Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Other Cultural Concepts


We cannot talk about the way of being in the world without knowledge of and access to all the levels of the total person – i.e., the whole person – body, mind, heart and spirit.  The intelligence of the mind, for instance, does not operate to its fullest creative, discriminating, and encompassing potential without its active partnership with the intelligence of the heart.  Our way of being as an Indigenous person is only and always understood by recognizing our connectedness and relationship with everything else.

Making A Connection

We can connect with our Native culture in many ways.

For example, we can spiritually connect with culture by offering prayer or participating in a ceremony.

To emotionally connect with culture, we can start a relationship with the living world, including plants and animals.

Learning and thinking about Creation stories allows us to mentally connect with culture.

We can physically connect with culture by touching the land and thanking Mother Earth for her gifts.

Spiritual – Our spirit is at the centre of our being and wants us to live life to the fullest. We connect with our spirit by learning about our identity as a Native person. There is a beautiful story about how the Creator gave us our identity. When we connect with our identity, we have hope for the future.

Emotional – Our hearts are filled with so many emotions, such as love, sadness and happiness.  Family and community are important. So is our relationship with other living beings, such as animals and plants. We feel well when we have connections to people, land and Creation in our lives.

Mental – We use our mind to think and learn. The mind is also capable of intuitive thought. That means we need to listen to our spirit because our spirit nurtures our understanding about the meaning of life through intuition.

Physical – We use our bodies to move and live life. Our body is the house for our spirit. Living life with purpose and on purpose needs a healthy body.

The Importance of Identity

According to one of our respected Elders and teachers, one’s identity is determined by:

  • Relationship and bloodline connection to ancestors all the way back
  • Clan and clan relationship(s)
  • Spirit name
  • Connection to place (of origin)
  • Consciousness of one’s place in the world – personal connection to story of origin
  • Recognition of inherent talents (gifts)
  • Ability to communicate in one’s original language
  • Embracing one’s Indigenous connection, self-acceptance, and pride
  • Sense of belonging – one’s connection to a story, a history, and a greater family.

Where do you see yourself in these concepts? How does your identity support your understanding of culture and connection?

(Elder Jim Dumont The Indigenous Worldview-Primary concepts, Indigenous Psychology paper)

From (Jim Dumont Indigenous Psychology paper)

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