Indigenous Values and Sustainability Possible Linkages to Big History


Yangkahao Vashum


Christianity and Western scientific knowledge have dominated academic research and its disciplinary education. At the same time, Indigenous knowledge and religious traditions have been dismissed as a way-of-knowing by Western and dominant power-structures. Since Tribal systems often cannot be easily quantified, they have been frequently dismissed as ‘superstitious,’ ‘primitive,’ or ‘unreliable.’
But recent works by Tribal peoples around the world have resulted in a growing recovery of Indigenous knowledge for the benefit of Native and non-native people alike. This paper looks at Indigenous values and practices as alternative ways to sustain people in close relationship with Nature. In the context of the present-day ecological crisis and global warming, we must seek sustainable development, such as by learning about Indigenous values and practices.
This paper shares some vital traditions of the Tribal peoples of North East India. It also argues that the rights of Indigenous peoples must include their recognition of the validity and value of their collected knowledge and ways of knowing. Of interest to this paradigm shift is how the inclusive ways of Tribal knowledge occasionally intersect with Big Histories’ inclusiveness, especially in its Asian formulation.


Author Biography

Yangkahao Vashum, Systematic Theology at the Eastern Theological College, Rajabari, Jorhat, Assam, India

Yangkahao Vashum is Professor of Systematic Theology and Tribal Theology at the Eastern Theological College in Jorhat, Assam (India). A member of the Tankhul tribe, he is also the Dean of the Tribal Study Centre and Executive Editor of the Journal of Tribal Studies. Ahao has also served as Head of the Department of Theology and Dean of Post-Graduate Studies. He received his ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary (New Jersey) and his PhD from the Iliff School of Theology and Denver University (Colorado) in the United States. He has authored, edited and co-edited a number of books including Tribal Theology and the Bible (2011); Peacemaking in Northeast India (2012); Search for a New Society (2012); and The Quest for Harmony (2013). His Christology in Context: A Tribal-Indigenous Appraisal of North East India received the J. G. Frank Collison Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theological Research in India in 2017. His latest, Faith Seeking Transformation: Rethinking Faith, Theology and Mission in North East India, was published in 2020. He has written many scholarly papers nationally and internationally. Ahao can be reached at <>.