In the past week there has been a lot of activity on-site in Scottsdale, Arizona, as described also in the President’s Newsletter. The meeting with the Council of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community was followed up with a visit of two Council members to the AUSN offices. I also had meetings with the head of the Education and Culture Departments, and meetings with staff of the Health Center. We will be announcing some exciting programmes in the coming months.
Research at the Institute of Indigenous Peoples and Global Studies is also underway, with discussions with NIH, academics and other bodies on research programs. There will be some major conferences in 2014 in Arizona with different groups of stakeholders.
I attended the first Conference of the American Indigenous Research Association, held 11-12 October 2013, at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana. There have been efforts over the past few decades at different times to stimulate higher education and research among Native American Indian tribes, and we hope that this one will help promote scholarship among indigenous persons with a range of methodologies. I found similarities to some meetings I organized in the Pacific over the past decade, and similar urgency.
The first day started with a Prayer by Virgil Brave Rock (Blood/Blackfeet), then a Welcome by Tribal Council person from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and by Mr. Robert DePoe, President of Salish Kootenai College. Dr. Lori Lambert of Salish Kootenai College, as conference chairperson, introduced Dr. Shawn Wilson, University Centre for Rural Health, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Dr. Wilson is Opaskwayak Cree from northern Manitoba, Canada with expertise in research methodology and epistemologies, particularly in ways of knowing and conducting research used by Indigenous peoples. He has applied these within the contexts of Indigenous education, counseling and counsellor education, Indigenous mental health and general Indigenous studies through comparison between Indigenous peoples internationally. His current role is in building research capacity with primary health care workers.
He introduced concepts also found in his book, Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, describing a research paradigm shared by indigenous scholars in Canada and Australia, this study demonstrates how this standard can be put into practice. Portraying indigenous researchers as knowledge seekers who work to progress indigenous ways of being, knowing, and doing in a constantly evolving context, this examination shows how relationships both shape indigenous reality and are vital to reality itself. These same knowledge seekers develop relationships with ideas in order to achieve enlightenment in the ceremony of maintaining accountability. Envisioning researchers as accountable to all relations, this overview proves that careful choices should be made regarding selection of topics, methods of data collection, forms of analysis, and the way in which information is presented. In addition to further articulating Indigenous philosophies and research paradigms, his research focuses on the inter-related concepts of identity, health and healing, culture and wellbeing.
At the conference, next there was introduction of a video documentary of Ila Bussidor’s story (Sayisi Dene), former chief of the Sayisi Dene: Night Spirits and The Relocation of the Sayisi Dene from their homeland.
There were also presentations by Dr. Bonnie Duran (Opelousas/Coushatta), University of Washington, Seattle, Dr. Georgia Johnson, The University of Idaho, Dr. Kari Harris, The University of Montana School of Public Health. He spoke on Incorporating Indigenous Research content into mainstream courses: an example from Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health. Co Carew (Mescalero Apache/Mi’kmaq), MSW, Salish Kootenai College talked on Evidenced Based Practice and Indigenous Research Methodologies in Social Work. Frank Finley, (Salish) talked on Native String Theory and Indigenous Research.
Corinna Littlewolf (Northern Cheyenne), talked on Historical Trauma and how people could be the Link, for Healing Generations Past.
The second day started with a lecture by Dr. Margaret Kovach (Great Plains Cree and Saulteaux), Educational Foundations, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Her work focuses not only on research methods but also on cultural epistemology impacts on learning in elementary, high school, and adult education. Her most recent book, “Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts” (2011) won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Scholarly Writing.
Dr. Dawn Adams, is Vision-Keeper and Senior Scientist Tapestry Institute, Longmont, Colorado, United States. She works to integrate different ways of knowing, learning about, and responding to the natural world. She also teaches people about horse biology and worked as a biology professor for nearly 15 years before leaving academia to found Tapestry. She taught general biology, anatomy, and evolution to undergraduate and graduate students, ran a successful graduate program in animal biomechanics, and worked to integrate her worldview as a Choctaw woman into her science teaching. She was awarded 5 National Science Foundation grants for science education, four of them for Tapestry projects in Indigenous Science. She also served on a number of NSF and other federal panels, including the highest committee at NSF, and national panels for multicultural and multidisciplinary research and education. She is enrolled in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Dr. Lori Lambert, Director for Distance Education and Curriculum Coordinator Salish Kootenai College, Flathead Indian Reservation Pablo, Montana, United States, is an enrolled member of the Abenaki and Mi’kmaq Nations. She discussed her experience including a recent book “Indigenous Research Methodologies in Ethno-psychology”.
Dr. Ed Galindo, the Natural Resources Tribal Cooperative Director at the Aquaculture Research Institute at the University of Idaho. Shared his work on encouraging Indian students to research science, and a number of his projects were taken in the space program onto the International Space Station.
John Herrington (Chickasaw), gave a presentation as the only Native American Astronaut on his current PhD work in education from the University of Idaho. There was also Panel with presentations from the Nez Perce Doctoral cohort, University of Idaho, who shared their experiences in completing their doctoral degrees using indigenous research methodologies.
The networking at the conference was useful for further considering the context of AUSN’s place, as a global University that will develop teaching and research programs that will strive for excellence under all research paradigms. AUSN has cooperation agreements with Eubios Ethics Institute and other international institutions, to encourage joint community action, research, academic and educational activities.
We welcome junior and senior research fellows as well as students. The past week also involved a number of one on one meetings with researchers, and development of ideas for cooperative research and action.