Regenerating Successes with Indigenous Knowledge: Possibilities, Practices, and Perplexities within Eurocentric Education

Dr. Marie Battiste

Little is known about Indigenous knowledges and their diverse epistemologies, pedagogies, and methodologies by which they may be comprehended in Canadian universities.  Cognitive imperialism has controlled the institutional dependencies on Eurocentrism and their disciplinary knowledges despite the diverse knowledges available worldwide. Hegemony of power relations has further controlled what knowledge counts, what gets produced and disseminated in institutions funded by the state, and what metrics are used to determine their validity, usefulness and accessibility to resources. The long-term implications for Indigenous peoples is that IK get little attention, support, or uptake unless they are tied to economic rationalizations arising from the use of IK and its exploitation for local and global gain. As such, IK continue to be eroded, threatening Indigenous peoples’ languages, livelihood, connections to land, communities and relations and their place in Canada’s economic and social plan. There are, however, new factors leading to a new discourse of Indigenous peoples, their knowledges and their success.

Awareness of the rising population of Indigenous peoples in Canada, the emerging scholarship on the value and importance of IK for global security of food, land and sustainability, the Canadian Courts’ issuance of a need for constitutional reconciliation with Indigenous peoples who are perceived owners of their land and resources, and the institutional priorities for Indigenous peoples engagement in universities and their equitable education have signalled new priorities for Indigenous peoples and their knowledges, epistemologies. These priorities are elaborated upon in the Canadian Deans of Education Accord on Indigenous Education (2010), the Canadian University and Colleges (2014), and locally in the Indigenous foundation document at the University of Saskatchewan. Since 2009, the Canadian Council of Ministers of Education has further prioritized Aboriginal achievement as a Canadian mission, yet it has not formulated a plan for how institutions are to achieve this priority, except through programs that are transitional methods of assimilation at best.

The paper will further critique IK and institutional integration practices, in particular, what role does integration and infusion of IK into conventional institutional disciplines and research have in marginalizing, deteriorating or misaligning IK with conventional disciplinary knowledges and methodologies and metrics of success? How can outcomes for success be understood as to frame a balanced knowledge economy in higher education?