Honoring the Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples with Richard Katz

January 10, 2019

Today it’s an honor to have Richard Katz on the podcast. Dr. Katz received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and taught there for twenty years. The author of several books, he has spent time over the past 50 years living and working with Indigenous peoples in Africa, India, the Pacific, and the Americas. He is professor emeritus at the First Nations University of Canada and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. He lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His latest book is Indigenous Healing Psychology: Honoring the Wisdom of the First Peoples. Author royalties will be given back to the Indigenous elders whose teachings made the book possible.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How being an outsider allows you to see the limitations of the world you are living in
  • Richard’s friendship with Abraham Maslow
  • Setting the record straight: The real influence of the Blackfeet Nation on Maslow’s theory of self-actualization
  • How modern day psychology has oppressed the verbal-experimental paradigm
  • The limitations of modern measurement
  • The tension between the scientific method and the narrative approach to psychology
  • Are all modes of the scientific process valid?
  • How indigenous people are misunderstood, under-respected, and under-appreciated
  • What the field of psychology could be if it incorporated indigenous ways of being


Kalahari People’s Fund

7 Responses to “Honoring the Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples with Richard Katz”

  1. I really enjoyed this episode. There’s so much to learn from indigenous healing modes and it would be beneficial to further blend it with western therapeutic methods. The spiritual health is often not considered which creates so much imbalance. I’m delighted to have listened to such an open minded discussion. I’m looking forward reading the book. Thank you for this podcast!

  2. Sean says:

    Dr. Katz is clearly not a standard bearer of the scientific method, or of naturalism. Was really disappointed with his views on narratives and phenomenology taking the same value in the scientific hierarchy as observation and measurement. Did not expect such woo-esque views from a ‘friend’ of Abe Maslow.

  3. Richard Katz says:

    Read your comment, Sean,. Thanks for taking time to respond. My book, “indigenous Healing Psychology,” which was the basis of my podcast, stresses that Abe Maslow was committed to a careful, empirical approach to research and understanding. Maslow stressed the critical importance of observation in all ways of knowing and research. And that is the fundamental point I was trying to emphasize in my book — careful and accurate observation is the foundation of scientific research. That is a key commitment in Indigenous approaches to psychology; and that, I believe, honors a scientific inquiry. Sorry these points didn’t come out in my podcast. And again, thanks for your taking the time to offer your ideas.

  4. Palmer Stroud says:

    Thank you for this episode. Spirit science.

  5. Isabelle Masado says:

    Hi Scott, thank you for this brilliant episode with Dr. Katz. I just started reading his book on Indegenous psychology and I’m just fascinated by the ways in which he pours love and deep respect for Indigenous wisdom in his book. I am currently seeking to develop a coaching program that is driven by African wisdom, so his book feels like finding a treasure. Do you happen to know how one might be able to contact him? I would be so grateful if I could have the opportunity to ask him follow up questions from this podcast and his book.
    I do want to respect his privacy, so I understand if this is not information he’d like to have shared.

  6. I so appreciated being able to hear Dick Katz once again. His was my favorite class at Harvard Ed School, 1982-3; and of course I recall running into him, shopping at Erewhon. For almost 30 years, I have been compelled by what seemed like a bodily necessity to create balance from some huge imbalances that resulted partially from over immersion in the field of psychology and energetic healing . I had dreams in which a voice said, ” you need to come to peace with your ancestors” (one of whom was the “california”‘s first superintendent of Indian Affairs). I knew I needed to be more in touch with my own ancestors, with the land where I live, its beings, with the original peoples here, It has been a long and circuitous path, parts of which include active involvement in Maine Wabanaki REACH’s child welfare truth and reconciliation commission, friendship with some indigenous neighbors, and development of a local group here : “Midcoast Indigenous Awareness Group” . Among other things, MIAG has an active reading group, We are now diving into: ” Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists” by Marge Bruchac. This book, tweaked my memory. I thought immediately of Dick’s “The Straight Path” and even managed to dig up my copy. Beneath this quest, has been a life long ever increasing awareness of the blinders which I and so many others have suffered via immersion in our own extensive but narrow western culture and ways of being. The more I experience and learn (and yes experience is really the only teacher) and the more I immerse myself in the history and surviving always adapting indigenous culture right here, ,the more I sense the vastness of all that is still unseen and unknown.. I so appreciate Dick Katz’s willingness to share his own experience in some of these worlds, including his mistakes, learnings and active practices of reciprocity and respect. With deep gratitude and thanks Mia


    Thank you both so much for such an enlightening dialogue. I read Dr. Katz’s book “Boiling Energy” last year and it really inspired me to explore healing modalities through movement and dance. I found his commentary on courage and the heart as a central aspect often lacking in western psych to be a profound insight into my own roadblocks on the path to healing. I truly loved the book and am excited to read this new work.

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