, at least by western culture. For we in the west may still not know how to ask the right questions or to understand the full meaning of each answer until our own minds begin to open and expand under the tutelage of elders and nature’s wise persistent teachings.
Author’s note–books cited or recommended: An Ocean in Mind by Will Kyselka; The Daughters of Copperwoman by Anne Cameron; and We the Navigators by David Lewis.
For more information on the Indigenous Science Network, contact Dr. Pamela Colorado, 573 Wainee St., Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.
Karen Chandler, M.S., is a marine ecologist and co-founder of Adventure Spirit Maui, a company which specializes in ocean awareness and wilderness expeditions. P.O Box 3104, Waikoloa, Hawaii 96738.

A Meeting Between Brothers (PDF)

A Meeting Between Brothers
The last few years have seen a re-assessment of the knowledge held by the indigenous peoples of the world, and a desire to understand traditional ways of life and the wisdom they contain. One of the most exciting possibilities to emerge from this revival of a synthesis, and a real dialogue, between ancient and contemporary modes of knowledge. In the following articles, we introduce two ways in which this possibility is currently being presented to us.

Indigenous Science
Dr Pamela Colorado talks to Jane Carroll
Dr Pamela Colorado was born an Oneida Indian, meaning ‘people of reality’ (called by white settlers the ‘Iroquois”) of the tribe of Ongwehahwe (‘the people of the long-standing rocks’), and was brought up on a reservation in the state of Wisconsin. She was one of the first Indian women to attend an American university, taking a degree in Social Sciences at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she was the only native person in a student body of ver 20,000. She went on to do doctoral work at Harvard, studying alcoholism in the native communities. It was during her doctorate that she began to take an interest in her indigenous culture, and to attempt to integrate within herself native and Western systems of knowledge.
She has since made a special study of the ancient American rock carvings and their meanings, and in 1989 founded The Worldwide Indigenous Science Network. With a membership which includes tribal elders, scientists, artists, academics and other professionals, the Network aims to forge links between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples throughout the world, researching and reviving the ancient forms of knowledge which the tribal peoples still hold. Amongst the many schemes scheduled for the next few years is a research project into the great migrations which the Indian peoples undertook in pre-history, trying to correlate the accounts given in the oral histories of the tribes with modern archaeological discoveries.
Dr Colorado now teaches at the University of Calgary in Canada. Jane Carroll spoke to her during a recent visit to the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California.

How did the Network for Indigenous Science start?
The idea had first come to me whilst I was doing my doctoral dissertation in 1977. At that time, I was having great difficulty communicating with my doctoral committee. I had excellent instruction, and it was a really demanding curriculum, but I could not communicate in the way that was expected. One day I was sitting in my apartment in Cambridge, and it came to me that it was not just that, as native people, we look at life differently. Even the way we present the knowledge and come to the knowledge is totally different from the Western way. Then I heard myself say out loud: “It’s almost as if we have a science of our own!” And as soon as I thought it, or heard myself say it, I realised that that is what needs to be said, because up until that time it was only the West which could have science. The rest of the world’s cultures could have culture or philosophy, but it wasn’t considered that anyone else could have science.
Of course, a lot of what is in the native American worldview, or indigenous world-view, falls beyond what we would normally think of as science in a western sense – although there are some things that could be considered directly parallel; for example, the knowledge that native people have about the environment. But it was because I felt that our view is so much broader that I felt it was a good thing to call it ‘science’. Knowing something about the history of science, I knew that western science is in the process of struggling for its third revolution – revolution in the sense of Thomas Kuhn’s definition – so I thought that maybe by calling indigenous knowledge ‘science’, there was a possibility of making a bridge between it and western knowledge.
Another consideration was that one can still see, everywhere, the destruction of native lands and tribal people. The people have never been able to find a voice to stop this destruction. This is perhaps because of the language that we use; not only because of actual linguistic differences, but also the way we have been educated and learnt to communicate with western people. For instance, we have had available to us the language of anthropology, because in the past anthropologists were the only educated people that ever spent time with us. But these people were clearly not doing the job of preventing the annihilation, for even in the 70s it was becoming clear that things were getting very dangerous; there was worry about the survival of tribal people globally and about the survival of the planet.
So my feeling was, that if I could find a way to talk about the native sciences, and about how much fuller and richer they are in many ways than western science, perhaps the western scientists would see something that they could learn from. Then maybe they would get involved with us, and then maybe they wouldn’t kill us anymore. I thought of it that simply, as a protection – not only for indigenous people but also, perhaps, for all people.

Can you say in what way indigenous knowledge is science?
When I looked around at what I had learnt through my education, I asked myself what, in western society, carries the weight that our indigenous knowledge does in ours? what is equivalent in term of value that we put on our knowledge systems, including the ritual and all that’s in it? I concluded that it had to be science, not religion or philosophy, for it seemed to me that science is held in such high esteem in the west. Since we hold our knowledge system to be spiritually based and, in a sense, spiritually driven, I wanted to find an equivalent knowledge system in the west that would be capable of ‘carrying the weight of God’. And again it looked like science to me.
If you want definitions of what indigenous science is: some people have called it natural science, others have called it life science, some have called it woman science, but for my own purposes, I go back to sciens/scientia, which means ‘to know’ in its largest sense. Native science is a way of bringing people to a higher knowledge, and one of its goals is to bring us to the Gii Lai – ‘the still quiet place’. In other words, our religion and our spirituality are built into it. Another thing that can be said is that native scientists, through their rituals and songs, etc. are working all the time with energies – the energies of the earth – in a way which is just as precise as the way western scientists work.

How have people responded to the idea of indigenous science?
In 1977, it seemed as if I had a tremendous nerve to think that tribal people would have anything at all to contribute to western knowledge, and I was considered quite radical. People said they were interested, but they did not want to know more. Although even then there were a few who said, this is really good stuff, have you written about it? Of course I hadn’t, because I had not worked out any way of talking about it properly. So nothing much happened until two or three years ago. By that time, the environmental crisis had deepened, threats to the survival of tribal people had sharpened, and the attention given to certain environmental issues like the rainforests and the problems in Brazil had focussed the world’s attention a little on tribal people. Then, in 1987, along came the Brundtland report. It is rather weak-kneed as far as tribal people are concerned, but at least the commission’s report says: go and learn from indigenous people, because they are the last reservoirs of the knowledge of how to live sustainably with the environment. Of course, they did not do anything about seeing that it would happen or make any suggestions about how it could come about. But it was from there that the inspiration came for the Network.
One thing that is important to add is that if I had tried to do this work before now, it would not have happened, because in tribal peoples’ view, especially in the Americas, it wasn’t appropriate to talk about certain kinds of knowledge. They were considered secret; we just didn’t share them, not among tribes and definitely not with the western world.
Is there a specific reason for this?
Yes, at least in the Americas. I haven’t checked it out in the other parts of the globe. In our oral tradition, it is said that there was a very definite decision made, at some point, not to talk, not to share our knowledge. I did some research recently into where that policy originated, and found that it was in Mexico at Tenochtitlan in 1521.
You see, people knew then, through our scientific practices, that we were entering a time they called the Dark Sun,which would go on for 468 years. During this time, consciousness would go through darkness. In fact, around that time it is recorded that there was a flare-up of solar activity with enormous sunspots. These sunspots, which were visible to the naked eye, made the sun look black.
Prior to the arrival of the Dark Sun, the spiritual and scientific community prepared the people. These preparations were four or five fold. The first was that the sites of knowledge – such as the pyramids and petroglyph sites that dot the Americas – those traditional universities would be closed, and the knowledge would no longer be recorded; neither written down in the case of the Aztecs or Mayans, nor enacted in the big centres of ritual, like the pyramids. This is why, when the white people came, they found so many of the ancient sites apparently abandoned. Secondly, the people were told that the ancient teachings would have to be preserved within family structures, and move to the personal domain of our own hearts. Thirdly, native tribes would stop the cycle of international gatherings and as a result, the knowledge would become scattered to all the directions.
It was said, at that time, that only two things would stay open – we would keep our languages alive, because so much knowledge of our ancestors is in that; and secondarily we would keep our spiritual contact with the Great Spirit, and that would stay open always. It was understood that this layering of activity would encode teachings on our consciousness, just as the ancients carved their knowledge into rocks. And like the rocks, the knowledge or consciousness can be entered into, now, only with the correct ‘key’.
I have a document which records this prophecy, which I found in Mexico City just last February. In it are the words of Cuautemoc, one of the last Aztec chiefs. Cuautemoc had the job of standing in front of the thousands of people and delivering the horrific prophecy of the Dark Sun, telling them that this is how they were to live, how they were going to survive for the next 400 years. The reason that such a document exists is that the Spanish had already arrived in Mexico City, and there was a Catholic priest present at the gathering, who recorded it. It is written in Spanish and Nahuak, which is an Aztec language; after I found it last year, I brought it back to North America and had it translated. It is a very powerful and moving speech.
Many people still assume that the native peoples of the Americas always lived just as the new wave of Europeans in the 1500s/1600s found them. But that is not true. What they found were people who were under attack, and who were implementing the instructions they had been given for survival through the Dark Sun. For instance, at the time of contact, many of the native communities had become pallisaded, stockaded villages, and people weren’t mixing with each other anymore. When they did mix, contact was often hostile.

It had been different before this time?
Oh yes. According to our oral history there had been many, many contacts, not only between the different peoples of North and South America, but also across the Pacific Ocean and across the Atlantic Ocean. There were established trade-routes, and ways of exchanging knowledge. The contacts began to be different in the 1500s. For instance, I come from a tribe up in the north-east, by the Great Lakes, and my people used to come down to Mexico City for what we might today call ‘conferences’ – policy-making sessions – about every six years. These were attended by peoples from all over the Americas, and also by tribes which came over the Pacific Ocean by boat. They stopped after 1521.
All this is in our oral history. But I know, being a western-trained scientist, that if I tell someone it is in our oral history, they’ll say, prove it. Well, one of the evidences of all this – in addition to the written document – is that amongst our surviving traditions, is the reading of the wampum belts.
These are beaded belts made out of shells, and they are a couple of thousand years old. They are mnemonic devices, used to trigger your mind, and they’re memorised; people who read those belts are trained from early on to be able to do it. After I heard about this prophecy in Mexico, I visited one of my chiefs and asked whether it was true,and whether there was the degree of migration and contact which I have described to you. And he said: Yes, it fits. I was really happy, because I had validated it in a traditional way.

Do you have any explanation for why the choice was to keep that knowledge underground?
Oh yes, they’re really clear about that. It was for protection. They didn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands: it was too sacred and too powerful.

Was Mexico in some way a centre in that period for the native peoples in the North of America, so that a statement made there could have effect throughout the continent?
Yes, but this another thing that’s tricky to understand. because some parts of our knowledge system can be said to be very intuitive, people that weren’t there knew it anyway, and felt it, and they were preparing themselves.
Then they said that after the 468 years there would be a new sun, which started in approximately 1987. This is in the Aztec calendar. You see my people from the Great Lakes come from the Aztec people, from that migration. Other native people have a similar prophecy: they may not have put it in mathematical form, but they’ll tell you in another, maybe symbolic, fashion.
What is prophesied at the end of the Dark Sun is that the condor (ie the land of the South Americas) and the eagle (the land of the North Americas) will be re-united, and the knowledge of the earth – and you must understand that when we say ‘the earth’ in our language, we don’t just man the physical earth, we refer to something which you might call ‘energy’ – the knowledge of the earth will come out again and the knowledge that we have will become whole. The ancient knowledge will rise again, only this time the key to it is integration, and we have to do it with ‘all the directions’.
One way of understanding ‘all the directions’ is that these are the colours of the races of man. As the fragments of knowledge start to come out, we will meet people, and each of us will have a certain piece,and as we put them together they will start to become whole again. You see, during this Dark Sun, the knowledge has become fragmented. Many people don’t realise that the different tribes do not even understand each other any more. I can understand most of the Iriquois peoples, because they speak dialects of my language, but I cannot understand our neighbours, the Sioux, except for a few words. This is important because all of our languages (there are more than 1000 in North America) contain both ‘universal’ words and unique local words. Indians love to hear each other’s language, because it gives us the chance to discover how, by what kinds of words, we are united and how we are different.

When you talk about the knowledge coming out now, I take you to mean not the formal knowledge that was repressed or hidden four hundred years ago, but that spirit of the knowledge?
Yes- although I would call that ‘formal’ knowledge. What’s more formal than that?

I mean that rather than being known through a formal ritual, now it might take other forms. For example, the video you show to introduce the Network mentions that modern technology has taken us to the moon and given us a view of the earth as a single whole. The indigenous people have always had this kind of knowledge of the earth, but it has taken highly analytical technology to bring it back to us. This view of the earth is becoming a kind of icon for our times, and it seems to be a combining between the two knowledges.

Except, a man named Frank White, who is a space scholar and a writer, wrote a book called ‘The Overview Effect’ in which he talks about what happened to the astronauts when they went into space. Some of them had what I suppose would be called profound spiritual conversions. White calls the experience of looking down on that which we know as separate things, and seeing that it is all one, ‘the universal insight’. Then he goes on to talk about ‘the overview effect’; which is that it isn’t just that you are standing back from what you see, but at the same time you recognise that you are a part of it. He wonders if we could find some way of creating the possibility for human consciousness to be transformed to this state without blasting everybody into outer space. It is very destructive of the environment to create those ships, we don’t have the resources, and not everybody wants to be an astronaut.
Combining this with things that I have read from Thomas Berry and other environmentalists, I have come to feel that the biggest problems that we face in terms of the earth, and the whole of humanity, cannot be tackled by technology. We have the technology now to do the job – to heal the earth – but what matters is the attitudes that we carry in our minds and in our hearts. A transformation in world-view needs to occur.
So, how to provide opportunities for large numbers of people to achieve ‘the overview effect’ and ‘the universal insight’? That is the question if the earth is to survive. And it is here that I feel that native science has something to really contribute.

Could yo give an example of the sort of scientific projects the Network is undertaking?
Yes, but first let me provide some background. In our oral history, which we would estimate goes back more than 30,000 years, it is described that there were four periods in the past when the earth was created and destroyed. One was destroyed by fire, another by wind, another by ice and another by water. This information is recorded on the petroglyphs in the Americas, for example, as well as in story form. The petroglyphs are interesting to mention here, because of the questions they give rise to, such as, when were they made and why were they made?
At each time, in each one of those worlds, there was the situation in which humanity had some great lesson to learn, and every time there was a mistake made. Sometimes there were warnings, or people could see that they were making a mistake but were unwilling or unable to rectify the error, and then nature herself made an adjustment. The greatest thing that we can accomplish in our science and in our lives is to be in balance with the universe, ultimately. But each time, in these worlds, people made mistakes which led to the destruction of the world.
I have done some research into these four worlds in association with a man called Hanson Ashley, a Navajo medicine man and a transpersonal psychologist. We wanted to know how we could begin to talk about the concept of worlds to the West, and developed the hypothesis that they could be described as the evolving consciousness of humanity (and when I say ‘evolving’, it has to be understood that it is more like a ‘revolving’ consciousness, because as native people we don’t look at things linearly, going from one point in a straight line to another). We also wanted to be accurate in what we said; we didn’t want to distort knowledge in an effort to communicate across cultures, so Hanson spent time talking to the elders about the nature of the worlds. He now has a detailed history of each of them – and this includes the specific teachings or learnings which were of each world.
The elders agreed that you could, indeed, think about the worlds in terms of human consciousness. But the situation was more complicated than we had thought, for Hanson also found out that the people did not learn the real lessons within the worlds, but that in between the worlds, there was a cycle of twelve. This cycle of twelve – I don’t know how many years that was – was the time when humanity had to do things to put itself in accord again – in accord with life, or with the natural world, however yo want to say it. The four worlds were not the worlds of ‘man’, but were worlds in which nature herself went through her growth, challenges, transformations and realignments to come into balance.
So, if we are interested in discovering how to create a shift in attitude, which is necessary now in order to save the planet, and how to move from western thought to native thought, we also have to understand what happened between those worlds. What happened that somehow saved the day and permitted humanity to move into another world – or one could say, another form of consciousness? And how did our ancestors’ choices accommodate or block the earth’s natural evolution?
Well, many things happened, but one of the primary events was a journey or a migration. These journeys can be describes as wayfinding, and it was during these great movements or migrations that knowledge of how to live in balance with the earth was recorded in the original rock carvings and petroglyphs.

This is a literal wayfaring?
Yes and no. The literal wayfaring is only one kind; but many things were happening simultaneously. It was a time when people physically moved around on the earth or on the water. They moved in a patterned way; it wasn’t just any old way, for they knew they were going to some place for a specific reason. They were usually led by someone; someone who had the inspiration or vision of where to go. The case of the Navajo is interesting, because one of the people who led them, I think it was after the flood, was a woman, who is referred to in the histories as White Shell Changing Woman.
As the people moved about, there were lessons that they learned, mistakes that they made, risks that they took and out of those experiences they learned rituals, songs and strategies that prepared them for movement into the next cycle.
One of the things that the Indigenous Science Network is working on now, is to recreate some of these migrations. It is important to understand that when I speak of re-creating the migrations, it is not so much recreating the exact journeys and the steps; what we want to recreate is the protocol, the mindset. We are inviting our white brothers and sisters, the scientists, to join us in this because we believe that this is something we are meant to be doing. As native people that’s enough, that we have a vision to do it. In my case, it refers back to a vision that I had at a ceremony in Arizona in 1984, when the spirit of wayfinding came into the ceremony and touched my life in a way that set me on this path. But the problem that we faced was how we would be able to talk to the West about it.

Is this where your interest in the great Polynesian journeys comes in?
Yes. But before I go into that, I want to talk about the confidence level that’s generated by indigenous science. Confidence is a big issue in science. In westerns science, the confidence that people have in it depends on how accurate it is, how likely it is we can replicate it, etc. It was confidence, for example, that brought Columbus to the Americas in the first place – confidence in the navigation instruments which allowed him to go out of sight of land for the first time in European history. He got to the New World because he knew how to use them, whilst none of the other sailors that were with him did. They wanted to mutiny, to throw him overboard, but they didn’t dare because they were out on the ocean, with no landmarks to go by, and Columbus knew the navigation.
In the same way , there is a confidence that can be engendered by indigenous science. For example, the Navajo people have an extremely short life-span, about fifty years of age. Their average annual income is probably still not much more than about $2,000 – so in an economic sense, they live very marginalised lives. But when we first thought about re-creating these journeys, Hanson went back and talked with the medicine man who had run the ceremony in which I had had my vision, and spoke of all the things that had unfolded since then and asked him about it. Specifically, he asked about White Shell Changing Woman’s journey, in which she led the Navajo people from where they lived in the South-West over to the coast here in California, to the Pacific Ocean. There, they met Indians who were ocean-going, who could build canoes, and they showed the Navajos how to navigate and what to do. The Navajos sailed to the farthest island in their journey and then came back.
Hanson discussed with the elder the possibility of recreating this migration. In the light of all I’ve said about the Navajo’s lifestyle today, one might have expected the response to be – but how do we do it? Where will we get a grant, who will back us? But actually, the response was: well, we have stories and we have the charts to guide us, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. That’s the kind of confidence that’s engendered.
This illustrates as well how powerful indigenous science is, in the sense that it contains and is able to pass on information through thousands and thousands of years by its oral traditions. In contrast, how long do we think that most of the knowledge that we have today will last? We have very powerful computers, but even with them, the models change all the time, and if the electricity fails because of some kind of calamity or disaster, the knowledge is gone.

But the kind of knowledge that you are speaking of is very different from that of modern technology.
Yes, indeed. So in order to communicate with Western scientists, we have to give them a bridge, or an opportunity, to look again at these ancient forms of knowledge. And to do this we need models, and as far as the migrations and the navigation goes, it turns out that there is a good, existing example, and that is the case of the Polynesians.
For, in 1976, the Polynesian Voyaging Society was established. Its first task was to recreate a traditional double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe that would be capable of trans-oceanic voyages. Building the canoe – ‘Hokule’a’ – revealed some startling facts. Firstly, there were no trees left on the Hawaiian Islands that were big enough to make such a canoe, so Hokule’a could not be traditional; it would have to be a performance accurate replica which used some fiberglass instead of wood. Secondly, they discovered that there were no Hawaiians who knew how to navigate in the traditional way. So they began to search and eventually found Mao Piailug from Micronesia, an elder who still knew the traditional methods. He was brought to Hawaii, to work with a young Hawaiian native, Nainoa Thompson. Nainoa drew from Western and indigenous sciences. He studied satellite weather charts and astronomy, and then he studied with Mao, who used stones to teach what our ancestors had known.
The result of this integrated education was the 1976 voyage of Hokule’a from Hawaii to Tahiti. This voyage was accomplished without the benefit of any instruments or charts. In 1985, on a subsequent voyage from Rarotonga to New Zealand, a distance of 1700 nautical miles across open sea, Nainoa steered a course which was only 100 miles farther than the shortest distance possible between the two points. The only reason for the extra miles was severe weather conditions.
The interesting question is, how did he do it? Well, that gets to something I think Frank White is talking about when he describes the overview effect. As native people, we learn to train our minds from the time we are children, to be centered where we are, grounded in reality, and see all the signs that are around us. For the purposes of navigation, it is necessary to see the roll of the waves, the movements of the fish, the birds and the winds, etc. In addition, you have to have the ability to project yourself out, ‘to see what it’s not possible to see’. I’m just learning this myself, but I know that it is an ability that our people have known for thousands of years, and still practice. Now our task is to see that this mental acumen, this capacity of ‘the good mind’, is not lost. And the reason why we’ve been talking about this today is that the wayfinding mindset, the ability to project ourselves out, is the knowledge that is necessary if we are to create a healthy relationship with the earth.

There obviously is a major dichotomy between indigenous science and western science. Do you see western science as something that has gone wrong, or do you see that it’s pursued a particular path which is perhaps unbalanced but which is not wrong in itself?
That’s a difficult question, because it’s got so out of hand that the temptation is to say that it was an experiment that failed. I don’t know if it’s failed or it hasn’t failed. But I can say from a traditional perspective that when we describe the form that the migrations took, for instance across the Americas, it is a cross within a circle; a cross lying on its side. Our ancestors always knew about linear thought, but it was linear thought contained in a circle of light. The Hopi prophecy, which is written on their petroglyphs and which they ritually re-enact in their cycle of ceremonies every year, tells us that what needs to happen is that the knowledge of the white brother needs to be united with the earth knowledge of the native person.
What do you think Western scientists or any of us should be doing in a principal way? Obviously we should be learning to take care of the earth much better than we are, but how?
Well, for example, two physicists asked me in Germany, “Dr. Colorado, what would you recommend if we were to do our science differently?” One thing I said was that I think scientists should extend their calculations to seven generations. I asked them what they thought they would find out if they did that, and they admitted that the results would be very different. That’s one really simple thing they could do. Well, perhaps not so simple.

To expand their horizons…
Exactly. And in other directions. If you talk to scientists, you’ll find out that most of them have deeply moving moments of creativity and inspiration which they say that, at the present time, they’re not allowed to discuss or to bring into their science. They have to act as if it doesn’t happen, and as if all of their hunches, which may turn out to be right or to be wrong, were just manifestations of sheets of calculations. So another thing that would be good is for them to begin to create forms where they can talk about the other levels os knowing. Some people of course have already begun this – David Bohm, for instance.
I ask scientists to join us at any level. I have researched the journeys in a western way – I’ve researched it many ways – and I’ve had a lot of contact with different kinds of western scientists, from archaeologists to physicists.

It does seem that there is a very narrow focus to much of Western science, and an unwillingness to accept oral history, or mythology.
Bohm makes the point really well. He says that since Einstein, we continue to practice our science as if he hadn’t said what he said; and probably that vein of science, that particular very focussed approach to knowledge, will continue. What we see happening, I suppose, is that new streams of thought and science are appearing now. It’s from these that I’m looking for solutions, not only cross-scientifically but also globally. In a way, I think science has already begun this, or a least the scientists have already begun; that’s why a place like the ‘Institute of Noetic Sciences’ in California exists; that’s why Bohm does the work that he’s done for so many years. There is group of ‘scientists for peace’, and many scientists are looking for new ways. I have a lot of hope.

is there a way, from the native American perspective, to look at the cataclysm that occurred for you in the last four hundred years? Is there a way in which it has meaning?
If you think back what I had said earlier about the Dark Sun, nobody said that it was the Dark Sun because of the coming of the Europeans. The Europeans had come thousands of years earlier (there are evidence of very early contact which I won’t go into now) but then the relationship was different. Who tells the sun how to move? Not the Spanish!
We don’t like what’s happened, we surely didn’t want it. On the other hand, that’s life itself; that’s the cycles of life. Perhaps the best way to say it is that we really value accommodation as a universal principle – accommodation to life is more important than judging what needed to happen. Now what is important is that we are entering a new sun.

Discovering Indigenous Science: Implications for Science Education (PDF)

Discovering Indigenous Science: Implications for Science Education

Gloria Snively
Department of Social and Natural Sciences, University of Victoria
John Corsiglia
Consultant on First Nation’s history and culture, British Columbia

Abstract: Indigenous science relates to both the science knowledge of long-resident, usually oral culture peoples, as well as the science knowledge of all peoples who as participants in culture are affected by the worldview and relativist interests of their home communities. This article explores aspects of multicultural science and pedagogy and describes a rich and well-documented branch of indigenous science known to biologists and ecologists as traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Although TEK has been generally inaccessible, educators can now use a burgeoning science-based TEK literature that documents numerous examples of time-proven, ecologically relevant, and cost effective indigenous science. Disputes regarding the universality of the standard scientific account are of critical importance for science educators because the definition of science is a de facto “gatekeeping” device for determining what can be included in a school science curriculum and what cannot. When Western modern science (WMS) is defined as universal it does displace revelation-based knowledge (i.e., creation science); however, it also displaces pragmatic local indigenous knowledge that does not conform with formal aspects of the “standard account.” Thus, in most science classrooms around the globe, Western modern science has been taught at the expense of indigenous knowledge. However, because WMS has been implicated in many of the world’s ecological disasters, and because the traditional wisdom component of TEK is particularly rich in time-tested approaches that foster sustainability and environmental integrity, it is possible that the universalist “gatekeeper” can be seen as increasingly problematic and even counter productive. This paper describes many examples from Canada and around the world of indigenous people’s contributions to science, environmental understanding, and sustainability. The authors argue the view that Western or modern science is just one of many sciences that need to be addressed in the science classroom We conclude by presenting instructional strategies that can help all science learner negotiate border crossings between Western modern science and indigenous science.

One of the intense philosophical debates in education literature focuses on the inclusion of multicultural science in mainstream science education, as evidenced by the number of papers submitted to this and other science education journals. For some, multicultural science is seen as important because it can function as a pedagogical stepping stone — especially for multicultural students of science (Atwater & Riley, 1993; Hodson, 1993; Stanley & Brickhouse, 1994). Certain other science educators who champion modern Western science as the last and greatest of the sciences tend to dismiss multicultural science as faddish or heretical (Good, 1995a, 1995b; Gross & Levitt, 1994; Matthews, 1994; Slezak, 1994; Wolpert, 1993).
Suspending consideration of the intrinsic importance of multicultural science Ogawa (1995) stresses that all science students must work through both individual and indigenous science understandings in the course of constructing their knowledge of modern Western science. Ogawa proposes that every culture has its own science and refers to the science in a given culture as its “indigenous science” (Ogawa, 1995, p.585). Westerners freely acknowledge the existence of indigenous art, music, literature, drama, and political and economic systems in indigenous cultures, but somehow fail to apprehend and appreciate indigenous science. Elkana writes: “Comparative studies of art, religion, ethics, and politics abound; however, there is no discipline called comparative science” (Elkana, 1981, p. 2). Thus, in many educational settings where Western modern science is taught, it is taught at the expense of indigenous science, which may precipitate charges of epistemological hegemony and cultural imperialism.
It would seem that the dispute over how science is to be taught in the classroom turns on how the concepts “science” and “universality” are to be defined. The debate rages over the nature of reality and knowledge, definitions of science, and the so-called universalist vs. relativist positions. Sometimes the debate appears to be at least as culture-centric as it is rational. Replying to a Stanley and Brickhouse (1994) suggestion to include examples of multicultural science in the curriculum, Good (1995a) challenged opponents to be specific with their “few well-chosen examples of sciences from other cultures”:

What are these few well-chosen examples that should be included in our school science curriculum? Additionally, it would be very nice to learn how these examples of neglected “science” should change our understanding of biology, chemistry, physics, and so on. Just what contributions will this neglected science make in modern science’s understanding of nature? (p. 335)

As one example of how far the universalist vs. relativist debate can be pushed, the authors have learned that Richard Dawkins is fond of saying: “there are no relativists at 30,000 feet.” No doubt that without an airplane of conventional description, a person at 30,000 feet is in serious trouble, but when universalists take off and land on vulcanized rubber tires they make use of a material and process reportedly discovered and refined by indigenous Peruvians (Weatherford, 1988, 1991). Without multicultural science contributions enabling airplanes to land and take off, there would be neither airplanes, nor for that matter, universalists at 30,000 feet.
While science educators have been fighting epistemological battles that could effectively limit or expand the scope and purview of science education, events on the ground appear to have overtaken us — working scientists have themselves been involved in wide ranging exploration and reform. Especially during the last 25 years, biologists, ecologists, botanists, geologists, climatologists, astronomers, agriculturists, pharmacologists, and related working scientists have labored to develop approaches that are improving our ability to understand and mitigate the impact of human activity upon the environment. By extending their enquiry into the timeless traditional knowledge and wisdom of long-resident, oral peoples, these scientists have in effect moved the borders of scientific inquiry and formalized a branch of biological and ecological science that has become known as the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), which can be thought of as either the knowledge itself, or as documented ethno-science enriched with analysis and explication provided by natural science specialists. The interested reader can find numerous detailed examples of TEK (Andrews, 1988; Berkes, 1988, 1993; Berkes & Mackenzie, 1978, Inglis, 1993; Warren, 1997; Williams & Baines, 1993). Additionally, the present bibliography provides the reader with a number of specific examples of TEK in Canada and worldwide.
Thus, we face four related questions: First, is science an exclusive invention of Europeans, or have scientific ways of thinking and viable bodies of science knowledge also emerged in other cultures? Second, if WMS is taken to be universal, what is the status of the vast quantities of local knowledge that it subsumes, incorporates,and claims to legitimize? Third, what is the proper role of science educators as leaders in the process of refining and clarifying the current definitions of WMS? And fourth, when viable bodies of useful scientific knowledge emerge in other cultures, how can science educators develop programs that enable all students to cross cultural borders — in this instance, between the culture of Western modern science and the cultures of long-resident indigenous peoples?
Because TEK is being used by scientists to solve important biological and ecological problems and because problems of sustainability are pervasive and of very high interest to students and others, it becomes increasingly important for science educators to introduce students to the perspectives of both WMS and TEK. The availability and varies nature of TEK examples will be useful to proponents of multicultural science (Aikenhead, 1995, 1996; Atwater & Riley, 1993; Bowers, 1993a, 1993b; Hodson, 1993; Ogawa, 1989, 1995; Smith, 1982, 1995; Snively, 1990, 1995; Wright, 1992).
In this article, we argue the view that since Aboriginal cultures have made significant contributions to science, then surely there are different ways of arriving at legitimate knowledge. Without knowledge, there can be no science. Thus, the definition of “science” should be broadened, thereby including TEK as science. The intention is not to demean WMS, but instead to point out a body of scientific literature that provides great potential for enhancing our ability to develop more relevant science education programs.

Since the phrases “Western modern science,” “indigenous science,” and “traditional ecological knowledge” all have multiple meanings it will be useful to linger briefly with definitions. For clarity, we shall distinguish between “Western modern science” which is the most dominant science in the world and “indigenous science” which interprets how the world works from a particular cultural perspective. This paper focuses on a subset of indigenous science referred to as “traditional ecological knowledge,” which is both the science of long-resident oral peoples and a biological sciences label for the growing literature which records and explores that knowledge.
What is Science?
As is well known, there are numerous versions of what science is, and of what counts as being scientific. The Latin root, scientia, means knowledge in the broadest possible sense and survives in such words as omniscience and prescience. Terms such as “modern science,” “standard science,” “Western science,” “conventional science,” and “official science” have been in use only since the beginning of the twentieth century. For some, scientific abstractions began with Sumerian astronomy and mathematics; for others, scientific theorizing began with Greek atomism; and for yet others, it began toward the end of the nineteenth century when scientists began to grapple with abstract theoretical propositions — for example, evolution, natural selection, and the kinetic-molecular theory. What confidence could one have in theoretical statements built from or based on unobservable data? Care was taken to develop logically consistent rules outlining how theoretical statements can be derived from observational statements. The intent was to create a single set of rules to guide the practice of theory justification (Duschl, 1994). Science can also refer to conceptual constructs approved by logical empiricism (positivism) which, in addition, has the capacity to carry science beyond the realms of observation and experiment. Also, we have come to refer to WMS as officially sanctioned knowledge which can be thought of as inquiry and investigation that Western governments and courts are prepared to support, acknowledge, and use. Some authors have represented “science” with the acronym WMS, which either means “Western modern science” (Ogawa, 1995) or “white male science” (Pomeroy, 1994). Striving toward comprehensive definitions, certain sociology of science scholars have described WMS as institutionalized in Western Europe and North America as a predominately white male, middle-class Western system of meaning and symbols (Rose, 1994; Simonelli, 1994).
In sharp contrast to the exclusivist definitions of science in the previous paragraph, Ogawa (1995) points science educators toward a broadly inclusive conceptualization of what science is by defining science rather simply as “a rational perceiving of reality” (p.588). The merit of the use of the word “perceiving”gives science a “dynamic nature” and acknowledges that “science can experience a gradual change at any time” (p.588). Another point put forward by Ogawa s that “rational” should be seen in relativistic terms, as discussed in the previous section.
The present WMS philosophical climate would require some reconfiguration if TEK, which takes a generally pragmatic approach, is to be properly received as science. Approaches to science seem to have proceeded along two fundamentally different courses — by the timeless procedure of relying on observation and experiment, and, during this century, by the theoretical examination of queries and assertions. By examining the methodology and logic of assertions, questions, and concept, logical empiricism (positivism) has come to function as a vigorous “gatekeeper” that has certainly succeeded in screening out metaphysical, pseudo-science during this century. In fact, logical empiricism (positivism) may have become so powerful a gatekeeper that even experimental science itself appears to have become diminished. Experiment cannot prove the [absolute] correctness of assertions, it can only help to rank or disconfirm theories. Hacking refers to the general difficulty in Boyd, Gaspar, and Trout (1991):

No field in the philosophy of science is more systematically neglected than experiment. Our grade school teachers may have told us that scientific method is experimental method, but histories of science have become histories of theory. (p.247)

Certainly, we may rejoice that logical empiricism (positivism) has been able to screen out historically destructive pseudo-science by exposing the meaninglessness of its metaphyscics, but there are problems. As poet Robert Frost put it, “Before I built a wall I’d ask what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense.” As an expression of Western culture (or even as a system of pure, value free, universal truth), WMS must inevitably swim in a sea of cultural assumptions about progress, self-interest, winning/losing, aggressiveness, attitude to time (the purview of meaningful history), and the benefits of immediate advantage as opposed to the importance of long-term consequences.
Until the past two or three decades, the gatekeeper’s performance appears to have been generally celebrated. More recently, however, sociologists of science have been vigorous in identifying implicit values and assumptions that can be said to tacitly structure the gatekeeper’s activities. At the same time, a considerable number of working scientists, no doubt mindful of both the gatekeeper’s power to exclude and the real possibility of worldwide environmental collapse, have set up pragmatic TEK science shops. The fact that working scientists are increasingly acknowledging TEK suggests that there are sound reasons for changing the formal definitions of “science” so as to include such important forms of multicultural science as TEK.
Our position on “science” is closely aligned with that of Ogawa (1989) who prefers Elkana’s (1981) understanding of science, which argues that “every culture has its science,” … “something like its own way of thinking and/or its own worldview” and gives the following definition: “By science, I mean a rational (i.e., purposeful, good, directed) explanation of science of the physical world surrounding man” (p.1437). WE agree with Ogawa (1989) when he asserts that “Western science is only one form of science among the sciences of the world” (p.248). Also, the people living in an indigenous culture itself may not recognize the existence of its own science, hence, it may be transferred from generation to generation merely by invisible or nonformal settings (Ogawa, 1989).

Indigenous Science
According to Ogawa (1995), we must distinguish between two levels of science: individual or personal science and cultural or societal science. He refers to science at the culture or society level as “indigenous science” (p.588).
Although we all participate in indigenous science to a greater or lesser degree, long-resident, oral culture peoples may be thought of as specialists in local indigenous science. Indigenous science, sometimes referred to as ethnoscience, has been described as “the study of systems of knowledge developed by a given culture to classify the objects, activities, and events of its given universe” (Hardesty, 1977). Indigenous science interprets how the local world works through a particular cultural perspective. Expressions of science thinking are abundant throughout indigenous agriculture, astronomy, navigation, mathematics, medical practices, engineering, military science, architecture, and ecology. In addition, processes of science that include rational observation of natural events, classification, and problem solving are woven into all aspects of indigenous cultures. It is both remembered sensory information that is usually transmitted orally in descriptive names and in stories where abstract principles are encapsulated in metaphor (Bowers, 1993a, 1993b; Cruikshank, 1981, 1991; Nelson, 1983).
We may note that indigenous science includes the knowledge of both indigenous expansionist cultures (e.g., the Aztec, Mayan, and Mongolian Empires) as well as the home-based knowledge of long-term resident oral resident peoples (i.e., the Inuit, the Aboriginal people of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, Micronesia, and New Zealand).

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
Although the term TEK came into widespread use in the 1980s, there is no universally accepted definition of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in literature. The term is, by necessity, ambiguous since the words traditional and ecological knowledge are themselves ambiguous. Dictionary etymology shows the Latin roots of “traditional science” to be “knowledge” scientia of the world that is “handed across” or “traded” (from the Latin traduare) across generations of long-resident oral traditional peoples. “Traditional” usually refers to a cultural continuity transmitted in the form of social attitudes, beliefs, principles, and conventions of behavior and practice derived from historical experience. However, as Berkes (1993) points out, “societies change through time, constantly adopting new practices and technologies, and making it difficult to define just how much and what kind of change would affect the labeling of a practice as traditional” (p.3). Because of this, many scholars avoid using the term “traditional.” As well, some purists find the term unacceptable or inappropriate when referring to societies such as native northern groups whose lifestyles have changed considerably over the years. For this reason, some prefer the term “indigenous knowledge” (IK), which helps avoid the debate about tradition, and explicitly puts the emphasis on indigenous people (Berkes, 1993). The term “ecological knowledge” poses definition problems of its own. If ecology is defined narrowly as a branch of biology in the domain of Western science, then strictly speaking there can be no TEK; most traditional peoples are not modern Western scientists. If ecological knowledge is defined broadly to refer to the “knowledge, however acquired, of relationships of living being with one another and with the environment, then the term TEK becomes tenable” (Berkes, 1993, p.3)
TEK generally represents experience acquired over thousands of years of direct human contact with the environment. Although the term TEK only came into widespread use, the practice of TEK is ancient (Berkes, 1993). The science of long-resident peoples differs considerably from group to group depending on locale and is knowledge built up through generations of living in close contact with the land. Figure 1 show one way of attempting to describe TEK within an indigenous science framework and of emphasizing its importance to contemporary environmental issues. Examples of indigenous and TEK science may be accessed through living elders and specialists of various kinds or found in the literature of TEK, anthropology, ethnology, ethnobiology, ethnogeography, ethnohistory, and mythology, as well as in the archived records of traders, missionaries, and government functionaries.
TEK information is sometimes cherished as private or belonging to one family only. Also, in many traditions, oral information may only be shared under particular circumstances, for example, when it is clear that no one intends to use the knowledge for gain.

Relativity, Relatedness and Reality (PDF)

Relativity, Relatedness and Reality

By Vine Deloria, Jr.

It was not so long ago that Newtonian physics and mathematics described a world of absolute space, time and matter and people believed that understanding the universe completely was simply a matter of policing up the obscure subjects which had not received much attention in the past. Then the Michelson-Morley experiments to detect and measure, if possible, the “ether” which was thought to exist between large bodies in the solar systems returned a blank and thinkers went back to their solitude to try and understand what this failure actually meant for cosmology—and by extension for science itself.

The result of deliberations by many of the best minds of the age was a theory put forth by Albert Einstein, then a patent clerk in Germany, and certainly not a luminary of the academic establishment. Einstein’s thesis, viewed from our present perspective, is hardly revolutionary and probably just a simple corrective of the centuries of belief that human beings could know the innermost workings of the larger cosmos by examining phenomenon on one tiny planet on the edge of a galaxy. Space, time, and matter, Einstein argued, are concepts whose measurement should be in relationship to the context in which they are to be used. That is to say, these ideas are not part of the eternal structure of the universe in and of themselves but they are how we describe this universe, and therefore since we do have experiences we can use these ideas and they have substance as long as we remember that we are part of the process of gathering information.

Nearly three generations have been required to work through the implications of relativity and physics and mathematics have prospered immensely in their ability to probe the micro and macro levels of cosmic existence once freed from the idea of absolute time and space. Other “science” have not fared as well because many of their practitioners adopted the idea that everything is “relative,” which is to say, there is no absolute truth or description of reality, it all depends on the action of the observer and the nature of the experiment or investigation. In the social sciences in particular, the idea of including the observer meant a reduction of certainty almost to the point of personal preference. Americans, as we are likely to do , have reduced relativity to a form of psychobabble.

We Are All Relatives
A positive by-product of the entrenchment of relativity in the non-mathematical sciences and disciplines has been the willingness of people to look at non-Western cultures and give them a measure of respect for their knowledge of the natural world. In my previous article I reviewed the tendency of pioneer thinkers to begin to bring separate fields of inquiry together by merging ideas and concepts and in effect create new sciences which weld together the bodies of knowledge which should not have been separated in the first place. Strangely there has been very little attention paid to Indian methodologies for gathering data and, consequently, the movement is primarily and ad-hoc, personal preference way of gathering new ideas and attempting to weld them to existing bodies of knowledge. We cannot expect fundamental change in the manner in which Western scientists interpret their data until massive changes in individual items occur and a paradigm shift is forced by the failure of the established doctrines in the field to explain the materials.

The Indian perspective of the natural world is not subject to this limitation because it already has a fundamental principle of interpretation/observation which pervades everything that Indians think or experience. Thus verification of existing knowledge and the addition of new knowledge is simply a matter of adding to the already considerable body of information which Indians possess. And unfortunate aspect of the Indian knowledge is that so much data has been lost in the last century as Indians have been prevented from roaming freely over their traditional homelands, gathering plants and animals for food and ceremonies, and performing those ceremonies which ensured the prosperity of the earth and its life forms. Nevertheless the information which we formerly had remain available to us if we can return to the traditional manner in which we related to lands and life.

The Indian principle of interpretation/observation is simplicity itself: “We are all relatives.” Most Indians hear this phrase thousands of times a year as they attend or perform ceremonies and for many Indians without an ongoing ritual life the phrase seems to be simply a liturgical blessing that includes all other forms of life in human ceremonial activities. But this phrase is very important as a practical methodological tool for investigating the natural world and drawing conclusions about it which can serve as guides for understanding nature and living comfortably within it.

“We are all relatives” when taken as a methodological tool for obtaining knowledge means that we observe the natural world by looking for relationships between various things in it. That is to say, everything in the natural world has relationships with every other thing and the total set of relationships makes up the natural world as we experience it. This concept is simply the relativity concept as applied to a universe which people experience as alive and not as dead or inert. Thus Indians knew that stones were the perfect beings because they were self-contained entities which had resolved their social relationships and possessed great knowledge about how every other entity, and every species, should live. Stones had mobility but did not need to use it. Every other being had mobility and needed, in some specific manner, to use it in relationships.

Harvest By Observation
Materials illustrating kinds of relationships are plentiful but it is necessary when speaking to them to ponder their meaning very seriously in order to understand the body of knowledge which they represent. I will use some examples from the Plains but the same kind of demonstrative process could be done by using the knowledge of the Pacific Northwest tribes, the desert tribes of the Southwest, and the woodlands tribes of the eastern United States. It is my hope that the present generation of Indian students will adopt some version of this methodology as they are studying Western science, particularly social and biological science, and leapfrog into prominence in their fields by writing and teaching from an Indian perspective. In this way science will move very quickly into a more intelligent understanding of the natural world.

The tribes who lived along the Missouri River and its tributaries grew corn and vegetables but also conducted a summer hunt for buffalo, deer and antelope. It was their practice to plant the crops, do one hoeing to reduce the weeds and grasses around the corn hills, and then depart for the high plains and Rocky Mountains for July and August to prepare meat for the winter. We might think there was great concern about the condition of the corn crops since corn would provide the major food supply during winter. But the tribes had already perceived plant relationships and so had what we might call “indicator plants” which told them how their corn was coming.

The Pawnees simply examined the seed pods of the milk weed and when these pods had reached a certain condition and were at maturity, they packed up everything and headed for home, arriving in time to harvest their corn and hold a corn dance. At first glance this information seems like an interesting tidbit but has nothing to do with relatedness or relativity. In fact the Pawnee had been able to discern, through observation or by information given to them in a ceremony, that corn and milkweed had about the same growing season. To be more precise, milkweed was a bit faster growing than corn because it would take several weeks to return to their villages after having examined the milkweed. Western science might run across the similarity between the two plants but the chances of making the linkage and being able to use it predictively for practical purposes are minimal.

Standing Bear said that “away from the woods grew the sand cherries on little low shrubs. Around and over the sand hills, and patches so barren that not a blade of grass grew, these bushes flourished, yielding a luscious fruit which we were very careful in gathering. We picked this fruit only against the wind, for if we stood with our body odors going toward the fruit its flavor was destroyed.” Here we see that scope of relatedness in a surprising context. Unquestionably we have a human-plant relationship but one in which the human is the less sensitive participant. The human had to be particularly aware of the bush and pay unusual respect to it in order to use its fruit.

I would be curious to learn how an anthropologist or botanist trained in Western science would explain how the Sioux discovered this fact of plant life. people would have to harvest the fruit for a reasonably long time in order to have enough experiences with it to formulate the most constructive way to relate to the bush. But what on earth would inspire anyone to look into the direction of the wind when picking fruit? Annual harvests would occur for a very short time each summer. The variance in rain, heat, and other climactic factors would appear to be so much more important in determining the condition of the fruit that it would seem unlikely that anyone could identify human body odor as the critical factor in the relationship. Yet the Sioux were able to identify this element from everything else that needed to be considered.

Some information must have come directly from observations made by the people and once this knowledge was gained, it was put to good use. Standing Bear noted that gophers and other small animals cached their food for the winter and “our women knew the likely places of these caches, usually near a low bank, and went hunting for them with long, sharp-pointed sticks. They poked in the ground until they came to a soft spot in the earth, and there, ten or twelve inches under the soil and carefully covered with fine dry shredded grass, would be nice lot of vegetables lying in a heap as fresh as when they were gathered. Some of these caches would be three feet in diameter and would hold as much as one person could carry.”

I suppose it is not good public relations to recount how the Indians used to steal from the gophers but from this bit of information we can derive two things. First, Indians had the knowledge of the natural world necessary to sustain themselves in spite of any misfortune that might befall them. Thus a person lost on the prairie would not starve because of his knowledge. But more important, by watching how the animals preserved food, the people learned that they could use the same techniques to preserve their foods. Standing Bear says that the gopher caches were “models of neatness… there would be no sign of the tops and roots, both being cut clean from the vegetable, whereas when the women stored they left both attached tying bunches together by the long string-like roots.” The Indians, of course, did not have large bags and boxes for carrying vegetables and therefore had to keep the roots so they could tie the food to poles and harnesses in order to carry them.

Buffalo, Bulrushes and Sunflowers
Not all information about the natural world came as a result of careful observation based on the principle of relatedness. If we greatly expand our understanding of the sense of being relatives, we discover that plants, birds, and animals often gave specific information to the people. Standing Bear described one such instance. “A food that had an interesting history for us was the tall plant that grew in the swamps, commonly called the bulrush. The duck, who brought many good plants and roots to the tribe, told the Duck Dreamer medicine-man about it and named it spa. In the early spring and summer we welcomed this plant, which was pulled up by the roots, and the white part eaten like celery.” Here is a bird-human relationship that involves information about the plant and its use. We do not know what the subsequent plant-human relationship was or might have become but we can assume that at some point the tribe had more knowledge than what Standing Bear relates.

An observation that always struck me as critically important for understanding the plant and animal relationship, although I have no good explanation for it, regarded the buffalo and the sunflower. I briefly mentioned this behavior in my previous article and I would like to expand my comments on it. Standing Bear wrote that “the buffalo loved the simple and odorless sunflower just as did the Lakota. These great beasts wandered through the sunflower fields, wallowing their heads among them. Sometimes they uprooted the plants and wound them about their backs, letting sprays dangle from their left horns.”

I suspect that we have here and observation of a buffalo ceremonial, perhaps even the buffalo version of the Sundance performed by human beings. Or we may have a form of buffalo recreation. There is no question that this kind of behavior enabled the sunflower seeds to be scattered over a much greater distance than they would otherwise be able to reach but the benefit to the buffalo, other than enjoyment, was not explained. Nevertheless we have to recognize that the buffalo, bear and the cottonwood tree were there three dominant non-human entities on the Great Plains, that they engaged in purposeful action, and that they dominated even the ceremonial relationships of humans. Therefore it is highly probable that we have in this behavior a much deeper meaning than we can presently explain.

These examples are only the anecdotal data that is most easily retried today in a library, information about the buffalo could be multiplied a thousand fold by talking with the people who are now raising buffalo and are now coming back to a knowledge of this animal. At a recent meeting of the Intertribal Bison Cooperative in Rapid City speaker after speaker related observations on the intelligence and knowledge of this animal, affirming in many instances information which had been passed down in the oral tradition but never verified by the Sioux people because of being on the reservation the last 120 years. Each speaker at this training session, however, once again confirmed the ancient understanding that these creatures are more like humans in their behavior than they are like other animals—if you know how to interpret their behavior.

Reality By the Senses
The theory of relativity dislodged Western science in its belief that humans could not obtain absolute truth about the constitution and processes of the natural world. What this theory really did was eliminate the naive belief that by using one particular methodology, that of reducing everything to mechanical form, we could completely understand the world around us. This old belief saw reality as something beyond our senses and means of apprehension and Western people have held this belief since the time of the Greek philosophers. For American Indians, however, it was not necessary to postulate the existence of an ideal world of perfect forms untouched by space or time or to suggest that space, time and matter were inherent and absolute qualities of the physical world which, when properly described in mathematical terms, could accurately explain the universe.

For most Indian tribes it was enough that they understood the manner in which living things behaved. Recognizing that the universe was alive, they began to accumulate knowledge about how every other entity behaved in various situations. Once this knowledge had begun to expand beyond he ability of anyone to remember, various people would come to be experts in how entities would behave in certain kinds of circumstances. Thus there was specialization somewhat like present academic subdivisions of bodies of knowledge but the major principle of relatedness always remained as the critical interpretive method of understanding phenomena.

Reality for tribal peoples, as opposed to the reality sought by Western scientists, was the experience of the moment coupled with the interpretive scheme which had been woven together over the generations. If there were other dimensions to life, the religious experiences and dreams certainly indicated the presence of other ways of living, even the places, they were regarded as part of an organic whole and not as distinct form other experiences, times, and places in the same way that Western thinkers have always believed. Indians never had a need to posit the existence of a “real” reality beyond the senses because they felt that their senses gave them the essence of physical existence in enabling them to see how the other creatures behaved. Life in other dimensions was not thought to be much different than what had been experienced already.

Giving Science a Sense of Purpose
The next generation of American Indians could radically transform scientific knowledge by grounding themselves in traditional knowledge about the world and demonstrating who everything is connected to everything else. Advocacy of this idea would involve showing how personality and a sense of purpose must become part of the knowledge which science confronts and understands. The present posture of most Western scientists is to deny any sense of purpose and direction to the world around us, believing that to do so would be to introduce mysticism and superstition. Yet what could be more superstitious than to believe that the world in which we live and where we have our most intimate personal experiences is not really trustworthy and that another, mathematical world exists that represents a true reality?

The idea of a relatedness of all things is not new but it may seem to be outmoded to some Indian students who have been trained in Western scientific thinking. A good way to test this idea would be to go talk with elders about what they know of plants, animals, and the natural world. If the student keeps the methodology of trying to relate bits of information to all elements in the scenario, that is to say, to regard information about plants as relevant to the birds and animals who use them and the location where they are found, there is no question that a great deal of important knowledge will be achieved. Taking these diverse bits of understanding and working them into the Western scientific format will be little difficult at first but eventually the student will discover that he or she is the possessor of a knowledge much broader, deeper, and more comprehensive than what is being taught in the classroom.