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Monday, 25 August 2008 18:10


Section V - Shamanic Wisdom
Chapter 2 - Yakoana


"change the dream of the North."

The Aschuar Indigenous Peoples' response to the question
What must we do for the world to become sustainable?



What approaches might we take to elevate indigenous wisdom to a place where it is recognized as a source of truth and leadership that is paramount if we are to achieve balanced sustainability?

The UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro in June of 1992. Indigenous peoples were given five minutes on the conference agenda.

Marcus Terena, a Native South American, organized The First World Conference of Indigenous Peoples. It was held in the jungles of Brazil outside of Rio - a ten day gathering prior to the UN Conference in which nearly a thousand tribal leaders from every continent participated. Their story is captured on a video ‘Yakoana,' and from its cover is the following quote: "...the stories, music, ceremony and dance of this historic gathering. Yakoana tells the story of the struggle of native cultures for recognition and human rights, as well as their ancient ways of living sustainably and in harmony with the earth. It presents the indigenous peoples' world view, which sees humanity as part of the sacred web of nature." In ten days these Indigenous leaders, representing thousands of their people, developed extraordinary relationships through the sharing of their cultures and rituals built on the common concern for their Mother Earth. From the deep trust and love that was created, and the sharing of theOO_V-2_2009-02-21 deepest of guiding principles for life emerged a Manifesto. For me, it is absolutely astounding that peoples with no common language and from diverse cultures all around the world could come together for such a short time and come up with a consensus on how to address the most significant challenge humankind has ever faced.

The video features Marcus Terena's presentation as a format for including specific stories of what has happened to indigenous peoples all over the world. The stories are filled with anger and sadness at what is happening to our home, the Earth. And they are also filled with indigenous wisdom. At one point Marcus Terena says in his speech,

"This life code that no scientist has ever managed to unveil rests with the Indians. You don't have to look any further.

Are you prepared for that?

Is the contemporary world prepared for what we want to convey after 500 years of silence?"

Throughout the speech at the conference and all the stories that were shared there was a dignity - not only in how individuals representing their tribes, but in how they appealed to the best from those cultures who bore responsibility for the atrocities and current calamities.

This chapter's opening quote, "change the dream of the North," comes from an indigenous people who I assume use the word ‘dream' in the same way as Aboriginal people of Australia. For the Aborigines, each person is born into a ‘dream time' - a deeply cosmic understanding of the world. The dream time carries with it all the lessons and mores necessary to survive with a sense of abundance in an environment that for the most part appears to us as barren; it also holds all the principles for living in their community. We of the North must ask ourselves, "What is our dream, and how are we a part of the process of destroying the planet?"

It's my sense that we tend to think of our dream as our aspirations driven, to a large extent, by short-term goals. I also think that the Achuar Indians might have something deeper in mind when they us the word ‘dream' in their question. Since their dream is largely based on their cosmology, their relationship and purpose on Earth, their lives take on a far different understanding of family, community, time, place, and nature. This is addressed further in the 'Dream' chapter in Section VII.



Each of us have had occasion to observe and be led by people from whom we never expected leadership. We may have even initially rejected the idea of being led by these people.

What is an example in your life of leadership emerging from an unknown and surprising source?
How was it received by those around you?
Has that leadership continued to be recognized and followed?
What might be done to promote such leadership?


Rev. 2009-02-21 MOM


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Prev: Section V: Chapter 1 – Inculturation
Next: Section V: Chapter 3 – The Wisdom Within

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