Building Bridges between Indigenous and Academic Knowledges: Holistic Approaches to Ecosystem and Aboriginal Health

Dr. Regna Darnell,
Christianne V. Stephens
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The paper reports on the work of a research team involving faculty and students from Anthropology, First Nations Studies, Theory and Criticism, and Ecosystem Health (medicine) working in collaboration with the Walpole Island First Nation, Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada. We are attempting to calibrate the knowledge systems of the academy with those of the First Nations healers and knowledge holders. Narrative ethnography is used to explore the divergent underlying epistemological assumptions about human persons, other living beings, and the natural environment. Collaborators work between English and their traditional language (Ojibwe). Practical implications include a broadenbing of the basis on which health practitioners approach patients with fundamentally different relationships of individual, community and nature. Collaboration of local experts with academics is providing an increasingly explicit theory of how these matters are interrelated and how balance or well-being can be sustained in a world where it is highly endangered

Keywords: Native/non-Native Epistemologies, Indigenous Knowledge, Participatory Action Research, Dialogic Ethnography, First Nations (Canada), Ecosystem Health
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Regna Darnell

Distinguished University Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario (UWO)
London, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Darnell's research with the First Nations (Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking)peoples of Southwestern Ontario, Canada, focuses on building bridges between Indigenous knowledges concerning human health, the natural world and the spiritual relations of human persons within it to the usually discrete academic disciplines consolidating Western knowledge of similar phenomena. Qualitative methods of life history, narrative and discourse analysis are used to establish a common theoretical discourse within which paraticipatory action research in collaboration with First Nations communities can proceed effectively and provide generalizable models for cross-cultural communication. Dr. Darnell was the founding director of the First Nations Studies program at the University of Western Ontario and has worked with Algonquian and Iroquoian languages and cultures for nearly four decades.

Christianne V. Stephens

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Ms. Stephens' areas of expertise include medical anthropology, historical epidemiology, risk perception and Aboriginal health issues in Canada. Her research deploys ethnographic data to investigate water quality issues at Walpole Island First Nation, located downstream from a major petrochemical centre. Indigenous perceptions explored representing different sub-sections of the community reveal cultural constructions of nature, health, and risk.

Ref: I07P0284