​Where the Rivers Meet (WTRM) Website



Concerned by the need to decolonize education for Aboriginal students, the authors explore philosophies of Indigenous ways of knowing and those of the 21st century learning movement. In their efforts to propose a way forward with Aboriginal education, the authors inquire into harmonies between Aboriginal knowledges and tenets of 21st century education. Three stories from the authors’ research serve as examples of decolonizing approaches that value the congruence between 21st century education and Indigenous knowledges. These stories highlight the need for two-eyed seeing, co-constructing curriculum for language and culture revitalization, and drawing from community contexts to create curriculum. 

I am interested in exploring the need and potential for culturally sensitive resources that speak to diverse forms of Indigenous cultural heritage, and the connections that can be made between modern technologies and Indigenous epistemologies. These explorations necessitate an analysis of tensions between protecting and promoting traditional Indigenous knowledge. Much work is currently being done in the area of intellectual property, traditional knowledge and the rights of Indigenous peoples. While the production of Four Directions Teachings implicitly addressed these concerns, this paper will not address the legal issues in any detail, focusing more generally on Aboriginal empowerment related to producing online representations of Indigenous knowledge. In this spirit, I encourage you to imagine the possibilities as you read this paper on the value of having online experiences grounded in Indigenous perspectives and value systems.


​About the Book
Native American philosophy has enabled aboriginal cultures to survive centuries of attempted assimilation. The first edition of this historical and philosophical work was written as a text for the first course in Native philosophy ever offered by a philosophy department at a Canadian university. This revised edition, based on more than twenty-five years of research through the Native Philosophy Project and funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, is expanded to include extensive discussion of Native American philosophy and culture in the United States as well as Canada. Topics covered include colonialism, the phenomenology of the vision quest, the continuity of Native values, land and the integrity of person, the role of cognitive science in supporting Native narrative traditions, language in Indian life, landscape and other-than-human persons, the teaching of Native American philosophy and the value of various research methods.

About the Author(s)
Dennis H. McPherson is an executive member of the Centre for Health Care Ethics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. He is an Ojibwa and a band member of the Couchiching First Nation at Fort Frances, Ontario and the founding chair of the LU Department of Indigenous Learning. J. Douglas Rabb is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and an executive member of the Centre for Health Care Ethics, also at Lakehead University.  

​Within nineteenth-century Ojibwe/Chippewa medicine societies, and in communities at large, animals are realities and symbols that demonstrate cultural principles of North American Ojibwe nations. Living with Animals presents over 100 images from oral and written sources – including birch bark scrolls, rock art, stories, games, and dreams – in which animals appear as kindred beings, spirit powers, healers, and protectors.

Michael Pomedli shows that the principles at play in these sources are not merely evidence of cultural values, but also unique standards brought to treaty signings by Ojibwe leaders. In addition, these principles are norms against which North American treaty interpretations should be reframed. The author provides an important foundation for ongoing treaty negotiations, and for what contemporary Ojibwe cultural figures corroborate as ways of leading a good, integrated life.


Indigenizing the Academy, ed. Mihesuah and Wilson
Continuing the thought-provoking dialogue launched in the acclaimed anthology Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians, leading Native scholars from diverse disciplines and communities offer uncompromising assessments of current scholarship on and by Indigenous peoples and the opportunities awaiting them in the Ivory Tower.

The issues covered are vital and extensive, including how activism shapes the careers of Native academics; the response of academe and Native scholars to current issues and needs in Indian Country; and the problems of racism, territoriality, and ethnic fraud in academic hiring. The contributors offer innovative approaches to incorporating Indigenous values and perspectives into the research methodologies and interpretive theories of scholarly disciplines such as psychology, political science, archaeology, and history and suggest ways to educate and train Indigenous students. They provide examples of misunderstanding and sometimes hostility from both non-Natives and Natives that threaten or circumscribe the careers of Native scholars in higher education. They also propose ways to effect meaningful change through building networks of support inside and outside the Native academic community. Designed for classroom use, Indigenizing the Academy features a series of probing questions designed to spark student discussion and essay-writing.

​ Spirit & Reason: The Vine Deloria, Jr, Reader
From Donna -  The book is a collection of Vine Deloria Jr.'s essays and it seems written for an academic audience. The first two chapters are about debates between different philosophers who were unfamiliar to me. I continued reading and found much of what Deloria had to say was profound and enlightening. He takes a hard look at education, anglo-american culture, religion and science from a Native American perspective and points out that our culture looks at issues in a restrictive manner rather than in a complete and holistic way. The essays were on a variety of topics written over a few decades. Some seemed more relevant to present times than others. In contrast he shares some basic information about the Native American approach to life, observation, education, religion and culture and explains the connections between people and nature in a life view that sees all as connected and all things living and inanimate and people as relations. He also explains the incredible damage done to the tribal people over the past few hundred years of conquest, boarding schools and cultural and religious represssion

​Jan Zwicky (Philosopher and Poet) My own work is focussed on the development of an alternative to the mechanistic, linear epistemology that has dominated Western thought since the Enlightenment. It is aphoristic and multi-voiced. It attempts to allow the reader to think for herself...... I have not wanted to appropriate from cultures not my own, so I do not claim direct connexions with indigenous thought. But I believe that a person with a background in both indigenous and Western philosophy will see that I am trying to make a space for that dialogue.  (Personal Email communication - January 22, 2017)

Although Professor Zwicky is not indigenous and is sensitive about her relationship in regards to indigenous philosophical views I think the beauty of her work lies in the fact that she is not indigenous.  That other human beings have thought about the same questions as indigenous peoples, that the concept of the "whole" as different from the parts is a "wholistic line of thinking" arising from non-indigenous sources such as the Gestalt psychology (philosophy) she talks about.  She asks why academic philosophy does not include the arts, poets, and other expressions of human experience.  She asks why western philosophers have put so much weight on "language" as the means to understand how we know things; how we "do epistemology".  These kinds of questions, the much needed new idea or new concept propositions such as her work on what is called "Lyric philosophy which Jan describes as aphoristic and  multi-voiced in nature.  I believe that her work is very much open to a conversation with indigenous thought.  .

Some of her books:

THINKING ACROSS WORLDS (electronic copy)


This study undertakes a cultural critique of dominant, modern relationships to “nature” through a cross-cultural philosophical engagement with certain Indigenous American traditions of thought. This is done through a focus on questions of ontology: what kind of ontological presuppositions inform our own dominant, modern philosophical heritage? What kinds of relations do these at once enable and foreclose? And what alternate possibilities for thinking and living might be opened through different ontologies?  I argue that grappling with modernity’s legacy of anthropocentrism and ecologically disastrous relationships forces us to rethink an existential terrain set by an atomistic ontology that reflects a Christian interpretation of the world. In contrast to this dominant ontology and as a way of defamiliarizing ourselves from it, this study endeavours to think with and alongside what I argue are profoundly relational ontologies and styles of thinking expressed by different Indigenous philosophies and lifeways. It also poses the question: how might relational ontologies open up different ways of understanding and experiencing ourselves, of disclosing and relating to the nonhuman, of construing the nature of our ethical horizons?

As part of my exploration of this question, I bring Indigenous thought into conversation with two thinkers from the Western tradition who arrive, from their own directions, at somewhat analogously relational perspectives – namely, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. I argue that the critical arsenal these thinkers offer Western theory gives valuable insights concerning the potential that relational thinking might have as a counterdiscourse vis à vis our dominant culture – but that Indigenous thought pushes us much farther still in this direction.  

Accordingly, I try to explore how lessons from Indigenous thought might lead us to rethink or recuperate on different terms certain elements of Nietzsche and Heidegger’s critiques. Rethinking counterdiscursive possibilities in this way, this study seeks to contribute towards a critical theorizing that is more consciously responsive to the intertwined legacies of colonialism, modern thought, and our present ecological crises; to connected political contours, tensions, and iii possibilities within our present; and also better attuned to possible points of productive consonance, conversation, and allegiance therein. 

KPU Student Led Research

Bibliography Used in Report