Original Instructions – Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future
by Melissa Nelson
This book focuses on illuminating the Indigenous Knowledge intrinsic within the “original instructions” and oral traditions of the first nations Indigenous Peoples of the world. No matter where you go on the planet, Indigenous and traditional cultures regularly refer to the “Original Instructions” or “First Teachings” given to them by their Creator(s), Earth-Maker, Life-Giver, Great Spirit, Great Mystery, or Spirit Guides. Original Instructions refer to the many diverse teachings, lessons, and ethics expressed in the origin stories and oral traditions of Indigenous Peoples. They are the literal and metaphorical instructions, passed on orally from generation to generation, for how to be a good human being living in reciprocal relation with all of our seen and unseen relatives. They are natural laws that, when ignored, have natural consequences. Original instructions provides insights into the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and time-tested life practices of indigenous peoples and shows how native communities are implementing indigenous ways and asserting environmental justice today.
For millennia the world’s indigenous peoples have acted as guardians of the web of life for the next seven generations. They’ve successfully managed complex reciprocal relationships between biological and cultural diversity. Awareness of indigenous knowledge is reemerging at the eleventh hour to help avert global ecological and social collapse. Indigenous cultural wisdom shows us how to live in peace--with the earth and one another.
Original Instructions evokes the rich indigenous storytelling tradition. It depicts how the world’s native leaders and scholars are safeguarding the original instructions and protecting some of the last healthy, biodiverse landscapes on the planet. These teachings remind us all about the need for gratitude, kinship, and a reverence for community and creation.
Original Instructions is a collection of edited talks presented at the annual Bioneers Conference in California between 1990 and 2006. These native leaders and eco-visionaries come from North, Central, and South America, Hawaii, and Africa, with the majority of contributors being Native American from the United States and Canada. Over twenty Native nations are represented in this rare collection of over thirty Indigenous intellectuals, farmers, scholars, faithkeepers, poets, educators, activists, writers, ecologists, and healers. Contributors include Chief Oren Lyons, the late John Mohawk, the late Paula Gunn Allen, Jeannette Armstrong, Winona LaDuke, and John Trudell.
For SFSU article about the book: www.sfsu.edu/~news/2008/spring/35.html