Tyson Yunkaporta (Part 2) – Indigenous Knowledge & the Web of Life: Living & Learning in Times of Crisis, Recognizing our Relatedness, Healing Grief & Mental Illness, Sharing Healing Stories & Sustaining Hope

Tyson Yunkaporta Sand Talk Right Story Wrong Story

“What if I lean into the pain and come out the other side and survive it—and what if I take you with me, as the reader, and together we deal with our pain?” asks Tyson Yunkaporta, author, senior research fellow, founder of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab. Tyson embodies this era of metacrisis, actively working with the global issues of our time in his work and in his personal life. His books are paradigm rattling and his whole life is a contribution—bringing forth ways in which Aboriginal Indigenous knowledge can help us, stating the need to find a collective narrative we can all agree on in order to survive, expressing himself with utter authenticity, and pointing out emphatically that each one of us is a web of relations, and that’s what matters most.

In his own uniquely raw, unguarded, authentic (and funny) way, Tyson describes his personal challenges with mental health and bipolar disorder and the states of mind he was in when he wrote his two books. Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, was written in just weeks while manic. In dramatic contrast, Right Story, Wrong Story: Adventures in Indigenous Thinking was written while wrestling with depression. Tyson talks about disinformation and how we collectively need to get to the “right story;” about Aboriginal culture and what it means to be living in a colony; the amazing psycho-technologies Aboriginals have to deal with grief; the radicalization and polarization exacerbated by COVID lockdowns in Australia; the similarity between Indigenous knowledge and the scientific method; the sacredness of magic and how this cannot be scaled. Tyson is a window into Aboriginal Indigenous knowledge and a brilliant translator of that wisdom for the rest of us. Recorded September 21, 2023.

“Everything you are is a web of relations – you are a relational net.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Our purpose is finding the answers to 2 questions: how to deal with change, and how to deal with assholes (01:36)
  • Everything you are is a web of relations – you are a relational net (02:58)
  • Encoding the idea of suicide (05:29)
  • The story of the minotaur and the Sodomites (06:36)
  • Fringe groups took to Tyson’s book Sand Talk, and how COVID lockdowns pushed the Aboriginal people to got hooked up with neo-Nazis (08:57)
  • People say anything they want because it feels good and recruit others to their opinion because that feels good—in Right Story, Wrong Story Tyson is trying to wind back the disinformation in Sand Talk (10:46)
  • How did Tyson retain his balance during COVID and his challenges with self-care: Can you really care for others if you don’t care for yourself? (12:01)
  • The problem with developmental models: they destroy relatedness (14:04)
  • Tyson intends his next book to be an Australian climate apocalypse modeled on Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, perhaps autobiographical (16:24)
  • Challenges with mental health, a media dead zone, and meds (19:15)
  • Indigenous knowledge is very similar to knowledge gained by scientific method (21:21)
  • President Obama, the epistemological crisis, and the growing ability to investigate and debunk more rapidly (22:53)
  • The importance of being able to admit you are wrong (26:31) 
  • Jungians call people like Tyson epochal people—those who embody the issues of our time and work through them (32:25)
  • Jung’s definition of gnostic intermediary requires 1) imbibing the wisdom of the Indigenous culture (in this case), 2) learning the language of the system you want to communicate to, and 3) translating it so as to create an Aha! experience (33:32)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Tyson Yunkaporta Indigenous Knowledge Web of Life

Tyson Yunkaporta is an Aboriginal scholar, founder of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab at Deakin University in Melbourne, and author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, and more recently, Right Story, Wrong Story: Adventures in Indigenous Thinking. His work focuses on applying Indigenous methods of inquiry to resolve complex issues and explore global crises. He is also an educator, traditional wood carver, arts critic, researcher, podcast host, and poet.


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell


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