This is the first of a series of short reflections I want to share, based on my live tweets of a streamed session by Dr. Shawn Wilson on indigenous research methodologies. I don’t find this easy, because I have to confess how little I know, how much I need to learn, how much I fear not understanding in the right way, or distorting things through my own European roots and lens of privilege. I’m selecting the tweets to write on as they resonate for me at the moment. The two I bring forward here were breathed into life for me at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls march in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side today.
Being with the gathering today, seeing the people and the vivid images, hearing the tragic stories of so many Indigenous women and others, yet also feeling the support and strength among those assembled…What is my relationship to this?
“…a time of reflection on reality as relationships… …relationality is our reality. Our roles in relationships are our ways of being.“
As I understand from Dr. Wilson’s explanation, indigenist research methodologies compel us beyond a research methodology as a technique that can be used at will, to a way of inquiry embedded in the way we live and connect to others and the world around us. A way of seeing the connections between things, people, ideas in a way that changes us. We need to live our research.
“Stages of ceremony–Incorporate into your lifestyle. Bring new knowledge from ceremony in own life and use/share. This is where wisdom comes from. “If your research doesn’t change you, then you haven’t done it right.” Part of the axiology of research.“
This stage of the ceremony turns our research lens both outward and inward at the same time and asks us to confront who we are, what our beliefs and philosophies are, and how we live them out before, during and following our research. I’m reminded how easily research can become disconnected, dispassionate, severed from things that matter. I don’t have answers but rather a question to take away: What does this mean for us as teachers, researchers, learners?
These are my Twitter notes from a remote live stream of an indigenous research methodologies session by Dr. Shawn Wilson, held this day at Royal Roads University, which I shared with the knowledge and approval of the facilitators. There’s a lot to unpack here, which I’ll work on at the right time, but for now since I didn’t create a proper Twitter thread I’ve copied them here in a chronological sequence for anyone who might be interested.
* Modified Feb. 14 to add several tweets missed in the original transfer
** All images are screen shots from the presentation.
Traditional Indigenous knowledge is a system of science.
Science is the system behind our knowledge. Indigenous peoples would not have
survived without science.
What are the four main assumptions behind your research paradigm? Should be easy if you’re a grad student or PhD (paraphrasing)
What philosophy informs your research approach? PhD should = Dr. of Philosophy. But we usually look at other philosophies rather than our own
Not knowing what you believe about your own philosophy &
worldview affects your research. Also you are not seeing your own white
Culture as iceberg – visible culture above and underlying
philosophy below the waterline
Beliefs & values are what make “me” Indigenous, not just visible parts of the culture. “Who am I inside?
Research paradigm: Nature of reality, ways of knowing,
values, methodology–ways of acquiring knowledge. Ontology–what is real. What
is worth researching? What methods are appropriate? Axiology–your values. Who
owns the knowledge? Applies to all research.
Research methodology is a reflection of a worldview
State our world is in requires a different way of looking at
things. We’re f-ing up the planet.
“Wetigo disease” – Colonialism as psychosis – greed knows no limits, perversion knows no borders, deceit etc. (missed some).
Yowi wanders around aimlessly, can’t see its reflection. Has no skin (i.e. no kinships, relations, accountability).
Laughter scares Yowi away. But recognize the Yowi’s power.
Indigenous research carries some answers.
Audience Q about spirit. A: Personal belief vs religion. Religion top part of iceberg that is visible. Often religions become disconnected from their spiritual base. But mostly related to each other at the core.
Love how Shawn Wilson laughs freely and frequently while he talks.
Indigenist/indigenous. Don’t need to be indigenous to follow
an indigenist research paradigm. But also know there’s a different lived
experience. It’s the philosophical system you want to follow. But comes with
rules to live by.
Lovely picture of family, kids, seniors... Everything around us in relationship. We are accountable to those relationships.
…a time of reflection on reality as relationships…
…relationality is our reality. Our roles in relationships are our ways of
“Our ways of knowing are based upon relational epistemology”
“Our ways of being – reciprocal, respectful,
Why research is a ceremony: Reality is relationships – Space
‘between things’ in relationships is sacred – Stepping between things in
relationships enters us into sacred space
Relationships also between ideas, things, abstractions…
“Research is a ceremony for building a closer relationship with an
Stages of ceremony: * Live a congruent lifestyle. (e.g.:
Live it first, before you start. If doing health research be healthy. If
research into environment live an environmentally responsible lifestyle.)
Stages of ceremony * Prepare the space – most western concepts
fit in here as well. * Assemble – bring together actors or ingredients (with
Stages of ceremony – * Engage in Ritual: all working /
thinking together at the same time. Ritualized manner – repeatable, people know
what’s coming next, thinking about the same thing. Miracle will happen. It’s a
miracle when you can teach someone anything
Stages of ceremony- * Incorporate into your lifestyle. Bring
new knowledge from ceremony in own life and use/share. This is where wisdom
comes from. “If your research doesn’t change you, then you haven’t done it
right.” Part of the axiology of research
Distinguish between data, knowledge, wisdom (when lived,
incorporated into lifestyles)
How to document? Everything from tattoos, artwork, environment – many ways to read and relate to others. Different people trained to read in different ways.
You don’t have to be out in the wilderness to see
relationships in the environment. Listening to the land.
Audience Q: Thoughts on appropriation? A: Indigenist vs indigenous paradigm, i.e. without claiming indigenous understanding. Can use a belief system without appropriating lived experience. Understand different relationships to the knowledge
All these things affect the products of our research. Paper, widget, whatever we come up with. “Some products can fundamentally change our belief system.” Cycle. That’s why don’t need to be stuck in culture.
I get to understand concepts in a non-language way. Then I
need to translate it for people. Then you need to translate my words back into
an idea. But if you have different knowledge systems there can be
misunderstandings. Different ways to tell a story.
…need cultural bridges
Stalled video stream gave me a chance to take this final screenshot …. Thanks Dr. Shawn Wilson for sharing your Indigenous knowledge and wisdom today.
Thanks to Royal Roads University for offering this session. I think we all learned a tremendous amount in this brief time. I should add there are parts of this discussion that I didn’t know how to relate in Tweets, for instance where visioning of relations and a discussion about dimensionalities came into play, with analogies to the delightful Flatland novella. I think you had to “be” there…