The Fourth Way
The conceptual framework for The Fourth Way arose out of ongoing discussions in search of practical means for implementing its principles and practices, both within North America and around the world.
This consultation process began with a historic gathering that took place in December, 1982, in the high plains of Southern Alberta, when a gathering of forty traditional Indigenous elders, wisdom keepers and community leaders came together to find a solution to the terrible darkness, substance abuse, poverty, suffering, and death that seemed to have engulfed nearly every Indigenous community in Canada and the United States.
They came to share their Indigenous visions and prophesies of the future. Since that time, Indigenous voices from across the Western Hemisphere have joined together in supporting an approach for the advancement of peace, security, well-being, and prosperity, not only for Indigenous communities and nations but for everyone living in countries and regions where Indigenous people make their home and for all people. This approach has been called The Fourth Way.
The Fourth Way is an Indigenous-led Response to the Current Conditions in the World
And calls upon Indigenous people themselves to move beyond self-destructive and ineffective responses to the systematic marginalization, repressive policies and systems, and grinding poverty to which they have been subjected.
We have carefully assessed our past and our hopes and vision for a better future and determined that there are four distinct potential solutions or responses that we have historically taken or may embark upon in the future. These are summarized as follows:
The First Way: Assimilation
(i.e., giving up independent identity and trying to join the dominant mainstream society)
We do not believe that our Creator meant us to take this path, although some of our peoples have chosen to do so. For the most part this has not worked well for us, and our Indigenous wisdom suggests that we reject this path.
The Second Way: Resignation
(i.e., meekly accepting inferior status, succumbing to self-destructive behavior, such as addictions, and lateral violence and suicide, and embracing hopelessness and social degradation)
This approach has made life even worse for many Indigenous peoples and other individuals and communities worldwide.
The Third Way: Resistance
(i.e., ranging from a quiet refusal to cooperate with dominant culture systems to armed insurgencies using violence to bring about change)
The Third Way implies working within an adversarial framework with everyone, including non-indigenous people. We reject this path and have learned from sad experiences that resistance begets resistance and inevitably results in war and self-destruction. This approach has almost always proven to deepen the divide between Indigenous people and the safety, security, prosperity, and well-being they seek.
It is further manifesting itself today around the world in the manifestation of increased conflicts, wars, racial and cultural clashes.
The Fourth Way
(As articulated by Indigenous elders and spiritual teachers and leaders) Is a global, holistic, positive effort or movement toward bringing about a more peaceful and harmonious development of our institutions and communities worldwide.
The Fourth Way is based upon and operates within the guiding framework and effective principles of culturally based Indigenous values, wisdom, knowledge, and experience.
It is underpinned and envisions cooperation with all like-minded peoples, governments, businesses, and philanthropic organizations around the world.
The aim of The Fourth Way is to establish a more peaceful, unified, environmentally safe, and harmonious world as an abiding legacy for our collective joint future and the sustainable prosperity for all life on earth.