Indigenous Peoples Worldviews vs. Western Worldviews
Leroy Little Bear: "Any individual within a culture is going to have his or her own personal interpretation of the collective cultural code; however, the individual's worldview has its roots in the culture - that is, in the society's shared philosophy, values, and customs. If we are to understand how Aboriginal and Eurocentric worldviews clash, we need to understand how the philosophy, values, and customs of Aboriginal culture differ from those of Eurocentric cultures". John Ralston Saul, The Comeback
Eight differences between Indigenous and Western Worldviews adapted from Working with Aboriginal Worldviews, Anne Mead
Indigenous worldviews (I) vs. Western worldviews (W)
1.(I) Spiritually orientated society. A system based on belief and spiritual world.
1.(W) Scientific, skeptical. Requiring proof as a basis for belief.
2.(I) There can be many truths; truths are dependent upon individual experiences.
2.(W) There is only one truth, based on science or Western style law.
3.(I) Society operates in a state of relatedness. Everything and everyone is related. There is real belief that people, objects, and the environment are all connected. Law, kinship, and spirituality reinforce this connectedness. Identity comes from connections.
3.(W)Compartmentalized society, becoming more so.
4.(I) The land is sacred and usually given by a creator or supreme being.
4.(W) The land and its resources should be available for development and extraction for the benefit of humans.
5.(I) Time is non-linear, cyclical in nature. Time is measured in cyclical events. The seasons are central to this cyclical concept.
5.(W) Time is usually linearly structured and future orientated. The framework of months, years, days, etc. reinforces the linear structure.
6.(I) Feeling comfortable is measured by the quality of your relationships with people.
6.(W) Feeling comfortable is related to how successful you feel you have been in achieving your goals.
7.(I) Human beings are not the most important in the world.
7.(W) Human beings are most important in the world.
8.(I) Amassing wealth is important for the good of the community
8.(W)Amassing wealth is for personal gain
Above are eight (8) descriptors of the basic differences between Indigenous Peoples worldviews and Western worldviews. In an essay or chart format, you will use the information that you have learned to provide historical examples to support or refute the above descriptors for the Indigenous cultures only. Use the creation stories, the stories designed to impart knowledge, historical cultural practices, scientific observations, traditions, and your own research to support your thoughts and ideas. Should you find other authentic views of the Aboriginal perspective, you may use those views as a substitution for the ones provided. Just make sure that you indicate that you have substituted information and make sure that you include the substitute worldviews. If you wish to use a different format than the two suggested, contact your teacher.