Correspondence with Inti Wamani
This contact from Argentina came to me "out of the blue". It must have been prompted by a brochure of lectures sent out by Schumacher College in England
From: "Inti Wamani" <email@example.com>
Subject: Native communities from Argentina
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 01:41:54 +0200
I am interested in having details of your recent series of dialogues between American Native Elders and Western Scientists. I am an artist myself, a Diaguita Native travelling the Argentinian communities and playing a variety of musical instruments.
I got intrigued about the little I read of the circles in the description of the Schumacher College course next January. Knowing that Native cultures have been passing on their ancestral knowledge from time immemorial, so necessary to the present time, I would like to start a dialogue with you, based on your experience up north and mine in Argentina. Would you be prepared to do this? I am interested in the new science and I wish to learn what our American elder brothers say about it.
The Argentinean Native communities are preparing an international exhibition through Europe for year 2000, to carry on creating consciousness about our thought on science and the arts.
I have passed on your email to several other people. One is Stephen Augustine, a Mic Maq chief who is organizing a conference on Native American Philosophy in Ottawa next year.
Another is John Ashworth who is trying to organize a meeting where Maori elders in New Zealand can meet with Western scientists.
I'm also forwarding your email to Siraj Izhar who has been involved with small third world groups of farmers etc - ie from India.
As to the dialogues. Yes we could discuss what happened over email. some of it is written up as a book Lighting the Seventh Fire: Birch Lane Press, NY 1994
and in England as Blackfoot Physics, Fourth Estate Pubs, London.
You can also get a report from
The Fetzer Institute, 9292 West KL Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Let me know more about what you are planning with your artists. David
Thank you very much for your prompt response. I will be writing to your contacts soon.
As I told you, I promote artistic disciplines such as music, poetry, theatre, dance, etc, etc., to the non-indigenous world to revindicate our existence as nations. I return to the communities to tell about these experiences as an educational link, including the new "ancient" science, art and thought of all peoples.
Today, to start our chat before I read your book, I wish to know briefly of your learning experience amongst my brothers from up North.
My first contact was with a Mohawk elder from Ontario. Then I made contact with some Blackfoot, Ojibwaj and MicMac people. It was at the time of land claims and self government so they were in Ottawa each week where we met to talk. Later I went out to the Blackfoot Sun Dance and then the Dialogue Circles. We met over several years and would talk for several days, hold sacred Pipe ceremonies, etc. I also invited some Western Scientists to sit with the Elders.
I learned many things from the Native People, some I already sensed but then had confirmed - the sacredness of the earth, the responsibility towards all living things, and a philosophy that was very different from the West, systems of justice, etc.
I also saw how deeply wounded many people had been - cultures had been wiped out, generations had been sent to residential schools and forbidden to pray or speak their language. There was a great deal of anger towards non-natives, a lack of trust - because for two hundred years they had been cheated out of land, by treaties, etc. On many reservations there were problems with abuse, alcohol and drugs. On the other hand there were great spiritual leaders.
On thing was clear, many of the elders felt it was time to give their message to the White Man again. It also seemed important, since I was a Western scientist that I should also talk about my experiences. This resulted in my book.
But that book had a mixed reception. Some Native people feel the book is valuable, that it shows respect for their culture and makes connections between Native American and Western science. Others seemed offended by the book and felt I should not have written it..
So there you have it. The experience changed me and allowed me to see the world in a new way. It caused me to move to a medieval village here in Italy because I wanted to understand how Europeans used to live, before they lost contact with the earth and its spirit. The people here are very traditional and remind me of Native Americans in many ways. My feeling is that the European mind began to change about 800 years ago, then came the rise of Western science, ideas of domination and expansion, etc. But now people in the West are willing to listen. They know their economic systems cannot last, that their own world has lost its meaning and that they must learn to live in new ways. That is why it is important that the voice of Indigenous peoples should be heard.
The total experiences that we (indigenous peoples) have accumulated up to date, have made possible the flux of thought at difficult moments of our history, in order to face ourselves with the white man at the beginning of his historical social devastation.
We haven't yet started to promote our thought because we found an international society that has transported (conveyed) the conformity of its thought through time from a single viewpoint. We had to locate and swallow such mistakes to be able to deactivate its programming.
When science speaks about progress, its virtues are always apparent but when the results are deficient the error is always of Nature. If science is based upon it, Nature should be the consultant to avoid mistakes through the intervention of scientists. As manipulation (of science) was done the other way round, however, the consequences are produced by contradictions. This is no more than a paradox. The role of the universe is clear cut. Our genetic unity is surrounded by a contemporary barnish of assimilation and integration. We are just at the beginning of carrying out our expression, ie, movement, language, transformation, change, etc,. Our memory is intact. The world is who doesn't have a memory because he forgets in one formula. Quantum theory reflects the trail of eternity.
Thanks for your remarks. I share your concern about "science" which perhaps could be called "Western science" for there are other systems from India, Islam, China, Native America etc.
I've recently completed a book on "creativity" which argues that creativity is ubiquitous throughout the universe, the creation of matter, nature, life etc and human beings are only one vehicles in this. I also trace the way "Western" man has been increasingly cut off from nature. I don't blame it all on science. You see I don't view science as the cause of the problems but as a symptom of something that began much earlier in Europe. Around 700 yrs ago people began to develop various tools they used to abstract the world - Arabic numerals. double entry book keeping, systems of navigation, ways of making maps and representing space through perspective, etc, etc, they also began to measure time by clocks. So time was no longer a living spirit but something linear and reduced to number.
What I suggest is that people began to reduce the world to number, quantity and abstraction. They were no longer held in the circle of time. They began to think in terms of accumulating goods and money, of predicting the future and of "progress". I think all this set the seeds for the rise of science. Science was no so much the cause but the symptom of people who were distancing themselves from nature and the sacred. The world became an object to be observed and manipulated. (Goethe objected to the way science tortures nature and does not listen to her.)
Of course once science and technology started then the whole process accelerated. Now it sweeps around the world.
One issue I was involved in was with the Mohawk people - the elders knew that young people had to learn science and biology if they were to become doctors and nurses, also if they were to fight the pollution of their lands. But how to teach science and not loose traditional values? We had some discussions of ways in which Elders could teach side-by-side with those trained in Western science.
You see there is also a good side to Western science. Most scientists I know began out of a sense of wonder at nature, they wanted to celebrate the universe, they felt a deep sense of the spiritual. Of course after 6 or so years at university some of that gets lost. How to preserve this original impulse. That is where Indigenous people can help us.
I do know a number of biologist who speak of a return to the sacredness of the world.
I think that the main point now is that we - even you and I - must learn to dialogue together. We must also accept that we are human beings, we are not perfect, we are going to make mistakes, we may not always interpret what the other says. You, as an Indigenous person, must be sympathetic to the trauma that all White people hold, for centuries they have been distanced from nature and have been indoctrinated by abstract ways of thinking. It requires a genuine love between peoples if these dialogues are to succeed.
I don't know your own tradition but the one I was taught in North America is that once you sit down at the circle you do not leave, even if what you hear is painful.
Dear David, here I am ! just returned to the circle of the "manifested". Thank you very much for your attitude to be inside it.
In my trip up country, I have observed the places where SCIENCE wants to anchor the results of its intellectual rubbish. It is easy to invent but difficult to go around the dimensions of these inventions. I am referring to the nuclear cemeteries designed by the Grand Science. We will still have to be witnesses of its own manipulations which congregate the horrors of the system. Rubbish is not responsible and it is not to blame. Undoubtedly, while the academic conduction of the world does not change its active conduction, (ie, its thought, their formulae of life, their human equations) and if they do not count with scientists reacting against the system, needless to say, that it is impossible to conform an act of information with science itself. If you are capable to nominate some independent scientists to congratulate them next to our indigenous people in their struggle, I will be happy. Till now I have not yet read the list of dissident scientists from the present political arena of the world.
Concerning this, world populations are always to blame but not those who invent them. We know of the economic surprises that intellectual property exerts in the world. But nobody is responsible of the defects fit for these dimensions. It does not exist the Science of Prevention because it does not mark the regulatory order that power wants. Nobody responds to the difficulties that these creations bring about. Thus, we have a science of marketing arranged to minimize the complications and not to equalize a humanistic substance. Here, we are in the presence of an Industry of Science, being this result for the scientific community in general, which identifies itself by manipulating the pleasures of power.
With respect to the public opinions of the world, we always see poverty in the eyes of the Other One, Europe and USA disguising their inner poverty. Also, in the Industry of Information we try to have a parallel industry, that is the Poor manipulating the riches of the other ones, and the rich ones manipulating poverty. The circle is even wider, David, new spirits have been incorporated, reflection being one of them.
With regard to my contacts with Indigenous people in North American. One thing I forgot to add was the importance of language. Each person told me that their science, their history, their relationship to the spirits and energies of the land, was contained with the language.
The peoples who speak the Algonkain family of languages - Ojibway, Blackfoot, MicMaq, Naskapi, etc, etc - all speak a language that is very strongly based in verbs. Ie their language is about movement, change, transformation and flux. They don't divide the world up into fixed categories and nouns. Likewise their vision of nature is of flux, process, transformation and change. This is very important for Western scientists because we have discovered that at the level of the atom and quantum theory, all of nature is flux and process. Elementary particles are more like patterns in the flux, or processes, than like little objects. But we Western scientists have a conceptual barrier to understanding this world. One scientist, David Bohm, proposed that we have to develop a new language of process before we can understand quantum theory. But this is exactly the language of the Blackfoot.
So I also learned the deep relationship between science, world view, society, the earth and language. And that, for Native Americans, language is something that the Old Ones created, or was given to them in conjunction with the spirits, powers and energies of the land.
We are in a world of mediation, understanding the family units of the past. As from today our exchange is going to be represented in a quantic manner. It is necessary that we keep flowing amongst ourselves, as it is also necessary our capability of transformation. Programming in the last cycle of this millenium have devastated our planetary brotherhood. So welcome to intuition and the inner movements of life. Thank for connecting me with my celestial relatives. Thank you very much.
Jallalla, Huauke, Ciao, Adieu, etc,
Contact F. David Peat