Gifts of American Indians to the World
We are still taught that the 500 Native Nations were "primitive" and that Europeans had a right to claim this hemisphere on the basis of a "Manifest Destiny" sanctioned by the Catholic Church and God because their culture was superior.
However, that was a falsification designed to justify the theft of this continent and the genocides that resulted in the near destruction of the peoples who had lived here for tens of thousands of years -- often in civilizations more advanced than those of Europe. The truth is beginning to be restored now -- and it shows why the 500+ years of colonialism must end now.
The 1989 book Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World by Jack Weatherford received a new cover in its 2010 edition. Although the original Spanish edition was banned in some parts of Latin America, nearly a quarter of a century later Bolivia honored Weatherford for this work on the indigenous people of the Americas. A specialist in tribal peoples, he taught for 29 years at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he held the DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Chair of Anthropology.
Amazon says: "After 500 years, the world's huge debt to the wisdom of the Indians of the Americas has finally been explored in all its vivid drama by anthropologist Jack Weatherford. He traces the crucial contributions made by the Indians to our federal system of government, our democratic institutions, modern medicine, agriculture, architecture, and ecology, and in this astonishing, ground-breaking book takes a giant step toward recovering a true American history."
It takes a book to list the ongoing gifts to the world by American Indians. The world's debt is great. Where would Ireland be without the potato developed in many varieties by the Inca? Where would Italy be without the tomato? Westerners are now flocking to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca with shamans and to the Andes to study with Incan priests. Big Pharma has made billions from the botanical knowledge of the Amazonian shamans -- often not compensating them. At the same time, we are destroying the irreplaceable Amazon with soy farms, logging, gold mines, roads, and dams. Activists who seek to defend the rainforest put their lives on the line and many have been killed.
In 1988, Congress finally formally acknowledged that the US Constitution was inspired by the Great Law of Peace of the Six Nations Iroquois -- the Haudenosaunee who are still in upstate New York, the oldest living democracy in the world. The Mayans had a more accurate calendar than the rest of the world until the 20th century. The Spanish "conquistadores" buried all their books except three that escaped their bonfires. In the 1500s, the Spanish were astounded by Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire and said they never could have imagined such a city in a dream.
The Inca were performing brain surgery with a 90% success rate in the 1500s -- an operation that was a guaranteed failure in Europe 300 years later! News was carried by road runners of the Incan road system in the high Andes twice as fast as over Roman roads. Macchu Picchu is considered an engineering marvel in many ways.
DVD and Video
Amazon says further below about the DVD The Language of Spirituality: "Native Americans had developed sophisticated concepts of how the world works centuries before the breakthroughs of western physicists. What they also had, that western physicists didn't, were verb-based languages suitable for describing the dynamic interactions within the world of quantum physics. It wasn't too far into the 20th century that Heisenberg lamented the limitations of noun-heavy western languages in explaining physics."
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Amazon Review of DVD
"Do the languages and cosmologies of Native Americans hold the keys to the mysteries of quantum physics and the nature of reality? That is the intriguing premise of "The Language of Spirituality," a documentary about the intersection of spirituality, modern science, and language, inspired by a series of dialogues between western physicists, Native scholars and elders, and linguists.
Back in the early 20th century at the dawn of modern physics, pioneering scientists like Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were making discoveries that would overturn everything we thought we knew about the way the world worked as they developed what would come to be known as quantum physics. The field continues to intrigue, mystify, and in many instances, defy explanation to this day. For some people, that is.
Native Americans had developed sophisticated concepts of how the world works centuries before the breakthroughs of western physicists. What they also had, that western physicists didn't, were verb-based languages suitable for describing the dynamic interactions within the world of quantum physics. It wasn't too far into the 20th century that Heisenberg lamented the limitations of noun-heavy western languages in explaining physics.
Meanwhile, out on the fringes of science, a Yale man named Benjamin Whorf threw himself into the study of Hopi and other native languages. His work revealed a unique language structure quite dissimilar from Indo-European languages, but strikingly capable of describing the dynamic world of quantum physics. He eventually suffered the fate of one who was ahead of his time -- i.e, the slings and arrows of others who put great effort, but little actual understanding, into trying to discredit him.
One of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th century, David Bohm, a colleague of Albert Einstein and Krishnamurti, upset the scientific apple cart when he moved beyond the Theory of Relativity and quantum physics to define a whole new paradigm of physics and consciousness, one that bolstered the theories of Whorf and mirrored the Hopi worldview.
It was near the end of his life when Bohm was able to complete the circle between modern physics and ancient knowledge. Just before his death in 1992, he attended the first ever meeting between linguists, western physicists, and Native American scholars and elders. At that conference, it became apparent for the first time that Native America and modern science had a lot more in common than anyone ever dreamed. The meeting spawned a series of dialogues, now dubbed "The Language of Spirit," that continue to this day.
This 62-minute documentary features interviews with participants in the dialogues, including Dan "Moonhawk" Alford, Fred Alan Wolf ("What The Bleep Do We Know?"), Bohm colleague F. David Peat and Blackfoot scholar Leroy Little Bear, who speak about the dialogues and the implications for the future."