A Report on the Fetzer Institute-sponsored

Dialogues Between
Western and Indigenous Scientists

Dan Moonhawk Alford

A Presentation for the 1993 Annual Spring Meeting of the
Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness - 4/11/93


Overview

Last year I was invited as a working participant in the highest-level intellectual conferences ever held between the first nations of the American continent and its historic European invaders. After 500 years of bumping bodies together, there was finally a meeting of the minds between these ancient cultures. World-class quantum physicists met with the cream of Native American intelligentsia, with field-experienced linguists in the middle, in order to see if any points of agreement could be found in a meaningful dialog between these otherwise incommensurable cultures.

The dialogues were sponsored by Fetzer institute in two conferences: In May and December '92, at Kalamazoo and Banff, but I'm focusing on the first one. A transcript of the conference should be available late this year.

First two days: Small, preliminary, laying out Native American views for physicists; then, in larger meeting, three days, with time, space & language as the major topics.

Participants

My Role The Fulfillment of a Personal Dream of David Bohm Historic as far as Native Americans are concerned Noun/verb-dominated Languages
Points of Agreement between
Physicists & Native Americans

1. Everything that exists vibrates

2. Everything is in flux 3. The Part Enfolds the Whole:
(not just whole is more than the sum of its parts) 4. There is an implicate order to the universe 5. This ecosphere is basically friendly 6. Nature can be taught new tricks 7. Quantum Potential and Spirit 8. The principle of complementarity
Memorable Moments

Looking out window at the wind/flux/spirit

Report on Blackfoot sacred geography in second meeting, time permitting David Bohm on last night
Conclusion

I knew that Sa'ke'j and Leroy had read Bohm's and Peat's works long before this historic conference and so were ready for them, but I supposed that the scientists knew very little about the American Indian worldview. I asked Sa'ke'j on my TV show whether he thought the scientists were ready for them.

And I think there's a way to see the Fetzer Dialogues as the fulfillment of a prophecy of sorts made over 50 years ago by Benjamin Whorf, who said: I offer this as a tribute to David Bohm. Thank you.