From HLWIKI Canada
Jump to: navigation, search
Are you interested in contributing to HLWIKI International? contact:

To browse other articles on a range of HSL topics, see the A-Z index.


Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 21 June 2017


  • indigenization; indigenous; indigenist; critical indigenist; indigeneity; indigenousness; identity politics; post-colonialism; decolonialism; anticolonialism; cultural identity development


  • Decolonization once viewed as the formal process of handing over the instruments of government, is now recognized as a long-term process involving the bureaucratic, cultural, linguistic and psychological divesting of colonial power.
  • Indigenization is to make indigenous; subject to native influence. Indigenization recognizes validity of Indigenous worldviews, knowledge and perspectives. Indigenization identifies opportunities for indigeneity to be expressed. Indigenization incorporates Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.


See also Aboriginal health | Aboriginal health search filter | Finding health information for British Columbians Bc flag.png | Mapping the literature of Aboriginal health

"...Indigenization is the process of infusing Aboriginal and First Nations' knowledge and perspectives into the structural layers of institutions. The goal is to create a more inclusive environment through the presentation of a different world view, and to enhance and enrich the educational and cultural experience of the educational community. This does not mean the institution is Indigenous-centred, but it does mean that consideration of Aboriginal issues comes "naturally"..." — Learning about Indigenization. Camosun College

Indigenization is a concept gaining increased attention in Canadian universities, academic libraries, and elsewhere around the world. The goals of indigenization pedagogically and bibliographically are to: 1) develop practices that ensure that Aboriginal students see themselves and their realities reflected in academia; 2) ensure that non-Aboriginal students learn the literacies (e.g., skills and knowledge) that enable them to work with and live alongside their Aboriginal neighbors knowledgeably and respectfully. As an emerging 21st century concept, indigenization is rooted in and linked to fields of postcolonial, decolonial and Indigenous research paradigms, and the discourse is varied, situated and complex. Indigenization has received a lot of attention in cultural theory, social work and political science. It emerges as a variety of major international sociocultural and economic converations and social policy in self-governing postcolonial states and in multicultural, post-colonial societies. Despite a rather wide application of the discourse across academic disciplines, it aims for integrity and coherence in definition as a critical methodology of various Indigenous movements.

Indigenous peoples are seen by the academy as people with culture. We add to the multicultural dimensions of the institution. We help universities to chalk up the diversity and equity points. And in many places, in many ways, Indigenous cultures are present and visible. This cultural representation project is important. However, it risks being only decoration. The real work of the academy is about knowledge and its production and transmission from one generation to another. One of the central desires of modern Indigenous society is to use ideas from Indigenous cultural and intellectual traditions to build better lives, better families, clans and houses, leaders, communities and nations. As pragmatic peoples, we also use those we encountered in places like the university.

What is meant by the term indigenization?

Indigenization implies a sincere commitment to understand historical, social and economic conditions of Indigenous people in order to foster respect and understanding of the cultures, traditions, languages and protocols of Indigenous people. To define indigenization, it is important to consider the following:

  • The value of having more understanding of its situatedness within locations and within a set of tems and concepts of Indigenous movements
  • The root of the word indigenization, or indigenous, is important to consider: it means to have membership or citizenship, signifying belonging to, with, or for a nation, and to be native to or accredit origins to a specific geographic or nationally-defined region.
  • Indigeneity or Indigenousness describes the distinctive features that characterize the natural life and sociocultural traditions that shape Indigenous identity. Indigenization then is descriptive of a methodology whereby Indigenous people and residents of traditionally Indigenous geographic regions experience a transformation, adaptation, reconstitution, development, and/or maturation of Indigeneity, or Indigenousness, to reflect traditional Indigenous experience.


Indigenization and the librarian

"..."Indigenous librarianship unites the discipline of librarianship with Indigenous approaches to knowledge, theory, and research methodology. ... A focus of Indigenous librarianship is the provision of culturally relevant library and information collections and services by, for, and with Indigenous people" (Joseph, Burns, Doyle, Krebs. 2009:2330). Indigenous Librarianship in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (3rd Edition) (pp. 2330-2346)..."

According to Burns et al (2009), indigenous librarianship brings together librarianship and indigenous approaches to research and knowledge building. The area has a developing bibliography and local, national and international professional associations are devoting more time to it. Indigenous librarianship is the provision of culturally relevant library and information collections and services by, for and with indigenous people. While indigenous peoples have existed well before librarianship started to develop formally as a profession during the 19th century, the topic of indigenization itself is emerging more and more in the professional literature. Indigenization is used in a variety of contexts and refers to the "...making something more native; transformation of some service, idea, etc. to suit a local culture, especially through the use of more indigenous people in administration, employment,etc.. The question for librarians is what does this mean? What are its implications for our work?

The term indigenization is used by anthropologists to describe what happens when local actors take something from the outside and (re)make it as their own (e.g. Africanization, Americanization). In politics, indigenization is a process where non-western cultures redefine their native land for better uses. Due to imperialism, some cultures imposed their values of liberalism, democracy and independence but indigenization requires a reversion to traditional cultures and values. By making something more "local" or "native", surely it does not mean a reversion to old colonial ways or oppressive patriarchies? Since the 1990s, Islam has experienced a "re-Islamization" in Muslim societies which is a kind of reversion to patriarchy and male violence. In India, Western reforms and values have been replaced by "Hinduization" and Confucian values are promoted as part of the "Asianization". Japan has its share of indigenization in the form of "Nihonjinron" or the theory of Japan, and the Japanese. Mahbubani says "...the mindsets of the largest populations within Asia, the Chinese, the Muslims, and Indians have been changed irrevocably. Where once they may have lived happily borrowed Western lenses and Western cultural perspectives to look at the world, now, with growing cultural self-confidence, their perceptions are growing further and further apart." The word indigenization is used in the opposite sense of internationalism, according to some dictionary sources " increase local participation in or ownership of to indigenize foreign-owned companies and to adapt (beliefs, customs, etc.) to local ways."

Indigenous methods & teaching

For a full discussion of indigenous methods and teaching, see Pete et al (1989), Battiste (2002), Brown (2004) and Schneider (2015). In the meantime, see some of the challenges around introducing indigeneity into coursework or "indigenizing curricula":

  • You may have little knowledge or experience
  • Suggestions
  • Work through the material and exercises in the TELTIN TTE WILNEW (Understanding Indigenous People) module to understand the purpose and rationale of the Indigenization Project
  • Participate in discussion groups developed to enhance the learning in the module
  • You may have developing knowledge base but little or no experience
  • Suggestions
  • Think about your participation in discussion groups
  • You have a grasp on the historical impact of colonization on Indigenous & non-Indigenous people
  • You understand the need for Indigenizing curriculum
  • You are aware of the basic concepts of Indigenous ways of teaching and learning
  • Suggestions
  • Incorporate Indigenous authors/scholars in your course content
  • Incorporate the Circle of Courage (Martin Brokenleg) as an organizational tool to guide learning in your classroom (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity)
  • Bring Aboriginal guest speakers into your classes
  • Consult with instructors in your school/department who have experience with Indigenizing curriculum. They will have access to resources you will find useful
  • You may have more knowledge and experience with Indigenous history & pedagogy
  • Suggestions
  • You are comfortable with the content
  • You are using indigenous authors/scholars in your course content
  • You bring Aboriginal guest speakers into your classes
  • You’ve interacted with Aboriginal community members and have relationships with them (i.e. You feel comfortable with teachings around how to approach community and comfortable enough to contact them on your own).
  • You have enough experience sharing your knowledge/experience/materials with others
  • You naturally consider indigenization in your work
  • You strive to understand the concept of the Medicine Wheel; Bopp et al's "The Sacred Tree" and Brown's doctoral dissertation
  • Incorporate the Circle of Courage (Martin Brokenleg) as an organizational tool that guides learning processes in your classroom (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity).
  • be aware the Medicine Wheel originates with prairie tribes and is not used by coastal nations; the principles are universal and have been published and available in the public domain. It is important to recognize and acknowledge that the version of the medicine wheel we use originated with Indigenous peoples from the prairies.
  • You may have strong knowledge and extensive experience with Indigenization of curriculum content and practices
  • Suggestions
  • With your knowledge of Aboriginal history, pedagogy and value of indigenization work on larger scale changes such as programs and course changes in consultation with community.
  • You may want to peruse the information/resources below as less experienced colleagues may be working through it, and may turn to you for guidance
  • Your participation would be valued on Indigenization committees
  • You could volunteer as a mentor for your colleagues
  • As knowledge grows it would be helpful to have resource lists; binders with discipline/practice related articles
  • Community people you know could be invited in for lunch so you could introduce them to colleagues.


The notion of copyright & intellectual property

According to Cultural Survival "...The most problematic aspect of any meaningful discussion of intellectual property rights is that the notion of IPR is, in itself, a Western concept being applied to non-Western societies. Mita Manek and Robert Lettington get to the heart of the matter by describing this irreconcilable difference between Western and (for lack of a better word) non-Western outlooks on the world. Their insights may be the best argument yet for a sui generis legal system to deal with challenges to the cultural, artistic and heritage rights of indigenous peoples....".

See also CSQ Issue: 24.4 (Winter 2000) Intellectual Property Rights: Culture as Commodity & Wikipedia article

see also Caring for Sacred and Culturally Sensitive Objects. Government of Canada.

Key websites


Personal tools