Indigenous Pathways into Social Research: Voices of a New Generation

This publication brings together the experience and perspectives of IndigenousIndigenous Pathways into Social Research Voices of a New Generat.pdf peoples and their pathway to research and evaluation. They show, in their own words, the challenges, paradoxes, and oppression they have faced, their strategies for overcoming them, and how their work has produced more meaningful research and a more just society.

The life stories in this book present the journeys of over 30 indigenous researchers from many different disciplines and six continents and 14 countries including Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and the United States (Alaska, Hawaii) and Cherokee.

Donna MertensFiona Cram and Bagele Chilisa are the editors.The book is published by Left Coast Press and is available as a paperback, hardback and ebook. I contributed a chapter with Kataraina Pipi, Kirimatao Paipa and Viviienne Kennedy titled Hinerauwhariki: tapestries of life for four Māori women in evaluation.

The table of content below provides a glimpse of the rich tapestry of experiences and insights from these world leading indigenous researchers and evaluators.

  1. Introduction: Making visible indigenous approaches to research, Bagele Chilisa, Fiona Cram, and Donna M. Mertens
  2. The role of researcher in a cultural context, Fiona Hornung, Australia
  3. Indigenism, public intellectual and the forever opposed, or the makings of a ‘hori academic’, Brad Coombs, New Zealand
  4. Promoting a culture of evaluation with roots in Sri Lanka, Soma de Silva, Sri Lanka
  5. The context within: my journey into research, Manulani Meyer, Hawai’i
  6. Researcher from Panama, Ricardo Millett, Panama
  7. An African narrative: the journal of an indigenous social researcher in South Africa, Connie Moloi, South Africa
  8. Indigenous research from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Simon Passingnan, Papua New Guinea
  9. Hinerauwhariki: tapestries of life for four Māori women in evaluation, Nan Wehipeihana, Kataraina Pipi, Vivienne Kennedy, and Kirimatao Paipa, New Zealand
  10. An Aboriginal health worker’s research story, Juanita Sherwood, Australia
  11. Becoming a Kaupapa Maori researcher, Cherryl Smith, New Zealand
  12. Interpreting the journey: where words, stories formed, Victoria Hykes Steere, Alaska
  13. The process that led me to become an indigenous researchers, Andrina Komala Lini Thomas, Vanuatu, Pacific Islands
  14. Indigenous researcher’s thoughts: An experience from research with communities in Burkina Faso using participatory methods, Issaka Herman Traore, Burkina Faso
  15. Researcher in relationship with humans, the spirit world and the natural world, Polly Walker, Native American Cherokee
  16. Drawn from the traditions of Cameroon: Lessons from 21 years of practice, Debazou Yantio Yantio, Cameroon
  17. Nayo way in id issi: A family practice of indigenist research informed by land, Shawn Wilson and Alexandria Wilson, Opaskwayak Cree, Canada
  18. Indigenous research from the heel of the earth, Looee Okalik, Inuk, Canada
  19. From refusal to getting involved in Romani research, Rocio Garcia, Patricia Melgar and Teresa Sorde in conversation with Luisa Cortes, Coral Santiago, and Saray Santiago, Spain
  20. Being and becoming indigenous social researchers, Gabriel Cruz Ignacio, Mexico
  21. I did not get here by myself, Keiko Kuji-Shikatani, Japan
  22. I never had any role models, Art Hernandez, Mexico
  23. Alcoholism to indigenous research: My journey as a healer in interior Alaska, James Johnson, Alaska
  24. Prospects and challenges of becoming an indigenous researcher in South Africa, Motheo Koitsiwe, South Africa
  25. The pathway forward, Fiona Cram, Bagele Chilisa, Donna M. Mertens

Indigenous Evaluation: recommended texts to get started (2)

Smith 2012 Decol MethThe second edition of Decolonizing Methodologies was released in 2012. “It includes references to new Indigenous literature that has emerged. It retains most of the first part of the books as it was originally. The middle and later chapters have been edited and new chapters have been added at the end which address issues for researchers who choose to work in this decolonizing space” (Smith, 2013, p.x).

“The intellectual project of decolonizing has to set out ways to proceed through a colonizing world. It needs radical compassion that reaches out, that seeks collaboration and that is open to possibilities that can only be imagined as other things fall into place” (Smith, 2012, p.xii).

A Vision for Indigenous Evaluation

was the title of my keynote address at the 2013 Australasian Evaluation Society Conference, in Brisbane, Australia. The theme of the conference was “Evaluation shaping a better future: Priorities, pragmatics, priorities and power”.

I put forward a framework for reflecting on evaluation practice, as a means of increasing participation and control by Indigenous peoples and communities in evaluation.

Evaluation done TO communities involves collecting data from them without involving them in any way in the decisions about the evaluation or in using it, and to meet the objectives of other stakeholders.

Evaluation done FOR communities is done with good intentions, to improve the situation for them, but with the evaluator making decisions about the evaluation without reference to their values about what is important or what constitutes credible evidence – Western world views prevail.

Evaluation done WITH communities involves some community members in the process of evaluation, but non-Indigenous people are in control of the process.

Evaluation done BY communities has Indigenous people in control of the process, but they are also accommodating Western values and notions of credible evidence.

Evaluation AS community is based on community views on what is valued and what constitutes credible evidence. It does not exclude Western values or notions of credible evidence but only as far as is seen to be useful. There is no automatic or presumed right of participation by non Indigenous people or approaches, only by invitation.

Since the conference, i’ve reflected more on the framework and titled it “Locating Evaluation Practice: Evaluation as an expression of power, consequences and control.

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.