The Fourth Way

The Earth and Indigenous Peoples have not been respected by our culture of consumption. What we need soon won’t be available because our practices have interrupted the cycles too badly. Restoration of the Earth will take time and meanwhile, our young people need to learn the right way to do things so they don’t make the same mistakes. Learning from the people whose traditions are in harmony with the Earth is smart. Our Heart Gardens has been designed to not only include, but to honour them.

In the document “The Fourth Way, An Indigenous Contribution to Building Sustainable and Harmonious Prosperity in the Americas and Beyond,, 4worlds@uleth.caby Sun Dance Chief Rueben George, Tsliel-Waututh Nation and Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations”, it states:

“Millions of Indigenous Peoples have watched helplessly as their traditional means of livelihood were wiped out by unsustainable environmental practices used by large transnational fishing, timber, oil, and mining corporations, by plantation style agricultural operations, and by large government-subsidized agribusiness corporations usurping agricultural markets in their countries. Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous small farmers can no longer earn a basic income because of the intentional destruction of local agricultural markets through predatory global trade practices dictated by the agribusiness industry. These farmers have joined the millions of illegal immigrants flooding into the United States. When viewed through the eyes of Indigenous people, these conditions are not exaggerations; they are the unembellished facts of life.”

There have been three alternatives available to First Nations People: 1) Assimilation 2) Resignation or 3) Resistance, none of which would be good for everyone. The Fourth Way suggests a new way:

“Constructive Development – to create organized Indigenous and related social movements focused on promoting the well-being and prosperity of the people and on electing and supporting leaders who are truly responsive to the majority of the people, leaders who will not only improve education, health care, infrastructure and economic development, but will also work to create social and political “spaces” within the countries where Indigenous people reside, for true participation in an inclusive and equitable project of rebuilding nations.

This approach is not merely political in nature. It also implies a systematic reclamation and recovery of Indigenous cultural foundations, identity and language, and the re-anchoring of social, economic and political change in the spiritual and cultural values and traditional knowledge at the heart of Indigenous cultures. This approach in no way implies a retreat into the historical past, but rather it is an active engagement in the challenge of shaping the future of nations within the framework of life-preserving, life-enhancing, and sustainable values and patterns of action in harmony with all members of the human family.”

Indigenous leaders are guiding their people to right action. It’s time for the rest of us to learn right actions too. As our futures intertwine and grow together, our politics cannot remain an “us and them” struggle. Being an integral part of the land in the past, First Nations have a connection that will not be denied as long as the Land exists. They are a vital part of the future, and they are fundamental to Our Heart Gardens. When we bring the soil indoors to grow and shelter our crops and our families, asking for the help of the people who have loved the land for so long will honour their enduring commitment and give meaning to the past. Their help in creating places where life can be preserved and enhanced while we learn respectful patterns of action will help create a good future for all from the ground up.

No apology will ever be enough.  This, we can do –


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