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Four Worlds International Institute 
for Human and Community Development
347 Fairmont Boulevard
Lethbridge, Alberta
T1K 3K1 Canada
Telephone: (403)-320-7144 Fax: (403) 329-8383

Presented by Phil Lane, Jr., International Coordinator of the Four Worlds International Institute for Human and Community Development to Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar and the World Commission On culture and Development, at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City, April 1996

Phil Lane Jr, and the Former President of the United Nations Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar


"Respected Friends and Relatives,

It is my hope that you and the many loved ones who surround you are in the very best of health and happiness.

With the heartfelt understanding that each one of us is the spiritual representative of all those beloved relatives who have gone before us, I have complete faith that we will be able to build a new world civilization. Drawing on this collective consciousness of countless previous generations, we have the divine capacity to resolve and heal all past grief and hatred while building a new world that will fully realize the vast potential of the human family, both individually and collectively.

We are living in the days of the fulfillment of ancient sacred prophecies. An Elder once told me, "Grandson, the longest road you will ever have to walk in your life is the sacred journey from your head to your heart." Another wise Elder said, "We will never solve the many critical and life threatening issues before us solely through the intellect, for every problem the intellect solves, it creates ten more." Unto itself the intellect is a sacred gift of the Creator, but equally, without an open, visionary and creative heart there is no wisdom. Both the mind and heart are sacred. Both are inseparably connected. Countless centuries before, our ancient tribal prophecies clearly spoke of the day that is now unfolding before us. It is toward the vision of establishing a new world civilization founded in spiritual principles and values that I wish to speak to you, to share with you the innermost feelings and thoughts of my heart and mind.

In December 1982, on the high plains of Alberta, forty wise, respected and dedicated elders, spiritual leaders and community members from different tribal societies across North America came together for four days and nights of in-depth purposeful consultation. Our common purpose was to develop a model of human and community development, inspired and guided by organizing principles, values, strategies and processes of sustainable change, healing and development rooted deep in the natural laws that are at the inmost heart and core of tribal cultures throughout Mother Earth. Through this prayerful, elder-guided, consultation process emerged the spiritual guidance, understanding, wisdom, strength, vision and faith that the tribal people of North America that chose and were committed to do so, had the potential to develop sustainable, healthy, creative and spiritually balanced communities free of alcoholism and drug abuse by the year 2000.

From this humble beginning, perfectly synchronized with a full eclipse of the moon, and empowered, guided and sustained by an ever-deepening understanding of the natural laws, prophecies, spiritual values, wisdom and prayers formally shared with us over the past twelve years by the many tribal elders, who have so patiently and faithfully assisted our humble efforts, we have steadfastly continued our healing journey toward the year 2000.

With the unfailing guidance and assistance from those beloved elders that are walking the path before us, it has become very clear that the long spiritual wintertime of our tribal peoples is over and the long-awaited springtime is unfolding, slowly, but steadily with every-increasing beauty and healing in every direction. It is, also, very clear that as we heal ourselves and our communities that tribal peoples will have a greater and greater role to play in the positive unfolding of this dynamic change throughout Mother Earth.

Before outlining the key guiding principles that have emerged from this ongoing consultative process of this past twelve years, it is important that we reflect briefly about those most pressing challenges before us that must be addressed if we are to survive as noble, just, compassionate, truthful and forgiving human beings and societies.

(1) Environmental destruction is increasing throughout our planet. Along with that destruction, indigenous populations are rapidly disappearing. Unless there is a dramatic change in our actions towards our sacred Mother Earth, humanity’s ultimate survival is more than doubtful. During the early years of North American’s "new" ecological consciousness, my grandfather had a conversation with an old friend while visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He asked my grandfather to explain to him what ecology was all about. "Well" my grandfather said, "you know we have these educational institutions now where you can go to study books, and talk and learn about life. Some people attend these institutions for many, many years. After they have read enough books, written about what they have read about, and talked about what they have written about, they become doctors of life. These doctors then get jobs where they earn a lot of money, so they can talk and study more. They have machines that look at things that are real small and make them look big, and other machines that look at things far away and make them look close. They even put different materials in containers and pour them back and forth so they can find out more about Mother Earth. Anyway, they have spent great amounts of money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years and they have recently made a new discovery. They found out that everything is interrelated. They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and pollute the water which all living things drink, you pollute all living things. What do you think about that?"

The old man smiled knowingly and shook his head. "I was wondering when they would get around to that! Just look at what we do to our Mother Earth. We cut her hair where it should not be cut and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up." He then looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather and shook his finger. "And what would happen if you did that to your mother? She would die! And this is exactly what is going to happen to all of us if we do not learn to respect and understand the spirit and teachings of our sacred Mother."

(2) Along with the dramatic increase in, environmental destruction, natural disasters are synergistically and simultaneously increasing everywhere on Mother Earth. These natural disasters include; earth quakes, droughts, hurricanes, weather changes, incurable diseases, air, soil and water pollution, floods, tornadoes, insect infestations, and the destruction of the ozone layer and polar ice caps. The Western medical complex is just beginning to realize that their world-wide war on disease is failing on many fronts. Super drugs have created super diseases that are beginning to break through every line of defense that has been created by Western Science, with little hope that more expensive and powerful drugs will prevent these super diseases from having rapid, deadly, widespread global impact. In their desperation to find new "cures", the Western medical complex is currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research plants and herbs that were developed and utilized for countless centuries by Indigenous science systems in an effort to find alternative ways to deal with these new, deadly, human-created strains of disease.

(3) The world’s population is increasing by more than 92,000,000 human beings every year. In fact, if every human being who now lives on Mother Earth were able to experience the average economic status found in middle income homes in North America, we would need two more entire planets. Until we thoroughly understand the true meaning of respect for all life, and the sacredness of the relationship between woman and man, we will continue to move towards worldwide disaster.

(4) Global economic competition is increasing. The current world economic system is completely out of control despite the best efforts of our nation states. Instead of sovereignty in its truest meaning, financial institutions of this world are unwisely attempting to manipulate and control our economic and social destiny for selfish purposes. For instance the stock markets of the world are increasingly de-stabilized by financial speculators whose primary motive appears to be the unquenchable thirst for material riches at whatever the cost to future generations. More economic theories and external controls will not solve this ever deepening crisis. Only when our hearts experience the divine reality that there is only one race, the human race, and that all Mother Earth is the common spiritual heritage of all beings, will we be able to develop economic systems that are life preserving and life sustaining. As a wise Elder once told me, whenever we make economic gain on the weakness of others or unfairly exploit others for our own selfish purposes, we will pay a very high price. In essence, the hurt of one is the hurt of all, and the honour of one is the honour of all.

(5) The social and cultural disintegration of human beings and their communities is increasing with every passing hour. Divorce, child sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, family violence, abuse of women, violent crimes, suicide and other distinct signs of our every increasing human sickness are as clear to see as the midday sun. Only when we are able to understand and embrace one another as sisters and brothers will we have an everlasting foundation for rebuilding our communities and the world.

As one of my grandfathers said to me, "You know grandson, the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, has given all people wisdom. To every living thing he has given something special. Some people receive their knowledge and understanding through books. In your life grandson, you too must read and study books, but remember to take with you on your journey only those things that bring more unity within yourself and others, that bring goodness and understanding and help us to serve one another in better ways. Wakan Tanka also gave our Native people, and all other people who live close to Mother Earth, wisdom and knowledge through dreams, visions, fasting, prayer, and the ability to see the lessons the creator has put in every part of creation. Look at those trees standing over there; the alder does not tell the pine tree to move over; the pine does not tell the fir tree to move over; each tree stands there in unity, with their mouth pressed toward the same Mother Earth, refreshed by the same breeze, warmed by the same sum, with their arms upraised in prayer and thanksgiving, protecting one another. If we are to have peace in the world, we too must learn to live like those trees. Look, grandson, at the beautiful teachings the Creator has put in the little stream. Feel that water and see how gently and lovingly it touches your hands. It travels through deserts and mountains and many places, but it never turns its back on anyone or anything. Eventhough it gives life to all living things, it is very humble, for it always seeks the very lowest spot. But is has great faith, power and patience for even if a mountain stands in its path, it keeps moving and moving until finally that mountain is washed into sea and is no more. These are spiritual gifts that the Creator has given each one of us and if we are to be happy within ourselves and with one another, we too must develop these sacred gifts."

(6) As the old world order becomes increasingly unstable, governments, in an effort to try and control the social and political disintegration process are increasingly violating human rights. As these abuses increase, an ever greater number of people will react to them with greater violence; acts of violence not only against governments but between ethnic and racial groups as well. The spiritual reality is that the old world order is no longer able to meet the needs of the peoples of Mother Earth. Only by providing positive alternatives to the destructive and inharmonious patterns of living will we be able to rebuild our families and communities. Without love and forgiveness for ourselves and others we will be unable to heal the age old fear, mistrust, greed, selfishness and hatred that is destroying the innermost heart of the human family. External control and repression of the human spirit will not end the devastation of our worldwide social order. Only self discipline and penetrating vision in the service of the Creator, others and ourselves, will enable us to be victorious over all the abuse of the human spirit that surround every human being and every human community.

(7) As governments become more rigid, abusive and uncompromising in a last ditch effort to save the disintegrating institutions of the old world order, terrorism and random acts of violence will increase dramatically. This movement of disintegration will continue until the ancient teachings found at the heart of all living cultures and spiritual traditions that teach us how to live in harmony and balance with all life are once again alive. We have a critical decision before us. Will we continue to walk the path of hatred and revenge or will we choose to walk the path of healing? Each has their clear consequences. As the spiritual greatness of our tribal peoples returns with greater and greater strength, it is clear to see that we are choosing the sacred path of healing, the path foretold in our ancient prophecies.

Not only is each one of these seven challenges monumental in themselves, but it is very clear to see that we are approaching a global catastrophe as the crossroads at which they all meet is coming rapidly into view. It will take bold, courageous, unified and selfless action to avert such destruction; the choice to do so is ours, and that decision is ultimately a spiritual one.

These sixteen principles for building a sustainable world community emerged from a twelve year process of reflection, consultation and action within tribal communities across North America. They are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of aboriginal elders and leaders, as well as in the best thinking of many non-aboriginal scholars, researchers, and human and community development practitioners. These principles describe the way we must work together, and what we must protect and cherish. We offer then as a gift to all those who seek to build a sustainable world, and as a foundation for a worldwide consultation process.

We speak as one, guided by the sacred teachings and spiritual traditions of the Four Directions that uplift, guide, protect, warn, inspire and challenge the entire human family to live in ways that sustain and enhance human life and the life of all who dwell on Mother Earth, and hereby dedicate our lives and energies to healing and developing ourselves, the web of relationships that make our world, and the way we live with Mother Earth.


"Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal ourselves, our relationships and our world".


Development Comes From Within

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

Vision (link to picture)

A vision of who we can becomes is like a magnet drawing us to our potential. Where there is no vision, there can be no development.

Culturally Based

Healing and development must be rooted in the wisdom, knowledge and living processes of our cultures.


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


Personal growth and healing and the healing and development of our families and communities must go hand in hand.

Working at one level of development without attending to the other is not enough. Personal and social development as well as top-down and bottom-up approaches must be balanced.


We need the love, support and caring of others to heal and develop ourselves. Unity is the starting point for development, and as development unfolds, unity deepens.


People have to be actively engaged in the process of their own healing and development. Without participation, there can be no development.


Every person must be treated with respected as a human being and a child of the Creator, regardless of gender, race, culture, religion or any other reason. Everyone should be accorded the opportunity to fully participate in the processes of healing and development, and to receive a share of the benefits.



Spirituality is at the heart of healing and development. Connection with the Creator brings life, unity, love and purpose to the process, and is expressed through a heart-centred approach to all that we do.

Harmonizing With Natural Law

Growth is a process of uncovering who we truly are as human beings in harmony with the natural laws of the Universe.

Walking In Balance

Codes or morality, ethics and protocol teach us how to walk the road of life in a good way. Violating moral and ethical boundaries can destroy the process of healing and development.

Working From Principle

Our plans and actions are founded on our deepest understanding of the principles that describe how the universe is ordered and how healing and development unfolds.



Learning to live in ways that promote life and health is the essence of our development. Our primary strategy is therefore the promotion of this type of learning.


When we take actions to improve our lives or the lives of others, it is critical to avoid undermining the natural systems upon which all life depends and to work in ways that enhance the capacity of people to continue in the path of their own healing and development.

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 crate, as well as building on the strength we already have, rather than giving away our energy fighting the negative.

Be The Change You Want To See

In all of our actions, we seek to be living examples of the changes we wish to see in the world. By Walking the path, we make the path visible.

With the courage and dedication to utilize the wisdom and guiding spiritual principles of our elders on the path to a peaceful and equitable future, we will find that we have the power and ability to carefully and lovingly remove any barriers that have limited the development of our full potential as human beings and communities. The greater the difficulty in our path, the even greater opportunity for our growth and ultimate victory; we can always become more than we have ever been.

We know from our ancient teachings that the sacred eagle of humanity has two perfectly balanced and harmonious wings; one representing woman, and one representing man. In our relationships as women and men, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we must join together to eliminate all forms of disrespect, mistreatment, or lack of sharing in the responsibility of raising the world’s children. It is my deepest prayer that with every new sunrise, we can recognize more and more that the most sacred and holy of all the wonderful ceremonies and gifts that the Creator has given us is the birth of child, and that everything we can do to provide our children and communities the best possible future is a sacred gift and responsibility.

For is not the moment long, long overdue by beloved relatives, through the unfailing power and love of our good Creator, for us to free ourselves completely from the hurt of both the past and present so we may truly soar like majestic eagles to the promised greatness of our sacred destiny and future.

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