Indigenous Knowledge Systems Notes - Theory of Knowledge
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Indigenous Knowledge Systems Quotes
- "We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism" (Rigoberta Menchu Tum).
- “To the early Native people, education was a part of everyday life. Their books were the rocks, the rivers and lakes, the trees and roots, the sun, the moon and the stars. It was from these elements that they fashioned their material culture. Creative life was in everything. One loved nature and nature loved in return. The people believed in only one Supreme Being, The Creator, whose mighty power governs and directs the beginning and end of all things.” (Harold Flett)
- “Pow wows are a time to put differences aside and to celebrate traditions, mostly it is the time to celebrate life. A Pow wow strengthens an entire race of people. To be Anishinabe is to be proud, to know who you are, and where you came from.” (Harold Flett).
- "Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence" (Mourning Dove).
- "Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money" (Cree Indian Expression).
- "We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, We borrow it from our Children" (Indian Proverb).
Every IKS is unique
Let's approach the IKS notes differently. Rather than speaking about how the 400 million indigenous people of the world (UNESCO) approach knoweldge aquisition, in a general way, I'd like to focus on a single group indigenous people, the Ojibwe people of North America. This is useful because each group of indigenous people is unique.
The Ojibwe are the native people I grew up with, so have had a lot of experiences learning about, and sometimes participating in, their culture.
Traditional and modern people
These notes put more emphasis on what might be called “traditional Ojibwe culture.” Contemporary Ojibwe people vary in terms of how much they might call themselevs "traditional" or in how much they are influenced by traditional ways of knowing. And this is important. Some Ojibwe people might draw on IKS very little, whereas others use them a lot. And even those who draw on traditional IKS Ojibwe approaches will still probably rely on reason, emotion and intuition as much as anyone else.
The woman in the picture on the right, Dr. Patricia Clark-Capo, is an example. She is a medical doctor, specialising in OB/GYN, in Colarado. However, she is also a member of the Ojibwe people, raised on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
The meaning of life
For the original Ojibwa people, the meaning of life was inextricably linked to their understanding of Creation (Native Art in Canada). The Creator (known as Kitchi-Manitou), created the universe and then gave mankind a similar ability –they could have a vision and then bring it into reality (Native Art in Canada).
Objibwe ways of knowing
Here are a few ways of approaching knowledge the traditional Ojibwe use:
Difficulties with Studying IKS
IKS is a tricky area because it is quite difficult for non-indigenous people to know exactly what approaches are used in indigenous cultures. Part of this difficulty is deliberate. As on Ojibwe writer notes:
Many of our communities are losing their culture, language, and stories at an alarming rate. At the same time, some communities have taboos about when stories should and should not be told, and what teachings should and should not be shared. (Walking toward the Sacred).
- Chippewa Customs by Frances Densmore 1979 Minn. Hist. Soc. Press (Reprint of the 1929 ed. published by the U.S. Govt. Print. Off., Wash., which was issued as Bull. 86 of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Amer. Ethnology).
- "Dr. Patricia Clark-Capo is newest addition to High Country Healthcare" http://www.summitdaily.com/news/dr-patricia-clark-capo-is-newest-addition-to-high-country-healthcare/
- Flett, Harold. "Customs and Beliefs." Customs and Beliefs. Chi Ki Ken Da Mun. 19 Apr 2008 <http://www.nald.ca/CLR/chikiken/titleiii.htm>.
- International Council for Science / Conseil International pour la Science (March 2002). "Science and Traditional Knowledge: Report from the ICSU Study Group on Science and Traditional Knowledge" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Medicine, Beatrice and Jacobs, Sue-Ellen. "My elders tell me" Learning to Be an Antropologist and Rmeaining "Native. Ubrana: U of Illinois, 2001. 73-74. Print
- Meeker JE, Elias JE, Heim JA: Plants used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa. 1993, Odanah, Wisconsin: Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
- Isaiah Brokenleg, Sicangu Lakota. Walking Toward the Sacred: Our Great Lakes Tobacco Story.
Director of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Project
at Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council
- Turtle Mountain Chippewa Historical Society Website, “Mashkiki.” Content provided by Kade M. Ferris, M.S.
- Ojibwe Medicine - Mshkiki -http://ojibweresources.weebly.com/ojibwe-medicines.html
- James W. Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre. Personal Interview. February 12, 2017.
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