How can Indigenous wisdom guide how we live and work?

Words By Kosta Lucas
Date Published July 26, 2022
Read Time 30 minutes
Available on All Major Podcast Platforms

With world leaders responding to climate emergencies, and unprecedented threats such as the pandemic and global conflict, we seem to be running headlong into a future where our learnings from the past are both too slow and too small. Have we been too attentive and attached to the wrong things, are we suffering from problems of our own unenlightened making?We speak with Four Arrows and Darcia Narvaez, who introduce us to the limitations of the dominant worldview which has propelled a world concerned with commerce and progress, often at the expense of principles closely linked to our ability to thrive and survive as human beings. They offer us an insight into how Indigenous world views can be incorporated into our ability to adjust to the challenges we face as diverse people, trying to survive and ultimately thrive in a world which demands more reflection and adaptation than ever.

Your Host
Kosta Lucas

Head of Community Practice, DrawHistory

Darcia Narvaez & Four Arrows

Authors, Professors

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Transcript: Introduction

KOSTA: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Undesign. I’m your host Kosta. And thank you so much for joining me on this mammoth task to untangle the world’s problems and redesign new futures. I know firsthand, we all have so much we can bring to these big problems. So listen in and see where you fit into the solution. As we undesigned the concepts of indigenous worldviews and global sustainability. If you’ve been on social media or looked at any news recently, it can be easy to feel like we’re on the verge of existential collapse. Our feeds seem to be this revolving door of headlines about the COVID pandemic, violent global conflicts, economic instability, and the looming environmental crisis. Just to name a few.

Now, if you’re a social impact oriented systems thinker, much like we are, you probably wonder how did we get here? However, waiting in the wings of this discussion are those who have been, trying to offer us a new way of looking at things that’s actually not so new. In this season finale of Undesign, we explore what it means to look at the world as it is right now. And the solutions to the challenges we all face, through the multitude of indigenous worldviews. Helping us do this are our latest special guests, Professor Emerita Darcia Narvaez and Professor Don Four Arrows Jacobs, whose new book Restoring the Kinship Worldview on shelves in April 2022 forms the basis of our amazing conversation.

Darcia is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in the United States. She’s a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She studies moral development and human flourishing from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating anthropology, neuroscience, clinical, developmental and educational sciences. She’s published hundreds of papers and over 20 books, including the multi award-winning book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom. She also serves as president of blogs for psychology today on topics like moral landscapes and hosts the webpage

Four Arrows is also an internationally respected scholar for his research and publications about indigenous worldviews. Formerly Dean of education in Oglala Lakota college and tenured associate professor of education at Northern Arizona university. He’s currently a professor with Fielding Graduate University. Selected as one of 27 visionaries in education. He’s the author of 21 books, half of which are about indigenous worldview for education, sustainability, wellness, and justice. Darcia and Four Arrows talked me through the years of work and research that led to the development of this book. And then make the case for how original indigenous understandings of the world, once that guided us for 99% of human history, offer a potentially pivotal way to restore balance to life on earth. This is a truly big picture discussion with a lot to stick your teeth into. And it’s at once challenging and extremely hopeful.

“So we have had a scientific revolution. We’ve had an industrial revolution, we’re in the throes of an information theory revolution… And in all three, we have forgotten the really only observable phenomenon for balance.”

Transcript: Conversation

KOSTA: Darcia, Four Arrows, welcome. How are you both this morning or this afternoon?

FOUR ARROWS: We have different times all over the world here?

KOSTA: Yeah. Doing well?

FOUR ARROWS: Doing well in the evening.

KOSTA: Yes. I would love to know quickly just before we start, where are you coming to us from? And the traditional place names are where you’re from? So, I’m coming to you from Boorlo or which is on Whadjuk Boodja, which is Perth, Western Australia essentially, traditional lands of the Noongar people over here. How about yourselves? I’d love to know more about that from where each of you are.

FOUR ARROWS: Well, I am in Jalisco Mexico, the Nahua people and the sad story that we know so often that only of them still are speaking the language here. And most of them are in trucks every morning with little kids, picking the chilies. And so, they took care of this beautiful, beautiful land on the ocean here for a long, long time.

KOSTA: Thank you. Four Arrows and Darcia, where are you calling from?

DARCIA: I’m in Indiana, United States, Northern Indiana. And it’s the traditional Homeland of the Pokagan band of the Potawatomi. And there are many other actually tribes that were here as well, but they’re the ones who lasted the longest in part because they converted to Catholicism and were protected.

KOSTA: Gosh. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing both of those with us. And it’s such a privilege to be able to have this conversation with you today. So broadly we are speaking off the amazing book that you both have put together. Congratulations, Restoring the Kinship Worldview and we’ll unpack that as the conversation goes. But, just before we start, could either of you tell us a bit about how this book came together?

DARCIA: Well, I can say that Four Arrows asked me to join him in this book after he had the idea.

KOSTA: I see, I see. Four Arrows over you.

FOUR ARROWS: I’ll try. We were just talking earlier. Does it start with my near death experience on the Rio Urique in Copper Canyon? Or did it start with me going back and getting my second doctorate? So I’ll be real brief, but after the Marine Corps, I was an officer in the Marine Corps. I had a chip on my shoulder about the just Vietnam War and I took my suffering out on adventure sports and be the first to ascend the Rio Urique, which is 8000 feet down in the deepest canyon in North America with Copper Canyon. And we had inflatable boats, back in those days. This was when they didn’t have the strong ones. So they, we called them rubber duckies. They had lots of patches and we hired a Rarámuri Indian to bring us down through the jungles and into the through the water.

And long story short, there’s a video you can watch if you put in The Shaman’s Message on YouTube, all the photos were narrated. The entire river disappeared into an underground drainage and took me with it. The Rarámuri’s wound up saving my life, showed us out, and I had a transformation in many ways. But, I also had a vision and the vision was about really worldview. And it’s called the cat and the fawn, which is got its own story because of the mountain lion that was in a cave with us and a fawn that Rarámuri’s ran down. And this has great runners until the feet were bleeding and he head home for food. But the transformation was so profound. I quit my work as a health psychologist and went back to get a degree in curriculum and on what it was that this vision meant to me over a long period of years.

And then right out of the door from the university, I was made the Dean of education at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge reservation and thrown with a group of traditionalists and sun dancers. So I so really, each one of those is a part of how this world view that we were guided by for 99% of human history, seeing the solution. Darcia and I were just talking while you were doing the recording about what happened. So, I was working on this granite ping pong table, we’re putting together, here on the property. And I walked inside and my wife was watching PBS and they had a presidential news conference.

KOSTA: Right.

FOUR ARROWS: The redheaded lady who’s the press secretary was answering questions. And when I walked in, a man said, “So what is president Biden going to do about this mass shooting and all the shootings that are happening.” This loss, and he went on to talk about the politics of gun control and all this stuff, but he interrupted her and he said, “No, no, what can we do to get humanity, start to start treating humanity right.” And of course didn’t have an answer, but I’m thinking. Wow, if they could just listen to this interview.


FOUR ARROWS: That was my thoughts.

KOSTA:Yeah. Wow. Amazing. Thank you for sharing that personal story, Four Arrows. And it’s the perfect sort of segue into my first question, which is really what do we mean by world view? Because, you feel like that’s a term that we hear a lot that I think means something slightly different to many people. So I’d love to know from your points of view, what does worldview mean to you? And how would you say the indigenous worldview, however defined, and I’d love for you to sort of draw some parameters around that for the sake of our conversation, how is that different to what we would call a dominant worldview?

DARCIA: I’ll start, the worldview is the way you conceive the world’s working. And it’s sort of a cosmology of how you think about what humans are, what humans should be, what the stars are about or what the earth is about and how you relate to all these things. Right? And it’s part of our cultural background that actually then fuels our philosophy, our habits, our attitudes, our beliefs. So, it’s this very subtle in a way subconscious aspect of who we are that we take for granted, just a bunch of basic assumptions about things that… So, my work is from the scientific perspective, developmental science is how the early experiences we have shaped that worldview. They set us on a trajectory for particular kinds of worldviews. So Four Arrows, probably wants to say more before I say more about that.

KOSTA: Sure. Thank you.

FOUR ARROWS: Well, when we look at the concept of worldview, it has a long history of stopping conversations like this. Worldview essentially was a battle between religions, especially the Christian Religion and science and science sort of won out. But if you put the word, if you go to Amazon and look at books and put in worldview, there’ll be thousands of books, and I’d say 90, I’ve encountered them, but I’d say 95 or to 99% are really religions trying to say that their religion and the various religions are worldviews, but they tended to stop dialogue.

When we look at the concept, it was mentioned once by Immanuel Kant. But, it took all everybody said, well, isn’t this the fundamental thing? I mean, all the great philosophers started to say, “Yes, the basic foundation is our worldview.” But, it wasn’t until Robert Redfield really put it on the map in the academy from the university of [inaudible 00:12:16]. And, he said, essentially at the time in the 1930s, “There’s only three worldviews.” Whereas, you say, there’s so many different ideas. People see religions as worldview, fields of sciences as worldview, cultures as worldview, but he said, “No, no worldview is really the relationship between nature and humans, humans and humans, and humans and super nature or the spiritual realm.” And when we take that you can take almost all cultures and philosophies and ideologies, and you can see that they fit under the umbrella of what we can call the dominant worldview.

So for example, now even if in our heart, we see it differently. We are operating educationally, economically, socially in an anthropocentric way. Whereas if we look at all the great diversity of unique indigenous cultures with unique place based knowledge and languages. They have in common are also something that is definitely not an anthropocentric it’s animistic. If well, we have looked at the literature and have come up with 40 precepts, the dominant worldview precepts that are typically operating, whether somebody believes in one or not. And then the indigenous ones, but we look at this as, it’s obviously a binary. But, the indigenous worldview is considered by scholars to be a non-binary worldview. And so if you look at it with the dominant worldview, you look at it as, either you’re with us or against us. Right.

But in the non-duality in the complementary duality worldview of indigenous people, we look at this as a conversation opener and from the dominant side to the indigenous side, as a continuum. And maybe even as a circle. Where are we now? What if we move from a low regard for women to a high regard for women? What if we move from a materialistic to a spiritual? And that opens the dialogue and research of course, is becoming overwhelming in contrast to the anti-Indian anthropology that we’ve had for the last couple of 100 years.

KOSTA: Yeah, sure. I mean, you just got me thinking, because when we talk about dominant worldview and indigenous worldview, I actually hear indigenous worldviews. Like if we’re talking about multitudes and sort of complementarity, rather than sort of power over and us versus them. It sounds like it’s trying to depart from something we’ve become familiar with for at least since recent history. So, is it your view then that this sort of dominant world view is an enlightenment era type of paradigm? Or is it something that predates that, do you think?

DARCIA: It has seeds in earlier, in civilization and Sumer and other-

KOSTA: Right. Okay. So we’re going that far back.

DARCIA: Greek.


DARCIA: Yeah. They’re they already were starting to detach from the body and detach from the natural world and enhance human reason as the primary aspect of being a human. But it really did take off in a super way with the enlightened, so called enlightened. It’s more of a delightened.

KOSTA: So yeah, very Eurocentric.

DARCIA: In the Western world. And then it just with colonization at the same time these things were happening, industrialization, colonization, capitalism, all that just fueled the fire of this dominant world view and then was forced on the world, essentially.

KOSTA: And then I’d love to hear more about, why we feel it’s important to shift from a so-called dominant worldview. What is it that you see right now, or in your experience that makes this a pretty urgent or just a higher endeavor collectively that we should embark on?

FOUR ARROWS: Well, look around. I mean, we’re at the edge of a six mass extinction wars are profit and have been continual inequality and justice, lack of happiness. I mean, I don’t question that these are the problematics. We know the press secretary at being asked about why are people shooting each other and not having an answer? If we could show the audience the different precepts and asked one to… And I’ve done this a hundred times with students and presentations, tell me if we were operating as we did for most of human history, on the continuum that is mostly on the right side of this chart. Could you, would we be in a situation where we’re polluting our air in our water? Would we have hierarchies that are so severe? Et cetera, et cetera, and people say, “No.”

And the research, like I said earlier, the largest study ever done was the United Nations biodiversity report. It was 50 countries, 450 interdisciplinary scientists, 15,000 peer reviewed papers. And if your audience puts in what the media missed the nation in the publication called the nation in the United States, the oldest journal. My article shows and quotes from this report saying that, “Right now, 80% of all biodiversity on this planet is on only 20% of the landmass and not coincidentally that 20% that it’s maintained by the 5% of people who have still held on against all odds to their worldview.” And they use that word and still have enough control of the land for that worldview to play a role. And so they said, “We’re indigenous worldview is operating this horrible extinction rate that they wrote about was either not significantly reduced.”

Now, you had mentioned the enlightenment earlier, David Graeber’s book, The New Dawn of Everything. He’s no longer with this, what was gone. But they show how the European enlightenment was really no more than bright individuals, hearing rumors about first [inaudible 00:19:36] indigenous people. And how they treated women and about how they were generous. Even Columbus in 1492, said, “I’ve never met such generous people.” Right. And so really we’re moving into a place and Darcia’s work with early childhood. If we could… Well Darcia, I’m going to let you take it from here.

DARCIA: Yeah. Well, I see that the way we treat children in our industrialized, capitalized, colonized world is undermining our human nature, essentially. And we established all these practices before we in the Western dominant culture anyway. Before it was understood how the brain develops and how it’s toxically stressed in early life, if the basic needs aren’t met. And so in my lab, we study what I call the evolved nest, and that’s our species developmental system for raising the young that optimizes normal development. And every animal has a nest. We do too, and all over the world, they provide this nest. And nomadic forgers, universally and traditional societies, mostly. When I talk about the evolved nest to scholars, the Westerners, the north Americans, and the Europeans will say, “What? I don’t want to have to touch my child and breastfeeding what?” All the rest of the world’s going, “Oh yeah, yeah. We know all this.” Right?

So again, the Western dominant culture, that’s gone off the rail. I think it’s very disassociated. It’s very odd and strange culture, because we don’t feel like we’re connected, right to the earth. Another to the spiritual world. It’s where this little pods and that happens early life because you leave babies to cry. You make them sleep alone. You don’t give them breast milk. You give him formula, which has just a few ingredients. They’re not human. And they don’t build the body and brain, the way a normal human being is supposed to be built. And then people don’t want to touch their children. But touch is building all sorts of systems properly. If you’re affectionate, touching and play, kids need free play and they need multiple adult caregivers to make sure the baby’s always kept an optimal arousal condition for brain development. That’s happening so quickly, right?

And nature, immersion and connection. So important for understanding yourself as a member of the earth community. So all these practices we know now with the neuroscience and other sciences, how important they are for health, for happiness, for intelligences. And we have undermined all of it from our shift towards money making essentially, and getting ahead because we’ve established this very unequal, hierarchical society. Which I call competitive detached cycle, essentially.

KOSTA: Right?

DARCIA: The underlining of early care, that leads to ill health and ill-being and dysregulation, adults who aren’t very smart, really intelligence is wise and they’re not very well. And then they create this cycle. They continue this cycle of not meeting basic needs and they think it’s normal. Our tradition though, the indigenous and I discovered all this when I was writing the book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom.

The book had a mind of its own. It wasn’t the book I had proposed, but it led me to the indigenous worldview and the indigenous way of being. For getting back to our human nature, our neurobiology that’s cooperative that wants to be with others that loves to be with others that enhances their wellbeing, that feels connected to earth. That’s who we are as human beings. And we’ve forgotten our baselines have shifted. We’ve just gotten used to less than optimal. We don’t know how to thrive. We don’t even know what it looks like. So we’ve adopted instead of a trauma inducing pathway instead of the wellness promoting pathway of our ancestors.

KOSTA: It’s really challenging. I hear exactly what you’re saying and I guess it’s a lot to sort of take in and the word that keeps coming to mind as you’re speaking. Well, both of you actually is just this idea of alienation and in that very Marxist way, at least that’s my point of reference at the moment. Because I’m teaching a little bit about Marx, but this idea of alienation and being sort of dissociated or not connected the whole way through for the people, we have relationships with. The things that we do in our day to day, the way we exploit materials for market and capital and things like that. And how, is it as simple to just say that colonization, as we know it has brought us to this divergent. This divergence from indigenous worldview, or do you think there’s something more complex there at play?

I’m just curious to know. I understand that the impacts of colonization are still things that we’re understanding to this day. But, I’m guess, I keep coming back to this sort of question of how did we get here? If that makes sense. I guess in a more existential sense, how did we get here? If something seemed to be working for so long for history. How did we diverge into this dominant view, which is started to peel us away from some of these core basic human tendencies?

FOUR ARROWS: Yeah. So you’re asking what is the key turning point. Talk about in the book Point of Departure, right? I have the same…

KOSTA: Yeah. Yeah. That’s far more eloquent. Yes.

FOUR ARROWS: And so how did we move from a worldview that was relational. It was about reciprocity and responsibility to one, Russia just said was about power and money. Well, when no-one knows. We know that it probably happened because Sumerian was the first civilization that we know of, that practiced it. They were still had a [inaudible 00:26:12] but they practiced it and then Romans perfected it, then it never stopped. Right. And so indigenous stories say that in all human beings is this potential for greed and for selfishness. All stories, the Aboriginal stories of Australia, all the way up to Lakota, et cetera, they have had these teaching stories about this potential in us. And so the survival motif showed that those things did not work and what worked was the kinship worldview, the title of our book.

KOSTA: Yes. Yeah.

FOUR ARROWS: And so whether it was a couple of, let’s say you and I were a couple of Aboriginals 8,000 years ago. And we happened to be on route, and we happened to have land where we were living that was in a place where there were Springs and we had all this food. And for the first, first time we had agricultural surplus, we’ve always had agriculture, but we had this surplus. And for some reason we said, “You know what, this idea of generosity and sharing and following the laws of nature, I’ve had it with that boy, I look what we can do.” Right. I don’t know. And thought on, because those things are enticing and they have been enticing.

But if we look at worldviews as a way to not only explain our world, but to give us direction in our goals and actions. And if we look at this as a process that should give survival advantages to people holding them. Well, we’re not doing that because people don’t choose to view as from a survival mechanism. They do, well what does mom and dad believe? They do, what is the charismatic person hypnotizing me to believe? If we were doing it like the United Nation study did, that was, what’s the survival advantage and the thrival advantage of a kinship based worldview that emphasizes responsibility over rights? Again, going back to our 40. And so we are, we’re off track. We’ve de-evolved, if you will. And there you are.

KOSTA: Yeah. Well, that’s a great… Oh, sorry Darcia you go.

DARCIA: Yeah. Four Arrows mentioned the book, the Dawn of everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow. And one of the great things that they point out is, well, I think that they’re part of the group of anthropologists that admire nomadic foragers, who still exist around the world. That’s our 99% of our history was spent in that kind of society. And in those societies, they don’t allow egos to get big, inflated. Right. They have, what’s called leveling rough teasing. If a hunter gets a big animal they all start, all the other guys will say, “Oh, it’s so small. We should go back and find a rabbit. It would be bigger.” And they do this until he starts to laugh too. Right. When they’re asked, “Why do you do that?” They say, “Well, if we don’t, he’ll become dangerous to the rest of us.” Right.

Because they know egos, if they get too big are going to be dangerous because… And we know from psychological studies that the rich people tend to think they’re entitled. They run stop signs, they bump into you and don’t apologize, whatever. And because they think they’re better than you. And so our ancestors actually knew how smart it was to keep the ego from getting bigger. And they had all sorts of stories about that too. And we’ve done the opposite. Right. So we allowed people to accumulate and then they got the big ego and then they tried to make the structures keep stay so they can keep their power. And that’s happened over the last millennia.


So we have had a scientific revolution. We’ve had an industrial revolution, we’re in the throes of an information theory revolution. Elon Musk, talks about that all the time now. And in all three, we have forgotten the really only observable phenomenon for balance. So we can do science and technology, we can do industrial corporate stuff and we can do information, but we make the choice of which of those technologies need work before they are in balance with what? What is the only thing that knows how to balance our world? It’s, human brains. It’s not any of those revolutions. It’s not any of the religions. It’s close and intimate and survival oriented, and thrival oriented observation of nature. So how can we abandon a nature based worldview, where we see this sentience and the wisdom in trees, et cetera. How we have abandoned that as teenagers.

Oh, wow. We’ve got this new toy, whether it be religion or industry or whatever. We can be powerful with it. It’s a matter of we’ve lost our balance. And so talking about, we can find that balance again and it’s not that difficult to do. There’s at least 40 ways we begin to live and we can embrace any religious faith and then know what part of it doesn’t work. Like the, Pope Francis just said that dogs go to heaven. Well, he didn’t know in the Bible, it just says some bad things about what the dog is. Right.

And so we’ve got to just wake up to a worldview that truly is nature based. And even for folks that are living in cities with concrete, it can still be done. There’s still nature around for us to begin to learn from.

KOSTA: Yeah.

FOUR ARROWS: And then we’ll talk later. Maybe if we have time about phenomenon that is got us in trouble and that we used to know how to match the phenomenon of hypnosis. You can’t explain why human beings are poisoning their own water and air that are intelligent, without understanding the phenomenon of hypnosis as indigenous people, as we did for 99% of human history through our ceremonies.

KOSTA: Wow. I’m really intrigued now. And this is probably a great sort of point to jump into the actual book itself. Right. Because, I’ve said to Darcia previously that I was really struck by the structure of it. So, I’d love to dive into the way you’ve structured the book where you’ve got these precepts. I think you selected 23. Was it all 40?



FOUR ARROWS: 28 of the 40.

KOSTA: Oh, it’s 28, I beg your pardon. So it was 28 precepts that you’ve selected. And essentially for those of us that aren’t aware, precepts are essentially, not a commandment, but a principle of, to live by or to make decisions. It’s like a compass around certain aspects of life. So you’ve got these 28 precepts. And then what follows in each chapter is essentially a conversation between yourself and Darcia. Unpacking each of those precepts, which for me was just a really strikingly different structure for a book of this nature. So I’d love to hear more, feel free to dive into an example that you think might be a good illustration of some of the things people can expect if they were to look at the book. But could you talk to me more about, some how you’ve structured the book and how this can be, then this can lead us to more collective action towards this kinship worldview?

DARCIA: Well, we could read a little bit, if you wanted.

KOSTA: Sure, please. Yeah. Go for it.

DARCIA: So the first chapter is the precept is recognition of spiritual energies in nature. And we quote, “Morning Dove.” Who’s Okanagan and Sinixt, lived in the turn of the century, the 19th century. So she says some things like this, “Indians had a staunch belief that the creator made the world according to a divine plan that gave power from the animal world to our ancestors. And now to us children at the early age of six or seven were continually sent out each night to hunt for a guardian spirit. Both boys and girls were obliged to undertake this search. As children grew older, they were sent a little farther away each night until they graduated from short to long distances. When the teacher or parents gave them something special to take along on these night journeys, the hope was that the child would receive a vision of the animal spirit associated with the entrusted skin or bone.”

DARCIA: “The child was always instructed, never to run away from any animal form or apparition that chose to speak to him or her. While on these expeditions hunting for knowledge, a child might find these supernatural powers, almost any place. Water, cliffs, forest mountains remains of lightning, struck trees, animal carcasses, old campfires, or a sacred sweat lodge. The spirits were supposed to appear when they were impressed by the dedication and purity of the persistent seeker. Those spirits’ appearance came to a child in a vision in the form of an animal or an object that spoke about how the spirit would help with future life, especially when needed during times of distress. It’s sang, its spiritual song for the child to memorize and use when calling upon the spirit guardian as an adult.”


So go compare that to, I’m not going to let my child go into the woods. It’s dangerous.

KOSTA: Yeah. Right. I was going to say, how do you see this sort of against a modern context, a modern industrialized context? And what are you proposing, there’s a way to restore some of that? Or yeah, what’s the journey from the precept to where we are now, as far as your concern?

DARCIA: That’s what we talk about in our dialogues about each precept, right? So, in our ancestral context, until recently, until recent decades, maybe centuries, children grew up in a multi-generational community. They didn’t go off to a classroom and sit with people their own age. That’s crazy. That’s how you build competition. That’s how you build risk taking, right? And you don’t build cooperation that way. Which does come automatically from natural pedagogy, which is the elders, the older kids, helping the younger, they love to do that. And the younger looking up and wanting to learn. And so it’s much more interactive and uniquely tailored to the child, the education they receive. And now we treat them, everyone sort of like a machine, going through a factory.

FOUR ARROWS: And devoid of spirit. Devoid of the spirit.


FOUR ARROWS: Is the key note to this chapter. And I’ve done. Darcia has too, but I’ve done hundreds of times around the world with juvenile delinquents, all the way to Buddhist monks. When they start to sit down for the conference presentation, I’ll say, “Before you sit down, set your stuff down, it’ll be safe. Go out the corridor, make a left and open the door. And you’ll see a bunch of bushes and trees out there in the courtyard. I just want you to touch one and come back.” And they’ll come back and then I’ll say, “Oh, I’m going to ask, you’re going to laugh, but I want you to go back again one more time. But this time before you touch the tree, I want you to ask permission and wait for an answer.” And of course, people go far and start thinking. Juvenile delinquent, say “What the is this all?”

But they come back just from this simple, simple little experiment, experience. There’s always someone who cries when they report out. There’s always someone amazed, there’s a silence, there’s a transformation. And when we talk about that transformation people say, “Well yeah, it didn’t really actually talk to me. Talk to me.” I’m thinking of a 14 year old guy who was a drive by shooter, but and then he started to cry to say about how the tree had lost a relative or something like that. And it’s such a powerful thing. And then you say, “Well, imagine living 24/7 like that.” And we can, even if we’re downtown east St. Louis and there’s, cockroaches that can be teachers, there’s weeds growing out of the brick sidewalk or the concrete sidewalk.

There’s, pigeons on the side of the road. There’s maybe if you’re lucky, one star you’ll see on an exceptional night. If we understand the worldview principles and we understand what spirit energy is. It’s a vibration, it’s a soul. You can call it a lot of things, but we all feel it when we see something beautiful and we get in and we go out and we… So here’s children learning to do that with five and six years of age. So that comes the mantra, the yoga traditions like kundalini. They try to get that back with breathing exercises and internal things. And it’s important. It reminds us how beautiful we are and how connected we are. Bringing those kinds of traditions with the indigenous, what we’re calling it doesn’t belong to indigenous people.

KOSTA: Sure.

FOUR ARROWS: Place based knowledge does. You have to speak to [inaudible 00:40:59] in one place that’s sacred and we’ve got to fight for its sovereignty, but it’s being lost.

KOSTA: That’s a great distinction to make, Four Arrows. And I’d love to hear more about that, this idea of, indigenous worldview or kinship worldviews, and place based and that knowledge. Can you speak on that a bit more? Because, it might be a question that some people have. We’re all from somewhere where there’s traditional indigenous peoples that have been there forever and they’re different enough from each other and we’ve homogenized them. So what do we mean by in that it’s granularity.

FOUR ARROWS: Yeah. It’s about misappropriation, problematics. I wrote an article, peer reviewed article for University of British Columbia called The Indigenization Controversy For Whom, By Whom. And we talk about this, but this distinction that Darcia and I make is that, there’s place based wisdom and knowledge, traditional knowledge. That’s been accepted verbally by the scientific community, but not practically. And this is knowledge of the land through generations of one place. You walk across British Columbia. And if you’re observant enough to know when the flora, fauna change, you’ll there know, there’s a new language. The languages based languages, like the ones in Australia that were all about inter-interaction with our relatives that are humans in non-humans. Whereas the dominant worldview languages, the Latin languages are, are noun-based. And they’re about society. They’re about humans, actions and organizations. Right?

So that’s something that Darcia and I are not expert in. And so of course, I expert as a guy that carries a slideshow more than 20 miles, that used to be an old saying I had. But, what we’re saying is, to my brothers and sisters who say, “You shouldn’t be teaching this stuff to non-Indians.” I said, “Wait a minute, no one owns the world’s view. People indigenous to the planet own it, because that’s how the planet operates. It’s a nature. And we, the people who happen to be indigenous are the ones that happen to continue to hold on to that, at against all odds.”

In terms of what we got to do in our activism, in our letters to Congress and getting out there at standing rock, we’ve got to fight for the place based continuation of language, the place-based continuation of knowledge. And all we can then be, we can be helpers in that regard. Or our co-conspirators in that regard, we have to bow to those in that place. So worldview is something that belongs to all of us. And what Fools Crow said, “Those who feel that we cannot share that medicine do not know the medicine.” And I appreciate my brothers and sisters who have that position because everything that I compromise, even getting Sage is now a commercialized process. Right. I totally get that. But I’m taken aside with other brothers and sisters of mine, like the famous Fools Crow, who said that.

KOSTA: That’s yeah. I can understand the fear of it being appropriated, commercialized and alienated from its original spirit, I suppose.

FOUR ARROWS: And still a risk.

KOSTA: Yeah, of course. Yeah. I guess that’s true. You’re, you’re proposing to do something like that, knowing that is a risk, but knowing that it is also a risk that might need to be taken, is that what you’re saying?

FOUR ARROWS: Well, I’m saying it’s a risk that far, far is overridden by what is happening to our world because of the domino world and the loss of our, in this world view.

KOSTA: Interesting. And because we were just speaking about place based wisdom. Could you talk to this idea of heart wisdom? That seems pretty central to the kinship worldview and the book itself. What do you mean when you say heart wisdom? Is that something we all have?

DARCIA: Well, it must be developed. It’s what most primary or the major religions and philosophies of the world say is the key to being a human being is to be heart minded. And they warn you about intellect about thinking too much because you start to think that you’re a thinker then and you end up in the reasoning. And imagining you are and disconnected. You’re disconnected when you’re in your reasoning mind, typically. But heart mindedness is about connection. It’s about being aware. It’s a spiritual positioning, I suppose, of connection to the web of life, all around you.

Everything you do is affecting the web of life and everything’s alive around you. Are you respecting it? Are you honoring it? Are you practicing ceremony of gratitude towards all these things that give us life, the sun, the air, the water? Right. And honoring them as givers of life, essentially, of spiritual wellbeing. So it’s more than the material too. Right? It’s having an awareness of things beyond what you can see in touch.

KOSTA: I’m just sitting with that because, I’m just trying to put my myself in a skeptical person’s point of view. Because everything that we’re talking about it is so beautiful. Genuinely, it’s just so affirming. But also quite tragic at the same time because of where we feel we are currently as a collective species, as people on this earth. But, I can imagine someone who’s in a really skeptical mind, and I say this as a person, I’m not talking about skeptics in bad faith, but skeptics in good faith that might cling to the way of life that they’ve known.

Because yeah, there might be an idea that technology advances, the way it does in order to make things better for people or whatever it is. Or competition is the way to sort of survive. And if everyone was looking after themselves, then maybe we could look after each other better. I don’t know what the sort of the line could be, but I’m just trying to think about from a skeptics point of view. And maybe my question there is, what would you, if you could tell a skeptical person that’s open to new information, one thing about understanding kinship, worldview, what would it be?

FOUR ARROWS: Well, what I would just ask is, Is your ideas about technology? Are your ideas about religion? Are your ideas about corporatism? Are your ideas or whatever that you’re saying that you want to hold onto? How are they working in the world? How [inaudible 00:48:22] and let’s just sit down and look at that for a moment. And in what ways… And I look at what’s called the cat fawn connection, which was my vision.


FOUR ARROWS: In what fear, authority, words, and nature, just four of the 40 precepts that we talk about. In what ways is the domino approach, the domino worldview that you’ve been raised with, in what ways is it dealing with the fear? In what ways is authority guiding your actions in this? In what words are you using? Are they completely honest to the best ability? And if you use nature as a teacher. And once people look at that. Well, something my dad told me is something that happened to me in a crisis, and the authority for it came from this and the fear is this.

And the words I are this and words are hypnotic. Hickling said that they’re mankind’s most dangerous drug, but that would not be what an indigenous person would characterize them as. And nature is obviously, as we talked earlier, the only possible teacher for balance. And so if we look then I would say, would you be willing to do, to learn some self hypnosis. So that you could now see the cognitive agreements that we have about, that I can see where that authority came from this time when I was five. And it doesn’t [inaudible 00:50:01]. Because we cannot, the skeptics hold onto the skepticism because they are not able to change because it is automatic in their behaviors as they realize. Indigenous people always knew this problematic ceremony is a form of hypnosis. You go in with an intention, you lower your brain wave frequency. You imagine the being generous, you imagine being able to craft the basket. So it holds water or whatever it is, right?

Without knowing the neuroscience of it. Right. So this, we have relegated that, we’ve bastardized, it’s Hollywoodized, all the Abrahamic religions say something against it. It’s of the devil. And yet who uses it, the Donald Trumps’ of the world, the dictators that have a have control of an audience during times of fear. All creatures become hyper suggestible to the communication of a perceived, trusted authority figure, if you’re in a dominant worldview. You sit down with somebody and they read this book and they get these things and they get 28 of the 40, and they get a dialogue about how they can really apply to practical life. And how to begin to use cat fawn and other ways of processing this to go out and make the transformation. So it’s very, very, very simple and very, very, very difficult. Right.

KOSTA: Yeah, Four Arrows, actually, as you were just speaking about hypnosis and the way it’s been framed. In particularly, my context is, I’ve been raised Greek Orthodox, it’s my background. I’m not practicing, but culturally it is who I am. And it’s just something that’s part of me. And the analogous concept that came to mind when I thought about that was, again hypnosis as this concept. If we take away the sensationalized aspect of it, I feel like the notion in at least Christianity is this idea of charisma and that charismatic energy that we talk about and how leaders that you’ve mentioned utilize charisma. However, it’s this undefinable hypnotic trait that people are drawn to in order to get people to rally behind them, to their cause.

But it seems like a reframing of a very similar kind of phenomenon that you’re talking about there, this automatic holistic very energy drawing. Or attention drawing energy that emanates from someone or that someone can learn to emanate too. So, but it almost sounds like the way you’re talking about it, seeks to reverse that process in some ways where we can apply it to ourselves or use it as a way to reframe our internal worlds or whatnot. Have I understood that correctly?

FOUR ARROWS: I think your last sentence was the closest, reframing. Reframing the belief that you have, what that would be. So at first it requires what we call metacognition, thinking about why do I have this? Why do I get mad when you say this? Why I do this better? Why can’t I whatever? That’s just going into the worldviews and looking at them, right? And source of it and saying, “Wow, I could see how I’m in this side of it.” So now? Okay. Now what? All right, well, now this self hypnosis is very, very easy. I mean, nobody wants to teach it. You make $300 an hour doing it to somebody. In fact, all hypnosis, ultimately is self hypnosis. And it’s in the medical literature. It’s for real, it changes the brain synapses, et cetera, but it, and we’re in all in and out of trance all the time and it’s natural.

And that’s why it was always understood. Trance based healing was always… There was a book written in the 18 hundreds called The Fake Shaman, because somebody saw, he had some worms in his hand before he went in and he pulled worms out of somebody’s stomach. Well, the patient knew, it was a metaphorical way to get the vision. And it was-

KOSTA: Right.

FOUR ARROWS: Right. So, there’s these things that we have in our colonialization with the continual colonizing, the oppressing for the favor of the few, that has guided us. And then we’ve got enough diversions. Enough diversions to keep us from getting back to our fundamental source and that is kinship worldview and to restore it, is the answer to the question that the reporter asked the press secretary today.

KOSTA: Wonderful.

DARCIA: I recently published a paper called The Missing Mind in that talks about, what we’ve lost over the millennia of civilization. In that one of those things is polysemic or polyphony this way of seeing things in multiple aspects and not categorizing them into one thing only, identity and being so rigid about it. That’s very left brain stuff. According to research of left versus right brain when you numb one side or the other, they act quite differently. And so we’ve gotten caught up in this, and there’s a book called The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist, very fat book with half of it being all the research on left and right hemisphere stuff. And the second half being how the left brain has taken over the Western world and is destroying everything, essentially because the left brain thinks it knows everything.

KOSTA: Right.

DARCIA: Even though it’s just, that’s the intellect. The danger that I mentioned earlier that the major religions have warned about, and now we’re caught up in it. And so I’m losing my train of thought here, but that’s one of the things we lost is the polysemic, the ability to shift in and out of being this way or that way. And now we just stay with univocity, one single mindedness. And that’s focus honored by philosophers, right? To be single minded is a good thing.

KOSTA: Right?

DARCIA: No, it isn’t. Because, you lost your ability to take the perspective of the beaver, of the bear, of the wolf, of the tree and shift in and out of perspectives and of being a shape shifter. That’s part of our spiritual heritage too. So what we’ve done is we’ve undermined right hemisphere development. Right brain development in childhood because the nest supports its development and what we do when you stress out a baby you’re undermining its development because, it’s rapidly developing an early life. And so you get very anxious too, because it’s part of the self-regulation systems. We have epidemics now of anxiety and depression and all because of what we’ve done to young children. And we think it’s normal for people to be selfish and aggressive. No, it isn’t. Based life shifted so much, we don’t remember who we are.

FOUR ARROWS: Well, the Lakota really have taught me that the Washishu, the dominant takers of the fact, the dominant worldview are masters in left hemispheric endeavors. And that the Lakota are masters of right hemispheric endeavors. And they see that the two coming together, which is what we do in our non-binary binary analysis.


FOUR ARROWS: As you see, it explains that, allows for this to happen in this. And I had a doctoral student who took this further and found, I’ll be really brief. Found when people were in a place of looking at nature scenes, while in an MRI machine, hooked up that the activity in both hemisphere stopped and the corpus callosum, lit up like the Golden Gate Bridge.

KOSTA: Right.

FOUR ARROWS: All the neurosciences that were there were, “Wow, this is amazing.” And, her and I just looked at each other, because that was her theory. She did Pranayama yoga, nostril breathing yoga, alternative lateralization.

KOSTA: Right.

FOUR ARROWS: And so, this idea of us finding this place for the left and right hemisphere. We haven’t even begun to look at this indigenous worldview in those terms, as a way to do that. Exactly what we’re doing and the kinship worldview book.

KOSTA: Amazing. Well, look on that note, thank you for such a thought provoking, really just it’s a discussion I’ve had unlike any other, I think. And, I think my mission with the book, considering there’s so many precepts is to read one a week and just really sit with it. I think it’s a good way to just break it down and just learn something new each week. For some of us that might be, let’s say the book is resonant with people or for those that are feel that they’re at their own sort of precipice and want to enact changes or take a step in this direction towards a kinship world view. But, feel that they’re in circumstances that make that quite difficult. For example, do you have any advice for people in that situation?

DARCIA: Yeah. Play, play with children, play outside, be nature connected, take every opportunity, watch the clouds, the sun on your skin. This gets you back, lie on the earth and earth.

KOSTA: Earth yourself.

DARCIA: Sun, all that will get your body back on the earth and playing with others is the way to grow the right hemisphere and integrate the brain. We want integrated brains, not one side or the other, right? We want them to work in concert, but fully. And so I always play with my students. We learn folks on games and we learn them so we can go teach them to kindergartners. And then they explode with energy and the undergraduate students, the college students are going, “Wow, they’re early into it.” Then they get into, and that’s how you become a full human being. The flexibility, the interaction you have to touch people and notice what they’re doing. And look them in the eye and you grow the things that don’t get grown a lot if you’re sitting in front of the screen, right? Or at a desk with a worksheet.

KOSTA: Great play. I love that. Yeah.

FOUR ARROWS: And one of the three steps that we did not put in the book, I don’t think, oh yes we did. We surely did, is humor. And the worldview on what we call, the kinship side is humor is a part of living a healthy life versus the one that’s in the dominant is humor is usually about entertainment.

KOSTA: Yeah, very interesting actually. Yeah. That’s a really interesting way to put it. I love that the advice really for such complex, but simple, deceptively simple, deceptively complex thing that we’re talking about here comes down to play and humor. Things that are so, that have such specific functions in society right now. And even, hearing comedians and comic writers talk about humor and the way that, it’s difficult to be funny anymore and all this sort of stuff. I’m just, “Oh, that’s a really interesting sort of take on it.” I think I like to adopt a bit of an absurdist worldview in my own personal life, because things are funny. Chaos is funny. Things are absurd. If you make that practice of seeing things in different ways, you can find the humor in a lot of things and it deepens that experience of life too. So I love that advice actually. It’s a good way to reconnect with, to reintegrate with ourselves, I suppose, is what you’re saying?

FOUR ARROWS: Well, every-

KOSTA: Really lovely.

FOUR ARROWS: Every indigenous story has a trickster. Right. And it trickster show-

KOSTA: Yeah.

FOUR ARROWS: -how ridiculous that we are. But I think if someone goes through the book and especially we have an audio book coming out, then you can listen

KOSTA: That’s great.

FOUR ARROWS: To the speeches, but use the worldview chart. We’ve added the chart, just put it up on the wall and just start. Just use it every day and see how hard is it to begin to do these things? I just close it with this. I did a group of clinical psychologists who were very skeptical, right from the get go. Somebody said, “I’m not on this dominant worldview side. I’m already on this. So is our school.” And all this kind of stuff, and her colleagues could follow and said everything.

But about an hour and a half into the workshop, she came back and she says, “Oh my God, I get it. It may be in my heart that people have a high respect for women or should, it may be in my heart that there is spirit in energy and in a tree. But what you’re saying is our worldview is guiding us in a different direction in everything from economics to education, to our movies.” And I wanted to go, “Duh, well of course it’s about reality.” But I didn’t and I thought… Okay, so maybe that’s a good place to close.

KOSTA: Great. Well, I look, thank you so much, both of you for such a rich discussion that I’ll be thinking about for weeks, I think. Just as a closing question, where can people find you and more of the information, more of your work, any details about the book you’d like to share the floor is yours?

DARCIA: Well, some of this information and the chart is available at

KOSTA: Okay. Yep. We put that in the info notes.

DARCIA: Yes. And is all about early childhood and its effects on adults and our capacities and the book of course, and, right. For his books, many books. And if you just Google me, you’ll find stuff too. Great.

KOSTA: Yeah. Fantastic.

FOUR ARROWS: Just Google Four Arrow Worldview.

KOSTA: Awesome. All right. Well thank you all so much for your time. Have a really lovely evening. Yeah, we’ll leave it there.

FOUR ARROWS: Thank you very, very, very much.

KOSTA: Thank you so much.

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