Chiefs Rueben George and Phil Lane Jr. | The Fourth Way

An Indigenous strategy for building sustainable and harmonious prosperity in the Americas and beyond

The Fourth Way is a movement of the Human Family to address the unfolding crisis of the 21st century, a crisis of multiple dimensions that has slowly revealed itself over the years since publishing the first draft of The Fourth Way in 2010. The dimensions and scope of this crisis are unprecedented: it is global and multifaceted, involving the prospect of economic, political, social and ecological chaos. The result of this crisis is the birthing of a fundamental organic change on a level few human beings now contemplate.

The inhabitants of Mother Earth face a choice. Will we emerge from this crisis into a new Golden Age of human understanding and unity, or will we continue to witness greater and greater social conflict, increasing human suffering, the loss of ecological health and democratic society? Until we believe that we can build a New World Civilization, based in the Oneness of the Human Family and all Living Beings, free of inequality, injustice, and abuse of any form, our suffering will continue to deepen!

This transformation of consciousness will prove to be the greatest global challenge experienced by the Human Family since the dawn of recorded human history. It will change the very foundations of modern economics, the nation-state, our social structures, current agricultural and eating practices, religious cooperation and respect, and modern politics.

Conversations with Indigenous leaders across the Americas have provided the following analysis:

  1. Indigenous Peoples are facing grinding poverty and have endured the ongoing suppression of self-development efforts by the governments of the nation states in which they reside, including many Indigenous communities within Canada and the U.S. In some regions around Mother Earth, however, there is hope for change. What will the reaction of the world community be? Will self-development and new leadership be supported, or crushed by violence, assassination or lack of support?
  2. Many Indigenous Peoples see only three options:
  1. AssimilationGiving up our Indigenous identities, history, culture, our spiritual beliefs and our way of life, and become part of the blended homogenous mass.  Some of our people have tried to do this, and most of them have lost their land and remain marginalized, poor and increasingly desperate.
  2. Resignation Accepting powerlessness, poverty, victimization, sickness and despair as our destiny; in other words, giving up.
  3. ResistanceEntering into organized struggles to defend our lands, our families and our lives, and to win concessions from our governments. Resistance can range from non-violent protests to armed struggle and can even include participation in the black market for drugs and weapons.

We believe there is a Fourth Way: empowerment and constructive development – to create organized Indigenous and related social movements focused on promoting the well-being and prosperity of the people and on electing and supporting leaders who are truly responsive to the majority of the people; leaders who will not only improve education, healthcare, infrastructure and economic development, but will also work to create social and political “spaces” within the countries where Indigenous people reside, for true participation in an inclusive and equitable project of rebuilding nations.

This approach is not merely political in nature.  It also implies a systematic reclamation and recovery of Indigenous cultural foundations, identity and language, and the re-anchoring of social, economic and political change in the spiritual and cultural values and traditional knowledge at the heart of Indigenous cultures. This approach in no way implies a retreat into the historical past, but rather is an active engagement in the challenge of shaping the future of nations within the framework of life-preserving, life-enhancing, and sustainable values and patterns of action in harmony with all members of the human family.

The Fourth Way outlines how Indigenous Peoples can return to their roots and in the process contribute to the survival of our Human Family and to the protection, health, and restoration of our Mother Earth. We must relearn the contributions Indigenous Peoples have made to human health and prosperity, to cooperative human social institutions, democratic governance, and human dignity and equality so that we can apply those lessons to the crisis at hand. We must re-learn to tools of human survival through cooperative effort, partnership, trust, and reciprocity. So let us review some of this history.

Our debts to Indigenous leadership

After a 500-year-long winter of loss and grieving it is now time for the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth to awaken and help lead us through the struggles ahead. Our winter was introduced by a “great die-off” of 90%-95% of all Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, mostly as the result of European diseases, which killed us before we ever saw a European.

Charles Mann, in his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, quotes scholars who believe that 80-100 million Indigenous Peoples perished from disease by the mid-1600s, a catastrophe even greater than the “black deaths” in Europe. Many more died afterward as the direct result of hostile colonial policies. Thus, Indigenous Peoples have been subjected to profound challenges resulting from intergenerational trauma, the loss of identity and culture, and have experienced great poverty and abuse. Indigenous people need to reclaim their cultures, values, and traditions and to take advantage of collective material resources to play a key role in humanity’s advancement—thus fulfilling their highest potential.

History shows that Indigenous Peoples made important contributions to the Human Family before the devastation of our long-foretold, great spiritual wintertime. For example, 85% of the foods we eat each day throughout Mother Earth were developed and cultivated by Indigenous agronomists in the Americas before the European conquest. The development of many of these foods represented remarkable scientific accomplishments. Europeans used these new foods to improve health and nutrition, leading to a population explosion throughout Europe, especially in Ireland and Scotland, ultimately increasing the number of colonists in the New World. These foods include potatoes, corn, peanuts, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, chocolate, and many types of beans, berries, and fruits.

Further, tobacco, sugar cane, and rubber were developed in the Americas and had a profound impact on global economic growth, as did the North American fur trade. Indigenous agronomists developed a form of cotton that had longer fibers and made weaving cloth much easier. Europeans had previously worn mostly linen and wool. Indigenous weavers wove some of the finest cotton cloth available anywhere and wore these colorful clothes every day. Many of the great fortunes of Europe and their colonies and the leisurely cultured lives of the economic elite were based on these Indigenous products and on black slavery. (See Jack Weatherford, Native Roots, Indian Givers.)

The gold and silver of the Americas increased the supply of money and led to great fortunes throughout Europe. The discovery of an island off the coast of Ecuador with hundreds of feet of compacted bird droppings fertilized the crops of Europe until the development of petroleum-based fertilizers. The bounty of foods, timber, minerals, fertile land, and the oil and gas found throughout the Americas truly made the developed world we see today.

Indigenous Peoples gave the world its first view of human freedom. While most assume that Indigenous Peoples of North America adapted to the colonists, the facts show that, at least in the beginning in North America, the adaptation went the other way and fused into a unique “Americanism.”  As Ian Fraizer notes in his book, On the Rez, “When Columbus landed, there were about eleven people in Europe who could do whatever they felt like doing.” In many parts of the Americas, however, tens of millions of Indigenous Peoples customarily lived as they pleased via the Indigenous Legal Order. The colonists saw this and concluded that if Indigenous Peoples lived in freedom “no tyranny can hold us.” Everyday examples of individual freedom among the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas inspired writers throughout Europe and helped spur the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions. These writers included Rousseau, John Locke, Thomas Moore, Voltaire, Jefferson and even Shakespeare. (See Jose Barreiro, Indian Roots of American Democracy.) Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington all spoke Mohawk and had ongoing dialogues with the Iroquois Confederacy.

Members of the Iroquois Confederacy attended extensive meetings with the colonists in the years before the American Revolution and advised unity based on a system of self- government similar to the Confederacy that ruled the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois Confederacy lasted for centuries, keeping the peace across a broad swath of North America and was a fundamental influence in the manifestation of the federal system adopted by the United States and the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

In many nations women were well-respected and exercised real power. In some cases, tribal societies were matriarchal. Most tribes were egalitarian and accepted each tribal member for the contributions each could make to the welfare of the tribe. Even highly specialized civilizations like the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans, despite some of the perceived excesses of these cultures, offered better nutrition, hygiene, and a better standard of living than did any European society. The largest and most prosperous cities in the world were found in the Americas during much of early history.

Europeans were amazed at the bounty of available foods and at the fact that many Indigenous Peoples were taller and healthier than most Europeans. Many Indigenous Peoples learned to use such bounty in an egalitarian and sustainable way. The Iquitos area of the northern Peruvian Amazon is still considered one of the most bio-diverse regions of the world. In 1542, explorer Francisco de Orellana remarked that there was enough food in one village to feed an army of a thousand for one year. This abundance of food was found throughout the Americas, but has since been lost and replaced by the non-sustainable agricultural practices and mono-cropping techniques that characterize modern farming. This has led to the loss of knowledge of the techniques of permaculture that served Indigenous Peoples for centuries. Now, most Indigenous Peoples suffer from levels of malnutrition and chronic disease that were unknown before colonization. All of this will be reversed by a revival of the farming and permaculture techniques pioneered by Indigenous Peoples.

One example of sustainable farming technology was the development of “terra preta,” or “Indian dark earth” by Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon.  This ingenious combination of partially combusted organic material (a form of charcoal) with pottery shards stimulated microfauna and created high levels of microbial biomass, dramatically increasing soil fertility and allowing the soil to be worked for years with minimal fertilization. The Kayapo in central Amazonia continue to create terra preta today.  Instead of destroying soil fertility, Indigenous People learned how to improve the soil in a sustainable way, something that modern humans have not yet learned to do. In fact, it is now thought that much of the Amazon basin was one huge permaculture, providing a variety of healthy sustainable food—all owing to the genius of the Indigenous population that had learned to work with, and not against, Mother Earth. (Charles C. Mann, 1491.)

The Fourth Way will renew this tradition of working with Mother Nature in a way that benefits all members of the Human Family.

The choice is ours at the crossroads

The Human Family is at a crossroad facing diverging paths. On one side lays the path of continuing conflict, militarism, economic insecurity, and war; on the other, a sacred path leading to mutual understanding, cooperation and sustainable, harmonious prosperity. “We,” the likeminded Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth, offer the Fourth Way based on the conviction that Indigenous Peoples, in the fullest sense of our understanding, have the vision, the guiding principles, the values, the growing capacity, and the collective resources to co-create a peaceful and harmonious future for our children and grandchildren. We submit that our Indigenous Peoples who care for Mother Earth and all living beings hold an important key to peace, security and sustainable well-being for all members of the Human Family.

The implementation of the Fourth Way requires each individual to look at the world around us in a new way. We are accustomed to seeing the world through a prism uniquely anchored in our own background, experience, and to the narrative or founding “myth” of our Indigenous land or group. We are especially bound by religious belief and tradition. We must learn to respect both religious belief and religious differences. The Fourth Way respects all forms of religious belief, but also respects freedom of conscience. We must learn to widen our prism to see and understand more than we did before, to see ourselves as others see us, and to see the issues we face from differing points of view.  In the end we must come to understand the true meaning of Black Elk’s vision, that despite our differences, we are in fact, all related.

The Guiding Principles for building a harmonious and sustainable world

The 16 principles for building a harmonious and sustainable world emerged from an extensive process of consultation with Indigenous spiritual, cultural and community leaders spanning more than four decades. They are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of aboriginal elders and leaders and thinkers, as well as in the best thinking of many non-aboriginal scholars, researchers and human and community development practitioners.

This consultation process began with an historic gathering that took place during the closing days of December 1982, on the high plains of southern Alberta. This gathering of 40 traditional elders and community leaders came together to find a solution to the terrible darkness of substance abuse, poverty, suffering and death that seemed to have engulfed nearly every Indigenous community in Canada and the United States, and to share Indigenous visions and prophecies of the future.

These guiding principles constitute the foundation for the process of healing and developing ourselves (mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually), our human relationships (personal, social, political, economic, and cultural), and our relationship with Mother Earth. They describe the way we must work and what we must protect and cherish.

We offer these principles as a gift to all who seek to build a sustainable and harmonious world community. It is important to note that these principles have been tested and reviewed by many Indigenous (and other) communities, and have been found to be an effective guide for positive transformational processes. A principle is not a recipe, however; it is a statement of fundamental truth. It describes the nature of things as they are, what is basic or essential, what works and what doesn’t, what must be included, and what cannot be left out. These principles reflect the experiences and distilled wisdom of hundreds of communities and Indigenous nations as they struggle to heal themselves and develop a sustainable and harmonious pattern of life.

Nevertheless, these principles, as with all life, are in draft. They are not the last word. We have certainly not learned all that we have to learn. New guiding principles will emerge, and new insights about the meaning of the guiding principles we already know will come to light. Consider this an invitation to dialogue.

Starting from within

Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal and develop ourselves, our relationships, and our world. (This sentence summarizes the 16 principles.)

  1. Human beings can transform their worlds

The web of our relationships with others and the natural world, which has given rise to the problems we face as a human family, can be changed.

  1. Development comes from within

The process of human and community development unfolds from within each person, relationship, family organization, community or nation.

  1. No vision, no development

If the people have no vision of human possibility other than the one in which they find themselves, they cannot heal themselves, they cannot develop and, ultimately, they cannot survive. Culture is the mother of vision. Developing people need to rediscover the life-preserving, life-enhancing values and insights of their own traditional experience. A vision of whom we can become and what a sustainable world would be like works as a powerful magnet, drawing us to our potential.

  1. Healing is a necessary part of development

Healing the past, closing up old wounds, and learning healthy habits of thought and action to replace dysfunctional thinking and disruptive patterns of human relations are a necessary part of the process of sustainable development.

Working in a circle

  1. Interconnectedness

Everything is connected to everything else; therefore, any aspect of our healing and development is related to all the others (personal, social, cultural, political, economic, etc.).  When we work on any one part, the whole circle is affected.

  1. No unity, no development

Unity means oneness. Without unity, the common oneness that makes (seemingly) separate human beings into “community” is impossible. Disunity is the primary disease of community.

  1. No participation, no development

Participation is the active engagement of the minds, hearts and energy of the people in the process of their own healing and development.

  1. Justice

Every person (regardless of gender, race, age, culture, religion, sexual orientation) must be accorded equal opportunity to participate in the process of healing and development and to receive a fair share of the benefits.

In a sacred manner

  1. Spirit

 Human beings are both material and spiritual in nature. It is therefore inconceivable that human community could become whole and sustainable without bringing our lives into balance with the requirements of our spiritual nature.

  1. Morals and Ethics

Sustainable human and community development requires a moral foundation centered in the wisdom of the heart. With the loss of this foundation, morals and ethical principles decline and development stops.

  1. The hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honor of one is the honor of all

The basic fact of our oneness as a human family means that development for some at the expense of well-being for others is not acceptable or sustainable.

  1. Authentic development is culturally based

Healing and development must be rooted in the wisdom, knowledge and living processes of the culture of the people.

We heal and develop ourselves, our relationships, and our world

  1. Learning

Human beings are learning beings. We begin learning while we are still in our mother’s wombs, and unless something happens to close off our minds and paralyze our capacities, we keep learning throughout our entire lives. Learning is at the core of healing and development.

  1. Sustainability

To sustain something means to enable it to continue for a long time. Authentic development does not use up or undermine what it needs to keep on going.

  1. Move to the positive

Solving the critical problems in our lives and communities is best approached by visualizing and moving into the positive alternative that we wish to create, and by building on the strengths we already have, rather than on giving away our energy fighting the negative.

  1. Be the change you want to see

The most powerful strategies for change always involve positive role modeling and the creation of living examples of the solutions we are proposing. By walking the path, we make the path visible.

Indigenous leaders have noted that those Indigenous groups that take up arms get a great deal of attention. It still remains to be seen whether or not those who participate politically and win elections will achieve anything. If not, armed struggle will be all that is left.

This active participation not only has implications for Indigenous communities, but also for the rest of the Hemisphere’s marginalized poor, many of whom have Indigenous roots and are increasingly identifying with their Indigenous backgrounds. These relatives have significant cultural, spiritual, economic and political contributions to make in implementing and developing the Fourth Way strategy across the Americas.

Implementing the Fourth Way

In the work of Four Worlds across the Americas over the years, we have had the opportunity to sit in community-level meetings with thousands of Indigenous people and their leadership from many different tribes and nations. What we have seen and heard in these meetings is the same consistent message:

  1. The vast majority of Indigenous peoples want what most people everywhere on Mother Earth want: peace, freedom from poverty and disease, an end to oppression, a respect for their cultures, languages, and Mother Earth, a reasonable level of sustainable prosperity and well-being for their families and communities, access to education (including higher education), opportunities to sustainably and harmoniously participate in the global economy, and a meaningful voice in shaping the policies, programs and conditions that impact their lives.
  2. Governments and the people who have held the reins of political and economic power in their countries often present a stone wall of ignorance, prejudice and greed, with no significant will to understand the appalling realities and conditions of Indigenous peoples and no real awareness that their own wealth production activities (in oil, gas, agriculture, forestry, mining, etc.) are, at best, cutting Indigenous people out of any opportunity for economic advancement, and, at worst, setting into motion environmental, economic, political and social forces that are directly destroying the lives of Indigenous communities. With new leadership coming to power across the hemisphere, it is important that political change be carefully channeled to achieve positive outcomes.
  3. As viewed through the eyes of many Indigenous people, the forces of globalization centered in the institutions and programs of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and large transnational corporations, and manifested in many so-called aid and development programs (which also seem to be driven by the policies of the wealthy and powerful), are perpetuating intolerable conditions for Indigenous people. This perception continues despite the supposed efforts of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to increase their focus on the role of spirituality and culture in development.
  4. Indigenous people are increasingly becoming organized and politicized in their efforts to pressure governments and international institutions for change. Their organizations and movements are powerful enough to directly challenge and destroy the legitimacy and power of some governments. Indigenous people have been successful recently in electing leaders who have pledged their support for changing this pattern. Will these new government leaders be successful? As governments elected with Indigenous participation and leadership take power it is critical that they succeed, and that the movement of harmonious constructive development through spiritual empowerment spread across the Americas. Indigenous people are asking: what will be the response of the developed world to these new political movements? Will they be supported, or undermined and opposed? Will we see constructive engagement and development or a new cycle of militarization, assassinations and military coups?

Despite the challenges, there is a spiritual awakening occurring throughout the Indigenous world, whose peoples share a mosaic of prophecies that after a long wintertime of suffering, a new spiritual springtime will emerge for Indigenous tribes and peoples, which will lead to a spiritual awakening among other members of the Human Family around the world.

As this awakening progresses, a powerful new spirit and energy is being released within the Indigenous world. This empowering spirit has its roots in the Indigenous peoples’ strong belief in the promises of ultimate justice and renewal found within Indigenous prophecies. This growing, animating, dynamic, and empowering spirit can be directed towards rapidly and systematically building a new world civilization, beginning in the Americas. This development should be welcomed, as this Indigenous awakening and renewal will benefit the entire Human Family by helping to usher in an era of global peace prosperity and well-being.

The Fourth Way entails the following lines of action: 

  1. Constructive diplomatic work,both from the top down and from the bottom up, to empower Indigenous people and to assist governments and national and international institutions to make critical policy and program shifts that will help to create an environment for viable partnerships between Indigenous Peoples across the hemisphere and between Indigenous People and the governments of the countries in which they reside. This diplomatic work would, as well, assist Indigenous leaders to move past feelings of mistrust and suspicion, and into a process of consultation leading to constructive partnerships.

What is needed are new strategic initiatives that will allow Indigenous people to contribute to and receive a just share of the wealth of the nation states in which they reside, but which also do not require those now in positions of wealth and power to feel that they will lose everything.  The guiding principle of these strategic initiatives should be harmonizing the extremes of wealth and poverty. We see each government’s diplomatic corps playing a critical role in this aspect of the work, in partnership with specialists in Indigenous peoples’ development.

  1. Partnership building
  2. a) Inter-Indigenous partnerships between Indigenous people and nations across the Americas for mutual assistance in development, economic cooperation, and educational activities. These partnerships should include exchange programs in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish through the creation of language institutes (especially for young people); as well as scholarships and internships focused on building Indigenous capacity and developing Indigenous leadership necessary to implement the Fourth Way;
  3. b) Indigenous to government partnerships between Indigenous people and the governments of the countries in which they reside, aimed at giving Indigenous people a real voice in shaping the policies and programs that impact them. These partnerships must ultimately result in significant improvements in the social and economic life of the Indigenous communities;
  4. c) Indigenous institutions and international development agency partnerships focused on various aspects of development assistance and capacity building;
  5. d) Expanded partnerships between newly elected Indigenous leadership and the governments they now control and the governments of Canada and the U.S. These must include direct support and assistance in advancing development objectives, diffusing conflict and violence, and stopping militarization, assassinations and military coups.
  6. e) North-South Indigenous Peoples partnerships between Indigenous Peoples in the north (Canada and the United States) and their counterparts in the south, to allow for the sharing of knowledge, capacity, and resources for mutual aid, trade and development.

III.       The creation of effective participatory governance institutions and mechanisms through which Indigenous people can negotiate constructively with governments and the business community to address their ongoing needs and concerns, and through which they can manage and direct their own development programs and processes.

  1. Targeted and sustained development assistance to support comprehensive social and economic development programs in the heart of Indigenous nations, focusing on such critical issues as education, social and economic development, leadership, governance and institution building, and civil society.  The focus should also be on strengthening, food production and food security, business and enterprise development, sustainable environment and resource management, primary health care, cultural revitalization, and building and preserving a culturally appropriate social safety net.  This targeted aid must be sustained for at least a decade, as capacity is built and a self-sustaining process of development is fostered.

In essence, the Fourth Way (a pathway that moves beyond assimilation, resignation and resistance to actual empowerment) works towards Indigenous nation-building and development and occurs within a context of cooperation and partnership with government, business, and civil society, as well as within the legal framework of each nation state within which Indigenous peoples reside.

Is this realistic?

Twenty years ago, such a proposal might have seemed fanciful outside the context of Indigenous communities, but events in New York, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Russia, Georgia, Palestine, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, the European Union and many other places have overtaken us, and made it crystal clear that the disempowered and impoverished masses can no longer be ignored in the process of doing business and running countries.

At this stage in history, no country in the Americas can afford to continue doing “business as usual.” The ecological and cultural risks are simply too great. While it is true that the shifts required in a Fourth Way approach will not be without costs, the costs of failing to invest in Indigenous Peoples’ development and other “marginalized poor” communities will be very great indeed and hold the potential to destabilize entire societies.

The Fourth Way strategy and analysis respects human dignity, calls for the empowerment of peoples, and comprises a framework for action that can be implemented anywhere in the world where sustainable development and nation-building constitute critical lines of action in diffusing terror, violence and poverty, and foster conditions that lead to constructive development, spiritual empowerment, social justice and economic prosperity.


Ending terror and violence cannot be accomplished by military means, especially when so many wars are focused on the unjust extraction of resources. We must also assist in empowering peoples to achieve a socially just and reasonable measure of well-being and prosperity in their lives. Recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan show that a heavy-handed military “solution” has made these situations much more difficult to resolve. Indeed much of what is needed to eliminate the scourge of terror and violence from the face of our Mother Earth is related to empowering the Human Family to become engaged in constructive processes of change, and in implementing processes of harmonious development and social and economic justice to the dispossessed–including the poorest in every region on Mother Earth.

The Fourth Way is not merely a strategic option or an alternative path for Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (as well as Human Beings elsewhere in the world) to take. It is the only option leading to sustainable peace and prosperity, and it is therefore an essential component in the struggle to end the scourges of violence and poverty.

This strategy can be selectively employed in other areas of the world where the pressure of prolonged social and economic injustice and poverty have greatly increased the susceptibility of those populations to desperate and extreme measures, including terror and violence.

At this uncertain crossroads in human history, Indigenous Peoples and their Allies have a unique and powerful role to play as champions of peacemaking and sustainable development.

We submit that the Fourth Way is a strategic security initiative, offering that Indigenous Peoples provide the spiritual and practical leadership to support the transformation of frustration, violence, hopelessness, and poverty into sustainable and harmonious processes of constructive development, initially in the Americas and as well as around the world.

It is clear our Indigenous Peoples and Allies are moving forward in rebuilding and reunifying the Americas and beyond, through the natural laws and guiding principles that are inherent in our Indigenous worldview and legal order on an eternal and spiritual enduring foundation.

We are now and are destined in the future to play a greater role as key global leaders in wisely mandating the sustainable and harmonious ways in which Mother Earth’s gifts and resources will–or will not–be developed! We will ensure that when the development of natural resources of Mother Earth is unsustainable, no matter how much profit is to be made, they will not be developed!

With the realization of this spiritual and cultural foundation for prayerful, wise and unified action, all that is needed for our ultimate victory will gracefully and assuredly unfold at the right times and places, as foretold by our Ancient Ones.

With Warm and Loving Greetings and our Heartfelt Thanksgiving to all the many Relatives who contributed to the articulation and vision of the Fourth Way!

This essay was originally published on The Four Worlds International website, created and maintained by Chief Phil Lane Jr. Excerpted and used with permission.

Sun Dance Chief Rueben George is an Indigenous community organizer and spiritual leader and director of community development, Tsleil-­‐Waututh Nation. The grandson of Chief Dan George, the Oscar-nominated and universally respected First Nations spiritual leader, Rueben started his career by founding Dukes Youth Healing Centre 20 years ago. Based on the teachings of his Elders, Rueben created a reference library of successful psychological healing programs and translated them into First Nation culture and spirituality. As well as being a Sundance Chief Pipe Carrier and Sweat Lodge leader, Rueben is an active participant in his Coast Salish Winter Spirit Dancing Ceremony. He has worked across Canada and the United States facilitating workshops on healing and wellness. He is currently a leader of Native and other opposition to the Kinder Morgan Tar Sands pipeline. He is pictured standing in blue, next to Chief Phil Lane, Jr., in red, in the photo above.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane, Jr., is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations and a citizen of both Canada and the United States. Holding master’s degrees in education and public administration, he is an internationally recognized Indigenous leader in human and community development. The founder and chairman of the Four Worlds International Institute (FWII), an organization dedicated to “unifying the human family through the Fourth Way,” he is the recipient of many awards, including the John Denver Windstar Award, and is a frequent speaker on behalf of indigenous rights and wisdom. He has spent the greater part of his life building alliances, especially with Native peoples in both of the Americas in fulfillment of native prophecies concerning the reunification of the “Eagle and The Condor.” He can be reached at

Photo courtesy of Phil Lane, Jr.

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