Indigenous Worldview (what is it, and how is it different?)

Every culture, background, and society is unique and different. They each have their own sets of beliefs, values, and perspectives on the world. THAT is what worldview means!

 

As you can imagine, the Indigenous worldview is drastically different from what YOUR worldview might be. That is because Indigenous people have completely different histories, teachings, practices, beliefs, and values than the Western worldview.

 


 

There are a few key things to know and understand about Indigenous Worldview, so let’s talk through the basics.


#1 WHAT IS WORLDVIEW?

A worldview is a collection of attitudes, values, stories, and expectations about the world around us. These inform our thoughts and actions. Our worldview is expressed through ethics, religion, philosophy, beliefs, etc.


Overall, worldview determines how people live. And it can be shaped by any number of things, including ancestry, community, and social structure.


Worldview is also how we think about our relationship between ourselves and other living things. YOU have a worldview that shaped you and determined your beliefs. In the same way, Indigenous people have a unique worldview that influences absolutely everything we do. By learning about indigenous culture, traditions, practices, and teachings, you are engaging with indigenous worldview.


So, let’s talk more about that.


#2 WHAT IS INDIGENOUS WORLDVIEW?

The guiding principle of Indigenous worldview is that all living things are connected. Appreciation for all living things is a prominent Indigenous value which comes directly from the Indigenous worldview.


Indigenous people live their lives under the principle that all living things contribute to the circle of life equally and should be acknowledged and respected as such. Indigenous people believe that connection to ourselves, to the Creator, to Mother Earth, and all living things are integral parts of existing. That is why the land and other natural life is so important to Indigenous worldview.


Understanding that all living things are connected and that every living thing plays an important role in the world is important to understanding indigenous worldview. These principles are what guide the teachings, beliefs, values, and practices of Indigenous communities.

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#3 HOW IS INDIGENOUS WORLDVIEW DIFFERENT FROM WESTERN WORLDVIEW?

Most commonly, Western worldview is based on the assumption that man is superior. Instead of all living things being equal, living things are structured in a hierarchy.


Indigenous worldview is based on the idea that humans are equally important to plants, animals, and other living things. Western worldview traditionally treats humans as “the top” of the hierarchy and everything else falls below them, which shapes the way we treat plants, animals, and nature. This often leads to misusing, mistreating, or disrespecting other life -- because it labels humans as “most important.”


Indigenous worldview can be visualized as a circle, while Western worldview can be seen as a ladder. This structure is the primary difference between Indigenous Worldview and Western Worldview.


Understanding worldview, what it is, how it differs between communities of people, and how it shapes values, beliefs, and attitudes can not only help you understand other people, it can help you understand yourself.


Understanding the Indigenous worldview can help you have more empathy toward people with different perspectives and it can also help you better connect with your Indigenous friends and neighbors.


It can also always be helpful to take a look at YOUR worldview and understand how it has shaped who you are. How can you challenge your assumptions? How can you incorporate other attitudes or values into your own worldview?


There is no wrong answer, it’s simply a new way to understand and perceive the world. 


Indigenous worldview is all about connecting with ourselves, other living things, and the world around us. I hope understanding this worldview gives you the opportunity to try to do the same!




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