April 1995, Presentation to UN Secretary-General, Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar and the World Commission on Culture and Development, UN Headquarters
As always, it is my hope and prayer that you and the many loved ones who surround you are in the very best of health and happiness.
With the spiritual understanding that each one of us is the representative of all those beloved relatives, who walked the Red Road before us, I have complete faith that, together, we will be able to build a just, new world civilization. Drawing on the collective consciousness of countless previous generations, we have the divine capacity to resolve and heal all past grief, fear, hatred and broken trust, while building a just, sustainable and harmonious world that will fully realize the unlimited potential of our Human Family, both individually and collectively.
We are living in the days of the fulfillment of sacred prophecies. An Elder once told me, “Grandson, the longest road you will ever have to walk in your life is the sacred journey from your head to your heart.” Another wise Elder said, “We will never solve the many critical and life-threatening issues before us solely through the intellect, for every problem the intellect solves, it creates ten more.” The intellect is a sacred gift of the Creator, but without an open, visionary and creative heart, there is no wisdom. Both our heart and mind are gifts from our Creator and inseparably connected.
Countless centuries before the birth of our generations, the Ancient Ones gave us prophecies that foretold these very days that we are living. This new Divine Springtime that is unfolding with ever-increasing clarity. It is toward actualizing this long-held vision of the emergence of a new world civilization, founded in spiritual principles and values, that I wish to share with you, from the innermost feelings and thoughts of my heart and mind.
In December 1982, on the high plains of Alberta, forty wise, respected and dedicated elders, spiritual leaders and community members from different Indigenous Communities across North America came together for four days and nights of in-depth purposeful consultation. Our common purpose was to develop a holistic model of human and community development, inspired and guided by organizing principles, values, strategies and processes of sustainable change, healing and growth rooted deep in the Natural Laws that are at the inmost heart and core of tribal cultures throughout Mother Earth.
Through this prayerful, elder-guided, consultation process emerged the spiritual guidance, understanding, wisdom, strength, vision, and faith that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas that were committed and dedicated to doing so had the potential to develop sustainable, healthy, creative and spiritually balanced communities free of alcoholism and drug abuse. This humble beginning, perfectly synchronized with a full eclipse of the moon was empowered, guided and sustained, by an ever-deepening understanding of the natural laws, prophecies, spiritual values, and wisdom shared with us, over the years, by Elders, Spiritual Leaders, and Communities. With this patient, faithful and prayerful support, we have steadfastly continued our healing journey into our long-awaited future.
With the unfailing guidance and assistance from those beloved elders that are walking the path before us, it has become evident that the long spiritual wintertime of our tribal peoples is over and the long-awaited springtime is unfolding, slowly, but steadily, with ever-increasing beauty and healing in every direction. It is, also, apparent that as we heal ourselves and our communities that Indigenous peoples everywhere will have a higher and more significant role to play in the final unfolding of this dynamic change throughout Mother Earth.
Before outlining the fundamental guiding principles that have emerged from the ongoing consultative process of the past twelve years, it is crucial that we reflect briefly on the challenges before us. Those critical and pressing issues to be addressed if we are to prosper as noble, just, compassionate, truthful and forgiving human beings and societies.
(1) Environmental destruction is increasing throughout our Mother Earth. Along with this increasing destruction, Indigenous peoples and their way of life are rapidly disappearing. Unless there is a dramatic change in our actions towards our sacred Mother Earth, humanity’s ultimate survival is more than doubtful.
During the early years of North American’s “new” ecological consciousness, my grandfather had a conversation with an old friend, while visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He asked my grandfather to explain to him what ecology was all about.
“Well,” my grandfather said, “you know, Tahansi, we have these educational places where you can go study books, talk and learn about life. Some people attend these learning places, for many, many years. After people have read enough books, written about what they read and talked about what they wrote about, they become Doctors of Life. These Doctors then get jobs where they earn a lot of money, so they can read, talk and study more. They have machines that look at things that are very small and make them look big, other mechanisms that look at things far away and make them look close. They even put different materials in containers and pour them back and forth so they can find out more about Mother Earth.
They have spent vast amounts of money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years, and they have recently made a discovery. They found out that everything is interrelated. They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and poison the water which all living things depend on, you pollute all living things. What do you think about that?”
The old man smiled knowingly and shook his head. “I was wondering when they would get around to that! Just look at what we do to our Mother Earth. We cut her hair where it should not be cut up and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up.” He then looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather, shook his finger and said, “And what would happen if you did that to your mother? She would die! We will all prematurely die, as well, if we do not learn to respect and understand the spirit and teachings of our Mother.”
(2) Along with the dramatic increase in, environmental destruction, natural disasters are synergistically and simultaneously increasing everywhere on Mother Earth. These natural disasters include; earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, weather changes, incurable diseases, air, soil and water pollution, floods, tornadoes, insect infestations, and the destruction of the ozone layer and polar ice caps. The Western medical complex is just beginning to realize that their worldwide war on disease is failing on many fronts. Super drugs have created superbugs that are breaking through every line of defense that has been created by Western Science, with little hope that more expensive and powerful drugs will prevent these super diseases from having rapid, deadly, widespread global impact. It is important to note, in desperation to find new “cures”; the Western Medical Complex is currently spending $ Millions to research plants and herbs that were developed and utilized for countless centuries by Indigenous Science Systems, to find alternative ways to deal with these new, deadly, human-created diseases.
(3) The world’s population is increasing by more than 92,000,000 human beings every year, with a current human population of more than 5 Billion! In fact, if every human being who now lives on Mother Earth were able to experience the average economic status found in middle-income homes in Canada and the US, we would need two more entire planets. Until we thoroughly understand the true meaning of respect for all life, the sacred relationship between women and men, and the spiritual purpose of our physical existence, we will continue to move towards worldwide disaster.
(4) Global economic competition is increasing. The current world financial system is spinning out of control despite the best efforts of our nation states to stabilize a system that no longer serves the needs of the human family. Instead of sovereignty, in its purest meaning, financial institutions of this world are attempting to manipulate and control our economic and social destiny for selfish purposes. For instance, global financial markets are increasingly being de-stabilized by financial speculators whose primary motive appears to be the unquenchable thirst for material riches, at whatever the cost to future generations. More economic theories and external controls will not solve this deepening crisis.
Only when our hearts experience the divine reality that there is just One Race, the Human Race and that all Mother Earth is the common spiritual heritage of all beings, will we be able to develop economic systems that are life preserving and life-sustaining. As a wise Elder once told me, whenever we make a financial gain on the weakness of others or unfairly exploit others for our selfish purposes, we will pay a very high price. In essence, the hurt of one is the hurt of all, and the honor of one is the honor of all.
(5) The social and cultural disintegration of human beings and their communities is increasing with every passing day. Divorce, child sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, family violence, abuse of women, violent crimes, suicide and other distinctive signs of our increasing spiritual sickness are as bright as the midday sun. Only when we can understand and embrace one another as members of the same Human Family will we have an everlasting foundation for rebuilding our communities and the world.
As one of my grandfathers said to me, “You know grandson, the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, has given all people wisdom. To every living thing, he has given something special. Some people receive their knowledge and understanding through books. In your life grandson, you too must read and study books, but remember to take with you on your journey only those things that bring more unity within yourself and others, that bring goodness and understanding and help us to serve one another in better ways.
Wakan Tanka also gave our Indigenous peoples, and all other human beings who live close to Mother Earth, knowledge and wisdom through dreams, visions, fasting, prayer, and the ability to see the lessons the Creator has put in every part of creation."
He said, "Look at those trees standing over there. The alder does not tell the pine tree to move over; the pine does not speak to the fir tree to get out of the way. Each tree stands there in unity, with their mouth pressed toward the same Mother Earth, refreshed and warmed by the same breeze and sun, with their arms upraised in prayer and thanksgiving, protecting one another. If we are to have peace in the world, we too must learn to live like those trees.
Look, grandson, at the beautiful teachings the Creator has put in the little stream. Feel that water and see how gently and lovingly it touches your hands. It travels through deserts and mountains and many places, but it never turns its back on anyone or anything. Even though water gives life to all living things, it is very humble, and always seeks the very lowest spot. But water, also, has great faith, power, and patience for even if a mountain stands in its path, it keeps moving and moving until finally that mountain is washed into the sea and is no more. These are spiritual gifts and capacities that the Creator has given each one of us. If we are to be happy with ourselves and with one another, we must always do the best we can to develop these sacred gifts and capacities.”
(6) As the old, outworn, global order becomes increasingly more unstable, governments, will try and control the social and political disintegration process by increasingly violating human rights. As these abuses increase, an even higher number of people will react to them with greater and greater resistance, including violence; resistance not only against governments but, also, growing conflict between ethnic and racial groups as well.
The spiritual reality is that the old, global order, based on materialism, is no longer able to meet the needs and the growing consciousness of our Human Family. Only by providing positive alternatives to our destructive and inharmonious patterns of living will we be able to rebuild our families and communities. Without love and forgiveness for ourselves and others, we will be unable to heal the age-old fear, mistrust, greed, selfishness, and hatred that is destroying the innermost heart of the human family. External control and repression of the human spirit will not end the devastation of our global social order. Only self-discipline and penetrating vision in the service of the Creator, others and ourselves, will enable us to be victorious over all the abuse of the human spirit that surrounds every human being and every human community.
(7) As governments become more rigid, abusive and uncompromising in a last-ditch effort to save the disintegrating institutions of the old world order, terrorism and random acts of violence will increase dramatically. This movement of disintegration will continue until the ancient teachings found at the heart of all living cultures and spiritual traditions that teach us how to live in harmony and balance with all life are once again alive. We have a critical decision before us. Will we continue to walk the path of hatred and revenge or will we choose to walk the path of healing? Each has their clear consequences. As the spiritual greatness of our tribal peoples returns with greater and greater strength, it is clear to see that we are choosing the sacred path of healing, the way foretold in our ancient prophecies.
Not only is each one of these seven challenges monumental in themselves, but it is obvious to see that we are approaching a global catastrophe as the crossroads at which they all meet is coming rapidly into view. It will take bold, courageous, unified and selfless action to avert such destruction; the choice to do so is ours, and that decision is ultimately a spiritual one.
These Sixteen Principles for Building a Sustainable and Harmonious World emerged from a twelve-year process of reflection, consultation and action within a wide variety of Indigenous Communities across Turtle Island. They are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of Aboriginal elders and leaders, as well as in the best thinking of many non-aboriginal scholars, researchers, and human and community development practitioners. These principles describe the way we must work together, and what we must protect and cherish. We offer them as a gift to all those who seek to build a sustainable world, and as a foundation for a worldwide consultation process for actualizing a new world civilization based on justice!
Sixteen Principles for Building a Sustainable and Harmonious World
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 life of all who dwell on Mother Earth. We 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."
STARTING FROM WITHIN
We Can Transform our Community and our World
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.
WORKING IN A CIRCLE
Everything is connected to everything else; 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 oneness that makes (seemingly) separate human beings into ‘community’ is impossible. Disunity is the primary disease of community.
No Participation, No Development
Participation is the active engagement of the minds, hearts, and energy of the people in the process of their own healing and development.
Every person (regardless of gender, race, age, culture, religion) must be accorded equal opportunity to participate in the process of healing and development, and to receive a fair share of the benefits
IN A SACRED MANNER
We are Spiritual and Physical Beings
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 nature.
Morals And Ethics
Sustainable human and community development requires a moral foundation centered on the wisdom of the heart. When this foundation is lost, morals and ethical principles decline and developments cease.
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.
WE HEAL AND DEVELOP OURSELVES, OUR RELATIONSHIPS AND OUR WORLD
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.
With the courage and dedication to utilizing the wisdom and guiding spiritual principles of our elders on the path to a peaceful and equitable future, we will find that we have the power and ability to carefully and lovingly remove any barriers that have limited the development of our full potential as human beings and communities. The higher the difficulty in our path, the even more significant opportunity for our growth and ultimate victory; we can always become more than we have ever been.
We know from our ancient teachings that the Sacred Eagle of Humanity has two perfectly balanced and harmonious wings; one representing women, and the other men. In our relationships as women and men, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we must join together to eliminate all forms of disrespect, mistreatment, or lack of sharing in the responsibility of raising the world’s children. It is my most profound prayer, with every new sunrise, we may increasingly recognize and understand that the most Sacred Ceremonies, of all Ceremonies, given by our Creator is the birth of a child! Therefore, everything we can do to provide our children and communities with the best possible future is a sacred gift and responsibility.
Beloved friends and relatives, is not the moment long overdue, through the eternal power and love of our good Creator, for us to free ourselves entirely, from the hurt of both the past and present, so we may genuinely soar like majestic eagles to the promised greatness of our Sacred Destiny and Future.
With Warm Love and Greetings,
Lala, Dekshi, Tibdo and At'e Phil