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Decolonizing Education: Native Americans

This guide was originally created for the use of instructors and students in the reACT Decolonizing Education Experiential Learning Program funded by the 2022-2023 TLTC Curriculum Grants. Specifically: ARCH460; ARCH478; ARCH601; ARCH678; CHBE473; ENCH648


1. Understand why incorporating Indigenous perspectives is important in science and other areas.  By introducing Indigenous perspectives into your teaching your students will develop:

  • increased respect and understanding of other cultures
  • ability to think more broadly when exploring social and environmental problems
  • awareness of the relationship between people and their environment
  • understanding of U.S. Indigenous history.

2. Involve Indigenous people. Indigenous people are the best equipped and most appropriate people to teach Indigenous knowledge. Wherever possible you should seek to involve your local Native American community in education programs that involve Indigenous perspectives.

3. Use the materials in this Libguide.

Incorporating Indigenous knowledge and Western Science in Curriculum:
• Promote understandings that the ways Indigenous peoples view the world is valid and different. Avoid making judgments when contrasting worldviews.
• Ensure that Indigenous perspectives lead to an understanding of Indigenous culture
• Remember that knowledge production is socially based, that there is no one true way of understanding and explaining the world; explanations arise from culture.

Source: Living Knowledge: Indigenous Knowledge in Science Education. (2008) "Incorporating Indigenous knowledge into your teaching."  

Payi, L, et al., (2014) The Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge LibGuide: Charles Darwin University Embedding Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledge, Culture and Language, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 45:2, 111-120. 
The School of Education underwent a reaccreditation of the Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Pre-service) in 2012, and the Head of School sought facilitation grant funds from the Charles Darwin University Office of Teaching and Learning to ensure the course was effectively incorporating Indigenous knowledge. This paper explores the embedding or increasing of Indigenous knowledge content in teacher education with particular focus on building an Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge LibGuide with library staff, academics and indigenous students. The LibGuide design offers multimedia access to Indigenous knowledge, culture and languages for the needs of academic teaching staff, and pre-service education students in one convenient location.

Littletree, S., et al.  (2020). Centering Relationality: A Conceptual Model to Advance Indigenous Knowledge Organization Practices. Knowl. Org. 47(2020), No.5 
Scholars and practitioners have exposed the limitations of traditional Euro-American approaches to knowledge organization (KO) when it comes to Indigenous topics. To develop more effective KO practices, there is a need for KO practitioners to understand Indigenous perspectives at an epistemological level. A theoretically informed model of Indigenous systems of knowledge serves as a pedagogical tool to support the labor of boundary spanning and code-switching between Euro-American KO practices and Indigenous KO practices.

Narrative Expansions: Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries Crilly, J., & Everitt, R. (Eds.). (2022). Narrative expansions: interpreting decolonization in academic libraries. Facet Publishing. Libraries across all sectors are responding to the call to decolonize, critically examining their own historic legacies and practices and supporting institutional change. This book brings together current thinking and emerging practices around decolonizing the library, providing conceptual frameworks, and describing emerging practices and their impact.

Benz Azure, L. (2016) Actualizing the Seventh Generation Prophecy: A Case Study in Teacher Education at a Tribal College. Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education. volume 27, No. 3 - Spring 2016.
The purpose of this case study was to conduct a descriptive analysis of a teacher education licensure program for American Indian preservice teachers at a tribal college. Graduates of the program gave their perspectives on what contributed to their successful completion of the program and meeting state licensure requirements. Participants were 10 American Indian graduates of the tribal college elementary education baccalaureate program that was the setting for the case, all of whom have met state licensure requirements and are currently practicing teachers. Methods for data collection encompassed qualitative surveys, documents and archival records, and open-ended interviews. This data triangulation was used to increase the internal validity of the study.

What do we mean by Indigenous knowledge? University of Melbourne 

Guide to Engaging with Indigenous Knowledge. Southern Cross University.

Guide to American Indian & Indigenous Studies. University of Virginia.