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From Bricolage to Métissage

Rethinking Intercultural Approaches to Indigenous Environmental Education and Research


Gregory Lowan-Trudeau

Rethinking Intercultural Approaches to Indigenous Environmental Education and Research arose from a physical and philosophical journey that critically considered the relationship between Western, Indigenous, and other culturally rooted ecological knowledge systems and philosophies. This book shares two related studies that explored the life histories, cultural, and ecological identities and pedagogical experiences of Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and recently arrived educators and learners from across Canada. A variety of socio-ecological concepts including bricolage, métissage, Two-Eyed Seeing, and the Third Space are employed to (re-) frame discussions of historical and contemporary understandings of interpretive and Indigenous research methodologies, Métis cultures and identities, Canadian ecological identity, intercultural science and environmental education, «wicked problems», contemporary disputes over land and natural resource management, and related activism.


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Chapter 4: In Search of Common Ground: To Blend or Not to Blend?


. 4 . in search of common ground: to blend or not to blend? An increasing number of scholars, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are asking questions such as, “Is it possible to blend Western, Indigenous North American, and other ecological philosophies and knowledge? Or is it better to keep them separate, but search for commonalities?” Some, such as Cajete (2001) and Snow (1977/2005), suggest that the collective survival of our society will require the combined wisdom of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures. Renowned Tewa scholar Cajete (2001) relates the story of a female rela- tive who has a “split head”; she is of mixed Euro-American and Tewa ancestry and often feels split between the two cultures. Cajete suggests that many con- temporary Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people also have a split head—torn between various cultural and sub-cultural influences and values. He proposes that the ultimate task at hand is to find ways to heal the split head of our collective society, blending the best of Western (and other cultures) and In- digenous cultures to create a unified whole. Turner (2005), a well-known Euro-Canadian ethnobotanist who has built strong relationships with Indigenous communities on the West Coast, also states: 56 rethinking intercultural approaches Despite the tremendous scientific and technological advances we have made since the Industrial Revolution, humans have not successfully protected our environments or cared for the Earth’s other species. Much of today’s environmental damage is a direct result of poorly considered use of technology and the impacts of this techno- logical mindset....

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