Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Increasing Moral Community

Published: May 9, 2008, Author: JayTaber

Nation-states have a vested interest in educating their citizens to develop loyalties and commitments to the central government. Of all of the methods used to accomplish this, formal education is the most critical. Leaders like to believe their citizens are in agreement with the cultural and political rules of the nation, and therefore most citizens will not resist education that interprets history and supports the culture of that nation. However, since indigenous peoples do not share the fundamental cultural philosophies of the history and culture of the nation-state, they are often unwilling participants in the nation-building processes of formal education.

The concept of freedom dominates Western intellectual thought and is inherent in modernization theory, as well as post-modern and post-colonial theories, that continue to focus on political marginalization of groups (like indigenous peoples) and give little attention to their own cultural interpretations, understandings or goals. The Western interpretations assume that freedom is also the goal of indigenous individuals and nations.

Freedom, however, is not a central core theme in the teachings of indigenous peoples. There are sometimes evolutionary themes, but those themes, such as among the creation teachings of the Navajo or Pueblos, focus on lessons of gaining increasing moral community and knowledge about how to sustain spiritual balance among tribal members, other peoples, and the powers or spirits of the cosmic order. Spiritual balance, the golden rule, moderation, working within ritual and life constraints, fulfilling ceremonial duties, maintaining individual and community moral commitments, and accepting individual and community responsibility for proper moral and ceremonial relations are core values for indigenous communities.

Indian Country Today

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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