Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff | Wednesday, 23 February 2011 - Thursday, 24 February 2011

Date(s): 
23 February 2011 to 24 February 2011
Speaker: 
Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Mr. Merculieff traveled from Anchorage, Alaska to the small rural town of Monmouth, Oregon, home of Western Oregon University and the Paul Jensen Arctic Museum. Western is the oldest public university west of the Rocky Mountains and the Jensen is one of only two museums in the U.S. specializing in the Arctic. Mr. Merculieff's presentations focused on Indigenous Elder Wisdom from a variety of perspectives for several different audiences over two days, 23-24 February 2011.

Mr. Merculieff arrived in Oregon Tuesday evening on the 22ndFebruary and began his lectures the next morning at 9:00 with a youth presentation to Kings Valley Charter School middle-school students and their teachers entitled "The True Intelligence of the Real Human Being." As Mr. Merculieff describes it: "This talk will focus on the major elements of my traditional upbringing from age 4 to age 13. How it is to be raised in a way where I was never told what to do or how to do something. The responsibility of the adults was to expose me to self-learning experiences where I was expected to watch, listen, and learn, using what we call the "true intelligence of the real human being." By age 7 I was given my first rifle and shotgun as a rite of passage of a traditional hunter. The traditional hunter is successful because the hunter is totally connected to everything in the environment, including the fish and wildlife. In the traditional way, young people are never given instructions and are always encouraged daily. This is a true story of a people who are profoundly connected to the places they live and how such people learn from all living things." The event was extremely well attended with standing room only.

Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 Mr. Merculieff will addressed a campus and community forum on "Indigenous Elder Wisdom for Modern Times: Why It is Needed To Shift Paradigms That Are Pushing Earth's Life Support Systems to the Edge." This talk focused on the great spiritual and practical wisdom of indigenous elders from my Aleut tradition and the traditions across the world. The speaker is a messenger for wisdomkeepers from many traditions who follow what is commonly known as "The Original Teachings" given to people of all traditions on the planet. There was a time when all humans could speak what is called "The Language of One," allowing plants, animals, and humans to communicate with each other. It was a time when there was no separation between people and between people and all living things. The indigenous elders from across the world are now stepping forward to share what they know and understand about the world we are living in today and what we need to do to change the course of destruction of Mother Earth. The speaker put prophecies in their proper context." A reception followed, providing opportunities for informal interaction with the speaker. The same day Mr. Merculieff also was the guest at a faculty luncheon hosted by the Vice Provost of WOU.

On Thursday morning Mr. Merculieff and hosts traveled to Chemawa Indian School in Salem, about 20 miles from Monmouth. Chemawa, the oldest continuously operating Native American boarding school in the United States, celebrating its 130th birthday Pow Wow a few days after Mr. Merculieff's visit. He spoke to high school science students at a student assembly on "Bridging Between Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Cartesian Based Western Science: Why Is It Needed and What Can Indigenous Ways Offer to Better Understand Nature." In his description of the talk, Mr. Merculieff says: "Indigenous and western science are fundamentally different in that indigenous science has, as its foundation, what is commonly referred to as spirituality. The speaker will discuss how the western world is struggling to understand the "Indigenous Mind," let alone use these ways of knowing to deal with modern day challenges. The indigenous sciences around the world are marginalized because of misunderstandings, misperceptions, and simple ignorance. The speaker also talked about the "good" and "not so good" experiences of attending boarding school and how he was able to change a negative experience into a positive one." This was a homecoming for Mr. Merculieff - as he was a student at Chemawa in his youth.

After lunch with students at Chemawa, Mr. Merculieff returned to Western Oregon to meet at 1:00 with a university anthropology class for highlights from the public presentation of the previous afternoon and the opportunity to ask questions raised by their study of arctic cultures.

The final event, on Thursday afternoon at 3:00, was a teambuilding workshop entitled "Traditional Ways, The Ways of the Real Human Being, Elder Wisdom, and Team Building That Can Change Self and the World." We appreciated the opportunity for a shared experience by groups from across campus - students, faculty, staff, and administrators - as we learned under Mr. Merculieff's guidance. He explains: "Generally speaking, modern institutions utilize western concepts of team and team building and place traditional ways in the category of "history" or "the past" with no utility for modern times. Nothing could be further from the truth. This interactive workshop explored the myriad of ways used by indigenous cultures to unify the "mind" of the group so that everyone's contribution is valued and used, and how use of connecting and peaceful language of mind, body, and spirit can bring greater results than the use of "majority and minority." Participants learned how to express seemingly polarized viewpoints without alienating any participant on the team. Experientially, participants learned a new way of listening, expressing their thoughts, how one's truth is as equally valid as another's truth, and why indigenous ways are so critical in these modern times fraught with conflict, one-upmanship, and competition."

Mr. Merculieff thoroughly enjoyed his time in Oregon stating it was, "one of the most organized public speaking tour I'ver ever participated in my career." The tour was widely covered by the local media as well as the student newspaper. All events were well attended and Mr. Merculieff was even able to do a live talk show on the campus radio program. Mr. Merculieff says, "All in all, a wonderful experience for me. I've come back with my backpack and suitcase filled with gifts from people in the different venues. I felt very welcome wherever I went and my hosts were most gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed it." Please see more on the tour here:http://wounews.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/larry_merculieff/