indigenous knowledges

Strategies for Decolonization

(1) Deconstruction and reconstruction. This refers to destroying what has wrongly been written—for instance, interrogating distortions of people’s life experiences, negative labeling, deficit theorizing, genetically deficient or culturally deficient models that pathologized the colonized Other.

(2)  Self-determination and social justice.  This refers to the struggle by those marginalized by Western research hegemony to seek legitimacy for methodologies embedded in the histories, experiences, ways of perceiving realities, and value systems.

(3) Ethics. There is a need to recognize—and where none exists, formulate, legislate, disseminate, and make known and understood internationally— ethical issues and legislation that protect indigenous knowledge systems.

(4) Language: recovering and revitalizing, validating indigenous knowledge and cultures of the historically marginalized, and thus creating space to decenter hegemonic Western research paradigms.

(5) Internationalization of indigenous experiences. Struggle collectively for self-determination.

(6) History. People must study the past to recover their history, culture, and language to enable a reconstruction of what was lost that is useful to inform the present

(7) Critique. There is a need to critique the imperial model of research, which continues to deny the colonized and historically marginalized other space to communicate from their own frames of reference.

- Linda Tuhiwai Smith, University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Kapwa Collective Speaker Series:  

B A T O K - Kalinga Tattoo

Markers of Identity: From Indigenous to Diasporic

Saturday November 3, 2012

519 Church Street Community Centre

with Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores
(Anthropologist, University of the Philippines Baguio)

519 Church Street, Toronto, Canada
6:00 PM Reception
7:00-9:00 PM Program
  • Narratives of tattooing journeys by three Filipina Canadians
  • Installation art by Kristina Guison and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo
  • Photographs by Ruel Bimuyag
  • Multimedia Presentation by Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores
Free event. Donations welcome.

Full details:

Cundeamor (bitter melon) is another sacred ewé in Lukumí. It’s associated with the Orisha of illness and healing, Babalu Ayé. Babalu Ayé is one of the Orisha associated with the dry earth (his name means Father of the Earth), and is the Orisha of smallpox. In Cuba, he has become associated with all communicable diseases, but also their cures. In recent times, he’s been particularly associated with HIV and many people living with HIV have close relationships with him.

Michael Atwood Mason writes,

Not only does its growing habit mimic Babalú, both the leaves and fruits of the cundeamor have a long and well-documented history as a medicinal herb. In Cuba, both Momordica charantia and Momordica balsamica are called cundeamor. It was traditionally used as a salve for wounds and a cure for gastritis, colitis, and other digestive disorders. However, it was also used to remedy eczema, herpes, and even leprosy. Indigenous knowledge systems in Asia and other parts of Latin America suggest that it is useful for fighting malaria and diabetes. In fact, recent research has shown that it has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, and there are currently clinical trials testing its effectiveness against HIV. Similarly, some evidence points to cundeamor as a strong regulator of the immune system, and there are researchers looking at it as an aid to cancer patients.

Given Babalú’s long association with skin disorders and infectious diseases, it is no wonder that an herbal remedy for these ills would be used again and again in his rituals.

Seven principles of Indigenous worldviews
  1. Knowledge is holistic, cyclic, and dependent upon relationships and connections to living and non-living beings and entities.
  2. There are many truths, and these truths are dependent upon individual experiences.
  3. Everything is alive.
  4. All things are equal.
  5. The land is sacred.
  6. The relationship between people and the spiritual world is important.
  7. Human beings are least important in the world.

- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.
  Mississauga Nishnaabeg author writer, educator and activist.
How People Of The Pacific Are Navigating Us To A Better Future
We are exploring not just the ocean, but the edges of human grace, compassion, and courage.

“Part of our own story of hope is using this voyage to train a new generation of young leaders and navigators.

Technology has drowned them in an abundance of GPS-based directional cues; but do they know how to work together, how to protect the things they love, and how to include the natural world in every decision they make? That is at the heart of mālama honua, Hawaiian for caring for our Island Earth and each other. The idea of mālama honua includes pairing indigenous knowledge and values with new technologies to build the leaders our earth needs.

What we’ve discovered so far, after visiting 26 countries in the Pacific in 11 months, is that though the warming climate, ocean pollution, and declining resources is a depressing story, Pacific people have not responded with depression – they have responded with courage, leadership, vision, and strength.

Every single community we have visited has responded with a strong sense of unity as Pacific Islanders. Everyone wants to talk about what we can do to protect our ocean.” -Nainoa Thompson

When I was sixteen, I had the fortune to visit the cloud forests near Monteverde, Costa Rica. They were beautiful, rich with biodiversity, an intimate kiss between forest and heavens. They filled me with dread.

I had fun, yes, but most of all I remember the shadow that came over me when I looked out over the mountains and saw the end of the rainforest. The hills in the distance were bare, clear-cut, for miles and miles. I realized then that the rainforest was tiny. The behemoth of writhing green I had imagined from nature documentaries was, if not a lie, a misrepresentation of the truth… there are no wild places left, not really. To venture into the Amazon without immense preparation, a team, or indigenous knowledge used to be suicide. Now, people do it all the time.

On our first night in Monteverde, I befriended a biologist from New Orleans who was there studying the disappearance of the golden toad. My parents fed him, and like a stray dog, he stayed with us for the rest of our visit. He took us on a flashlight tour of the jungle until we reached what had once been his house. A mudslide had divided it, dragging one half down the mountain while the other remained hanging open on the cliff like the jaws of a basking crocodile. We sat in the torn-open living room, watching the sunset through what had once been a wall, talking science. We drank cheap bagged wine until I broke down, confessing my terror at the realization that I shouldn’t have been there.

It was one thing to come as a scientist, I said. It was one thing to come as someone trying little by little to help, to stop what was coming, to save what he could. It was another thing to come as a tourist - I wasn’t there for any reason beyond pleasure. I was a kid! I was useless! I wasn’t helping - if anything, I was making things worse. It shouldn’t have been possible for me to be there, in the green heart of the planet, not so easy or so spontaneous. I shouldn’t have been able to access somewhere as rare and precious and delicate as the center of the cloud forest without a great deal of effort and a very good reason. I’d flown there in a jet plane, leisurely, for no purpose other than to gawk and enjoy myself.

I had a similar experience earlier this year on Ruby Beach, in Washington. I’d come out that way when I was twelve and found the mist-girdled rocks alive with starfish. Thousands of starfish, millions maybe, splotches of purple and orange piling atop one another in an unsettling orgy of slimy flesh. Ten years later, in May, those same rocks were nearly devoid of starfish. I was stunned. The park ranger biologist who came to talk to me explained that the mass deaths of the sea stars had begun years before and seemed to be linked to the acidification of the ocean, which devastated their immune systems and left them vulnerable to necrotic disease. She and I stood in the wet sand, watching a solitary crab skitter from one end of a lonely tide pool to the other. We did not want to admit that the uncertainty we both feared is perhaps not so uncertain at all.

Speakers of the endangered language Jaqaru in Peru may be few, but there’s nothing small about their efforts to preserve the community’s tongue.

In the Tupe district of Lima, the roads signs and signals are written in two languages: Spanish and Jaqaru. The latter is the language of the Aymara family; it’s currently spoken by just 580 individuals—most of them women.

Jaqaru Speakers in Peru Aim to Save Their Endangered Language