Global Indigenous Elders Alliance – GIEA
That our Descendants will be Indigenous in their Outlook – The Influence of the Global Elders Alliance
The colonisation of Indigenous lands and communities has been devastatingly successful. Many generations of Indigenous groups have been subjected to and convinced of the supremacy of a western worldview. They have been overwhelmed by the inexorable and insistent acquisition of their lands, their ecosystems, their knowledge systems, their very identity. Yet, small groups of resisters have survived and preserved the literatures, artworks and artefacts, knowledge systems and ways of living; their Indigenous cultures.
These repositories (elders and knowledge holders) are held in high esteem and deeply respected for the knowledge and skills that they hold. Whether the traditional knowledge and skill that they hold has been acquired through age and experience or has been handed down to selected individuals in the community, that knowledge and those skills and their transmission are critical to ensuring that our descendants will be Indigenous in their view of the world.
Having these repositories of Indigenous knowledge provides consistency and harmony to the teaching and learning environment. The formality and discipline of western academic practice informed by the Socratic traditions of scepticism about all existing knowledge can be balanced by the wisdom, pragmatism and experience of Indigenous knowledge holders, our elders. They can bring a spiritual presence to the learning environment connecting the learners to the past through the passage of oral narratives, ceremonies and cutural wisdom.
Sir Āpirana Ngata, the outstanding Māori leader and politician of the 20th century wrote in the autograph book of a young child:
Grow and branch forth for the days destined to you
Your hands, turn to the tools of the later settler that you may survive in this new world
Your heart, forever attached to the treasures of your ancestors as adornments for your brow
Your spirit, forever committed to the creator
It is our intent to encourage critically informed, socially conscious and politically engaged graduates who can live in comfort in both worlds, informed by the wisdom of our elders.