File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2002/postcolonial.0207, message 8


Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 12:44:52 -0700
Subject: Re: Theory  - re pier smiths inquiry & pacific rim...



10 years ago we actually founded a company so that we could do "awareness" 
for agencies, governments etc for years on First Nations issues.  We 
founded a private company so that we could have quality control of our own 
theoretical position...and one could argue thereby commodifying it ..more 
than earning a profit.  Needless to say it doesn't earn us a living (we 
have to teach and etc) but it has provided some satisfaction in extending 
understanding.  The motivation was largely in self defense and to make life 
more bearable for the next generation.

My partner, a Nuu-chah-nulth hawii (an aboriginal/indigenous/Indian/Native 
American...hereditary chief) and we are community members of Ahousaht which 
is an island off of Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia 
Canada.  I think that one of the Europhilosophers suggested that this area 
was beyond western civilization so how could we be theorizing....

Indigenous people here talked formally and contractually with each other 
via an institution labelled as the "Potlatch" which means to give, in 
Chinook jargon (See Potlatch Papers by Chris Bracken, 1997 Chicago 
university press) ...the paraphernalia for that formal conversation, 
meaning making, contracting, was looted and taken by westerners to museums 
in Europe ...the Royal British keeps some of the most important vehicles of 
West Coast "theory" in its basement where no one sees it except they ask 
and the museum refuse repatriation outright because: it belongs to "the 
people" (curator).  So what does one do when the vehicles for the "theory" 
distilled over thousands of years are distanced....gone...
when the paraphernalia are cues that activate whole meaning systems...what 
happens to the recall to the process to the products...its something we are 
grappling with...
one might see it as as a system with a very basic flaw....its something 
like the library in Alexandria burning...
but textuality is a particular kind of conservation and reproduction of 
knowledge with its own built in problems...and so now there is work to 
revisit the indigeneities...how timely....

Embodied/performed "theory" from non-EuroAmerican settings 
translated/adapted for EuroAmerican audience is a tough one.  My partner 
just dropped of a manuscript to a publisher last week.

Interestingly enough the feedback from one of the readers were complaints 
about how there was too much western material used to compare or critique 
or explain....well if there wasn't what would the book be doing???!!!  its 
like explaining synesthesia..cross cultural leakage of phenomenon and 
ategories is hard to explain when one isn't organized by some universals...

For example, I was offered the option of doing a performance piece for my 
dissertation instead of a textual piece.  Makes sense.  How do we, who have 
embodied culture in one worldview and language maintain the authority in 
translation when for centuries...the colonizer has asserted the right to 
interpret these...Is we struggle to write, in English, and systematize the 
cultural perspectives as theory the issues are many.

There is some work that has been done in indigenous theory and how can it 
escape being about decolonization also.
My own recent dissertation is about how storywork was and still is used in 
aboriginal education identifying an ideology of Nuu-chah-nulth learning 
which is systematized as a theory about learning and leadership from which 
I make recommendations about decolonization.  Now there are only about 
7,000 Nuu-chah-nulth...the population has "bounced back" from a low of less 
than 1,000 on the early part of the century...there are few native 
speakers....so we could say "so what"!...

from my perspective it is about the value of diversity.  Bio diversity is 
great...environmentalists go to great lengths...but cultural 
diversity...well...its expensive...its difficult...when we have been used 
to the grand narratives...the one way, one size fits all of scientism...

The rub is we write about this in English in a comparative perspective.  We 
are now telling it how it is...
rather than having someone interpret behaviors in their perspective....

Many of the larger presses are just beginning to be interested as they see 
the market enlarge.  UBC Press, a fairly major academic press in Canada, 
currently has got several indigenous authors in the process of 
publication.  Academic presses are more likely to fill this need than others.

Many North American indigenous peoples have written through the area of 
education particularly in response to the educational and residential 
school systems established to colonize more effectively.  Also much of the 
theorizing is about problem solving...talking back on the ground...

A sample of some of the people and resources that inform my teaching:
New Zealand:
Linda Tuhiwai Smith 1999 Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and 
Indigenous Peoples.  Zed Books

Canada
Battiste is a Micmac scholar who has published extensively: eg.
         1986 Micmac literacy and cognitive assimilation. J. Barman, Y. 
Hebert, & Don McCaskill (Eds.) Indian Education in Canada. Vol 1. The 
legacy. pp.23-44 UBC Press.
         2000. Maintaining Aboriginal Identity, Language, and Culture in 
Modern Society In Battiste, Marie, ed., Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and 
Vision, 192-208. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Sharilyn Calliou 1999 Sunrise: Activism and self-determination in First 
Nations Education. (1972-1998). J.H. Hylton (Ed.) Aboriginal self 
government in Canada: Cultural trends and issues (2nd. Ed). (pp. 197-186) 
Sask Purlich Publishing.

         1995 Peacekeeping actions at home: A medicine wheel model for a 
peacekeeping pedagogy.  M. Battiste & J. Barman (Eds). First Nations 
Education: The circle unfolds. pp. 47-72 Vol. II
UBC Press

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred, Mohawk, publishes on political science eg. 1999 
Peace, Power, Righteousness: an indigenous manifesto. Oxford U Press

Eber Hampton 2000 First Nations controlled university education in Canada. 
In M. Brant Costellano, L. Davis, & L. Lahache (Esd.) Aborignal education: 
Fulfilling the promise (pp. 120-207). UBC Press.
Systematizing indigenous thought as theory in dialogue with western science 
and bringing it environmental policy post Rio:...available on line.
Bunnell & Atleo. E. R. (1995). Clayoquot Sound scientific panel report: 
First Nations perspectives relating to forest practice standards in 
Clayoquot Sound.BC Government


US
Cayete is Pueblo and has written extensively on indigenous science.

Oscar Kawagley, A. O. 1995 A Yupiaq worldview: A pathway to ecology and 
spirit. Prospect Heights, Ill. Waveland Press Inc.

Sarris, G. 1993 Keeping Slug woman alive: A holistic approach to American 
indian texts. Berkley, CA: U of Calif. Press.

Duran, Edwardo & Duran, Bonnie 1995 Native American Postcolonial Psychology 
SUNY

Smith, Dean Howard: 2000 Modern Tribal Development: Paths to Self 
Sufficiency and Cultural Integrity in Indian Country. AltaMira Press.

Garrod & Larimore 1997 First Person- First Peoples: Native American college 
graduates tell their life stories. Cornell UNiversity press.

Some have just done great critiques so far:
Chrisjohn, Roland & Peters, M. : Right brained indian: fact or fiction? 
Journal of American Indian Education. Vol 24(2) 1-7.

There are so many...aboriginal authors...theorizing in many different venues...

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