The Four Worlds International Institute

The Fourth Way: Guiding Principles for Building a Sustainable and Harmonious World

The Four Worlds Guiding Principles for Building a Sustainable and Harmonious World

The Sixteen Principles for building a sustainable and harmonious world community emerged from a 36-year process of reflection, consultation and action within Indigenous communities across the Americas. They are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of Aboriginal elders and leaders and thinkers, as well as in the best thinking of many non-aboriginal scholars, researchers and human and community development practitioners.

These guiding principles constitute the foundation for the process of healing and developing ourselves (mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually), our human relationships (personal, social, political, economic, and cultural) and our relationship with Mother Earth. They describe the way we must work and what we must protect and cherish.
We offer these principles as a gift to all who seek to build a sustainable and harmonious world community.


We speak as one, guided by the sacred teachings and spiritual traditions of the Four Directions that uplift, guide, protect, warn, inspire and challenge the entire human family to live in ways that sustain and enhance human life and the lives of all who dwell on Mother Earth, and hereby dedicate our lives and energies to healing and developing ourselves, the web of relationships that make our world, and the way we live with Mother Earth.


Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal ourselves, our relationships and our world.


Human Beings Can Transform Their Worlds
The web of our relationships with others and the natural world, which has given rise to the problems we face as a human family, can be changed.

Development Comes From Within
The process of human and community development unfolds from within each person, relationship, family organization, community or nation.

No Vision, No Development
A vision of who we can become and what a sustainable world would be like, works as a powerful magnet, drawing us to our potential.

Healing Is A Necessary Part Of Development
Healing the past, closing up old wounds and learning healthy habits of thought and action to replace dysfunctional thinking and disruptive patterns of human relations is a necessary part of the process of sustainable development.


Everything is interconnected; therefore, any aspect of our healing and development is related to all the others (personal, social, cultural, political, economic, etc.). When we work on any one part, the whole circle is affected.

No Unity, No Development
Unity means oneness. Without unity, the common harmony that makes (seemingly) separate human beings into ‘community’ is impossible. Disunity is the primary disease of a community.

No Participation, No Development
Participation is the active engagement of the minds, hearts, and energy of the people in the process of their healing and development.

Every person (regardless of gender, race, age, culture, religion, sexual orientation) must be accorded equal opportunity to participate in the process of healing and development, and to receive a fair share of the benefits.


Human beings are both material and spiritual in nature. It is, therefore, inconceivable that human community could become whole and sustainable without bringing our lives into balance with the requirements of our spiritual reality.

Morals and Ethics
Sustainable human and community development requires a moral foundation centered in the wisdom of the heart. When this foundation is lost, morals and ethical principles decline and growth stop.

The Hurt of One Is the Hurt of All: The Honor of One Is the Honor Of All
The basic fact of our oneness as a human family means that development for some at the expense of well-being for others is not acceptable or sustainable.

Authentic Development Is Culturally Based
Healing and development must be rooted in the wisdom, knowledge and living processes of the culture of the people.


Human beings are learning beings. We begin learning while we are still in our mother’s wombs, and unless something happens to close off our minds and paralyze our capacities, we keep learning throughout our entire lives. Learning is at the core of healing and development.

To sustain something means to enable it to continue for a long time. Authentic development does not use up or undermine what it needs to keep on going.

Move to the Positive
Solving the critical problems in our lives and communities is best approached by visualizing and moving into the positive alternative that we wish to create, and by building on the strengths, we already have, rather than on giving away our energy fighting the negative.

Be the Change You Want To See
The most powerful strategies for change always involve positive role modeling and the creation of living examples of the solutions we are proposing. By walking the path, we make the path visible.

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I add my ripple of respect and gratitude for this wisdom!

I will share it  with others!

Nyah  Weh Skwnno

May the native trees 'of memory' sustain the sunshine in your heart, helping you to be grounded and growing in spirit and knowledge that it is all in all that is, has been, and yet to come. Aho!

Stexw t'u7 wenacw! Very true! Ama nscwakwekw! My heart is glad it carries a good feeling as I have the belief and value the words articulated here. I am moved and it gives us hope. The Indigenous perspectives towards nature and a cultural way of life has great practical value for all and for the betterment of humankind. It focuses on the Indigenous ways of instruction and learning which can provide people greater skills and an in depth understanding of the animate, "natural world". It uniforms the relationships with the land and the interconnectedness to the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous knowledge systems flourished for thousands of years and involved the sacred processes and responsibilities to the environment defining the connection with the land at various levels. I am deeply moved and look forward to engaging into the discussions! Kukwstumckacw! I thank you! 

The unity of peoples combined with one world thinking is our best chance at quality of life, dignity, and well being in the face of a largely corporate driven world. Corporations are not necessarily evil, but they are self serving and should not be in a position to dictate the way we choose to live. Democracy does work when the people stand for each other.   

I continue to respect and be grateful for this wisdom oven more today. _()_

Thank you Sister!


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Guiding Principles

Starting From Within, Working in a Circle, in a Sacred Manner, We Heal and Develop Ourselves, Our Relationships, and the World.


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