Wilson (2008). Can a Ceremony Include a Literature Review? (Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods.)

Wilson, S. (2008). Can a Ceremony Include a Literature Review? In Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods (pp. 43–61). Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

“By telling what others have done in the area being studied, a literature review in the dominant tradition is their way of putting a study into context. And by doing the review in a style that is not critical, but builds upon the work of others, it can also form the context for relational accountability in working from an Indigenous paradigm.” (p 44)

[“The Progression of an Indigenous Research Paradigm” (p 44) …]

[“A Chronology of Aboriginal Research” (p 45) …]

“Karen Martin (2003) divides the phases in the development of Aboriginal research chronologically as the terra nullius, traditionalizing, assimilationist, early Aboriginal research, recent Aboriginal research and Indigenist research phases.” (p 45)

[“Terra Nullius Phase (1770-1900)” (p 45) …]

“Aboriginal people were physically present at the time but were viewed with indifference (Stanner, 1972) and as ‘possessing barely human status’ (Allen, 1998, p. 80)” (p 45)

[“Traditionalizing Phase (1900-1940)” (p 47) …]

“Indigenous people in bother Canada and in Australia were viewed as impediments to progress, and within this context, research on Aboriginal lands and people occurred with government structural support through agents such as the church.” (p 47)

“As researchers strove to categorize Indian people into typologies, judgements were placed on those who were less, or more, traditional (as defined by the researcher).” (p 48)

[“Assimilationist Phase (1940-1970)” (p 49) …]

“Up until and throughout the assimilationist phase, Aboriginal lands continued to be examined, explored and exploited for their natural resources. Nature was ‘raw material’ for the economic growth of the country (Martin, 2003), and research moved from describing and measuring the physical traits of Aboriginal peoples to examining their social structures (Coomer, 1984), kinship structures and mythologies (Beckett, 1994).” (p 49)

[“Early Aboriginal Research Phase (1970-1990s)” (p 50) …]

[“Recent Aboriginal Research Phase (1990-2000)” (p 51) …]

“More importantly, Indigenous scholars began to assert their power. No longer would they allow others to speak in their place. They began to articulate their own Indigenist perspective and demanded to be heard in doing so.” (p 51)

[“The Development of an Indigenous Paradigm” (p 52) …]

[“First Stage” (p 52) …]

“These Indigenous scholars were somehow able to separate their own Indigenous lives from their academic endeavours. … Those who sought and found research positions were either decidedly dominant system in perspective or led academic lives that often ran contrary to their Indigenous worldview.” (p 52)

[“Second Stage” (p 53) …]

“Steinhauer explains that the second stage in the development of an Indigenous paradigm introduces the notion of the paradigm but seeks to maintain mainstream western influences to avoid marginalization.” (p 53)

[“Third Stage” (p 53) …]

“The third stage in the development of an Indigenous paradigm began a focus on decolonization. This stage, best articulated by the Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith in _Decolonizing Methodologies_ (1999), suggests a process of Indigenizing western methodologies.” (p 53)

“It is this awareness of colonization, and the firm belief that Indigenous peoples have their own worldviews, that have led to the present stage in the articulation of our own research paradigm.” (p 53)

[“Fourth Stage” (p 53) …]

“This present stage, referred to in Martin’s chronology as the Indigenist Research Phase, challenges Indigenous scholars to articulate their own research paradigms, their own approaches to research and their own data collection methods.” (p 54)

[“A Shift in Terminology, a Shift in Understanding” (p 54) …]

“Rigney (1997) says, ‘Indigenous people are at a stage where they want research design to contribute to their self-determination and liberation struggles, as it is defined and controlled by their communities’ (p. 3)” (p 54)

[“The Criterion for Indigenous Research” (p 55) …]

[Carlos Cordero (1995) …]

“‘For Indigenous people, knowledge is also approached through the senses and the intuition.’ (p. 30)” (p 55)

[Hampton (1995) …]

“‘Humans — feeling, living, breathing, thinking humans — do research. When we try to cut ourselves off at the neck and pretend an objectivity that does not exist in the human world, we become dangerous, to ourselves first, and then to the people around us.’ (p. 52)” (p 56)

[Steinhauer (2002) quotes Wilson (2001) …]

“‘An Indigenous paradigm comes from the fundamental belief that knowledge is relational. Knowledge is shared with all creation. …’ (p. 177)” (p 56)

“The notion that empirical evidence is sounder than cultural knowledge permeates western thought but alienates many Indigenous scholars.” (p 58)

“Judy Atkinson (2001, p. 10), believes that Indigenous research must be guided by the following principles:

  • ‘Aboriginal people themselves approve the research and the research methods;
  • A knowledge and consideration of community and the diversity and unique nature that each individual brings to the community;
  • Ways of relating and acting within the community with an understanding of the principles of reciprocity and responsibility;
  • Research participants must feel safe and be safe, including respecting issues of confidentiality;
  • A non-intrusive observation, or quietly aware watching;
  • A deep listening and hearing with more than the ears;
  • A reflective non-judgmental consideration of what is being seen and heard;
  • Having learnt from the listening a purposeful plan to act with actions informed by learning, wisdom, and acquired knowledge;
  • Responsibility to act with fidelity in relationship to what has been heard, observed, and learnt;
  • An awareness and connection between logic of mind and the feelings of the heart;
  • Listening and observing the self as well as in relationship to others;
  • Acknowledgment that the researcher brings to the research his or her subjective self.’

By incorporating these principles and functions into the research, the researcher honours the worldviews of Indigenous peoples and does so with ethical responsibility and sensitivity (Atkinson, 2001).” (p 59)

[Weber-Pillwax, 2003, pp. 49-50 …]

“‘A ‘good heart’ guarantees a good motive, and good motives benefit everyone involved. …’

‘Indigenous researchers ground their research knowingly in the lives of real persons as individuals and social beings, not on the world of ideas. …’

‘Any theories developed or proposed are based upon and supported by Indigenous forms of epistemology.'” (p 60)

“… Indigenous research is a ceremony and must be respected as such.” (p 60)

Selected References

  • Allen, H. (1988). History matters: A commentary on divergent interpretations of Australian history. Australian Aboriginal Studies, (2), 79-89.
  • Atkinson, J. (2001, September). Privileging Indigenous research methodologies. In National Indigenous Researchers Forum, University of Melbourne.
  • Beckett, J. (1994). Aboriginal histories, Aboriginal myths: An introduction. Oceania, 65(2), 97-115.
  • Coomer, D. (1984). Critical Science: Approach to Vocational Education Research. Journal of Vocational Education Research, 9(4), 34-50.
  • Cordero, C. (1995). A working and evolving definition of culture. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 21, 28-41.
  • Hampton, E. (1995). Memory comes before knowledge: Research may improve if researchers remember their motives. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 21, 46-54.
  • Martin, K. (2003). Aboriginal people, Aboriginal lands and Indigenist research: A discussion of re-search pasts and neo-colonial research futures. Unpublished Masters thesis, James Cook University, Townville, Australia.
  • Rigney, L. I. (1997). Internationalisation of an Indigenous Anti-colonial Cultural Critique of Research Methodologies: A Guide to Indigenist Research Methodology and Its Principles. In Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual International Conference Proceedings.
  • Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books.
  • Stanner, W.E.H., (1972). After the Dreaming: The Le Boyer Lectures 1968. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Commission.
  • Steinhauer, E. (2002). Thoughts on an Indigenous Research Methodology. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 26(2), 69-81.
  • Weber-Pillwax, C. (2003). Identity Formation and Consciousness with Reference to Northern Alberta Cree and Metis Indigenous Peoples. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation. University of Alberta, Edmonton.
  • Wilson, S. (2001). Self-as-relationship in Indigenous research. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(2), 91-92.
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