This week

Borrowed or appropriated


Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness 


The Wednesday Whisper


Where did Maslow get inspiration for his hierarchy of needs?

I know this is a case of finding evidence to match my position, and if you follow my work you know how inspired I have been by Indigenous wisdom, and that I truly believe the answers to our transformation lay in Indigenous ways. So, imagine how delighted I am to discover that Maslow was stuck on the development of his theory and, after staying with the Native American Blackfoot tribe in Canada he was influenced to complete his Hierarchy of Needs.

And there is much more to learn about how First Nation people influenced our psychology.

Native American culture was mostly egalitarian. Early European colonists were shocked. One British officer wrote of the Cherokee Indians in the eighteenth century, “There is no law nor subjection amongst them…The very lowest of them thinks himself as great and as high as any of the rest…Everyone is his own master. Land and property were usually communally held and used. There were generally no strongmen authoritarian rulers who impose their desires on the rest of the population against their will. Instead, there was an even distribution of power, with all individuals participating in decision making”.  

His triangular graphic is among Maslow’s best-known work.

Though the problem with appropriating from other cultures is that without a lived experience the ‘borrowing’ maybe corrupted by a lack of true understanding.

Professor Cindy Blackstock, a First Nations activist points out, “First of all, the triangle is not a triangle. It’s a tipi, and the tipis in the Blackfoot (tradition) always went up and reached up to the skies”. Another difference is that self-actualization is at the base of the tipi, not at the top where Maslow placed it. In the Blackfoot belief, self-actualization is the foundation on which community actualization is built. The highest form that a Blackfoot can attain is called “cultural perpetuity”. Cultural perpetuity is an understanding that you will be forgotten, but you have a part in ensuring that your people’s important teachings live on.


Maria’s Mindfulness Moment

The importance for me is to see how the mainstream individual agenda misses the importance of ground up empowered community and the bigger picture of legacy. Could that be at the heart of why we have abused the planet?


The Wednesday Whisper

How stuck are you in the mainstream? What options do you have for transformation?



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