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Picture by QT Luong. Totems near the Capilano bridge. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (color)

The Promise of Indigenous Wisdom

Indigenous wisdom is not mere folk psychology, although intuition, self-reflection (especially in relation to experiences with both the visible and invisible worlds), metacognition, and observation of human nature have certainly contributed to it. Indigenous wisdom is the product of careful and methodologically sound observations of the natural world (which includes humans) that have been tested and retested for thousands of years in the rigorous real-life laboratories of survival and well-being. The results include inventions and contributions that relate to food development, storage, and preparation; herbal-based medicines; clothing and transportation; astronomy; sustainable practices; and more. Indigenous wisdom has also influenced concepts of democratic governance and approaches to child discipline, equitable wealth distribution, positive interpersonal relationships, and conflict resolution that reunites communities.

So, rather than ignore, reject, or relegate Indigenous wisdom to merely new age diversions, coupling it with the prestigious neurosciences might start a revolution in how we study the brain and lead to the reorganizing of our own neurons in time to save ourselves from extinction.


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