Bolivian indigenous knowledge

“In Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, a Quechua Indian told me that everything one does in life involves looking forward while going backward simultaneously. This I didn’t understand. I said, ‘What do you mean, going backward?’  And he said,’Well, it’s very simple. For us, for the Quechua, the past is in front of us. It’s in front of us because we know the past and we can look at it. And the future is behind because we don’t know what it brings so we move into the future, but we move backwards.’ The expression is ñawpaman puni. This idea of moving into the future while looking clearly into the past is something that is lacking in all these considerations about development and alternatives to development, and about what is going to happen and from where we can create an alternative to development.

This lack of historical depth is what is going to prevent us from thinking of real alternatives to development.”

(David Tuchsneider 1992:63-64)

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2 Comments

  1. Nichson said,

    April 14, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I think that’s their way of saying “history often repeats itself”. Using our experience from the past, we can glean some knowledge to cut our path into the future and the unknown.
    This is something that we are good at forgetting, either through oversight or mere ignorance.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Absolutely!! – Even the good book – the bible states that everything under the sun has already been experienced so why waste time/resources re-inventing the wheel, when we can let past experience guide our steps into the future.


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