Indigenous Evaluation: recommended texts to get started

Decolonizing Methodologies: research and indigenous peoples  by Linda Tuhiwai Smith is a must read for all those interested in exploring Indigenous evaluation or evaluation with and in Indigenous communities.

Of course it’s about research and not evaluation. However it is the seminal text in the field of Indigenous research and the themes, issues and lessons learned are relevant and applicable to the evaluation context.

The first half, which is particularly dense and theoretical, discusses the major concepts that frame Western approaches to research and the limitations and problems associated with these approaches when applied in Indigenous contexts. The second half of the book promotes the role of the Indigenous researcher, and provides a Maori (Indigenous) framework for conducting research  as an alternative to dominant Western methods and approaches.

In 2001, Carla Wilson reviewed Decolonizing Methodologies for the Social Policy Journal of New Zealand to inform

“non-indigenous researchers who may be involved in research initiatives with indigenous communities. In particular, what a non-indigenous researcher needs to be aware of when researching with indigenous peoples; how non-indigenous researchers can improve their practices with indigenous peoples; and, most fundamentally, whether it is appropriate for non-indigenous researchers to be involved in research with indigenous peoples.”

Decolonizing Methodologies is not the easiest of reads but it certainly is a valuable and critically important one.

Research is Ceremony: Indigenous research methods by Shawn Wilson is a must read for both emerging or experienced Indigenous evaluators and researchers. The book ‘flips’ between a story telling mode and a traditional academic framing comparing the experiences of Indigenous researchers from Australia and Canada. Comparatively it has a warmer and more personal feel to it making it an easier read then Decolonizing Methodologies.

Two themes (among many) are evident: affirming Indigenous ways of knowing and being and a focus on the importance and centrality of relationships to Indigenous peoples and therefore to the research process.

Relationships matter.

Relationships are the business.

These two statements sum up my personal and professional perspective on the location of relationships within evaluation and research; so not surprisingly I feel somewhat affirmed that both Smith and Wilson (and other Indigenous evaluators and researchers) share a similar view about the importance of relationships to Indigenous peoples and therefore to the practice of evaluation and research.

2 thoughts on “Indigenous Evaluation: recommended texts to get started

    • Hi David I’m excited by a new publication Indigenous Research Methodologies by Bagele Chilisa (2012) published by Sage . I’ve only just started reading it and will share my reflections on it in once i’ve read it.

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