New AUDIO Release: Wisdom Keeper
Categories: Indigenous Cultures & Anthropology Literature & the Arts New Release
Ilarion Merculieff weaves the remarkable strands of his life and culture into a fascinating account that begins with his traditional Unangan (Aleut) upbringing on a remote island in the Bering Sea, through his immersion in both the Russian Orthodox Church and his tribe’s holistic spiritual beliefs. He recounts his developing consciousness and call to leadership, and describes his work of the past thirty years bringing together Western science and Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and wisdom to address the most pressing issues of our time.
Tracing the extraordinary history of his ancestors—who mummified their dead in a way very similar to the Egyptians, constructed one of the most sophisticated high seas kayaks in the world, and densely populated shorelines in North America for ten thousand years—Merculieff describes the rich traditions of spirituality, art, dance, music, storytelling, science, and technology that enabled them to survive their harsh conditions. The Unangan people of the Aleutian Islands endured slavery at the hands of the US government and were placed in an internment camp during WWII, where they suffered malnutrition and disease that decimated 10 percent of their population.
In Wisdom Keeper, Merculieff movingly describes how the compassion of Indigenous Elders has guided him in his work and life, which has been rife with struggle and hardship. He explains that environmental degradation, the extinction of species, pollution, war, and failing public institutions are all reflections of our relationships with ourselves. In order to deal with these critical challenges, he argues, we must reenter the chaos of the natural world, rediscover our balance of the masculine and the sacred feminine, and heal ourselves. Then, perhaps, we can heal the world.
About the Author
Born and raised on St. Paul Island, Alaska where the personal story takes place, Ilarion Merculieff had a traditional upbringing and a western education, with a BA from the University of Washington. He has more than forty years experience serving his people, the Unangan of the Pribilof Islands, and was the first Alaska Native commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Merculief served as chair of the indigenous knowledge sessions of the Global Summit of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change, was co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples’ Council for Marine Mammals, the Alaska Forum for the Environment, the International Bering Sea Forum, and the Alaska Oceans Network. He is currently the president of the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways.
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