Category — Module 1

The First Peoples’ Project

The First Peoples’ Project

(click on above image to be redirected to a video on the website explaining a project completed by the Choctaw Tribal School)

The First Peoples’ Project uses computer technology (and the web) to connect Indigenous youth from around the world. It is a way to encourage and engage students to participate in a form of education that is meaningful, personally relevant and valued. All submissions and stories must be made with the authorization from community leaders and elders therefore nothing is posted without consent which adds to the credibility and authenticity of the project. Unfortunately it appears as though it only ran for 10 years – 2007 being the last year of the project (although I hope I am wrong on this point). I feel as though this is an excellent example of technology being used to bring Indigenous cultures together.

~ Ryan




September 26, 2011   No Comments

Australian Journal of Indigenous Education

The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education is a peer reviewed research journal publishing articles in the field of indigenous education. It is the only journal for educators devoted specifically to issues of practice, pedagogy and policy in indigenous education in Australia. It includes topics on the participation of indigenous people in education and training; equitable and appropriate access and achievement of indigenous people in education and training; and, the teaching of indigenous studies, cultures and languages to both indigenous and non-indigenous students.

September 25, 2011   No Comments

First Nations Education Council

The First Nations Education Council is an association, which is built upon the collective strength of all the Nations of Quebec, together in a common vision of quality education for all First Nations children. Some of its functions are taking political action to ensure that First Nations regain full control of their education, conducting studies and making recommendations on governments’ political and administrative decisions on Aboriginal education and producing pedagogical documents, newsletters and pamphlets on issues that are of interest to the indigenous communities.

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre

The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), was given a mandate by the Chiefs of Manitoba to provide second and third level education services to fifty-five First Nations schools in Manitoba. The MFNERC facilitates a community education process based on First Nations needs, priorities and education plans. The process is First Nations driven and authority remains with the First Nations.

The MFNERC is actively involved in promoting community development by providing training and coordinating opportunities for families and other community members. The MFNERC is committed to working with Manitoba First Nations in the development of partnerships to ensure the highest standards of education are achieved in First Nations schools. The MFNERC web site also contains its journal: First Nations Perspectives.

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Alaska Native Knowledge Network

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN) is an AKRSI (Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative) partner designed to serve as a resource for compiling and exchanging information related to Alaska Native knowledge systems and ways of knowing. It has been established to assist Native people, government agencies, educators and the general public in gaining access to the knowledge base that Alaska Natives have acquired through cumulative experience over millennia. This web site presents a wide range of resources and activities for indigenous knowledge systems and ways of knowing.

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Promise of Place

The Promise of Place web site is a project of Center for place based learning and community engagement. It is a public/private partnership that works to advance the state of the art in place-based education by facilitating collaborative efforts in research, program design, technical assistance, resource development and dissemination. It plans to immerse students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum.


September 25, 2011   No Comments

Finding a Place to Stand

This is a blog post written by Tasha Beeds, who is of nêhiyaw (Cree), Métis and Caribbean ancestryShe asserts that traditional and Western knowledge can co-exist and be taught, as long as the Indigenous knowledge isn’t compromised.  The author advocates writing down narratives that pre-existed in oral forms.  She states that the written form will not supersede the oral because orality comes from a lived experience, and whatever is written down must emanate from the experiential.


Beeds, T. (2011).  Finding a place to stand:  Indigenous education through oral and written narratives.  Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.  Retrieved from

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Western Science Meets Native Reality

For Indigenous Peoples (IP) knowledge and place are bound together.  Western educational systems run counter to IPs concept of an “interdependent universe, and the importance of place in their societies.” The authors work from the premise that Westerners could use the Native worldview to promote a sustainable way of living.  Traditional educational processes involve observing natural phenomenon, adapting lifestyle in order to survive, obtaining sustenance from plants and animals, using natural materials to make tools and other implements.  Knowledge is passed down inter-generationally through stories and demonstration.

Westerners test competency through testing; among IPs, competency is determined by survival.  They have their own system for understanding and articulating meteorology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and the sacred.  They have also devised a way of dealing with the flora and fauna of their environment in ways that are sustainable.  They see all of these disciplines as inter-related, while in the Western educational system, disciplines are detached from each other, and learning takes place within four walls.  The practice of deconstruction/reconstruction of Western thought doesn’t hold in traditional worldviews where everything is seamlessly interconnected

The authors advocate teaching subject matter in ways that IP understand it, then explaining it in Western terms.  Their idea is to show IP that Western and traditional knowledge enhance each other.  There is a problem to this, however, for the IP knowledge is an everyday part of life.  When they learn the Western worldview in school, it remains there.  They will not use this worldview in their tribes when they go home in the evening.  Thus, they will see that the Western worldview is best used in school, but the traditional worldview is used in the tribe to survive.  Therefore, the traditional worldview will always take precedence, and be superior in their eyes.

The site includes a chart outlining differences in worldview between IP and West.  The authors illustrate these differences by recounting a meeting between representatives from the State Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, Alaska and the Minto peoples.  The agency wanted to measure sediment in the water supply; the Minto people wanted to know what was being doing about the fires.  Wild fires are left to burn themselves out until they approach man-made structures, at which time agencies mobilize to put out the fires.  The Minto people tried to explain that the issue of sediment in the water supply would be controlled if the fires were put out promptly.  The representatives said the policy regarding fires were handled by a different agency, and because there were no representatives with them that day, they could not address the issue of fires.  This example illustrates the separation and specialization of areas of knowledge and approaches to handling natural phenomenon.

Conclusions:  Native people may need to understand western science, but not at the expense of their own knowledge.  Traditional knowledge must be recognized as credible.


Kawagley, A., and Barnhardt, R. (2007).  Education indigenous to place:  Western science meets native reality.  Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN).  Retrieved from

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Eight Aboriginal Ways of Learning

This site outlines ways in which Native Australians learn.  Learning for them isn’t a curriculum, the content of a course, but it is a process.  There are eight involved, one of which involves a sense of place—“land links.”  Teaching takes place away from classrooms and desks, and in the community.  Students construct stories and they share them.  The pedagogy is narrative-driven, and the eight ways are interconnected.  They are:

Use of symbols and images
Land links
Deconstructive/Reconstructive (starting with the whole and picking it apart)
Community Links

There’s a link to a wiki site that discusses these eight ways in greater detail, complete with a discussion forum.  I will write about this site in a later blog post.


Kalantzis, M., and Cope, B. (2011).  Eight Aboriginal ways of Learning.  New Learning:  Transformational designs for pedagogy for assessment.  Retrieved from

September 25, 2011   No Comments

What it means to be attached to a place

“[a] Sense of place is the set of all meanings and attachments a person or a group invests in a place” (slide no.7)

This site features a series of powerpoint slides by Steven Smeken in School of Earth and Science Education at the Arizona State University, a US state where many Native American tribes live.  The department teaches earth sciences by using students’ prior sense of place as leverage for learning.

Classes begin with advanced organizers:  meeting the students where they are.  Students must pick a place that holds intellectual and cultural significance for them, and describe characteristics of the place, as well as ways in which they interact with the place and come to know it.  Then students are introduced to the Western scientific concepts that explain the place’s natural phenomena.

The department teaches the discipline both in and about these places.  The presenter makes a great point:  “Places populate the cultural landscape, just as landforms and biota make up the physical landscape” (slide no. 4).

Place means different things to different peoples, of whatever culture.  Place can have aesthetic, economic, ceremonial, historical, spiritual, scientific significance.  People even develop emotional attachments to places.

In place-based teaching, place defines the curriculum instead of global standards.   It is local, trans-disciplinary (it takes into account history, art, geography/geology, hydrology, etc), experiential (students work in the actual place or in the community), cross cultural.

Each slide lists ways in which students’ meanings can be incorporated into the learning of earth sciences, including using the names for places that students know and already use.  Slide 24 contains a few points to consider when offering a place-based course for the first time.

The presentation concludes with an extensive bibliography, which will be helpful to researchers interested in place-based education.


Smeken, P.  (2010).  Place-based teaching and learning.  Retrieved from

September 25, 2011   No Comments