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Indigenous Research

Indigenous Research Methodology

What is an Indigenous Research Methodology

“Research by and for Indigenous Peoples, using techniques and methods drawn from the tradition and knowledges of those people” (Evans, Hole, Berg, Hutchinson & Sookraj 2008)

  • Recognition of colonial past and of Indigenous Peoples
  • Resist colonial narratives
  • Resurgence of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being
  • Insider/Outsider Research
  • Preventing research extraction
  • Indigenous self-determination
  • Combating power dynamics in “traditional” research practices


What are Indigenous Research Methods?

  • Storytelling
  • Personal reflection 
  • Visiting
  • Sharing Circles
  • Ceremony (Formal and informal)
  • Art creation 
  • Dance
  • and more!


What is Indigenous Centred Research?

Indigenous centered research is;

1. Community-led

2. Incorporates Indigenous World Views 

3. Purposeful 

4. Personal 

5. Based on relationships 

6. Pushes back against colonial boundaries 

7. Focused on resiliency and resistance 

8. Raises up Indigenous voices and peoples 

Guidelines for Indigenous Research 

  1. Situate yourself in your work and the research 
    • Where are you from? 
    • Who are you accountable to? 
    • What are your biases? 
  2. Follow Cultural Protocols 
    • This will ensure that the research is done in a respectful and responsible way, while following community traditions, governance structures, and guidelines. 
  3. Collaboration 
    • The goal is to research with not research on Indigenous peoples
    • Questions to ask are; 
      • Who are we researching for?
      • How will the community benefit from this research/project ?
      • What are your current relationships with the community? 
      • How transparent is your research to the community? 
      • At what points in your research are you connecting with the community?
  4. Consent and Ownership
    • Do not assume anything is in the public domain 
    • Who is claiming "ownership" of any research data and research materials? 
    • Consent must be given by the community before any research material is published 
    • Where Cultural Protocols followed? 
  5. Compensation 
    • Collaboration and consultation takes time and effort, it can also take emotional labour. Everyone deserves to be compensated for their time and energy. 

Suggested Reading

Book Cover of

Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies - Chris Andersen & Jean M. O'Brien

Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies is a synthesis of changes and innovations in methodologies in Indigenous Studies, focusing on sources over a broad chronological and geographical range. Written by a group of highly respected Indigenous Studies scholars from across an array of disciplines, this collection offers insight into the methodological approaches contributors take to research, and how these methods have developed in recent years.

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Decolonizing Methodologies - Linda Tuhiwai Smith

This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes of truth.' Concepts such as 'discovery' and 'claiming' are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.

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Kaandossiwin: How We Come to Know - Kathleen E. Absolon

In exploring the ways Indigenous researchers use Indigenous methodologies within mainstream academia, "Kaandossiwin" renders these methods visible and helps to guard other ways of knowing from colonial repression.

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Research Is Ceremony - Shawn Wilson

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. 

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Indigenous Methodologies - Margaret Kovach

What are Indigenous research methodologies, and how do they unfold? Indigenous methodologies flow from tribal knowledge, and while they are allied with several western qualitative approaches, they remain distinct. These are the focal considerations of Margaret Kovach's study, which offers guidance to those conducting research in the academy using Indigenous methodologies. Kovach includes topics such as Indigenous epistemologies, decolonizing theory, story as method, situating self and culture, Indigenous methods, protocol, meaning-making, and ethics. 

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Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit - Marie Battiste

Chronicling the negative consequences of forced assimilation, racism inherent to colonial systems of education, and the failure of current educational policies for Aboriginal populations, Battiste proposes a new model of education, arguing the preservation of Aboriginal knowledge is an Aboriginal right. Central to this process is the repositioning of Indigenous humanities, sciences, and languages as vital fields of knowledge, revitalizing a knowledge system which incorporates both Indigenous and Eurocentric thinking.