Section 4: Incorporating Diverse Sources of Indigenous Knowledge

Incorporating Local Land, Knowledge, and Language

As you select resources, you should look for opportunities to connect to the local land and language in the place where your course will be taught. Incorporating local knowledge is a good way to show respect for the local Indigenous people. It also models to local Indigenous learners that their culture is included in the curriculum, and it teaches students about the local Indigenous people.

Local knowledge

Incorporating local knowledge is closely linked with building relationships with local communities. If these relationships are strong, you can incorporate local content in collaboration with the local community, working with Elders and community experts. If these relationships are not strong, consider how you might build such relationships and look to sources of support within your network (for example, Indigenous support services at your institution or colleagues that have existing connections).

Language

British Columbia is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world. B.C. is home to 34 unique Indigenous languages, which represents approximately 60 per cent of First Nations languages in Canada. This map shows the names and locations of Indigenous languages in B.C.[1] Unfortunately, due to policies of forced assimilation, many of these languages are endangered, with less than 10 per cent of the community members speaking the language. The majority of the fluent speakers alive are elderly, and it is critical that they have opportunities to pass on their linguistic knowledge before it is too late.

Language is closely linked to culture, and many cultural concepts cannot be accurately translated into other languages. For example, many Indigenous languages have words to describe concepts that don’t exist in English. When languages are lost, culture is also threatened. For that reason, language revitalization is very important to many Indigenous Peoples.

As a curriculum developer, you may want to consider ways you can bring concepts from the local language into your course. For example, are there values, principles, or themes in your course that could be expressed through Indigenous languages? Integrating local Indigenous language into your course would certainly require collaboration from community members.

Activities

Activity 1: Learning Local Languages

Time: Ongoing

Type: Individual

If you don’t already know which Indigenous languages are spoken in your area, find out. Try to learn a few key words in the language(s), for example “Thank you,” “Hello,” or “My name is.”

Activity 2: Incorporating Language and Knowledge into Curriculum (I,G)

Type: Individual, Group

Choose a curriculum that you have developed or that you are working on developing. Identify opportunities to integrate local language or knowledge into the curriculum. If possible, work with a community member or support person at your institution to bring local knowledge and content into the course.


  1. Names and locations of Indigenous languages in B.C.: http://fp-maps.ca/language-family/printed-language-maps

License

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Incorporating Local Land, Knowledge, and Language by Asma-na-hi Antoine, Rachel Mason, Roberta Mason, Sophia Palahicky, and Carmen Rodriguez de France is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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