By Randy Woodley, re-posted with permission from the Ethnic Space and Faith blog
There are stark differences between the worldviews of Indigenous peoples and those whose worldviews developed with the influence of Western Europe. The “age of discovery” brought the Europeans to our Indigenous shores. Many of those theologians and discoverers attributed their discoveries to God and then immediately acted in the most ungodly manner. I am willing to concede that the Creator had a hand in the meeting of the two worlds but I think it has been largely misinterpreted by the Western nations and Western religious bodies. These so called “discoveries” created not only wealth by extraction in previously co-sustained Indigenous lands, labor and resources, but they also created perverted national myths and twisted theological accounts of conquest. These myths have continued to be told time and time again, and with each generation they are reified, built upon and codified into our society’s collective mythologies and memories.
The Europeans came to many of our Indigenous shores at a time when their resources were fading away. Their oak forests were decimated in order to satisfy their desires for projects like castles, forts and churches. Western Europe was experiencing serious land concerns with unhealthy soil as a result of poor agricultural practices. Their fisheries in local bays and rivers were becoming fished out through over consumption. Fresh water was rare because their springs and streams had become largely despoiled. Classism caused by feudal systems were causing political unrest and hierarchical systems in both church and state were a constant concern of the ruling class. Cities were overcrowded. Waste and refuge lined the streets of their cities creating unsanitary conditions followed by disease. Western Europe had become a political hot zone and an ecological dead zone that was in desperate need of a new worldview, but instead, they convinced themselves they only needed new lands, thus the myth of “The New World.”
Our Creator is loving, merciful and vulnerable. If God brought the Europeans to our Indigenous lands, the purpose was for the Europeans to observe, listen and learn a new way of life compatible with co-sustaining the earth, God’s community of creation, after devastating their own lands. God’s purpose was never for Europeans to rule over Indigenous peoples nor to subjugate our lands. In my estimation, the Europeans who invaded our shores, could not accept the said terms. What has been dubbed “the Columbian Exchange” was for Indigenous peoples and their lands, the beginning of “the Apocalypse.” The Europeans hubris was already stacked high through wrongly held theological formulas tainting the “Indigenous Other.” Our Indigenous people were seen by the Christians as lacking not only Christianity, but civilization. These wrongly held theological views are today, still persistent in the Western world’s view of the community of creation.
At the time of European invasion Indigenous peoples were not living out a utopian vision of perfection. We too, still had much to learn. But the Western worldview that was so devastating in Europe; depleting the land and community of creation there of its natural abundance, did not fare well in our lands because, unwilling to learn; unwilling to change, they repeated the same mistakes of the past. The same worldview that despoiled Europe sought without respect or regard, to despoil our great lands and, once again, it has succeeded. The difference today is that we now find ourselves in global peril.
I believe Indigenous peoples continue to have the solutions to our current climate maladies. Indigenous peoples continue to hold on to traditional earth knowledge and the wisdom attained from millenniums of trial and error. A bandage will not fix our current crisis. Moral teaching and preaching alone will not heal us. It will take a new view of the world to change the earth. The best way to dispel a false narrative is to tell a better, truer narrative. Who best to make that corrective than the Indigenous peoples of the earth who have been observing these bad narratives brought by the Europeans; observing as they have made their mistakes for hundreds of years? Our Indigenous cosmologies are written in the land and they guide us in our responsibilities towards the land and the community of creation.
To Indigenous peoples, the problems of a Western worldview are obvious. The way of life demonstrated by Western peoples leads to alienation from the earth. It creates a false bubble called Western civilization which the West feels will protect them from calamity. This false hope is built on age old philosophical ideas handed down from Greece, Rome, England and other Western nation states. They consist of Dualism, Hierarchy, Compartmentalization, Anthropocentrism, Racism, Individualism, Competitiveness, Intolerance, Utopianism, Greed and Control which are now all embedded into the Western worldview. All of this is anti-Christ to its core. Christ, the Creator, loves his creation, along with all creatures who inhabit it. During this time of resurrection and new life, perhaps the worldview and wisdom from the land and co-sustainers of the land should be resurrected too.
 See Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.
Randy S. Woodley, Phd, is the author of Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision, and co-sustainer with his wife Edith, at Eloheh Farm & Seed, www.elohehfarm.com