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Title:Native Systems of Knowledge: Indigenous Methodologies in Information Science
Author(s):Duarte, Marisa Elena; Belarde-Lewis, Miranda; Krebs, Ally
Subject(s):Indigenous research
Information ethics
Abstract:1. INTRODUCTION Study of Native systems of knowledge involves examining the institutions, community practices, philosophies and policies around knowledge, information, and technology that support Indigenous and tribal sovereignty. For Indigenous peoples, the realities of colonialism reverberate in the management, representation, and design of information systems and services in Indigenous and tribal communities. Questions of who manages, owns, controls, and accesses Indigenous information systems and knowledge are crucial in understanding the relationship between economic and educational conditions in Indigenous communities, and global and local policies around information systems, intellectual property, and sovereignty. Anticolonial and decolonizing research strategies offer one way to leverage Indigenous knowledges to support autonomy and sovereignty. In this roundtable, we will discuss how colonialism manifests in research on information with Indigenous communities, and strategies for designing and conducting anticolonial and decolonizing research. The panel will present the following: 1) Three examples of research in information science utilizing Indigenous methodologies. 2) Relevant theoretical frameworks. 3) A discussion on how Indigenous methodologies grounds the study of information in the context of globalization. 2. PANELIST TOPICS Through discussion of three different studies of information in the Indigenous context--data visualization, information as ideology, and institutional information practices—the panelists can speak to broader issues informing Native systems of knowledge, development of an Indigenous consciousness, and how government relationships shape information systems and services for tribal peoples. 2.1 Indigenous Information Visualization Information visualization is a process that transforms data, information and knowledge into a form that relies on the human visual system to perceive its embedded information. [1] The transformation of tribally specific knowledge into visual form has been happening in Indigenous and tribal communities since time immemorial, yet has largely been erroneously perceived and has been limited in its categorization as “art.” The visual literacy required to read the embedded codes of Native “art” present two major questions: 1) how does being literate in these visual means of communication, tribal history and knowledge help to shape, reinforce and assert a specific tribal identity, and 2) how does the storing, teaching, and access to the visual representations of a specific cultural group influence the narratives, stereotypes and literature about that group? [2] Broader implications of sovereignty, intellectual property, and traditional knowledge are encompassed in the study of Indigenous information visualization, especially when the perspective is from the community that is being visually represented in a variety of contexts. 2.2 Information in the Indigenous Consciousness Scholars are analyzing the power dynamics inherent in information and knowledge structures, and research and technology development in Indigenous communities as a manifestation of imperialism. [3] This is evident in information and knowledge structures that objectify, decontextualize, or misrepresent the political reality of Indigenous peoples. [4] As a result of common experiences among different Indigenous communities dealing with non-Indigenous research teams and agencies implementing information policies and technologies, an Indigenous consciousness is being developed that sharply criticizes organizations with neo-liberal agendas. [5] [6] A core body of work is needed to address problems of information from the perspective of a critical Indigenous consciousness such that knowledge gained from research can enable Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy while also contributing to the broader discussion about the function, ethics, and methods of research and policy-making around information and technology in the globalized world. 2.3 Indigenous Information Ecologies Indigenous information ecology diverges from Western information ecology in a number of significant ways. Initiatives by professional information organizations, including the American Library Association Traditional Cultural Expression policy, and the Society of American Archivists Protocols for Native American Archives are creating policy within this zone of divergence. [7] Although Western information practice is supported by existing legal and policy formulations, Indigenous customary law and policy has traditionally been defined by non-Indigenous scholars and practitioners. Today there are more than 300 tribal libraries, archives and museums, as well as tribal colleges, policy institutes, and legal institutions that are implementing Indigenous solutions to information challenges. [8] These manifestations of Indigenous praxis show how information impacts tribal sovereignty, language, land claims, traditional knowledge, research protocols, and ethics. [9] Utilizing online, blended learning platforms helps communities articulate Indigenous information and knowledge management practices. 2.4 Potential Questions Indigenous methodologies examine the relationships between individuals, communities, places, practices, and technologies. To clarify, we may pursue the following questions: • How can non-Indigenous researchers utilize Indigenous methodologies? • How do Indigenous methodologies intersect with issues of diversity, anti-oppression, and other critical theoretical frameworks? • What are the commonalities between Indigenous methodologies and frameworks offered by community informatics, socio-technical systems analysis, and participatory research methods? The discussion will introduce participants to ways of thinking about information science research from an Indigenous point of view, as well as ways that information science methodologies might be enhanced by Indigenous methods.
Issue Date:2010-02-03
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-02-24

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