Definition of Indigenous peopleThe term indigenous means Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place. Most writers describe indigenous as a harmonious, stable relationship and a sense of strong affiliation to a particular place (Encyclopedia Britannica 2). The affiliation to that particular place is so strong because the current people population or other objects have a timeless history in that place that dates back to the original inhabitants of the place. Therefore indigenous people are people based in a particular area within a country and the most significant part is that this population of people has lived at the same place since the beginning of time. There is no evidence or an account of them ever migrating from a different place to their current place of inhabitance (Hughes 10). In addition to that, the animals, plants and culture that are associated to that group of people are also considered indigenous (Hughes 12).
The indigenous groups of people around the world believe that the relationship among them is characterized by a long chain of interconnection and interdependence amongst themselves and the environment that they live in (Hughes 21). Due to this, today most of the indigenous groups around the world still uphold their ancient practice and cultures practiced by their forefathers. Some of the universal practices include respect to one another’s life in the community; respect to the community elders and spiritual leaders; acts of mutual respect and show of gratitude especially when borrowing or asking for help and finally the respect to their culture and belief that their spirit continue to occupy their space in the community even after they have passed-on (Tuhiwai 6).
In Canada today the Indigenous group of people is the Aboriginals. They are 1.400,685 in total according to the last population census conducted in Canada. They are known to have occupied the Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves areas in the ancient Canada (Encyclopedia Britannica 3).
Comparison of Indigenous and Western Ways of Knowing & Ascertaining the truth
The Aboriginals social setup was based on wholeness or totality. There social set up upheld the notion of a group action and discouraged individualism. This ensured that they carried out their day to day activities in groups, either as a family, age group or as a community. The advantage of this was that this ensured honesty among the members as one couldn’t break the law of the land without being seen or being noticed by his/her group members. On the other hand, the Western ways encouraged individualism thus leading to specialization which lead to social stratification where some people in the society were more important than other depending on the kind of jobs they did. The western ways therefore ensured that the truth prevailed through special people in the society called judges. The disadvantage of this was the truth in most cases doesn’t prevail depending on the judge (Anon 5).
Secondly in the Aboriginal culture, honesty was part of their heritage and it was recorded in their minds from generation to generation. This upheld truthfulness as a core value among its members since they believed that everyone had his/her own truth therefore everyone depended on each other’s truthfulness. Those in the community that were known to b liars were excommunicated socially and their opinions were not considered during important decision making. In the Western culture due to individualism truthfulness was ensured by laws enforced by the authorities (Cbc.ca 3).
The Aboriginals Communally educated their young ones through rewards, praise recognition and renewal ceremonies every generation while inculcating their philosophies, values, customs and culture. This ensured that the young ones grew to become team players and responsible community members thus upholding the norm of truthfulness at every given moment. In the Western culture children grew up along the stratified social classes that their parents belonged to and truthfulness solely depended on the environment he/she was brought up in (James 23).
Indigenous Ways of Knowing and there Importance Today
The Aboriginals had their ways of ensuring that knowledge was passed down from one generation to the next. Since they were a community that embraced teamwork and encouraged duties to be done in groups they ensured that that principle was forwarded down the generations through their teaching techniques (Hughes1 47). These techniques included story sharing. This was the main technique used to educate the children on their customs, culture and values. Secondly the community link played a vital role in educating the children. For example aunts taught their nieces how to cook; it wasn’t necessarily done by the child’s mother. Other indigenous techniques included deconstruction and reconstruction especially in craftsmanship; non-linear education involving innovation; land links vital in knowing the geography of their area and finally the symbols, images and non-verbal education used to reinforce concepts (Hughes1 55).
Figure : Indigenous Aboriginal teaching techniques.
The study of indigenous Aboriginal knowledge is important to the present day Canadian societies. The study of Aboriginal ways of knowing has proven to be useful in revolutionizing the teaching methods today in Canada (Hughes3 91). Teaching departments or ministries have borrowed a leaf from the Aboriginal techniques of teaching to make their children learn more efficiently (Hughes3 100).
The Aboriginal knowledge and natural techniques used in the past towards the conservation of the environment are used today by the Government of Canada. The government of Canada encourages the country’s population to borrow a leaf from the ancient Aboriginal people that respected the order of nature and ensured the cycle and balance of life was upheld. This is in the bid to encourage the people to conserve nature (Hughes3 100).
In conclusion, the Aboriginal culture forms a major part of the Canadian history today. Their knowledge and techniques have laid a platform from which most of the knowledge we have today originate from.
- Anon, (2016). [Online] Available at: http://ddtech.sd62.bc.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/24/files/2014/02/Littlebear1.pdf [Accessed 26 Feb, 2016].
- Cbc.ca, (2016). The 2-003 CBC Massey Lectures, “The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative.” [Online] Available at: http://www.cbc.ca//radio/ideas/the-2003-cbc-massey-lecturers-the-truth-about-stories-a-native-narrative-1.2946870 [Accessed 26 Feb, 2016].
- Encyclopedia Britannica, (2016). International Labour Organization| United Nations. [Online] Available at: http://global.britannica.com/topic/International-Labour-Organization [Accessed 26 Feb, 2016].
- Hughes1, L. ‘The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous People’; Introduction and Chapter 1 pp 8-28.
- Hughes2, L. The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous People. ‘Land and Nature’ pp. 46 – 59.
- Hughes3, L. The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous People. ‘Fighting back’ pp .83 – 107.
- http://blackfoot-awakening.ca/toolkit/en/media/docs/essays/story_Blackfoot.pdf [Accessed 26 Feb, 2016].
- James, F (n.a.) First Nations in the 21st Century, Chapter 3.
- Tuhiwai Smith, L. ‘Decolonizing Methodologies- Research and Indigenous Peoples’, Introduction pp. 6-7.