In this episode of Global Spirit, Phil Cousineau leaves San Francisco after visiting a shrine of Sitting Bull and arrives in New York City for a gathering of indigenous peoples from around the world gathered at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. As we face a global environmental crisis, it is imperative for governments around the world to hear what tribal leaders, shamans, healers, and other have to say about re-connecting with the earth and seeing ourselves as good stewards of her bounties. Cousineau does interviews with many indigenous activists including Oren Lyons, Marcos Terena, Jake Swamp, Viktor Kaisiepo, Gloria Ushigua, and others among the 3,000 in attendance at the forum.

There are more than 370 million indigenous peoples around the world but for years they have been marginalized and treated as if they were invisible. They possess incredible wisdom about the natural world gleaned from centuries of close attention and nurturance of trees, animals, plants, water and the cycles of the seasons. They have been the caretakers of the earth. Yet even now they are being exploited in many ways which are outlined in the program. At one point Oren Lyons is asked by a Westerner: "What's your bottom-line?" After carefully thinking about it, he responds, "We don't have a bottom line." And that says it all, the difference between those who see everything through their money-making lens and those who refuse to live by such a selfish and short-sighted ethic.

To Continue This Journey:

  • Watch the movie Ten Canoes on DVD which looks at the activities of an Australian aboriginal community.
  • What books or movies have you seen that have revealed to you the wisdom of indigenous peoples? Answer the question posed to Oren Lyons: "What is your bottom line?" Think about your relationship with the natural world and then come up with a practice that can enrich that relationship throughout the week.