​Where the Rivers Meet (WTRM) Website



APPENDIX 1 - Range of Answers Provided for E-mail questionaire


How can we say that this or that discipline or area of expertise is NOT connected to indigenous thought when we haven't even had a preliminary or basic discussion between what philosophers do and what indigenous people think.  My sense is that this discussion will broaden and at least establish a base for new areas of inquiry to be identified;  this relationship once developed will evolve on its own as we build bridges between philosophy, inter-disciplinary approaches, Native or Indigenous Studies academia and the indigenous community as a whole.

 I am a retired philosopher and cognitive scientist whose work has indeed been limited to western, i.,e, white, philosophy, mostly narrowly focused work on the mind and on certain figures in the history of philosophy, Kant in particular. My contacts with indigenous thought have mostly been via environmental ethics. I took part in a conference in Winnipeg in which elders played a prominent role.   ​


​Lack of resources on indigenous philosophy - leads to being "in the dark" about possible connections between philosophers research and indigenous thought. 

 One professor indicated that his approach to teaching philosophy is mainly problem-oriented, and indigenous thought doesn’t really bear on the issues that I deal with in my regular courses.  This is a statement that really caught my attention. As a non-philosopher I am not sure what is meant by "problem-oriented" thought, and Indigenous people do think about problems and how to solve them, so I don't understand why the professor would not see any connection with problem oriented philosophy and Indigenous thought.  

​ A resistance by some indigenous people and indigenous academics to "allow" non-native people to teach "indigenous philosophy"; things have changed over the year, but conversations I have had indicated that the "cultural hegemony" argument is still alive and well as a defense of "indigenous only" learning.

The lack of resources that philosophy departments have do not allow for innovations in creating a welcome place for indigenous thought.  Those resources are both financial and in terms of curriculum material (authoratative indigenous philosophy textbooks).  These financial and other resources are needed to encourage the thinking of how western sub-disciplines of philosophy actually do intersect with indigenous thought.

 Is the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory movement disconnected with indigenous thought?  If so, how do we know so.  Can we peel down the layers of this critical theory movement to find commonalities with Indigenous thought.  I don't know... but it is a focus questions that can be asked.  Metaethics, however, should be better connected to indigenous thought.

Is the late 19th century German philosophy of post Kantian tradition non relevant to Indigenous thought or systems of indigenous thought?  Is this non-relevance assumed by philosophers or are there strong arguments supporting this notion of disconnect between these two thought traditions?  How do we know that there is no connection?  

Non academic reasons not to venture into seeing how one's discipline can connect with indigenous thought. 

I grew up in [foreign nation] and have very little knowledge about indigenous thought in Canada.  So, unfortunately not.
The work on Indigenous thought by non-Indigenous people that I have read, such as it is, has not struck me as incredibly self-conscious​

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy - Ancient philosophy is seen by some philosophers as connected to a pre-science and pre-enlightenment period and therefore a connection to indigenous philosphy can be made.  Other philosophers may have recognized this possibility but stayed within the western apprach to ancient philosophy  - Philosophers in ancient philosophy may not be convinced of connected relevance to indigenous thinking.

Traditional Understanding and ontological commitment to western philosophy.  "You are correct that my area of specialization and my areas of competency centre on canonical philosophical categories, in particular on epistemology. That can, of course, cover or connect to some philosophical issues that some self-professed indigenous thinkers have identified as of concern or of interest to indigenous or aboriginal persons, such as different ways of knowing. I don’t myself study such things, first, because i’m not aboriginal and so i don’t think i’m competent to say what indigenous persons qua indigenous have to say about epistemology, and, second, because i’m deeply suspicious of the whole notion of ‘ways of knowing’. That being said, i’m not sure i understand what indigenous knowledge is, nor what ‘the nature of indigenous knowledge as proposed to the discussion by western philosophers’ amounts to. As a result, i’m not sure i can answer your question here. If, however, by indigenous knowledge you mean the traditional wisdom of aboriginal people(s), as expounded, say, by ‘elders’ (or like individuals,) then its not clear to me what such wisdom has to do with philosophy as i understand it — since ancient times, ‘philosophy’ has been defined in contradistinction to traditional wisdom of all kinds."   
 Direct connection to philosophy and indigenous knowledge not made Yet interest is there..   "It's not a topic I have any background in (for the sorts of reasons you summarized in your message), but it is something I am curious about". Early in my career, I did publish a few articles about the relationship between colonialism and warfare among indigenous people in Amazonia, although I wouldn't call that indigenous philosophy. At Michigan State University, where I was prior to UBC, I had a colleague in the Philosophy Dept who is a Native American (Potowatami), and I co-authored a paper on environmental justice, although this paper did not discuss indigenous philosophical perspectives. 

Formation of philosophers does not include indigenous philosophy. "I received no education in Indigenous thought at any point during my university philosophy education. I was wholly unaware of it. This continued through the first 10 years teaching philosophy in various Canadian universities, and only changed when I started to teach in the Social Justice and Peace Studies program at King's University College at the University of Western Ontario I began to connect slowly at that point