This special issue addressing the theme of “Indigenous and Trans-Systemic Knowledge Systems” seeks to expand the existing methods, approaches, and conceptual understandings of Indigenous Knowledges to create new awareness, new explorations, and new inspirations across other knowledge systems. Typically, these have arisen and have been published through the western disciplinary traditions in interaction and engagement with diverse Indigenous Knowledge systems. Written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, and in collaborations, the contributions to this issue feature the research, study, or active exploration of applied methods or approaches from and with Indigenous Knowledge systems as scholarly inquiry, as well as practical communally-activated knowledge. These engagements between Eurocentric and Indigenous Knowledges have generated unique advancements dealing with dynamic systems that are constantly being animated and reformulated in various fields of life and experiences. While these varied applications abound, the essays in this issue explore the theme largely through scholarly research or applied pedagogies within conventional schools and universities. The engagement of these distinct knowledge systems has also generated reflective, immersive, and transactional explorations of how to foster well-being and recovery from colonialism in Indigenous community contexts.
The Spirit of the Language project looks to the Spirit of nêhiyawêwin (Cree language), sources of disconnection between nêhiyawak (Cree people) in Treaty 6 and the Spirit of nêhiyawêwin, and the process of reconnection to the Spirit of the language as voiced by nêhiyawak. The two researchers behind this project are nêhiyaw language-learners who identify as insider-outsiders in this work. The work is founded in Indigenous Research Methodologies, with a particular respect to ceremony, community protocol, consent, and community participation, respect and reciprocity. We identified the Spirit of the language as having three distinct strands: history, harms, and healing. The Spirit of Indigenous languages is dependent on its history of land, languages, and laws. We then identified the harms or catalysts of disconnect from the Spirit of the language as colonization, capitalism, and Christianity. The results of our community work have identified the methods for healing, or reconnecting to the Spirit of language, by way of autonomy, authority, and agency.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action (TRC, 2015), a school board teamed with university educators and educational partners to generate a professional learning series to support educators’ engagement with Indigenous knowledges. A research team that assembled two years later interviewed the learning series participants to explore how educators were navigating Indigenous knowledge within a Eurocentric school system. This research acknowledges the challenges of doing this work within shifting institutional policies and initiatives, the wider politics of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations, building intercultural understandings and community partnerships, and negotiating epistemological difference. The researchers — including Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples — echoed resonances with the participants that occurred throughout the data collection process and often spoke about the parallel paths of research and schooling — both historically used as tools of colonization and now having a role in decolonization. To disrupt colonial propensities, we share our reflections as researchers, specifically around complexities and tensions of engaging Indigenous knowledges throughout our research processes concerning the participants’ experiences. By sharing the tensions and (un)learning that emerged on these parallel paths, we honour diverse entry-points and experiences to animate how trans-systemic knowledge building might ensue.
Given the UNDRIP’s assertion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their education and knowledge systems, and in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action, many Canadian Universities are considering “Indigenizing the Academy.” Yet, the meaning of such undertaking remains to be clarified. This article explores trans-systemic approaches as a possible avenue for “Indigenizing the Academy,” and, more specifically, what Indigenous higher education programs and institutions can contribute to a trans-systemic approach to education. Considering two existing models I encountered in my doctoral research, namely the Intercultural approach as developed in the Andes (García et al., 2004; Mato, 2009; Sarango, 2009; Walsh, 2012), and land-based pedagogy as developed in North America (Coulthard, 2017; Coulthard & Simpson, 2016; Tuck et al., 2014; Wildcat et al., 2014), I argue they present trans-systemic elements that would allow us to re-think the frameworks in which to engage with Indigenous Peoples’ rights and knowledge systems in the mainstream academy. What could be learned from the principles and practices of these two Indigenous higher education philosophies to articulate Indigenous knowledge into trans-systemic education in the mainstream academy in ways that foster solidarity and mutual understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people?
Within this article, I share a story of four generations of my family and community coming together through pow wow dancing. I present the storying and re-storing of Indigenous scholarly engagement through pow wow regalia making and dance to accomplish two things: 1) to center Indigenous knowledge, kinship and community work through scholarship; and 2) to generate merit and value in the good work in which Indigenous scholars engage. Our creative and cultural selves are often excluded in terms of what receives value and merit in collective agreements. The academy wants us to teach, publish, and engage in community service. My community service is often within Indigenous kinship and community service where I engage in creativity and expressive arts. Evaluations of our tenure attribute value, credit, and merit for work produced, service generated, and research conducted steeped in a eurowestern definition of scholarly work. We theorize about the significance and importance of our culture and traditions; however, our families and communities’ practices are regarded as external and outside of the eurowestern academic contexts. This article brings together the knowledge of preparing for and dancing in a pow wow as valued and good work of Indigenous scholars within the academy. It calls attention to a need to revise systems of value and merit in a manner that benefits Indigenous scholars’ whole knowledge systems.
Once communities’ stories are taken up by researchers and shared within the ivory tower of academia, the stories circulate within the ivory tower. It is often the case that these archived stories from communities are used by researchers, without asking permission from the communities where the stories originate. In this article, we aim to critically review and reflect on underlying theories and practices in conventional Eurocentric academia that allows for a ‘one direction’ mode of storytelling dissemination, allowing researchers to take the ‘version’ of community knowledge and/or stories without seeking the original approval from the communities themselves. We suggest ‘thoughtful’ questions for both settler and Indigenous researchers to consider in hopes of promoting ‘travelling back to original sources’ in their scholarly work.
Reciprocal mentorship is how Indigenous students and non-Indigenous supervisors can supportively navigate their way through graduate research in higher education. Reciprocal mentorship as trans-systemic knowledge values both Indigenous and Eurocentric worldviews, whereby the student has the expertise from Indigenous community and the academic supervisor has the expertise in the academic world. Through sharing stories of their research journey within a Canadian University, Webster and Bishop offer key insights around engaging in reciprocal mentorship, navigating the two-worlds, finding a common language, and having shared values. As a result, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and supervisors may see themselves within the stories and seek reciprocal mentorship to be successful in the academic research and educational journey and make an impact in their university and beyond.
A major issue that directly affects the participation of Native Americans in the science and technology workforce is the lack of preparation in science and math. This lack of preparation has many causes, but one of the most strategically important issues is the lack of culturally relevant curricula that engage Native American students in learning science in personal, social and culturally meaningful ways. This essay explores the needs, issues, research, and development of culturally responsive science education for Native American learners. A curriculum model created by the author at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1974 to 1994 based on Native American cultural orientations is explored as a case study as one example of how to engage Native American students in science learning and become more prepared to participate in science and technology-related professions. As such, it presents a methodology for how trans-systemic work might be approached in building conceptual bridges between Indigenous and Western views of science.
In this article, the authors argue that trans-systemic knowledge system analysis of Indigenous-to-Indigenous economics enables generative thinking toward Indigenous futures of economic freedom. The authors apply a trans-systemic lens to critically analyze persistent development philosophy that acts as a barrier to the advancement of Indigenous economic development thinking. By exploring ways in which colonial discourse entraps Indigenous nations within circular logic in service of a normative centre the need for new economic logic is apparent. Shifting to trans-systemic knowledge systems analysis to include diverse insights from Māori and other Indigenous economic philosophy, the authors show that it is not profit and financial growth that matters in and of itself. Rather, according to Indigenous definitions of wealth, economic freedom and development are constituted by value creation that aligns with Indigenous worldviews and principles. Indigenous economic knowledge centred on relationship, reciprocity and interconnectedness fosters Indigenous economic freedom.
Indigenous peoples globally are seeking new ways in which to communicate and share our worldviews. Sometimes defined as resistance research, emancipatory research, decolonising research - our research (re)presents the multiple journeys in which we live and come to know. Emerging Indigenous research methodological approaches are centring Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, to privilege Indigenous voices that have been suppressed through colonization. The intricate weaving of Western methodologies with Indigenous knowledges evokes agency in two emerging Indigenous researchers (from Australia and Canada) and weaves a path of reconciliation between their diverse disciplines as well as the seemingly dichotomous knowledge systems they are challenged to work within. Using metalogue, a way of authentically bringing together multiple voices through dialogue, we discuss the creative and radical Indigenous methodological approaches developed and enacted within our PhDs. The paper will provide insights to the epistemological, ontological and axiological principles that inform emerging Indigenous approaches to research.
This Indigenous métissage explores my engagement in Indigenous Arts-based Inquiry as a practice of Anishinaabe Ozihtoon or Indigenous making and knowledge generation. Anishinaabe Ozhitoon is a site that unlocks the theoretical potentialities of the intelligences within Indigenous Knowledge practices in contemporary contexts and reanimates Indigenous land-based assurgence. Reviving Indigenous artistic practices, as sites of co-imagining through constellations of co-creation, is part of ecological and community-based reconciliation and healing. Key to this process is the act of reciprocal recognition, a core practice that fosters ethical relationality, helps cultivate our Indigeneity, and honours the circle of life. This Indigenous métissage tracks the Indigenous pedagogical processes and Indigenous art making used in my own praxis and inquiry as a scholar while I worked in a university to create three pathways for trans-systemic knowledge creation: a university-wide President’s Dream Colloquium with an accompanying graduate course; a graduate diploma in Indigenous Education: Education for Reconciliation and a master’s in Indigenous Education: Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Resurgence; and the Indigenous Research Institute initiation of an Indigenous Ethics Dialogue process as a trans-systemic pedagogical engagement with Indigenous and Western Knowledges, values, and ethics.
This reflection on community-driven research in process is written from the perspective of graduate student co-researchers collaborating with Wabanaki community co-researchers on a pilot project involving a Wabanaki and a non-Indigenous organization. Three Nations Education Group Inc. (TNEGI) represents three Wabanaki schools and communities in Northeast Turtle Island. The Child and Nature Alliance of Canada (CNAC) offers a Forest and Nature School Practitioner Course (FNSPC) for educators seeking to operate forest schools. These diverse organizations have developed a pilot FNSPC training for a group of TNEGI educators, with the purpose of Indigenizing the FNSPC. This is necessary to address the Eurocentric forest and nature school practices in Canada, which often fail to recognize the herstories, presence, rights, and diversity of Indigenous Peoples and places. TNEGI educators envision a land-based pedagogy that centers Wabanaki perspectives and merges Indigenous and Western knowledges. In the FNSPC pilot, the co-researchers generated course changes as they progressed through the pilot, decolonizing the content and format as they went. Developing this Indigenized version of the FNSPC will have far-reaching implications for the CNAC Forest School ethos and teacher training delivery. This essay maps our collaborative efforts thus far in creating an ethical research space within this Indigenous/non-Indigenous research initiative and lays out intentions for the road ahead.
Turn-taking during verbal interactions is a linguistic and cultural pattern that regulates who is to speak during a conversation and when. Conversational turn-taking includes the length of time that occurs after the speaker says something and before the person spoken to responds (Ryan & Forrest, 2019). Within the academy at this current time of 2020, diverse knowledge holders, both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, are actively trying to share and merge knowledge epistemologies across culture and across language. Though sharing is now actively taking place much more frequently between these two groups of scholars within Canadian universities, full comprehension of what is being communicated is not always realized by both parties. This is not due to any fault on the researchers’ part, but because many times two turn-taking paradigms are being used in a conversation instead of one.