What can we learn from them?

For hundreds of thousands of years the human race has been evolving elegant, sustainable ways to live in balance with the earth. The mechanism was simple: cultures that fell out of balance fell out of existence. Successful living strategies became traditions, hence we often called ourselves Traditional People. Though often strikingly different Traditional cultures share fundamental understandings, such as affirming the sacred nature of the earth.

Then a few thousand years ago, an aggressive, rule-breaking culture was born--what is now our world-wide industrial-consumer civilization. It saw earth not as mother but as resource. In the relative blink of the eye it killed, or conquered and assimilated almost all Traditional people on the planet. Today it not only rules the earth, it threatens all life on it.

In these times of ecological crisis it is popular to speak of the spiritual lessons industrial-consumer civilization needs to learn from the American Indian and other earth-honoring peoples. But what if industrial-consumer civilization by its very nature can never change direction? What if it is doomed to continue growing and expanding and devouring our dwindling resources until (as many scientists predict) the environment collapses?

What if the Traditional peoples had it right to begin with, and our only hope for a sustainable world, or maybe any world, is to understand and adopt the underlying principles that governed their lives? To become Traditional People again? It wouldn’t be going backwards. It would mean finding the place we where we went off-course, and getting back on track. It would mean becoming truly native to our land, becoming Native Americans.

Such a people might be called the North American Afterculture