knowledge is power

This morning, I arose, thinking about the importance of Indigenous Methodologies.

It is most important in realizing these are a way of talking back, of reclaiming, or situating ourselves in our research- where research has been one of the dirtiest words used (Smith, 1999).

Research as we know, as those who have been exploited through the colonial exploits of research know this means many things.

It means research was used to uphold the colonial regime. It was used to control, to take, to steal.

It was used as a method of legitimizing acts of cruelty. (Tuskegee syphilis studies, Nuremberg Trials, Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital cancer studies, Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942–1952)

The need to decolonize research methodologies where research involving Indigenous People is hugely important and necessary if not the time is now, to engage meaningful research practices where research and the researched are apart of research design and practice. Where Indigenous Methodologies are concerned, was I have learned and my interpretation is that cited from the University of Calgary,

Indigenous methods enfold a researcher and community members into a layered  relationship (mind, body, emotion, and spirit) in a holistic, investigative endeavor. All Indigenous methods serve to preserve Indigenous voices, build resistance to dominant discourses, create political integrity and most importantly perhaps, strengthen the community. (

Something I have learned and take very seriously as an Indigenous Researcher is my role in research. I have committed my work, so far, to date, and will plan to build upon this, is my commitment to build opportunities, build relationships, restore power imbalance, break down structural racism(this is so embedded and hard for the privileged to understand and pretty much an area, of huge red flagging). To reiterate what I know, through analysis, commitment on my part to learn and to ensure that, stories are protected and shared in a manner where benefits are reciprocal and respectful.

To date, positivist research which is rooted in colonial discourse, is not helpful and carries more harm. If researchers want to access Indigenous people for their studies, the question should always be why? To who’s benefit. The answer is not a simple one either.

Indigenous people in cities, and organizations where researchers may knock on the doors of, to work with and provide research opportunities must be monitored carefully.

Questions to ask include: How is our research respectful? 
How is our research reciprocal?How is our research relevant?  Will this research be accessible to those in my organization?Can my community/organization  play a role in the research and how?How is this research building on relations? What and how do you as the researcher contribute to the organizations mandate?Will there be phases to this research?Are there Indigenous Researchers on your team? How have they been a part of the design of the research, grant application and how have their contributions been noted in the design?Does this research contribute to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC, Calls To Action and how?Where and how does this research play a role in the community you live?Cultural protocols in research & how will this be managed or maintained?What vision was a part of this process? What vision does this process provide?

And importantly, an oldie, “A Holistic Framework for Aboriginal Policy Research with one of my favourite researchers on board, Dr. Emily Faires, who I first learned about Indigenous Research from and worked on the Education Jurisdiction Negotiations with NAN.

Research is to be reciprocal. there are no barriers to sharing our stories.

  1. Sharing
    This is about sharing knowledge amongst whānau, and between other indigenous people around the world. Sharing assumes that knowledge is for the collective benefit and that knowledge is a form of resistance. The ways in which knowledge is shared differs amongst communities. For Māori, hui and kānohi ki te kānohi (face to face) gatherings are the best means of communicating and sharing knowledge. This is supplemented by more mainstream avenues such as through media and advertising.

“Sharing is the responsibility of research. The technical term for this is the dissemination of results, usually very boring to non-researchers, very technical and very cold. For indigenous researchers sharing is about demystifying knowledge and information and speaking in plain terms to the community. It is a very skilled speaker who can share openly at this level within the rules of the community” (Smith, 1999, p.161).

To be continued-

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