TOPICS – Module 2: Indigenous Science and Knowledge Systems in Academia… Why This Discussion is Important This is not a discourse

on industrialized agriculture, and how it has impacted the ecosystems, world nutrition, and markets. This is a discussion of paradigms of learning and the relevance of Indigenous knowledge systems to agriculture. Dr. Gregory Cajete in Igniting the Sparkle, an Indigenous Science Education Model discusses the unique nature of Indigenous knowledges and their importance in a science curriculum, particularly in Indigenous studies, and, I would argue, discussions and studies of sustainability. “Thunderbirds and monster snakes… are important items in the behavioral environment of these Indians. Since from our view thunder is a part of our physical environment, monster snakes are not, we might be inclined to make a distinction between them. But if we do this we are making “our” categories a point of departure.” (74). 1 Many of the principles of western science are based on a type of logic and mindset which require hierarchical thinking. Non reciprocal causality, for instance, requires that one think of phenomena in the following way, according to Marayama as cited by Cajete: “’That for every effect there is one single cause which can be objectively observed and described given the proper tools, the correct hypothesis and appropriate experimentation.’ Non reciprocal, or what has been popularly termed ‘linear thinking’ conditions for ‘monopolarization’ in both thinking and personality development . ‘Mono explanation’ is defined as a ‘psychological need to believe that there is one universal truth, and to seek out, find secret in, and hang onto one authority, one theory , uniformity, homogeneity, and standardization’” (76).2 The mindset of “non–reciprocal causality” is one of the unconscious dimensions inherent in the cultural mindset of Western science and is reflected in the way science is presented in American schools. Mutualistic logic and orientation to “reciprocal causality” (the notion that cause and effect in nature have a reciprocal effect on each other -- that cause and effect cannot be isolated from the other causes and effects with which they share a holistic relationship within a system) is illustrated by the concept and expression of mutualism among the Navajo people (460-62).3 The mutual relationship between all things in the natural world… animals, plants, humans, celestial bodies, sprits and natural forces forms the basis for traditional Navajo concepts of the Universe. The Navajo believe that this natural phenomena can be manipulated by humans through the application of the appropriate practical and ritualistic knowledge. In turn, natural phenomena, forces, and other living things can effect things

1 2

Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999. Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999. 3 Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999.

in a number of ways. Therefore everything affects everything else through the complex web of interrelationships…..” (76).4 Theory of mutual intelligences… “Gardener suggests that there are at least seven domains of intelligence, many more than had been formerly acknowledged by other researchers. These are linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal (understanding of people), and intrapersonal (understanding of self )”5, notes Scherer, discussing Howard Gardener in Cajete (63). I would add spiritual intelligence and interspecies intelligence as well. Simply stated, this is an ability to communicate with the spiritual world, a plane which exists in the Anishinaabe world as a parallel world, and is accessed through prayer, ceremony, or may manifest when it decides to do so. The Anishinaabe world undulates between the spiritual and physical planes, and this is recognized as our reality. This is discussed above in the discussion on the Navajo world view. An inter-species intelligence refers initially back to the cosmo-geneology, and fluidity between species and transformation. Even the story of how corn came to the Anishinaabeg harkens to a time when corn arrived as a visitor in human form. However, the Dodaem, or clan system of the Anishinaabeg, the constant relationship of speaking to animals, and an aptitude to understand animals (in America perhaps best popularized in movies like The Horse Whisperer or Free Willy….) is considered a gift and recognized as a domain.

This broader understanding is reflected in most non-western worldviews, where spiritual practices are essential to all cultural practices, including food production. This is why in an Anishinaabeg world view, the practices, for instance of “reciprocity”, or making an offering before one harvests, taking only what one needs, and then offering a feast of the first harvest − for the spirits and all to celebrate − displays the practice of spiritual intelligence. As does speaking to relatives who have fins, wings, or roots. The American practice of Thanksgiving is an adaptation of a multi-cultural practice of a harvest feast, resonating with most agriculturally based societies. Indigenous societies have a larger practice of reciprocity for all harvests, which insures sustainability and a balance. The Story of the Moose in Native American Animal Stories by Joseph Bruchac tells of this reciprocity, and exemplifies this spiritual intelligence:

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Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999. Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999.

“One night, a family of moose was sitting in the lodge. As they sat around the fire, a strange thing happened. A pipe came floating in through the door. Sweet-smelling smoke came from the long pipe and it circled the lodge, passing close to each of the Moose People. The old bull moose saw the pipe but said nothing, and it passed him by. The cow moose said nothing, and the pipe passed her by also. So it passed by each of the Moose People until it reached the youngest of the young bull moose near the door of the lodge. ‘You have come to me,’ he said to the pipe. Then he reached out and took the pipe and started to smoke it. ‘My son,’ the old moose said, ‘you have killed us. This is a pipe from the human beings. They are smoking this pipe now and asking for success in their hunt. Now, tomorrow, they will find us. Now, because you smoked their pipe, they will be able to get us.’ ‘I am not afraid,’ said the young bull moose. ‘I can run faster than any of the people. They cannot catch me.’ But the old bull moose said nothing more. When the morning came, the Moose People left their lodge. They went across the land looking for food. But as they reached the edge of the forest, they caught the scent of the hunters. It was the time of year when there is a thin crust on the snow and the moose found it hard to move quickly. ‘These human hunters will catch us,’ said the old cow moose. ‘Their feet are feathered like those of the grouse. They can walk on top of the snow.’ Then they began to run as the hunters followed them. The young bull moose who has taken the pipe ran off with the others. He was still sure he could outrun the hunters. But the hunters were on snowshoes, and the young moose’s feet sank into the snow. They followed him until he tired, and then they killed him. After they killed him, they thanked him for smoking their pipe and giving himself to them so they could survive. They treated his body with care, and they soothed his spirit. That night, the young bull moose woke up in his lodge among his people. Next to his bed was a present given him by the human hunters. He showed it to all of the others. ‘You see,’ he said. ‘It was not a bad thing for me to accept the long pipe the human people sent to us. Those hunters treated me with respect. It is right for us to allow the human beings to catch us.’ And so it is to this day. Those hunters who show respect to the moose are always the ones who are successful when they hunt” (5-8).6

Questions: 1)Discuss knowledge systems and valuation of knowledge systems. 2) What is minobimaatisiiwin… and how does the practice of thanksgiving relate to sustainability. 3) How is Anishinaabe botanical knowledge obtained?

Oibwe Language Component Dennis Jones – Thanksgiving

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Bruchac, Joseph. Native American Animal Stories. Fulcrum Publishing: 1992.

Readings
Session 2:
Indigenous Science and Knowledge Systems in Academia… Why This Discussion is Important

Topics

Readings

Module From the text: Bruchac, Joseph. Native American Animal Stories. Fulcrum Publishing: 1992. Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999.

1

Indigenous Science and Pages 13-88 Geniusz, Wendy. Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive: Knowledge Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings (Iroquois and Their Systems in Academia… Why Neighbors). Syracuse Univ Press: 2009. This Discussion Hassel, Craig. Learning to Bridge Different Ways of Knowing: The Dream of is Important Wild Health American Indian Seed Program as Mentor. Dream of Wild

Health, 2010. Print. Research Articles:

Assignments

TOPICS – Module 2: Berries and Tending the Garden Mid July – Miin Giizis Berry Moon (Meehn)
Julyish: Miin Giizis Berry Moon (Meehn) Variants: AabitaNiibino-giizis, Miini-giizis, Miskomini-giizis, Baashkawe'ogiizis Translations: Mid-Summer Moon, Blueberry Moon, Raspberry Moon, Flying Moon

DAY 1: 1 2 3 4 5 DAY 2: 6 7 8 9 10 DAY 3: 11 12 13 14

The extent of wealth and framing of wealth among the Anishinaabeg Traditional American Indian Corn Varieties and the Importance of AgroBiodiversity Anishinaabeg relationship to land, political history of access to land and the appropriation of Anishinaabe Agricultural Lands Berry picking and opening dinner Journaling Native American garden experience – traditional and sacred plants Understanding seeds and botany for gardeners An introduction to seed sovereignty Preparing a traditional Anishinaabeg summer meal Journaling Farm or berry or maple tree thing outdoors Seed sovereignty Mid-summer gardening Journaling

Bibliography Bruchac, Joseph. Native American Animal Stories. Fulcrum Publishing: 1992. Cajete, A. Gregory. Igniting the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Model. Michigan: Kivaki Press, 1999. Geniusz, Wendy. Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings (Iroquois and Their Neighbors). Syracuse Univ Press: 2009.

Hassel, Craig. Learning to Bridge Different Ways of Knowing: The Dream of Wild Health American Indian Seed Program as Mentor. Dream of Wild Health, 2010. Print.

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