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Indigenous Knowledge Commons

General Orientation: Philosophical and Educational Commitments

  1. The importance of broadly indigenous and interdisciplinary teaching including content and perspectives from both mainstream and indigenous academic traditions. We are committed to the principle that liberal studies approaches to education are as vital to the revitalization of indigenous cultures as professional and vocational studies are to the survival of indigenous communities. (This point derived from the Native Eyes Project at the Institute of American Indian Arts, 2000)

  2. Inclusivity as a central educational commitment. This means providing all students, irrespective of educational setting, with access to a wide and empowering range of knowledge, skills and values. It means recognising and accommodating the different starting points, learning rates and previous experiences of individual students. (Derived from the West Australian Curriculum Framework, 1998.) It also means providing learning frameworks for both indigenous and non-indignous students, who are equally in need of deeper exposure to traditional knowledge systems as well as current native thought.

  3. Recognition of six core dialectical themes that provide continuity across many academic disciplines:
    a. tradition and change
    b. nature and culture,
    c. the local and the global,
    d. self and community,
    e. perception and representation, and
    f. knowledge and power.
    These themes assume the integration of theoretical, practical, critical, and historical dimensions, incorporating academic perspectives from disciplines such as history, philosophy, art history and criticism, cultural studies, literature, law and anthropology while also maintaining a strong indigenous perspective, drawing upon significant input from indigenous thinkers, tribal elders, tribal leaders, and prominent indigenous writers and scholars from around the world.

  4. The significance of material culture as apprehended and expressed in oral history, visual thinking and performativity as modes of knowledge transmission.