Kovach (2010). Epistemology and Research: Centring Tribal Knowledge. (Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts.)

Kovach, M. (2010). Epistemology and Research: Centring Tribal Knowledge. In Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts (pp. 55–74). University of Toronto Press.

“The deeper that I submerge myself into tribal knowledge systems, the more I resist Western ways of knowing as a given for _all_ academic research, …” (p 55)

[“Indigenous Knowledges and Research” (p 56) …]

“It is difficult to define, deconstruct, or compartmentalize the different aspects of knowing (‘science,’ spirit, inward knowing) within an Indigenous context — reductionist tools seem to not work here. As Battiste and Henderson indicate, ‘universal definitions of Indigenous knowledge’ do not work well either because the knowledge, particularly the knowledge that originates from the extraordinary, is deeply personal and particular (2000: 36).” (p 56)

“Indigenous scholar Marlene Brandt-Castellano identifies Indigenous knowledges as coming from a multitude of sources, including ‘traditional teachings, empirical observations, and revelations,’ and she goes on to suggest that revelations comprise various sources, including ‘dreams, visions, cellular memory, and intuition’ (quoted in E. Steinhauer, 2002: 74).” (p 57)

“This suggests that energy reveals itself as knowings stored deep within a collective unconscious and surfaces through dreams, prayer, ceremonial ritual, and happenings (Cardinal, 2001; Ermine, 1999).” (p 57)

“All the Indigenous researchers showed respect for holistic knowledges. They held as legitimate inward understanding imbued by spirit.” (p 58)

“Language is a primary concern in preserving Indigenous philosophies, and it is something that must be thought through within research epistemologies.” (p 59)

“Inevitably, the question of whether language and method shape thought or thought shapes language and method surfaces. Is it the chicken or the egg?” (p 59)

[Same page… –oki]

“Given the role of language in shaping thought and culture …” (p 59)

“Daniel Wildcat considers how place informs: ‘You see and hear things by being in a forest, on a river, or at an ocean coastline; you gain real experiential knowledge that you cannot see by looking at the beings that live in those environments under a microscope or in a laboratory experiment’ (in Deloria and Wildcat, 2001: 36).” (p 61)

“Stories, like name-place legends, give comfort and grounding, and offer the warmth of belonging. It is from here that we can reach out to the world. Stories connected to place are both about collectivist tribal orientation, and they are located within our personal knowing and conceptual framework of the world.” (p 62)

[“Nêhiýaw Epistemology” (p 63) …]

“It also has much to do with Western science’s uneasy relationship with the metaphysical. Yet, all ways of knowing are needed, and the Cree ancestors knew this.” (p 68)

[“A Conversation with Michael Hart” (p 68) …]

[“Postscript: A Written Correspondence from Michael Hart after the Interview” (p 71) …]

Selected References

  • Battiste, M., and Henderson, J.Y. (2000). Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage: A Global Challenge. Saskatoon: Purich.
  • Cardinal, L. (2001). What is an Indigenous perspective? Canadian Journal of Native Education 25(2): 180–2.
  • Deloria, V., Jr., and Wildcat, D.R. (2001). Power and Place. Golden, CO: Fulcrum.
  • Ermine, W. (1999). Aboriginal epistemology. In M. Battiste (Ed.), First Nations Education in Canada: The Circle Unfolds, 101–12. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Steinhauer, E. (2002). Thoughts on an Indigenous research methodology. Canadian Journal of Native Education 26(2): 69–81.
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