The Land Leads

In Western culture, humans are in control. They decide what needs to happen and plan how to make those things happen. You can see this process modeled as a bridge here. In businesses and classrooms, this system causes people to identify linear, quantifiable progress markers that should be “hit” by certain target dates. The goal is for the group to achieve a pragmatic target goal. (“All high school graduates should know these things and be able to function in this particular way.”)

A very interesting, and not uncommon Western cultural alternative is an “anti-progress” system in which humans still decide what needs to happen and how, but situate those things within a system of esthetic, emotional, spiritual, or physical experience that “cannot be quantified.” In these experiential systems, emphasis is on personal growth. So goals are usually internal and personal. (“Program participants should feel they have developed personal awareness and the skills to express the things of which they are aware.”) But the humans are still the ones setting the goals.

In Indigenous worldview, humans work to help the things that need to naturally manifest themselves do exactly that. The Land is seen as the primary agent of movement. So humans are not in control and cannot “decide” what will happen or how. Instead, human responsibility is to understand what’s moving, or trying to move, and where it’s trying to go or what it’s trying to do. This is why so often collaborative work that’s creative involves pattern perception and puzzle-solving. As we come to understand the patterns we see, we can help facilitate the process so that whatever is trying to manifest is able to do so. This kind of understanding requires close alignment with the Land itself, through multiple ways of knowing. The meeting process becomes a group effort to pool knowledge from one set of sources, in relationship to knowledge from other sources, so that the “aha” of sudden perception can emerge. Even when meeting participants have come together for a specific reason, that emergent “aha” perception may fundamentally change the direction of the whole enterprise — because none of the humans involved is in charge or “deciding” what is to happen. A process the Land has set into motion might only really be perceived at the end of a long process of collaborative effort.

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