PACS 329 Reading Notes
Digging for the Roots of the Healing Vision (Returning to the teachings)
Twelve Paces/Two faces (page 52-75)
Author is talking to aboriginal, Ojibway women friend about Aboriginal couple walking - man 12
paces infront of women. He thinks it's an issue with equality - for them it is the man leading to
protect from danger and while she sees, plans, and can react frombehind. The author sees things in
terms of hierarchies (inferior/superior). She talks about her people's teachings - all things ahve a
purpose and unless they are fulfilled the strength of the whole is weakened. The aboriginal couple
had different roles based on their different skills/gifts - none of which were had to compared in
terms of worth or importance. Western dependence on hierarchies of worth and power.
Ojibway elder's teachings of the forest: so many different creatures (trees, insects, grasses,
animals, etc.) and you wouldn't compare the worth of any of them because they are all necessary
for the forest to continue in health.
Mi'kmaq friend: in his language they don't have a word for stupid because everyone has their own
gifts. Everyone was to be respected for their gifts, whatever they were. These people didn't have
an issue of the value of each gift compared to others but rather the issue of how they could all use
their gifts to the fullest so the family could be as strong as it could be.
Author sees how frequently hierarchical thinking dictates what he saw and how he chose to
respond to what he saw. Story of aboriginal women speaking about physical and sexual abuse in
their communities - they said the problem was not so much the abuse of power but rather the
giving of power to individuals or small groups in the first place.
The western insistence on creating heirarchies for everything is a major part of the problem that
Philmer Bluehouse and James Zion comment:
adjudication isa vertical system of justice which is based on hierarchies of power and it uses force
to implement decisions. In contrast, mediation i based on essential equality of the disputants. If the
disputants don't have equal bargaining power than mediation promotes equality and balance as
part of the process - it is a horizontal system which relies on equality and preserving the
continutation of relationships.
Justice processes are structures to restore authority and remedy any power imbalances that either
crime or the relationships have created.
Basil Johnson, author of Ojibway Heritge, explains Ojibway concept of leadership as one of five
essential needs for society, along with defence, sustenance, learning, and medicine (chiefs,
warrioers, hunters, teachers, and healers). Each community was represented by its own dodaem, or
totem/emblem. Of the leadership dodaem, there grew many clans. Crane clan - named crane
because when the crane calls, all listen. Like the crane, a leader should exercise his prerogative
rarely, be first to action, and utter his own sentiments as well as those of others. Birds = known as echo-makers. Leadership is a temporary nature - there is not leader who has authority over all
things. Exercise leadership skills as the occasion demands. The act of leadng is without
compulsion; the followers follow freely and at liberty to withdraw.
The author mentions these issues of leadership and heirarchy because they show that the larger
society has difficulty understanding or accepting the Aboriginal declaration that "We see the world
differently than you".
Phsyicist who work with Albert Einstein said that many N.A. Aboroginal languages contain a
sophisticated post-Einstenian understanding of the universe that English is often unable to capture.
Connections between traditional teachings and the kinds of "justice-as-healing" processes that are
being developed by Aboriginal people as their alternative to Western justice. These aren't just
ways to restore social and individual health in Aboriginal commmunities but they are the sourse of
meaning, identity, purpose and fulfillment in life.
The was apparently a hierarchy in the traditional thought - withing the four orders of creation:
Mother Earth, the plant realm, the animal realm and the human realm. Christain view - man is
below God but above all other earthly creation. Aboriginal view - mankind is the least powerful
and important in creation.
Basil Johnston - Ojibway Heritage is based on dependencies (earth-plants-animals- human, each
one relies on the one before it; nothing depends on our survival). We should accomodate their
existence because without them we perish.
Freeman - western science methods are reductionists (focus on characteristics of things rather
than relationships between things). non-western are more linear and study interacting cycles -
nothing is cause-and-effect because all factors influence impacting elements of the system as a
whole. Western impression - nothing seeme to be an essential part of anything else - all things
were seperable resources to be extracted at our whim.
Western - excellence of understanding things and their properties
Aboriginal - excellence of recognizing how things work together within systems-as-a-whole
TEK: traditional ecological knowledge
The sacred tree: book produced by 30 elders, spiritual teachers and profs from Aboriginal
communities across N.A that includes understandings that might be common and to express them
in English. Twelve Principles - the first two are wholeness and change.
In Aboriginal teachings, people heal best when they heal with each other.
Key to traditional teachings - it involved a double obligation: first that you learn to see all things
as inter-connected and second that you dedicate yourself to connecting yourself, in respectfull and
caring ways, to everythiing around you, at every instant, in every activity. See yourself not as an individual but as active participants in a web of complex interdependencies
with animals, plants, the earth, and the waters. First obligation then is look for all the connections
and relationships that surround you, to understand things in that dynamic way. Second is to learn
over a lifetime of study how they all worked rogheter. Third is to forever look for ways to
accomodate themselves to those dynamics, rather than trying to dominate them.
In Navajo the greatest comliment is that you take care of you "relatives" - all aspects of creation.
Old perspective: I have relationships.
New perspective: I am relationships.
Justice - offenders are not to be dealt with alone, separated out from their victims and all the
other people touched by their behavious. Instead, it requires examining and dealing with the
relationships between all of them. (page 67) Contributing to the restoration of relationships and
not their further deterioration.
Diane LeResche - peacemaking is more conciliation than it is mediation. It is relatinoship-centred,
Change - second principle of the sacred tree book- everything is in a state of constant change. Two
kinds of change - the coming together of things and the coming apart of things. The third principle
is that change occcurs in cycles or patterns. Twelve principles- we will never be able to understand
everything well enough to fully appreciate, predict, control or rearrange all those changes with any
degree of certainly.
We must all approach the universe from within a posture of profound humility, acknowledging not
our power over it but our dependency upon it.
Highest comliment to a speaker - "w'daeb'wae" - he/she is right, correct, accurate, truthful.
Aboriginals use the more humble word "gifts" over the more boastful word "talents". Gifts -
humility, they are to be respected and nourished.
cross examinations - they are more likely to be "led" through leading questions than non-
aboriginals because they've been taught to see the possibility that things might have taken place
differently than the way they had perceived.
Chaos theory - in any open system the variable are so great that accurate prediction is a myth.
Trickster - makes you think one thing and you think you can predict it but in reality it's different. It
is foolish to see yourself as powerful enough to determine the full course of your own existence.
The Elderberry Flute Song shows how the trickster loves to poke fun at the conceit that anyone
has anything close to a profound understnading of creation.
There are substantial roles for individual contribution and wide spheres of human responsibility. They must, however, be undertaken within certain clear limits.
The Teaching of the Five Waves
Wave 1 - those that the winds were building but that hadn't yet arrived, grow strong as a new
weather system came in.
2 - the ones left over by the weather that were now fading, still affect the water even after the
winds were gone.
3 - waves casued by all the ocean currents, that present their own forces against waves from the
4 - waves caused by what westerners call teh Gulf Stream
5 - waves caused by the rotation of the earth
Until you saw how all the waves worked together and progress, it was not safe to go out and swim
in them. The waves relate to how a justice system ought to approach offenders. It suggests that
we cannot come to understand their behaviour until we gain some understanding of all the
waves, old and new, that have converged on them during their lives (page 74). It suggests that
the very last things any justice process should do is cause a reduction in whatever riding skills
offenders already possess.
Jail - not healing and teaches them to be more defiant of others and self-centered.
Ojibway people - look seven generations into the future whenever substantial change is being
The five waves give you a way to think about how you can be at the mercy of forces beyond your
control and yet still be significantly responsible for the course of your own life.