Gratitude to Indigenous Individuals


The world would benefit from the values and knowledge of Indigenous individuals, who have been displaced and colonized.

native american



Last year, in my predictive March 28th column, I was hoping for a comeback of Indigenous individuals in the United States and elsewhere. In a terrible irony, so much of the values and knowledge that would benefit the world in these dangerous times have been buried under the displacement and colonialism of Indigenous individuals. Here’s a few of them.

Personal and community actualization. Did you know that Maslow’s well-known pyramidal model of psychological needs seems based on the wisdom of the Blackfoot Indians whom he visited in 1930?

Sustainability of the environment. With a traditional reverence for “Mother Earth,” Indigenous individuals have traditional ways to sustain their environments wherever practically possible.

Land ownership. So many public cultural events in the United States begin with a thank you for being held on the land once settled by Native Americans, while real gratitude might be returning some of the lands and burial mounds to their original settlers as desired.

Psychedelics in community ceremonies. It is common knowledge that appropriate set and setting is often crucial for the therapeutic results of psychedelics, and Native Americans have been doing that for centuries in their peyote ceremonial use of “magic mushrooms,” led by their therapeutic medicine men and shamans.

Carl Hammerschlag’s translational books on Indigenous wisdom. The late psychiatrist Hammerschalg learned much from Indigenous individuals in Arizona and elsewhere, and shared that knowledge in a series of books that he wrote.

Indigenous individuals in “Dune: Part Two.” Although the Fremen, who are Indigenous in the Dune movie, end up in a violent revolt against their colonial ruler led by their would-be Messiah, we still have the opportunity to work together to help heal the planet and human relationships.

All this positive potential is not to deny the historical challenges within Indigenous individuals themselves. That would include intertribal wars and conflicts, as well as seemingly over-trusting the European invaders. Yet, the typically ignored continuing divisiveness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals around the world is limiting our collective futures.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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