The Inter-American Council on Indigenous Spirituality, CISEI, is a non-profit Civil Association formed in Mexico in 1996, and with chapters in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. The CISEI brings together academics, world scientists, spiritual guides, and doctors of traditional medicine from indigenous peoples. The objective of creating this NGO was to constitute a place for meeting, dialogue and exchange, which would bridge ancestral indigenous wisdom and modern scientific knowledge.
The CISEI recognizes, respects, and values the ancestral cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, as well as the cultural heritage of the West. However, the CISEI is conscious of the fact that the West, with it’s social position of cultural dominance, has laid the foundation for it’s relationships to be based on cultural uniformity and accumulation: values that are contrary to the way of life in ancestral communities of the Americas. The CISEI supports and struggles for the the healing of our planet because we accept the responsibility that we must live harmoniously with our Mother Earth. In so doing, we recognize that the Air, the Earth and the Sun are the sacred sources of life that we all depend on, and should love, respect, take care of and deliver safely for future generations.
– Morelia, México, 1996, First International Forum on the Spirituality of the Indigenous Peoples of America. Some of the conclusions were key to the epistemological development of new paradigms. The fundamental contribution of indigenous spirituality to Western culture was recognized, as well as its importance in making it possible for indigenous people to survive until today. During this forum the discussion about spirituality in Mexico and Latin America was started for the first time.
– Tarapoto, Perú, 1998, Second Forum, which central theme: “Ethics, evil and transgression,” allowed for the exchanging of experiences and the creation of a bridge between the world of science and the world of ancestral teachings from indigenous traditions. Once errors were acknowledged, forgiveness was asked, and mistakes were made amend for, the CISEI was able to consolidate its aim of offering a permanent meeting place for fraternity and reconciliation between indigenous groups. It was decided to establish a Code of Ethics, necessary to discern between the real values of ancestral practices and the transgressions of pseudo-spirituality, as condemned in the forum.
– Caguas, Puerto Rico, 2002, Third Forum, organized along with the Fifth Indigenous Gathering of the Americas. The forum, entitled “Free access to the practice of spiritual cultural heritage,” concluded that any person or people have the freedom to have access to this heritage and make it its own so long as they adopt an attitude of profound respect and humility.
– Morelia, Michoacán, México, 2004, Fourth Forum, spiritual leaders and academics of 13 countries gathered to discuss the central theme: “Spirit of the Mother Earth.” In the discussion circles it was concluded that indigenous traditional teachings and scientific knowledge are complementary, and that “new paradigms” in science coincide with many of the principles of indigenous worldviews. It was also acknowledged that indigenous people have been, are and will always be the caretakers of Mother Nature and of everything that is Sacred. The Fourth Forum, furthermore, resolved that an itinerant Indigenous University is necessary to unite the western and ancestral world in order to revitalize the spirituality of humanity. The Itinerant Indigenous University would develop a culture of peace and respect to diversity, and would bridge different cultures through common understanding. Finally, the 4th edition of the CISEI claimed in favor of indigenous peoples’ rights to exercise their spiritual ancestry, to hold ceremonies, as well as to protect the necessary sacred materials to carry out ceremonies.
– Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, 2007. The Fifth Forum, dedicated to the “Spirit of Water,” recognized indigenous ancestral practices related to water. It identified the contribution of such ancestral practices to a new understanding of the way in which fresh water can be sustainably managed. The themes of water and environmental issues have been addressed in various forums from a scientific and technical vision, and in so doing have not considered cultural and spiritual perspectives. On the contrary, the ancient cultures of our continent account for a “spiritual management” of water.
– Guayana, Venezuela, 2010, Sixth Forum, which addressed the theme “Spirit of Air”. Air represents vital breath, the beginning and end of life, motion, transport, an audible and a silent way of communication; inspiration, climate control, a vehicle for sacred chants, for prayers and healing invocations; the ability of the spiritual mind, the master of detachment and interdependence. The forum reaffirmed that indigenous people make an invaluable contribution to the survival of the planet with their knowledge and sustainable technologies, inscribed in a holistic and interdependent framework.
– Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2012, Seventh Forum “Honoring the Spirit of Grandfather Fire.” National and international indigenous and non-indigenous representatives gathered to honor the Spirit of Grandfather Fire. They exchanged ideas, visions, knowledges and teachings about spirituality, medicine, arts, education, philosophy, social sciences and ecology. The indigenous peoples and nations who were present were: of Maya Kakchiquel, Mazateco, Choctaw, Kariña, Kuna, Quechua, Quechua-Lamistas, Aymaras, Colla, Ava Guaraní, Mapuche and representatives from Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, France, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, the United States , Canada and Argentina. The fundamental objectives of the forum were to achieve a greater understanding and comprehension between the indigenous peoples of the world, promote the expansion of consciousness in order to help saving our holy Mother Earth, and work to assert ourselves in the new era of solidarity, inclusion, respect and love.