by Dr. Denise R. Ames
Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my new book, Divided: Colliding Ways We See the World. In the next several posts in this blog series I am looking at one of the five worldviews: Indigenous Worldview. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children. … Ancient Proverb
Modern and Indigenous Religious Differences
Religious functions in indigenous societies are integrated into all aspects of community life and serve people in closely-knit villages and families.
Shaman or healers traditionally perform religious rituals, healing ceremonies, and guide the practice of ancestor worship. In modern societies, religious functions are the responsibility of institutions outside the family who train religious leaders.
Modernizers have often ridiculed indigenous medicines and healing practices as superstitious and unscientific, while modern medicines and practices are promoted. This mockery has been changing in recent decades, as practices such as Chinese medicine, acupuncture, massage, and shamanic healing have been beneficial to some patients.
Modernizers have sought for hundreds of years to rid indigenous peoples of their traditional religions and impose one of the universal religions, such as one of the forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Buddhism. In order to appease their conquerors, many indigenous peoples have blended their traditional animistic beliefs with one of the universal religions, a process called syncretism.
About the Author
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.
For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95