Can Indigenous Beliefs Save the Contemporary World?

Indian Country

Many people, including many indigenous people, think indigenous worldviews are an archaic part of the past and have no bearing on present-day life and issues. However, indigenous beliefs and ceremonies are continuously renewed, and persist among many tribal communities.

The persistence of indigenous understandings of the world is no accident. Indigenous knowledge, wisdom, and moral teachings are bound with the creation teachings of the culture and nation. Indigenous knowledge is seen as sacred teachings, which the tribal community and individuals carry out through ceremonies, and through individual and national actions.

In many traditions, as among the Hopi, if the teachings and ceremonies are not carried out properly then the world will be destroyed, both physically and figuratively. In the Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo traditions, one world might be destroyed, but it is not the end of universe, but rather the beginning of a new transformation to a world where their is more moral balance and conformity to the original instructions.

In many indigenous teachings, the world’s movement is a contest for moral balance and understanding toward greater unity, and realization of the moral and human balance and harmony within the cosmic order comprised of all the nations of beings and powers in the universe.

One reason that indigenous nations have survived the onslaught of 500 years of hostile colonialism is because indigenous nations believe they have a moral and sacred reason for being, and have significant sacred tasks to realize as individuals and nations within the great plan and order of the universe. The wisdom of the elders and countless generations of nations and human beings are upheld in the cultural teachings of indigenous nations. There are technical and philosophical solutions to many human and national issues inherent within tribal teachings. These teachings sustain nations and individuals in the present-world, and offer goals and values that have great significance for addressing the contemporary world’s problems.

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