Indigenous knowledge systems and Alaska native ways of knowing

Indigenous knowledge systems and Alaska native ways of knowing

Developing strategies to integrate western knowledge with indigenous and Alaska ways of knowing

Until recently, literature on Native world views and ways of knowing has been scarce. Indigenous peoples globally have sustained their unique world views and knowledge systems for ages even in the face of transformative forces beyond their control. This article explores the processes of learning that occur within and at the intersection of diverse world views and knowledge systems, drawing on experiences from across Fourth World contexts, particularly the Alaska context. It outlines the rationale behind a comprehensive programme of educational initiatives that are closely articulated with the emergence of a new generation of indigenous scholars.

The article breaks down the study of indigenous knowledge systems in relation to education into the following inter-related research themes:

  • documentation and articulation of indigenous knowledge systems
  • delineating epistemological structures and processes associated with indigenous ways of knowing
  • developing educational strategies to integrate indigenous and western knowledge and ways of knowing.
The paper suggests the following strategies to integrate indigenous and western knowledge:
  • collaboration among scholars across the indigenous cultural regions will enhance the degree of generalisability that can be achieved and facilitate the transfer of knowledge to other related sectors
  • research initiatives should engage scholars incorporating multiple research traditions and theories associated with cultural and contextual influences on learning, teaching and cognition
  • ethno-mathematics provides opportunities for research on mathematics learning across cultures and has significant implications for schooling
  • indigenous language learning contributes to better integration of learning in school with the local cultural context in indigenous societies
  • it is important to draw Native elders into the educational process and to utilise natural learning environments in which knowledge is being passed on to the students by the elders
  • it is import to link education to the physical and cultural environment in which the student/school is situated
  • the ways of constructing, organising, using, and communicating knowledge practiced by indigenous peoples for centuries constitute a form of science with its own integrity and validity
  • cultural systems, complexity and learning: is an area which has the potential to evolve as a significant research theme that capitalises on the recent insights gained from the study of complex adaptive systems
  • indigenising research in education: it is important for indigenous people to devise and use their own research methodologies in their own local community and cultural contexts.
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