Through indigenous lenses
“When scientific research engages with indigenous knowledge it can fulfil an important role in supporting communities in addressing their sustainability and well-being. This is particularly important in the post-colonial setting where science must recognise its position within a wider context of indigenous development. As some scholars note, the formation and use of knowledge are not void of power, and if underlying inequalities are not addressed, research on indigenous knowledge can become an instrument reinforcing scientific and Western progress. Linda Smith (1999) has argued for the decolonisation of methodologies, and for research, historically seen as helping colonialism, to build new approaches that are more respectful, ethical, sympathetic and useful for indigenous peoples. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN 2007) emphasises the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.” [Allen et al. 2009]
In that paper we reflected on the need to “do science in the right spirit” and engage with supporting communities in addressing their sustainability and wellbeing. In terms of indigenous communities this can only emerge from the development of genuine relationships between these communities and science. The effectiveness of science is enhanced if it is embedded appropriately in culture, and this applies to all settings – not just to indigenous. The paper also points to the need to build capacity within science in some key areas: the ability to place research projects in a wider cultural context, to build and maintain trust, and always to respect “the custom of the house or the land you are in”. Being mindful to manage our skills in these areas will help to better meet the needs of both indigenous communities and science. The links below point to some recent resources that I have found useful in thinking about my practice in these areas:
Navigating towards marine co-management with Indigenous communities on-board the Waka-Taurua
Kimberley Maxwell and colleagues (2020) Marine Policy
The paper aims to explore how both Indigenous-Māori and NZ societal values can be integrated into a marine co-management decision-making framework. The authors describe the Waka-Taurua (double-canoe) framework, and how it can be applied in developing a NZ marine management system (NZ-MMS), which includes both kaitiakitanga (a Māori concept of reciprocal care between Indigenous-Māori people and their territorial environment), and EBM, equitably. They argue that the Waka-Taurua framework can improve how marine co-management systems are developed by facilitating a more structured and equitable discussion of both Indigenous-Māori and broader societal worldviews, values, and practices.
Challenges on the path to Treaty-based Local Government relationships
Maria Bargh (2020) Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online
This paper examines some of the challenges for Māori and Local Government on the path to Treaty-based Local Government relationships. It suggests significant challenges exist in three core areas. The first relates to the attitudes towards the ideas of Treaty-based Local Government and evident in common terminology which has a narrow focus on the identity of Māori as ‘representatives’ rather than ‘Treaty partners’. The second area of challenge is in having Māori wards/constituencies established which, when they are established, are symbolically the beginnings of an acknowledgment of Treaty obligations and relationships. The third challenge is the lack of good data which limits understandings of Māori involvement in Local Government.
Moving beyond the human-nature dichotomy through biocultural approaches: including ecological well-being in resilience indicators
Sophie Caillon et al. (2017) Ecology & Society
The authors argue that in order to develop effective, culturally appropriate, and equitable conservation strategies that ensure social-ecological resilience, conservation planners and practitioners must conceive of human and ecological wellbeings as an interrelated system. By giving nature a voice, and by viewing nature and people as an undifferentiated whole, some indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) have philosophical bases for achieving well-being for both humans and nature. These approaches encompass both the biological and cultural aspects of a system, address complex relationships and feedbacks within human and ecological well-being, and offer flexible frameworks that facilitate synthesis across different metrics, knowledge systems, and ontologies.
The process of developing indicators of resilience with a biocultural approach could help (1) overcome the human–nature dichotomy that often makes global approaches incompatible with local approaches by integrating local peoples’ diverse forms of relating to nature, (2) reflect two-way feedbacks between people and their environment by focusing on processes, not just final states, and (3) define, measure, and monitor ecological and human well-being as a whole.
Mātauranga Māori: shaping marine and freshwater futures
Joanne Clapcott and colleagues (2018) New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Mātauranga Māori is a continuum of distinct knowledge with Polynesian origins that grew in Aotearoa New Zealand, including Māori worldview, values, culture and cultural practice, and perspectives that establish Māori identity, responsibilities, and rights to manage and use resources. In this paper, the authors discuss the guiding principles and emerging ideas from mātauranga Māori in relation to marine and freshwater kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
Factors that support Indigenous involvement in multi-actor environmental stewardship
Nicholas J Reo, Kyle P Whyte, Deborah McGregor, MA (Peggy) Smith and James F Jenkins (2017) AlterNative
Regional, multi-actor environmental collaborations bring together diverse parties to achieve environmental protection and stewardship outcomes. Involving a range of participants helps involve alternative forms of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives; it may also present greater challenges in reaching agreements, particularly when both Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties are involved. The authors found six characteristics influenced Indigenous nations’ willingness to remain engaged: respect for Indigenous knowledges, control of knowledge mobilization, intergenerational involvement, self-determination, continuous cross-cultural education, and early involvement. Being attentive of these factors can help partnerships achieve their environmental goals by keeping important partners at the table.
Indigenous knowledge, methodology and mayhem: What is the role of methodology in producing Indigenous insights? A discussion from mātauranga Māori
Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Te Kahautu Maxwell, Haupai Puke, Pou Temara (2016) Knowledge Cultures
The emergence of an academic discourse called Indigenous knowledge internationally, and mātauranga Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand, presents some substantive challenges to concepts of knowing and being, of knowledge creation, knowledge work and the making of meaning. These challenges engage us across philosophical, disciplinary, institutional, inter-generational, territorial and community boundaries. This article raises some discussion about ‘research methodologies’ being used when discussing mātauranga Māori and Indigenous knowledge. Research methodologies are often associated with specific disciplines of knowledge and viewed as the primary if not singular way in which knowledge is generated. Arguably, IK mātauranga occupies a different knowledge space from traditional academic disciplines, including their transdisciplinary interstices.
Managing beyond designations: supporting endogenous processes for nurturing biocultural development
J. Marina Apgar, James M. Ataria and Will J. Allen (2011) International Journal of Heritage Studies
This paper observes that endogenous processes within indigenous territories are important for a continued nurturing of biocultural diversity. Accordingly, the authors argue that it is important to move beyond conservation-driven management models towards models that support endogenous processes. Designations for biocultural diversity, need to recognise that people, biodiversity and place are best managed as an interconnected whole, and actively support the well-being and self-determination of indigenous peoples. The paper uses examples from Panama (indigenous Kuna Yala territory) and New Zealand (Mataura Mātaitai Reserve, Southland) to reﬂect upon the ongoing role of endogenous processes and how they interact with exogenous designations. Through the case studies the authors illustrate the importance of contextualising our understanding of biocultural diversity as part of endogenous development to recognise wider issues of indigenous rights. Finally, they offer some lessons for managing beyond designations and supporting endogenous processes.
Kia pono te mahi putaiao—doing science in the right spirit
Will Allen , Jamie M. Ataria , J. Marina Apgar , Garth Harmsworth & Louis Tremblay (2009) Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand
When scientific research engages with indigenous knowledge it can fulfil an important role in supporting communities in addressing their sustainability and wellbeing. This is particularly important in the post-colonial setting where science must recognise its position within a wider context of indigenous development. This paper acknowledges that the role and use of indigenous knowledge in environmental research raises some particular issues for transdisciplinary approaches. The paper reminds us that “doing science in the right spirit” can only emerge from genuine relationships between indigenous communities and science. The effectiveness of science is enhanced if embedded in culture, and this applies to all community settings, not just to indigenous. The authors do, however, point to the need to build capacity within science in some key areas: the ability to place research projects in a wider cultural context, to build and maintain trust, and always to respect “the custom of the house or the land you are in”.
Decolonising research methodologies: lessons from a qualitative research project, Cape Town, South Africa
Mpoe Johannah Keikelame & Leslie Swartz (2019) Global Health Action
It is becoming increasingly important for researchers to critically reflect on approaches that can have a positive impact on the health outcomes of indigenous people. The authors raise major issues about important structures such as power, trust, cultural competence, respectful and legitimate research practice and recognition of individual and communities’ health assets in a decolonising research process. They argue for alternative approaches which are culturally appropriate for health research and for improved health outcomes of marginalised groups. In addition, they argue that participatory and transformative research methods which recognises individual and communities’ assets are needed.