All over the world at this moment, the Land and our Ancestors are calling out to Indigenous people through Dream and Vision. This is not metaphor, but a statement of actual and very active, very busy reality. We are hearing that we are going to be given a great deal of Knowledge (IK) that will help everything survive the coming changes that are already so visibly in progress. Some of the Knowledge will help human and other Nations survive specific kinds of changes. We will be given new food and medicine plants, for instance, and told how to prepare and use them properly. Some of the Knowledge will help us do things that assist the Land’s healing. We will be given Ceremony we can use to care for the Land so it can heal better and more quickly, as you saw happen in the story of the Kangaroo Mountain. We might be asked to help in more concrete or material ways, too — asked to remove certain invasive plants or to keep people out of an area that’s been harmed and is fragile. People may be warned when we need to move out of the way of a necessary action the Land must implement to heal, that could be dangerous to people who happened to be there then. We may be given opportunities to learn new ways of reading patterns of weather and other natural phenomena so we can respond more wisely to conditions that may be dangerous but outside the range of current expectations.
The Knowledge we are given will not be produced as a commodity for consumption by people of Western culture. The track record on that sort of thing has been disastrous, and the current situation is too unstable to risk a repeat performance. However, many of us are willing to share the Knowledge we are given as long as relational accountability is not violated. You understand enough now to realize why that’s so essential, or at least to have a sense of its significance. When I said, on the previous page, that you can help the whole world right now by supporting Indigenous organizations and people, this is why. The Elders and the professionals you hire as consultants, and the organizations to which you donate funds, are all very actively engaged in this work right now. The Land is mobilizing resources that will support life through the coming winter of its rest and replenishment, and that will fuel its rebirth in the spring. So this is all exceedingly important.
As part of this larger movement taking place, many Indigenous people are being asked to protect as much Land as possible, especially Places of power where Ceremony can have more impact and where Knowledge of different types is more available or accessible. It is essential, for a number of reasons, that as much land as possible is entrusted to Indigenous people in a way that gives us legal authority to protect it from extractive industries and also from legislation that sets it aside as “pristine wilderness” that humans may not engage with. Both extremes manifest Western culture’s unhealthy estrangement from the Land.
Indigenous people must lead now. We are ready to lead now. The Visions and Dreams being sent to us now tell us it is time to do so. There is no more time for waiting for Western culture to change. A supplemental page of information about the issue of control and leadership is available here.
Indigenous people make up 5% of the world’s population. There are not enough of us to carry the world on our shoulders, especially since we already carry very high loads of reponsibility in marginalized personal, professional, and economic situations. But we can do what the Land is asking us to do, and if you provide us the resources to do this well it can light the way for a world that can learn by watching and benefit from the larger impact.
Over the last few decades, a veritable army of professional Indigenous evaluators has risen up and mobilized to serve Indigenous communities. These professionals are the key to real change. Until now, the larger evaluation community has employed them on projects as a matter of equity or fairness. But Indigenous evaluators who wish to participate have a much greater role to play. It is one of leadership.
The environmental community invests in and carries out environmental restoration projects in places where Indigenous communities live, and these are also carried out as acts of equity and fairness in which things are done for and to Indigenous Lands and people but without giving us control over the processes. Those Lands and Peoples who wish to participate have a much greater role to play. It is one of leadership.
In every budget for environmental restoration, natural hazard mitigation, or any other kind of ecological intervention, 5% — an amount due our people by virtue of simple demographic statistics — is to be earmarked for, and spent on, completely Indigenous projects. These projects will be organized, planned, implemented, and evaluated entirely by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people, under the complete leadership of Indigenous people. Over a period of time, these projects and their results will begin to demonstrate the power of Indigenous Knowledge when our people work with the Land itself to help it actualize its own genuine healing and restoration. These projects will also demonstrate the ways that healing the Land heals and restores the people and nations living there.
The reason Indigenous evaluators are the key to this Vision is that evaluation is the “bottom line” in Western culture. So we have to secure that end of the process for any of the rest of it to work. Evaluation occupies the power position.
Here are a few details for implementing the vision, developed in consultation with Fiona Cram of Katoa, Ltd.
1. The evaluation community must advance the visibility of Indigenous evaluators to the larger professional community by including them in a prominent way in all textbooks and directories of professionals, and by making that prominence a matter of “these people need to lead us to salvage what can be salvaged as the Earth temporarily throttles down for scheduled maintenance” rather than “these people need to have equity.” This work is not about equity or fairness for our people, though the 5% investment figure is certainly minimally fair and just. Instead, this Vision is about survival of whatever might still be salvaged of the natural world. That remnant will be the seeds of rebirth in the coming spring. Indigenous people are the only real hope the world has at this time for doing such a thing, and Indigenous evaluators are the ones who can coordinate an effort of the type described here. We know the Indigenous people who can do the work and can organize the effort.
2. The scope of people considered as Indigenous evaluators should be broadened to include Knowledge holders, decision-makers, Elders, artists, and scholars. The larger Indigenous community of these same kinds of individuals can work together to establish and coordinate both formal and informal networks for this purpose. Already-existing formal networks can be engaged in that process. Initial formal channels exist now in evaluation associations like the American Evaluation Association and its Indigenous People in Evaluation (IPE) Topical Interest Group (TIG). Most VOPEs (Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation) around the world should be able to connect people with Indigenous evaluators as the process begins. EvalIndigenous and the EvalPartners network provide accesss to a network of Indigenous evaluators around the world, particularly in the Global South. The group has a FaceBook page and YouTube channel in which VOICES project participants talk about Indigenous evaluation. EvalYouth, in the same network, has many younger Indigneous evaluators.
3. It’s important to remember that Western evaluation is just one way of finding out whether something is good for a community, for the people, for other Nations, and for the Land. The value system to be applied in evaluations, regardless of the format, are to be determined by the Indigenous people involved, who will engage the Land as part of establishing appropriate outcomes and criteria for evaluating them. The Land — including the sea, stones, mountains, winds, waters, and all Nations of things — needs to be a primary stakeholder, an advisor, and a participant in our evaluations and in all the work that’s done in these projects. Evaluation as a process, and the values used as well as the criteria used to evaluate, must be handed over to Indigenous communities so they can strengthen their capacity to learn-by-doing and be innovative and agile in their care for and relationship with the Land.
4. As a participant from the Western culture side of things, you may be invited to participate in the whole process or in some part of it, depending on the people involved and the specific situation. If this happens, it will provide you with incredible opportunities for rich learning and growth, as well as the chance to make friends and establish collaborative relationships in a community whose goals, values, and dreams align with your own. In the Vision I was shown, some of you were there because we are complementary. No one person, and no one culture, has all wisdom or all gifts. Diversity is essential. Always. So are relationships. We are talking, here, about walking our talk and the natural patterns of Reality. So come be in relationship with us, and bring your gifts. You have value too!
Just, you know, don’t grab the reins this time.
If you want to help actualize this Vision, if you control relevant purse strings, or if you want to engage someone with us who is in one of these positions, please contact one of the evaluation groups I listed to initiate dialogue. You may also contact me and I’ll help you get hold of the right people to start the ball rolling.
We can start small. But we need this effort to go big. It’s too important not to.
Five percent. That’s all, is 5% of your budget — not for “projects to help Indigenous people” that are run by others, but for Indigenous people to organize, carry out, and evaluate our own projects with and for our own Lands and our own peoples, as leaders. If you really want to think about fairness and equity, think about that 5%.
If you have already read the page that explains why Indigenous people must lead this work, then you have finished the exercise. Please visit this last page for a small closing ceremony of gratitude and thanks.