Tracy: We are here this afternoon with Hereditary Chief Phil Lane, and I would like to give just a little bit of an introduction. Chief Phil Nathan Lane Jr. is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan and Chickasaw nations, and is a citizen of both Canada and the United States, with master’s degrees in education at National University and Public Administration at the University of Washington. Chief Phil is the founder and chairman of the Four Worlds International Institute, an organization dedicated to unifying the human family through the Fourth Way. So it’s a great pleasure to have you with us today, Chief Phil. Thank you very much for making this time for us. And I’d like to know, first of all, what would you like our readers to know about you besides that basic background?
Chief Phil — I’d like people to know that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have never left this land, as Chief Seattle said. There’s just been a change of worlds. Our Indigenous Peoples, more than 500 years ago, knew that the Union of the Condor, the Quetzal and the Eagle was going to be broken, shattered. And that a great wintertime would ensue.
And after that wintertime, in which it would be very clearly established that the spiritual dimension is the foundation of life, not material physical science, and then a great springtime would emerge. And for our Indigenous people, we can look back to when the first rocket was sent to the moon — because there’s a prophecy among our Indigenous Peoples, both Inuit and down into the other tribes of the South, that someday an eagle would fly to its highest and land on the moon.
And when that happened, a great springtime would begin. And so, of course, when the first moon rocket landed, the first thing echoed back to the Earth was “The Eagle has landed.” So I look back to that time, really being part of this journey.
The thing to remember is the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas are emerging everywhere all at once, as prophesied. From this great seemingly purifying process we’ve been through, we are now being able to, you might say, draw on the spiritual umbilical cords to help and assist, to uplift and to illumine, enlightening our human family together, and that’s what this event, Enlightening our Way Together, is about.
That’s incredible, Chief Phil — I had never made that connection. And I’m really intrigued by the theme of Indigenous sciences, and excited to learn about this new project that you’re launching in the context of this event. The Global Center of Indigenous Sciences and Ancestral Wisdom — the name in itself says a lot. Can you explain the origins of this?
Chief Phil: In brief, only about 1,300 of Mother Earth’s 265,000 species of plants have been thoroughly studied by Western scientists. Indigenous people have a working knowledge of no less than 25 to 30,000 plant species. These plant medicines address many diseases that are now addressed by pharmaceuticals. Indigenous plant medicines represent only one branch of Indigenous Sciences.
Other branches and dimensions of Indigenous sciences and ancestral wisdom include polyculture agronomy (including natural pest control, microclimate management, soil classification, and regeneration); natural resource management (including wildlife, agroforestry, marine life, and aquatic systems), aquaculture, integrated ecology, and environmental systems; human and veterinary medicine (including obstetrics, midwifery, and extensive pharmacology); psychology (including more than 200 psycho-social, soul-transforming medicines); animal and plant species taxonomies; plant, animal, and human foods and nutrition; mathematics; meteorology; navigation; architecture. archeoastronomy (calendars, the study of time-space); family and community-based childhood development and education; consensual governance and management systems; law (employing deliberative conflict resolution methodologies); musical, dramatic, and ceremonial arts; textile arts; political economy, and communications.
In the late 1980s, when Indigenous healers realized their Indigenous knowledge was being selfishly exploited for profit, with no return or recognition, this knowledge was hidden. As well, in the process of colonization, many Indigenous healers were disempowered.
In 1989 the Vision and First Draft of Global Centre for Indigenous Sciences and Ancestral Wisdom were born, based on the in-depth global research of Dr. Raymond Obomsawin, Oneida Nation.
Quietly, from 1991-2019, further participatory research, consultation, and networking were conducted across the Americas, India, and SE Asia, as well as, studying other related research, when time allowed.
In 2020, two teams of MDs, specializing in Functional and Systems Medicines, joined the Circle, with signed agreements that they would not profit or exploit Indigenous plants medicines, and other related Indigenous Sciences.
This research and development process was self-funded by Indigenous Peoples to prevent financial exploitation and misuse. All was done patiently and quietly.
With this emerging seed-crystal of merging Western and Indigenous Sciences, the unifying understanding of biochemical and energy-based medicine, that unifies science, and spirituality, the Indigenous developed and led Global Centre of Indigenous Sciences and Ancestral Wisdom will be launched during Enlightening Our Way Together.
So that just kind of gives insight into what we’re dealing with.
Wow. That’s a lot.
Chief Phil: That’s a lot, that’s a lot. What if people would wake up to the realization that what is in the Amazon is worth far more than all the oil and gas or all the minerals they exploit. Those plant medicines. I mean, just think of where the world would be if the human family were well and healthy, healthy and living in harmony without having to pay all this foolish money and destroying our Mother Earth.
And so we have our beloved relatives from the Amazon, directly from the Amazon, those relatives directly an Indigenous digital connection. We’ll start the sacred fire in the sacred ceremonies in the Amazon, that will be the heart of it. And we’re going to listen with all due respect to concerts, we’re going to listen to them speak for themselves. It’ll be their program, their voice, what they want to share. We’ve set up the capacity so it can be translated to Spanish and shared globally. We want to hear from them. This is their land, their territory. And they’re the only ones who can lead us through this with our support and help as Indigenous people from the north, from every direction, plus all those members of the human family who believe and have a faith that these prophecies are true.
Can you talk about that decision to start this project in the Amazon? Why the Amazon? What’s the significance of that?
Chief Phil: This is actually an action of the Union of the Condor, the Quetzal and the Eagle which is framed, along with the launching of the Global Commission on Justice and Healing, along with the Global Center.
We see the application first in the Amazon, because that’s where our relatives are suffering the most. And if we don’t deal with that first before any other region, we are in trouble.
Now, if you think about it, we had these big concerts, we’ve had all this attention, all the fires were burning. Everybody went down to do this. And where are we today? It’s worse than it’s ever been. So we hear them say we’re going to do all this as good — and people have done good, and God only knows where they’d be if that hadn’t happened.
But from my perspective, love and respect, this concerns the Indigenous Peoples of the North and the South and Central America, and let those that support this get behind us, because we’re the only ones that can move through this together in unity as the Indigenous people themselves. Others have come in and brought funds. That’s great. We appreciate that. But it’s time now for Indigenous people to lead Indigenous people together and respect one another’s protocols across the Americas and not have people come in between and who have all kinds of different ideologies and political ideas and so forth and separate us.
One of the programs we’re starting is in Lexington. So what happened was that we became very clear that Lexington, Kentucky, was the place to do this. It was interesting. Even though there’s 20 Indigenous nations in Kentucky — that’s where Daniel Boone comes from — there’s none left. And there was even a story going on that they never lived there. I say story, because they were very highly populated there.
The greatest ally Indigenous people ever had in the United States was Martin Luther King. There’s nobody who can compare to Martin Luther King for what he did for Indigenous people. He wrote in 1963 this incredible first of its kind look at what was happening to Native people. So on his holiday weekend we’re bringing 16 of our elders — eight women and eight men — to begin their treatment, and they’ll be there together on that weekend of the 16, 17, and 18th of January that weekend, to open this and celebrate him (Martin Luther King) and honor him and to open the center to make it groundbreaking.
Our elders are great spirits, they’re spiritually powerful. But physically, you know, our bodies are not made for this environment, the Western diet. We have very high energy storage systems, so we could go out and hunt, move quickly, but when you take that system, which can store energy, and then the energy you get is fat, you get diabetes, you get heart illness, you get these kinds of things.
Excellent. Well, that’s very exciting. So this whole initiative is starting with physical health and emotional health and spiritual health.
Chief Phil: And also the mind, because what Western science is understanding about optimizing the brain, it all fits in. What we already know is so amazing. I mean, for instance, we’ve always known about the power of using heat, hot and cold, with sweat lodges. And of course, now they call that contrast therapy. For us it’s having a cold river, and getting to a hot spot, like they call it. But we’ve known this all the time, and so many other things. But also we’re learning — because for us to really understand how the biochemistry works with, you might say, the spiritual dimensions, and how that fits together, just confirms further the truth.
It’s unfolding, but now as we bring science and spirituality together, wow, what a power we’re harnessing — the two most powerful forces in the world of humanity, the spirit or religion and science. And then you bring them together and fuse those, then you have the sum of the parts, which are even more powerful when you bring them together.
Ok, so going back to the project that you’re going to be starting in the Amazon. I read that the vision is to establish a series of globally coordinated and interlinked centers in all essential bioregions of the world, beginning with the Amazon and then spreading to Panama, Mexico, Canada, US and beyond. So can you talk a little bit about your decision to organize it in this way?
Chief Phil: There’s a wonderful, wonderful brother. His name is Douglas Tolchin, and he has begun to produce incredible maps of bioregions. Now, if you think about it, our Indigenous people understood bioregions because that where you have a similar environment; you’ll find tribes similarly dressed with similar systems. So it’s really revisioning the world, because what’s happened is that when colonialism came, they separated us everywhere. So you have every place, every single border across the Americas separates Indigenous people, the original people. So you have borders from Panama to Columbia, from Mexico to Guatemala, from Bolivia to Peru, and all the way down, separating our people.
And so what we’re saying is we have to begin looking at this as bioregions. And each bioregion has unique gifts to see, and in order to understand how to address something you have to understand it within its context or bioregion. So what works for one bioregion is not going to work in another bioregion. So we want to give that distinction and honor to each of the Indigenous people of that bioregion. Now, if we look at how these fires have happened and look at the devastation we see, I think that Indigenous people deserve a right to step up and be allowed to demonstrate how to care for Mother Earth because we’ve been carrying it for all these years. We’ve been the ones standing up and fighting.
Absolutely. And so what will be the purpose of these centers and what will be happening there?
Chief Phil: Well, of course, it’s to promote the research and sharing of all these medicines. This knowledge I talked about at the beginning. And really, we have cures for diabetes, for all kinds of cancers, every kind of disease that pharmacology is constructing, we can address. But we also have the spiritual, emotional and mental dimensions, the medicines that can heal the soul. Sometimes our soul needs healing, but it needs to be done under proper guidance and medical care. That’s what the elders said.
We see it happening today, the most powerful Indigenous medicines — like ayahuasca. It’s a powerful medicine. The thing is, people have to realize that ayahuasca was developed by a relative in the Amazon and other related places and within the language, within the culture, there’s a way to integrate that experience into the overall whole. And it’s all together. So as our cultures have broken down in some places, because of money and our social disintegration, people are exploiting that medicine as well.
But all of a sudden, people are having experiences where they’re serving medicine, and it’s dangerous. I have a spiritual daughter of mine who saw things happen. Somebody stopped breathing. There was a pedophile who ended up there. These medicines have to be used in a proper manner. They’re medicines, they are not for weekend exploration where people can get hurt. So one of the things we’re doing now — it’s not our thing to say to use this or not use this.
Our thing, though, is to protect our medicines. It’s to set standards. So these medicines are not abused, and so that Indigenous people are overseeing the use of all of our medicines we have developed — because that will prevent these kinds of things happening where people get injured and even die. We’ve got to walk the spiritual path with practical feet. We’ve got to know the science — but with spirituality. At the same time, spirituality without reason becomes fanaticism, becomes craziness, you know.
So it seems like the focus is merging the spiritual with the scientific and in the context of health, above all, physical health, spiritual health, and also global health, environmental health, correct?
Chief Phil: Yes.
And in that context, I’d like to take a little aside here, and we’re finding ourselves right now in the middle of a pandemic. What are your thoughts with regard to the Covid virus? Why are we experiencing this right now? And what’s the lesson and how do we avoid another one?
Chief Phil: Well, you know, there is a Lakota concept called Wopila. What it says is we must give thanks under all conditions, at all times, so that everything that comes to us comes for our own spiritual growth and development. So Covid-19 came for that. I think we can see how it really has a lot to teach us for the spiritual dimension.
If we look globally at this issue of how people handle it — now in Thailand where my wife’s from, in the whole city of Bangkok, there’s no Covid-19, because being a Buddhist society, you’re caring about one another, compassion being the important thing there. The minute that it became obvious what would happen, everybody started wearing masks, everybody did what they were supposed to do. They did that and the only way people got infected was from foreigners — and, by the way, the Thais took care of every foreigner, covered every expense, because they’re Buddhist. And even today, there’s no Covid-19 in Thailand because of their spirituality, in oneness.
Yes, I had read about Thailand, and that’s such an important lesson, no? And bringing that back to the Global Center, I see that you’re nominating Jeff Bezos to be a global trustee. What is a global trustee and why Jeff Bezos?
Chief Phil: Well, to clarify, these are just suggestions — but one of our close colleagues set up the Amazon Fund, and we were looking at the fact that his company’s name is Amazon. And since he used that name, he should have a responsibility to support things in the Amazon.
I think with all the money that Amazon’s made during the last, especially during Covid, it would be appropriate and fair. And to be clear, by the way, we have to be careful before we judge people. Everybody has a judgment about this person. We don’t know. And he’s just one possibility.
But this is not about just having resources. Of course, if he stepped in, if we had some resources, there would be nothing that could stop this. By the way, there’s nothing going to stop this anyway. Whether he comes or somebody else comes it’s because the people are rising to their spiritual destiny. And there’s no power in Heaven or Earth that is going to stop this from happening.
And again, you look where the money is currently going, and it’s going to big NGOs. Where are the Indigenous people being represented? We believe there’s a door wide open to do that. The one thing we would ask anybody who would serve as our global trustees is what we asked our doctors, is that they will not in any way, shape or form benefit from this personally or business-wise. They’re there for a higher purpose.
That would be definitely, definitely a game changer if Jeff Bezos decided to get involved and support the Amazon for real. Yes, that’s brilliant. I think it’s brilliant.
Chief Phil: Yes. And it’s also true to support the people directly, to support Indigenous people, to have our dialog between Indigenous people. That’s what’s missing right now. Wherever you find people in between, other people trying to communicate, it doesn’t work, especially when other people have very different cultural values and ways of looking at the world.
Right, right. You have a lot of people that are trying to speak for the Indigenous people, instead of listening to them, right?
Chief Phil: The community is feeling left out. And that’s why they’ve organized like this, because they want to have their own voice. But you see, without all the support of the NGOs, God only knows what would happen, and that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t continue supporting. But it’s got to be able to truly, truly be led by Indigenous people through the union of The Condor, the Quetzal and the Eagle. This is already formed.
That’s a really important point that you just raised. How will this work? In a really meaningful way, with the people at the base?
Chief Phil: Well, we have the founding documents of The Condor, the Quetzal and the Eagle, and within all our documents, you’ll find principles of consultation, you’ll find talking circles, and you’ll find the Council form of organization. All those guidelines have come directly out of Indigenous cultures. And that’s the principle of consultation. These councils are saying that we have to have consultation between those involved.
And so you have the Global Trustees Council, you have the Medicine Council, as we call it, that’s composed of scientists, MDs, and Indigenous people who are practitioners of the Indigenous sciences, and healing processes. Then you have the whole area of permaculture, agronomy and those kinds of things. So in each area there are young people, the seventh generation, that’s another very important dimension. One of the young people, for instance, I think that we will wait and see how things unfold — her name is Lyla June Johnston. Have you heard of Lyla June?
Chief Phil: Well, she was with me. She came down to look at the land with me and so forth. And so she’s actually now really going through the final draft for us and will be going down there to Lexington to look over the land and see the possibility and so forth. So who knows? By January when we announce the winner, we may have a great leader, a young leader, just 29 years old.
You couldn’t do any better. She’s amazing.
Chief Phil:(Referring to Lyla June’s run for political office)This political system, partisan politics, it’s sick. And I appreciate those that can go in there and survive, but we have to take a different path. The Fourth Way, we call it. In the Fourth Way we see it’s a simulation. The first task is to see the simulation and the second is resignation: giving up the alcohol, the drugs, the conflict. Partisan politics, fighting against the others, it doesn’t work, we’ve got broken confidence.. The Fourth Way is a high, spiritual, principle-centered road.
Thank you for mentioning that. I understand that you are the founder of the Four Worlds International Institute, which is dedicated to promoting the Fourth Way. I wanted to ask how you’ve been able to do that in your work.
Chief Phil: I was sharing back in 1982 in a historic meeting of elders — 40 elders came from United States and Canada, and that had never had been held before, not with all these tribes who were formerly tribes that weren’t friends — not that they were organizing armies against each other, but they would steal horses from each other and get into skirmishes. But for this meeting, they all came together.
These elders gave us 16 guiding principles, eventually merged with the United Nations (The 16 Indigenous Guiding Principles were developed and utilized by spiritual elders and leaders from over 40 years of consultation, reconciliation and the bringing together to heal the human family around the world). At that time I was a professor at the University of Lethbridge in Calgary, Alberta.
I served as associate professor there for 16 years, and we received a fair amount of research funds, which we used to develop models for early childhood education. We developed a whole process for addressing alcoholism and drug abuse, and we made videos and films which became well known. And we did a variety of programs every summer. Through the Summer Institute, which we started back in 1989, we did a practice we called Breathwork. We were doing that with hundreds of Indigenous people back in 1989. And so all these things are now popular. We were doing Kundalini yoga back in the early 1990s, too, because we knew we wanted to find the best tools available to us.
Our greatest issue as Indigenous people is our own jealousies, our own greed, which turns into violence, which turns into a terrible treatment of women. This is what we have to look at.
And this is the result of an individual trauma and then lateral violence, when you think you’re a second class citizen. How do you treat people who you think of as second class? You treat them that way. So Indigenous people ourselves, we have to look deep in our heart, truly — because this Earth suit goes pretty darn fast. We’re not our Earth suit, whatever color it is. We’re who we are inside.
That’s who we are, not who we are on the outside. You can put all the stuff you want out there; you can be any color you want. But if your heart, your soul is not devoted to serving the people, then what are we doing? What are we doing judging other people?
Clearly there’s a tremendous amount of healing that needs to be done, which is why these healing centers that you’re setting up are so important. I wanted to ask you a little bit about your training and your academic background. You have a master’s degree in education and public administration, and you’ve been a leader for many years in human and community development. Can you talk about how this background and experience relate to this project?
Brother Phil: One thing that is really important to understand, I think for me, is that the worldview of Indigenous people and that of the European tribes is really very different. The Indigenous languages across the Americas are all verb dominated languages that they see the world as a motion picture.They are deductive languages and that’s why we tell these stories, and we finally get to the details. But the English language has enabled us to develop Western science — we still need the other side or inductive side. These two are different, and yet complementary.
I went to the University of Washington, where I studied a number of things — it was a pre-law education. Eventually I got my master’s in public administration with a specialty in organizational development systems, and then later I got a fellowship to Harvard Business School. They had a summer intensive program, about 80 people in the world, six of us got fellowships and got a chance to really go back and find out that it doesn’t make any difference who you are. It’s not where you’re from. It’s not by some social standards. It’s our heart and our mind that matter — and that was exciting for me.
You mentioned Lyla June and that brings to mind something she’s talked to me about which is the whole challenge of bringing together the Western way of thought with the Indigenous way of thought and the contrast that exists there — and the really true teachings being the more relevant ones that come from our elders and our ancestors. I think that’s all very relevant here.
Brother Phil: And I would say this. There is an old saying that goes: With love and compassion, the clash of opinions ignites the fire of truth. This is a dialog we need to engage in, but with love and respect coming that each of us is a sovereignty, ancient and spiritual questing, and not any of us have all the answers. So we need to come together. This is where the elimination of prejudice needs to come from because the soul has no ethnicity, has no sex, etcetera. The soul is a reflection of the Creator. So once we understand that, then we can have a discussion and talk about these things. And the clash of differing opinions will light the fire of truth and that truth is infinite. So this fire is going to go on forever. But the point is to have the fire — because all of us are learning.