Kovach (2005). Emerging from the Margins: Indigenous Methodologies.

Kovach, M. (2005). Emerging from the Margins: Indigenous Methodologies. In L. Brown & S. Strega (Eds.), Research as Resistance: Critical, Indigenous and Anti-oppressive Approaches (pp. 19–36). Canadian Scholars’ Press.

“Using the vernacular of academic research language, I skirted around social change, dodged upsetting the status quo, and was as apolitical as possible.” (p 20)

[“Emancipatory Methodologies” (p 21) …]

“Universities have long claimed a monopoly in defining what counts as knowledge (Hall, 1998). … Questioning established views about what counts as meaning, knowledge, and truth provokes defensiveness.” (p 21)

“Positivism was the answer for an individualist, industrial-centric society that was feverishly focused on production outcomes and profit. Universities became think-tanks for knowledge production culminating in research methodologies, extractive in nature, which served industry and business.” (p 22)

“By the late 1970s there were at least three distinct groupings of research paradigms on the radar screen, including the _empirical_ (positivist), _interpretative_, and _critical_ approaches (Kemmis, 2001).” (p 22)

“Gaining control of the research process has been pivotal for Indigenous peoples in decolonization. One methodology from the margins — participatory research — has been an ally. … in Canada the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples developed one of the earliest documented protocols on Indigenous research for current times. In this protocol collaborative research is emphasized, and the Indigenous community’s participation in the development and design of the research model is expected (RCAP, 1996).” (p 23)

[“Indigenous Research” (p 24) …]

[“Epistemology and the Difficulty of Language” (p 25) …]

“… it is critical to preface this discussion with a caution about language. The language that we use shapes the way we think.” (p 25)

“For those who are non-Indigenous, the questions perhaps are more challenging: Am I creating space or taking space?” (p 26)

[Manu Aluli Meyer …]

“He underscores the difficulty of using language that is not of one’s own in constructing knowledge. … Further, the stronghold of language, writing, and world view in generating ‘truth’ creates difficulties for Indigenous peoples whose traditional philosophies are held deep within constructs that are neither written nor consistent with the patterns of dominant language.” (p 26)

“For the Indigenous researcher, incorporating Indigenous epistemology into a non-Indigenous language with all that it implies is complex.” (p 27)

“So what is an Indigenous epistemology? Here are some thoughts. It includes a way of knowing that is fluid (Little Bear, 2000) and experiential, derived from teachings transmitted from generation to generation by storytelling; each story is alive with the nuances and wisdom of the storyteller (King, 2003). It emerges from traditional languages emphasizing verbs, not nouns (Cajete, 1999). It involves a knowing within the subconscious that is garnered through dreams and vision (Castellano, 2000). It is a knowledge that is both intuitive and quiet. Indigenous ways of knowing arise from interrelationships with [page break] the human world, the spirit, and the inanimate entities of the ecosystem (Battiste and Henderson, 2000). Indigenous ways of knowing encompass the spirit of collectivity, reciprocity, and respect (Wilson, 2001). … practical and purposeful. Indigenous ways of knowing are organic with emphasis on reciprocity and humour.” (p 27-28)

“Creswell (2003) … He indicates that the researcher’s theoretical lens will guide her or him in determining which issues are important to study (e.g., Indigenous decolonization); the participants that one ought to include in the study (e.g., Indigenous peoples); the role of the research in relation to the research participants (e.g., subjectivity acknowledged and honoured); and, finally, theory will determine how research is presented and written (e.g., co-writing).” (p 28)

“To ensure that methodology does not focus solely on methods of research, writers have placed each in separate categories — _methodology_ being theory that guides method, and _methods_ the techniques that a researcher uses (Esterberg, 2002; Harding, 1987; Van Manen, 2001). In the social sciences methodologies are categorized according to purpose of research (e.g., _positivist_, _interpretative_, _critical/emancipatory_) (Kemmis, 2001; Neuman, 1997). More recently Indigenous methodology, though nascent in a formal academic sense, has emerged as a research process with its own methodology (Battiste, Bell, and Findlay, 2002; Wilson, 2001) and while it can draw from both _interpretative_ and _critical/emancipatory_ theories, it does not easily fit into a pre-existing Western category.” (p 29)

“There are three key themes of Indigenous methodology (all grounded in Indigenous epistemology and theory) that I would like to briefly highlight: (a) the relational; (b) the collective; (c) and methods.” (p 30)

“_The Relational_: Indigenous ways of knowing have a basis in the relationships that are inclusive of all life forms. … a relationship-based approach is a practical necessity because access to the community is unlikely unless time is invested in relationship building.” (p 30)

“_The Collective_: Woven with the philosophical premise of relationship is the collective underpinning of Indigenous research.” (p 30)

[“Methods” (p 31) …]

“For example, dreams have long been a source of knowledge for Indigenous cultures. Solitude with nature and the gift of insight we receive from those experiences are another source of knowledge.” (p 31)

“Because Indigenous ways of knowing are intricately connecting to Indigenous ways of doing, I propose that epistemology, theory, methods, and ethical protocols are integral to Indigenous methodology.” (p 32)

[“Hopes, Challenges, and Concluding Remarks” (p 32) …]

Selected References

  • Battiste, M., Bell, L., and Findlay, L.M. (2002). An interview with Linda Tuhiwai Te Rina Smith. Canadian Journal of Native Education 26 (2), 169–186.
  • Battiste, M., and Henderson, Y. (2000). Protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.
  • Cajete, G. (1999). Native science: Natural laws of interdependence. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers.
  • Castellano, M. (2000). Updating Aboriginal traditions of knowledge. In G. Sefa Dei and B. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigeneous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple reading of our world, pp. 21–36. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Esterberg, K.G. (2002). Qualitative methods in social research. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  • Hall, B. (1998). Knowledge, democracy and higher education: Contributions from adult and lifelong learning. In B. Hall (Ed.), Lifelong learning and institutes of higher education in the 21st century, 17–29. Mumbai: Department of Adult Education and Continuing Education and Extension, University of Mumbai.
  • Harding, S. (1987). Introduction: Is there a feminist method? In S. Harding (Ed.), Feminism and methodology, pp. 1–4. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Kemmis, S. (2001). Exploring the relevance of critical theory for action research: Emancipatory action research in the footsteps of Jürgen Habermas. In P. Reason and H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice, pp. 91–102. London: Sage.
  • King, T. (2003). The truth about stories: A Native narrative. Toronto: Dead Dog Cafe Productions Inc. and CBC Corporation.
  • Little Bear, L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Battiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision, 77–85. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Meyer, A.M. (2001). A cultural assumptions of empiricism: A Native Hawaiian critique. Canadian Journal of Native Education 25 (2), 188–198.
  • Neuman, W.L. (1997). The meaning of methodology. In W.L. Neuman (Ed.), Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches, pp. 60–84. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples for Seven Generations. (1996). Ethical guidelines for research. Ottawa: Libraxus Inc.
  • Van Manen, M. (2001). Researching lived experience. London: University of Western Ontario.
  • Wilson, S. (2001). What is an Indigenous research methodology? The Canadian Journal of Native Education 25 (2), 175–179.
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