"Every Step a Prayer”: Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Wisdom Traditions and Decolonizing Shamanism


In this episode, we meet East-West Psychology adjunct faculty member, Chief Philip Scott, who recounts his journey from learning ballet in his youth to becoming a professional ballet dancer and, through apprenticeship with Traditional Medicine people from various Indigenous Nations, finds his way to the Lakota Sundance. Phillip has been Sundancing in the Lakota Tradition for the past 31 consecutive years, and he speaks of the cross-cultural nuances of how he was welcomed and accepted into this Indigenous tradition. The discussion turns to Truth and Reconciliation Day, which happened just before this recording, so we discuss modern issues of appropriation and commodification, the necessity of respect in relation to Indigenous peoples and cultures and the cultivation of patience and humility in the pursuit of embodied transformation on the Medicine Path. Phillip offers counsel on ways to approach Indigenous wisdom traditions with reverence as well as the means to decolonize contemporary shamanism. The conversation ends with the Chief speaking about Dance as a collective Prayer with our Ancestors, the Earth, and the Great Mystery.

Of mixed Ancestry and thrice struck by Lightning, Phillip Scott has faithfully walked the Native Path for forty years, learning from and sanctioned by traditional Medicine/Holy people, tribal Spiritual leaders, Wisdomkeepers and Elders from several Indigenous cultures. Annually Sundancing in the Lakota tradition for over three decades and a member of the Native American Church, he is a Ceremonial leader and Traditional healer, entrusted to share Indigenous wisdom and Medicine practices with the contemporary world. An advisor and presenter on various Sacred matters, he is a consultant for educational, spiritual/religious, medical and environmental institutions as well as for corporations. Interviewed both nationally and internationally, his life, experience and writings have been featured in journals and books. In addition to directing and teaching the programs at Ancestral Voice - Institute for Indigenous Lifeways in Northern California, which he founded in 1994, he maintains a private healing practice, performs Ceremonies. conducts intensives, gives lectures and leads pilgrimages worldwide. He is skilled in survival and primitive technologies, has received a Masters degree from Naropa University and is also a licensed EMT.

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Music at the end of the episode titled Lonely River, by Jonathan Kay and Andrew Kay, from Temple Meditations released on Monsoon-Music Record Label

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Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

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