Editor’s Note: So you did not get to attend the Sustainable Wisdom Conference at Notre Dame in 2016 and experience the mind-expanding and soul-nourishing vision of a world that is possible if we integrate Indigenous Knowhow into our currently failing industrial world? That’s okay, because the entire conference, along with a book of essays from its presenters, and an overview of the event, are available to you now.
The Sustainable Wisdom Conference brought together an interdisciplinary set of scholars and artists ready to integrate first-nation and mainstream contemporary understandings to move toward a flourishing planet. The speakers were selected for their specialty areas which range from science, history, education, psychology, and anthropology. The purpose of the conference and accompanying books is to bring to a wider audience an awareness of “first ways,” what we know about their effects on flourishing and how to integrate them into modern life for global flourishing. The conference was hosted by the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi and was held at the University of Notre Dame.
The Sustainable Wisdom Conference’s presentations are listed here in a YouTube Playlist on the Evolved Nest’s channel. You can watch Kindred’s Contributing Editor and conference organizer, Darcia Narvaez, open the conference in the first video and then present her work on creating sustainable humans through the Evolved Nest at the conference in the videos below:
About the Conference
A conference held at the University of Notre Dame, September 11-15, 2016 that brought together an interdisciplinary set of scholars and artists ready to integrate first-nation and mainstream contemporary understandings to move toward a flourishing planet.
Organizer Darcia Narvaez wrote: We take Paul Shepard’s words as a guide:
A journey to our primal world may bring answers to our ecological dilemmas…White European/Americans cannot become Hopis or Kalahari Bushmen or Magdalenian bison hunters, but elements in those cultures can be recovered or re-created because they fit the heritage and predilection of the human genome everywhere, a genome tracing back to a common ancestor that Anglos share with Hopis and Bushmen and all the rest of Homo sapiens. The social, ecological, and ideological characteristics natural to our humanity are to be found in the lives of foragers.
Must we build a new twenty-first-century society corresponding to a hunting/gathering culture? Of course not; humans do not consciously make cultures. What we can do is single out those many things, large and small, that characterized the social and cultural life of our ancestors—the terms under which our genome itself was shaped—and incorporate them as best we can by creating a modern life around them. We take our cues from primal cultures, the best wisdom of the deep desires of the genome. We humans are instinctive culture makers; given the pieces, the culture will reshape itself. (Coming Home to the Pleistocene)
How can we integrate the best of modern technology and capacities with the wisdom of first nations? The conference looked deeply into the mindsets, practices and wisdom of first nation peoples across multiple disciplines. The goals of the conference were to (a) Increase understanding of “first” ways; (b) Describe how indigenous cultures foster wisdom, morality and flourishing; (c) Find commonalities among different indigenous societies in fostering these outcomes; (d) Develop synergistic approaches to shifting human imagination towards “first ways.” We expected that the conference would help us envision ways to move toward integrating helpful modern advances with first ways into a new encompassing viewpoint where the greater community of life (diverse human and nonhuman entities) are included in conceptions of wellbeing and practices that lead to flourishing.
In the conference, we brought together an interdisciplinary set of scholars to consider indigenous wisdom from multiple disciplines and to integrate this wisdom with modern knowhow. The speakers were selected for their specialty areas which range from science, history, education, psychology, and anthropology. The purpose of the conference and accompanying books was to bring to a wider audience an awareness of “first ways,” what we know about their effects on flourishing and how to integrate them into modern life for global flourishing.