Indigenous Education & ESE

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“Natural community provides one of the metaphors that must be reintroduced and revitalized in the context of modern education.  The understanding of natural community is a foundational aspect of the environmental education that must take place in the next century.  Human beings must come to terms with the fact that we are a part of the natural community.  It is through the educational process of ourselves and our children that we can internalize this basic understanding and reflect on the relationship we must establish with the natural world.  Indigenous people around the world have been able, through experience and their direct relationship with the natural world, to establish this much-needed understanding of natural process and relationship.  For them, this understanding was part of becoming complete within the context of traditional forms and systems of education.”

Cajete, G. (1994).  Look to the mountain: An ecology of Indigenous education, (p. 114). Skyland, NC: Kivaki Press.

Indigenous Education Websites

Canada’s First Peoples  
The Canada’s First People website provides information on the early life of Indigenous communities in Canada, prior and post European contact.

Deepening Knowledge Project
The Deepening Knowledge Project was created in 2010-2011 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto with the aim of bringing more Indigenous knowledge, history, and perspectives into classrooms across Canada. The website has a number of lesson plans and resources to assist teachers in reaching this goal. There are links to Indigenous media and cultural resources. A section of the website is dedicated to community engagement, listing how to connect with Indigenous communities in Toronto and some of the services available to Indigenous people.

Dragonfly Canada - Aboriginal Worldviews
Dragonfly Canada is a consulting service which aims to increase education professionals’ understanding of Indigenous history and ways of knowing. The resource’s section on their website includes lesson plans, information on Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous perspectives on teacher education programs, and definitions on terminology of oppression.

Four Directions Teachings  
The Four Directions website is designed to be a space where people can gain access to Indigenous philosophies and knowledge. Honoring the Indigenous oral tradition, this website provides access to Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi'maq teachings through audio files of elders and traditional teachers. A Teacher’s Resource Guide for grades 1-12 is also available. The website was created with community consultation though a National Advisory Committee of Indigenous people, in an effort to preserve and celebrate Indigenous knowledge.

Indigenous Environmental Network
The Indigenous Environmental Network is comprised of Indigenous people from around the world who are concerned about the continued health, wellbeing, and protection of the environment. Their aim is to empower and strengthen Indigenous communities, protect the environment, promote the use of Indigenous knowledge, the following of natural laws, and influence policy, which will impact Indigenous peoples. Their website documents the activism of Indigenous leaders and groups who are fighting against environmental destruction, outlines opportunities for becoming involved in environmental activism, and provides Indigenous perspectives and news on issues of environmental significance.

Native American Technology and Art
This website provides links to numerous pages explaining the history and meaning of Indigenous art as well as instructions on how to do these art forms. There is also access to Indigenous recipes, games, and legends.

The Virtual Museum of Métis History & Culture  
The Gabriel Dumont Institute presents the Virtual Museum of Métis History & Culture. This website houses a large volume of Métis art, writings, and audio recordings. A compilation of Métis learning resources, including educational essays, videos, and storybooks is also available.

Aboriginal Environmental Health 
The National Collaborative Centre for Environmental Health advertises workshops and events taking place across the country, related to environmental health. Their website shares resources from previous events, such as information packages and YouTube videos. The website also provides access to an article about the history and use of traditional Indigenous foods.

The Inherent Right of Self-Governance: A Timeline
An interactive timeline documents how Indigenous people were governed from pre-contact to present.

Resources from Indigenous Organizations

Assembly of First Nations – Environmental Stewardship 
The Assembly of First Nation’s Environment unit works to ensure First Nation Treaty rights are respected and harmonizes a national First Nation perspective on government policy and legislations. The unit works in partnership with First Nation communities, government departments, academic institutions, and other Indigenous organizations to achieve these goals. The Environment unit is involved in government reviews of acts, which concern First Nation people, such as the Fishery Act. The unit is also involved in efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, ensuring a First Nation perspective is present in these conversations.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy 
This website serves as a platform for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to tell their story in their own words. Visitors are provided with access to information on Haudenosaunee culture, history, contemporary issues, policies towards land development, and governance.

First Nations Health Authority - Environmental Health
The First Nations Health Authority outlines the role of Environmental Health Services in connecting and collaborating with Indigenous communities on issues of environmental health. Links to resources which might be of assistance in promoting environmental health in Indigenous communities are provided.

Alaska Native Knowledge Network 
Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN) is a resource connecting people with information about Alaska Native ways of knowing. Information on how to access numerous publications on Alaska Native Knowledge is available. Of particular interest to teachers, a curriculum content portion of the website includes lesson and unit plans, several of which are about land, animals, and plants.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami serves as a voice for the Inuit population, their website documents research and news concerning Inuit communities.

Métis Nation of Ontario 
The Métis Nation of Ontario represents individuals and communities of the Métis Nation. Their website provides information on Métis history, governance, services, rights, recent news and events.

Pedagogical Resources

Beckford, C. L. & Nahdee, R. (2011).  Teaching for Ecological Sustainability: Incorporating Indigenous Philosophies and Practices.  What works?  Research into Practice: Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat
This Ontario Ministry of Education resource provides tips on how to incorporate Indigenous environmental philosophies into teaching and outlines the environmental perspective of the Wapole Island First Nation. The importance of including Indigenous environmental perspectives in environmental education is discussed as these philosophies provide a rich lens through which we might understand our connection with nature. It is believed that incorporating these perspectives into teaching will facilitate student engagement in sustainable practices.

Bell, N., Wheatley, K., Johnson, B. (2010)  The Ways of Knowing Guide.  Toronto: Toronto Zoo. 
The Ways of Knowing Partnership Turtle Island Conservation program, located at the Toronto Zoo, works in partnership with First Nation communities to bring Traditional Knowledge into conservation practices. Their guide is organized according to the four foundational beliefs of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee people: respect, relationships, reciprocity, and responsibility. First, Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee stories show the importance of bringing respect into all relationships, then the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Anishinaabe Nation are presented as a model of nation-to-nation relations and relationships more broadly. Reciprocity is discussed through the relationship of Knowledge Holders and Knowledge Learners, and the guide ends with the ways in which we have a responsibility for the earth.

Manitoba Education and Training - Aboriginal Perspectives of Sustainable Development.
Incorporating Indigenous Traditional Knowledge into school curriculums is important to the preservation of these ways of knowing and assisting students with understanding the value of sustainability. Manitoba’s Education Ministry views this as particularly important because of its young and fast-growing Indigenous population. This resource, created by the Education Ministry, outlines some of the key understandings informing Indigenous ecological perspectives. A chart is included, listing some Indigenous sustainability concepts.

McGregor, H. (2012). Decolonizing Pedagogies Teacher Reference Booklet
This booklet, created for the Vancouver school board, discusses the importance of decolonizing pedagogy, potential barriers to doing this in practice, and how Canadian teachers are and might continue to teach Indigenous content in their classrooms. Decolonizing pedagogy is particularly important in Canada where our education system has an ugly history of perpetuating colonial perspectives. Incorporating Indigenous history, philosophy, and culture, without also decolonizing pedagogy has been found insufficient to stop the undermining of Indigenous cultures. Thus, for Indigenous culture to receive the recognition and celebration it deserves, teachers must reframe their pedagogy.

Ontario Ministry of Education.  (2009). Aboriginal Perspectives: A Guide to the Teacher’sToolkit.
The Teacher’s Toolkit was designed by teachers, for teachers, to assist bringing Indigenous perspectives into classrooms. This toolkit is broken into two sections. The first outlines where Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and history fit into the Ontario curriculum, and the second lists effective strategies for incorporating this content into teaching.

Schilling, V. (2011). Environmentalists from our First Nations. (The First Nations Series for Young Readers.) Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.
Environmentalists from our First Nations outlines the efforts of Indigenous people across Turtle Island who are working to protect the environment and promote sustainable practices. Each chapter focuses on a different Indigenous environmentalist, outlining the life experiences which led them to where they are now and the work they are involved in. Despite facing discrimination, these individuals have continued to push forward in their fight to save Mother Earth. The book also contains explanations of terms, such as laws, programs, people, and events affecting the environment, thus serving as a general educational tool on environmental issues.

Toulouse, P. (2008).  Integrating Aboriginal Teachings and Values into the Classroom.  What Works: Research Into Practice. The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.
The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat of Ontario published this document by Pamela Toulouse, concerning how schools can best support Indigenous students. The article focuses on how the development of self-esteem is important for the academic achievement of Indigenous students. Toulouse outlines how the Ojibwe Good Life Teachings can be integrated into education settings; she believes this will increase respect for Indigenous culture, leading to improved self-esteem for Indigenous students.

Theoretical Foundations

Aikenhead, C. L. & Michell, H. (2010). Bridging Cultures: Scientific and Indigenous Ways of Knowing Nature. Toronto: Pearson.
This book presents a postcolonial way of thinking about science. In the past, a Eurocentric perspective of science have been privileged and the lack of diversity in scientific outlooks has served to exclude Indigenous students from entering science professions, impeded on students' ability to understand science holistically, and a scientific culture which fails to consider sustainability. The authors seek to provide teachers with tools to bridge Eurocentric and Indigenous perspectives, which are more than capable of existing simultaneously, so that students can enjoy the benefits of both. Specific practices that will aid teachers to bring Indigenous ways of living in nature into their science lessons and classrooms are outlined at the end of the book. 

Cajete, G. (1994). Look to the Mountain:  An Ecology of Indigenous Education.  Colorado: Kivaki Press.
Interlaced with myths and metaphors, Gregory Cajete, a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, makes an argument for the importance of bringing Indigenous perspectives into the classroom in his book Look to the Mountain:  An Ecology of Indigenous Education. He challenges others in the Indigenous community to reimagine an education system which adopts Indigenous worldviews and follows the basic tenants of Indigenous educational beliefs. Environmental education and Spiritual Ecology are core elements of Indigenous traditional teachings, yet too often they are missing from modern classrooms. To ensure the preservation of Indigenous culture, Cajete argues that this must change. He believes in the transformative power of education, but only when relationships with community and place are nurtured.

Kulnieks, A., Longboat, D.R., Young, K. (Eds.) (2013). Contemporary Studies in Environmental and Indigenous Pedagogies:  A Curricula of Stories and Place.  Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Our understanding of place should be informed by numerous perspectives, yet the field of environmental education is dominated by a scientific/academic approach. This book is a collection of work from writers across Turtle Island. In each chapter writers share theories and strategies for incorporating Indigenous Environmental Studies and Eco-Justice frameworks into education curriculums. The first section outlines theoretical models for how this paradigm shift might be achieved. The following section presents possible approaches such as ecojustice and ecofeminism. The book concludes with strategies for bringing these ideas into practice, for example, the opportunity a garden provides for gaining ecological understanding.

Danyluk, P., & Sheppard, G. (2015). Preparing Bachelor of Education Candidates to Teach in Ontario’s Northern, Remote, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. 
It has become increasingly important that teacher graduate programs prepare candidates for working in northern communities, as many new teachers are counting on these positions after graduation. The study examines how well-prepared graduates of the School of Education at Laurentian University are to teach in these communities. The study outlined common experiences of new teachers in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities, and some suggestions for how to adapt teacher preparation programs to assist candidates in developing needed skills.

And This is my Garden
Eleanor Woitowicz, a teacher at Mel Johnson School in Wabowden, a northern Manitoban community, noticed a deficit in her students’ ecological knowledge. This prompted her to start the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project, providing students with the opportunity to learn about gardening through a school greenhouse and have gardens in their own backyards. The documentary, And This is My Garden, follows students and Woitowicz throughout the growing season, capturing the progress of students’ gardens and the how this project has led to a positive change in the community’s relationship with food. It can be seen that farming is a viable option in the north. This is important for the long-term sustainability of northern communities, as the cost of transporting produce is making living in these communities increasingly challenging.

Indigenous Teaching for a Sustainable Future
This is the opening address Melissa Nelson gave at the Festival of Faiths in 2014. Nelson is president of the Cultural Conservancy, a group committed to renewing human connection with the earth, through the practice and education of Traditional Ecological Knowledge on traditional Indigenous lands. In her address, Nelson discusses the work of the Cultural Conservancy and outlines several Indigenous perspectives on how to treat the earth. As someone of Indigenous descent, she speaks about the need for all people to take on an ethos of Indigeneity, a social paradigm and environmental ethic which sees people not as separate from the earth but part of it.

The Oral Tradition of Storytelling 
This brief video provides an explanation of how legends emerge from oral storytelling and serve as an explanation for natural phenomenon.

Environmental Sustainability: What we can learn from Aboriginal culture
This video features a talk by Larissa Behrendt, a member of the Eualeyai/Kamillaroi People of Australia and a Law professor at the University of Technology in Sydney. Behrendt discusses the prominence sustainability plays in Indigenous cultures and how she hopes all Australians will one day feel a connection to this way of being. She believes that for this to happen, Indigenous land, language, and heritage need to be preserved, a goal she hopes to achieve through enshrining them in a bill of rights. Peter Dorothy, a professor at the University of Melbourne, makes an appearance, saying he sees Indigenous culture as an Australian resource that can provide insight on how to protect the environment.

8th Fire Maps 
8th Fire is a CBC Project, which documents the loss, struggle, and resilience of Indigenous people across Canada through videos and maps. On the first map, website visitors can watch interviews of Indigenous reporters, dispatched across the country, to tell stories of Indigenous people. A second map documents the linguistic history of Indigenous groups in Canada in the 17th century, while another shows the approximate location of different Indigenous communities at the time of European contact. A fourth map reflects the boundaries of traditional territories based on treaty rights.

Justice for Aboriginal People – It’s Time
A group of Indigenous people recount a brief history of events and legislations which disenfranchised Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. They reflect on how this has resulted in hardship for Indigenous communities today and the need for reconciliation.

Canadian Aboriginal History - Sharing Circle Did You Know?   
Part 1

Part 2

The Sharing Circle was a Canadian documentary series, this episode addresses common misconceptions about the legal rights of Indigenous people.

I’m not the Indian you had in mind 
This short video features a poetic rendition of problematic stereotypes about Indigenous people from the perspective of three Indigenous people who are tired of hearing them.

Stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples with Wab Kinew
Wab Kinew, Member of Parliament and leader of the New Democrat Party in Manitoba, outlines some of the harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people in Canada.

Toulouse, P. (2016).  What Matters in Indigenous Education: Implementing a Vision Committed to Holism, Diversity and Engagement.  Toronto: People For Education.
Pamela Toulouse considers educational goals presented by the organization through the lens of the medicine wheel and its teachings. She documents how Indigenous worldviews can and should be infused in the approach we take to education and shaping students’ lives.

The Oral Tradition of Storytelling  

This brief YouTube video provides an explanation of how legends emerge from oral storytelling and serve as an explanation for natural phenomenon.


First Nations Communities in Ontario 
A map displays the locations of Indigenous communities across Ontario, as well as their contact information.

Native Land
This interactive map enables users to explore the location of traditional territories, languages, and treaties which govern different parts of the world. Links for more in-depth information are available.

Canadian Government Resources

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency - Considering Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Assessments – Interim Principles
This document, from the Government of Canada, serves as a guide for how Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge should be incorporated into environmental assessments (EAs).

Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada - Sustainable Development
The Canadian federal government is committed to sustainable development with the Federal Sustainable Development Act, in 2008. The Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has an important role in considering the environmental impact of federal projects and how the government goes about creating sustainable development; their role is more thoroughly outlined on this website.


Keepers of the Earth Series

Caduto, M. J. and Bruchac, J. (1988).  Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children.  Fulcrum, Inc.: Golden, Colorado. 

Caduto, M. J. and Bruchac, J. (1990).  Keepers of Life: Discovering Plants Through Native American Stories and Earth Activities for Children. Fulcrum, Inc.: Golden, Colorado. 

Caduto, M. J. and Bruchac, J. (2013).  Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children. Fulcrum, Inc.: Golden, Colorado. 

Caduto, M. J. and Bruchac, J. (1997).  Keepers of the Night: Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children. Fulcrum, Inc.: Golden, Colorado. 

Caduto, M. J. and Bruchac, J. (1996). Native American Gardening: Stories, Projects, and Recipes for Families. Fulcrum, Inc.: Golden, Colorado.