I first saw Dr. Don “Four Arrows” (Wahinkpe Topa) Jacobs’s presentation in the Spirit of Humanity forum where he talked about the dominant world view and the indigenous world view. Dr. Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs, Ph.D., Ed.D is a visionary social transformer, scholar of indigenous world view, professor in school of leadership studies at Fielding Graduate University, and prolific writer of numerous books and peer reviewed articles. His video of how the indigenous world view can save us was used in the closing of the 2021 UNESCO sustainability seminar. It was a tremendous honor to interview Four Arrows about the wisdom of the indigenous world view and kinship model of the inter-relationships among Divine Consciousness, nature and humanity. He discussed the oneness of existence.
Four Arrows discussed his heritage: Irish and Cherokee. He stated his grandmother was of the Cherokee nation and this led him on the journey to study the indigenous world view. He is very wise, accomplished, knowledgeable, humble and explained critical ideas of the kinship model with great clarity. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge and wisdom in this interview, for which I am very deeply grateful. This post is regarding the key ideas that Four Arrows discussed about the indigenous world view and how this wisdom can help solve modern day challenges.
Indigenous world view and Dominant world view
Indigenous people are referred to as native people who have originally lived in many parts of the world, such as, North, Central and South Americas. They are are sometimes referred to as First Nations. Four Arrows conducted extensive research and scholarship in studying the indigenous world view. A world view includes certain assumptions, beliefs and lens that people use to relate to self, others and the world. In contrast to the indigenous world view, Four Arrows discusses the current dominant world view. Please view different worldviews at www.provensustainable.org. In his talk on indigenous spirituality, Four Arrows discusses that diversity is respected and honored . He describes that indigenous spirituality encourages an inclusive consciousness, where different perspectives co-exist. Four Arrows also reports that we have much to learn from these cultures to address current problems of the modern world. He discusses the need to protect these indigenous cultures which are on the road to extinction.
I love Four Arrows’s position of complementary nonduality which is that nothing is either dominant world view or indigenous world view. Most of us have components of both dominant and indigenous world view perspectives. Four Arrows discussed that indigenous cultures emphasize the need to create spaces for multiple perspectives to peacefully co-exist. Given our highly divided nation, it is critical in creating spaces of dialogue, where diverse conflicting views can be shared. This can lead to greater collaboration to solve current challenges we face in the world. . He discussed his experiences of co-writing a book with another author with whom he disagreed with on many points.
Indigenous world view: Nonhierarchical relationship between nature and humanity
Four Arrows stated that the dominant world view perceives human beings as hierarchically placed over nature. In the dominant world view, we see how natural resources can be used or exploited to serve our humanity. He stated that this hierarchical relationship between human beings and nature can lead to dangerous conditions which places us at the risk of extinction.
According to the indigenous world view, there are interrelationships among the Universal Divine Consciousness, humanity and nature. Four Arrows discusses that the wisdom of the indigenous world view sees the critical importance of humanity’s respect and honor of nature and peacefully co-existing with nature. Four Arrows also stated that indigenous world view encourages us to be our authentic selves and learn from our teachers. He described nature as a powerful teacher of humanity. I absolutely agree that nature has much to teach us, especially, in terms of wisdom of balance.
Dominant world view and climate change
The dominant world view where human-beings are placed above nature may be a driving factor for a major challenge, climate change, faced by humanity. Recent research suggests that climate change causing drastic and severe alterations in weather patterns is caused primarily by activities of human beings. Researchers at the World Health Organization discuss climate change is a major threat facing humanity and outlines health risks due to climate change.
Although Dr. Aaron Bernstein from the Harvard University School of Public Health reports there is no direct connection between climate change and corona virus, he does delineate different scenarios where changes in climate, such as temperature and rainfall, may lead to release of pathogens. Given the havoc that the corona virus and its multiple variants are creating in the world, I wholeheartedly agree with Four Arrows’s powerful argument that we need to look into indigenous world view and kinship model because unless we do so, we are at risk of extinction. He discussed that indigenous world view sees the kinship between humanity and nature so that we need to reframe our view of natural resources and the environment as our “relatives” and teachers in earth’s ecosystem. . He argues the importance of exploring the indigenous world view about the critical need to honor nature is an important principle of sustainability of the planet. The mentality of exploiting nature can lead to the risk of extinction on the planet. He also emphasizes that not only are human beings equal to nature, but, also equal to each other.
Indigenous world view: Fearless engagement and Trust in the Universe.
Four Arrows discussed that in the indigenous world view, fear is seen as an opportunity to practice a virtue. He discussed fearless engagement, which means having the courage to follow through with virtuous action while in fear mode, and trust the universe that things will work out. He discussed widespread fear in the current world, and fearless engagement is critical. Four Arrows also discussed the idea that in situations of mass fear, authoritarian leaders, who offer a sense of safety or solution through words, can gain much power. He stated that when people are fearful, they are more likely to follow authoritarian leaders. He discussed the power of words in shaping our experiences. He cited the example of Hitler rising in Germany as the country faced many challenges, generating much fear in people. Four Arrows described this as a mass hypnotic experience. I feel this is very relevant to our current situation of mass fear due to pandemic.
This interview with Four Arrows challenged me to understand the kinship model of the interconnectedness of humanity and nature. I also thought about the dominant world view giving permission to human activities of polluting air and water, creating imbalances in nature. This is a leading factor of climate change. I agree that we need to shift to an inclusive consciousness to honor nature and take steps to protect the planet. I also recognize the depth of wisdom in the indigenous world view which can help solve challenges faced by planet, such as mindfully creating spaces of complementary nonduality dialogue . We need to create spaces in our world for rich dialogue which are diverse and conflicting, to develop solutions for complex problems.
I will end with a quote from (Wahinkpe Topa) Four Arrows.
Hau kolapi. Okiciya makiyokipi na iyuteya, cuke wayokapi, mitakuye oyasin.
(Hello friends. Help each other acclimate and adjust, because the truth is, we are all related.)