of Native Science
elements of the Native Science Paradigm are common to Western science
while others go beyond the conventional framework. For example,
the following tenets are held by both Western and Native science:
patterns and cycles in the world can be properly understood by a
and beauty of nature reflects a dynamic, multi-dimensional enduring
harmony in the Universe.
about the natural world is an essential motivation and careful observation
an essential discipline for acquiring scientific knowledge.
and creativity are essential for the advancement of science, although
these processes are understood poorly in Western science.
knowledge, once gained by individuals, is contributed to the community,
and appropriate technologies must be developed to meet societal
needs while simultaneously protecting the environment.
extends these tenets in the following ways:
does not view living systems reductively, but rather grants them
full integrity and ontological standing. Such integrity and standing
is likewise granted to the rest of the universe, in which everything
is viewed as animate and having spirit.
Based on this
worldview, the human being logically is in existential relationship
to all domains of nature with corresponding responsibilities.
agents, human beings must recognize our role and responsibility
to assist in maintaining dynamic balances of the natural world through
participation and renewal
people naturally feel
towards communities and individuals
are extended also to 'place,' because
each place reflects the whole order of
holders must be ethical
elders and leaders.
we develop should not only
be appropriate and non-destructive but also
reflect and contribute to these balances and
should emerge from a source
beyond individual motive, and instead be
sanctioned through ritual and ceremony
reflecting a larger spiritual world order.
in Western science have brought it closer to Native science views:
systems display emergent properties at high levels of organization
systems are leading to appreciating life from the level of the cell
to that of the planet
and relativity theory have led to profound changes in concepts of
space, time and causality.
the Native paradigm we experience a
relational universe and know that our relationship
with the interconnected web of life sits at the heart of
deep learning. Fundamental to these relationships is
the openness of the human to the continual flow of
energy in the universe. As this openness is developed,
it enables people, and potentially societies, to remain
in harmony with a continually evolving cosmos. This
cosmos, the universe and everything within it, is
experienced as a living phenomenon. Lastly, knowledge
is embodied and contextual: abstract ideas do
not constitute knowledge so much as does capacity
evident in a person or group, and all knowledge is
inseparable from its social and physical setting. This
means that knowledge intrinsically encompasses
a moral and ethical dimension, and who holds the
knowledge is inseparable from the knowledge itself.
This paradigm gives rise to philosophies that underlie
and give distinctive form to science, law, health, ethics
and governance - in short, all aspects of native life
The Native scientific approach to seeking knowledge is done through
long term observation of the total web of relational networks with
the intent of maintaining balance and harmony.
Experience. The day to day experiences of the individual and
collective which may be based on knowledge gained through all of
(as opposed to research). The Native view is that all of the
universe consists of energy waves which are in a state of constant
flux transforming, combining, recombining, deforming, etc. One can
say that the Native person is forever "surfing the flux"
to discover regular patterns, which then can be used as reference
My Relations." Knowledge can come from "All My Relations"-
that is from meaningful connections with all domains of nature.
Knowledge may come to a person from "All My Relations"
in a state of awakeness, in a vision, or dream.
Reality is not limited to a state of awakeness. Dream reality
is part of the overall reality and lived experience. Knowledge can
come from dreams in the same way knowledge can come from experiences
in a state of awakeness - both are subject to validation, which
is done through testing conducted in a state of awakeness to ascertain
the uses and values contained in the knowledge.
Visions are a more intentional and disciplined search for knowledge,
as opposed to dreams, which can happen any place. Vision quests,
for example, require careful and diligent preparation, including
a range of ceremonial protocol.
song, and ceremony. Story, song, and ceremony are manifestations
of regular patterns in the flux, which are used for knowledge and
Observation in western science is mainly mathematically based. Observation
is connected with predictive testing.
Observation is complemented by experimentation, which is the
"the fast-forwarding" of nature's processes. It is the
curiosity seeking aspect of science. "Let us see what will
happen if we do such and such
.if we combine "A"
Disciplined and organized activity to discover, understand and
share marks science as a social system.
Technology encompasses the equipment and tools of Western science
as well as its embodiment. It serves the role of being the gateway
to new knowledge, but it also mediates the relationship between
humans and nature. Instruments of observation literally stand between
human senses and natural phenomena. While they extend and amplify
those senses, they may also serve to 'shift the burden' to the instrument,
as opposed to developing human sensing and awareness. Application
technologies likewise separate users from the knowledge embodied
in the technology and from many of the consequences of using the
Western Science relies mainly on measurement as a basis for confirmation
of new knowledge. If something is not subject to measurement, it
is not considered scientific.
encountering the expression "Native Science" it is quite
natural to ask, "In what sense can the traditional knowledge
systems of indigenous peoples be understood as science?" Western
science is couched in terms of mathematical and mechanistic theories,
and possesses a well-developed hypothetical, deductive and experimental
knowledge systems incorporate many but not all of these elements,
and they are embedded in a larger social and human context. Therefore,
interpreting "science" in the narrowest sense can render
traditional knowledge systems "non-science."
believe this is shortsighted. Despite the remarkable accomplishments
and benefits of science and technology over the last 500 years,
it would be arrogant in the extreme to regard this period as the
start of all science. Humans possessing equivalent cognitive, emotional
and spiritual capacities have lived in stable human communities
for many thousands of years. Moreover, many of these societies have
come to value observation and the understanding of nature, combined
with societal arrangements for holding, developing, and applying
knowledge gained thereby for common benefit.
that the advances of Western Science have at times also had unforeseen
and significant negative consequences on the Earth and human society,
it is timely to broaden the concept of science so as to include
other systems of knowledge that may be more attuned to complex interdependencies
between human innovation and the social and natural environment.
collaborations exist between Western and Native scientists in environmental
research, land use, geographic information science, and hydrology.
For example, ethnobotanist and MacArthur fellow Gary Nabhan's project
"Native Seed Search" was conducted in collaboration with
traditional knowledge holders.
gain knowledge through lived experience.
gain knowledge through dreams.
gain knowledge through vision quests.
The knowledge may or may not be shared depending on the individual
and his/her dream. An individual can be entrusted with knowledge
as a keeper for the benefit of the "Nation" (the society
as a whole), e.g., "Bundle Holders." The Bundles may be
transferred to other individuals.
societies hold knowledge about some particular aspect of the web
of relationships. That knowledge can only be shared among members
of the society, and a person who wants to be privy to that knowledge
must become a member of that society. This is part of the checks
and balances regarding knowledge in native cultures, so that potentially
powerful knowledge is not abused. In turn, there are checks and
balances on the knowledge keepers themselves: people know who they
are and the members of these societies are continually watched by
the society at large to gauge their integrity.
Lived experience by the whole nation, which would include individual
and collective experiences. This knowledge is conveyed by and arises
out of traditional oral history.
Prior to the industrial revolution, the main knowledge holder
was the church.
the industrial revolution, scientists have taken over from the Church
as the main knowledge holders. Scientists are the curiosity-seekers
about what reality is all about. They do not take responsibility
for how society utilizes their discoveries.
Patented/Copyrighted. Knowledge that individuals have come to
know but that is protected (for a limited time) for the sole economic
gain of the knowledge holder. Supported as an economic incentive
and Expert Knowledge
of Native and Western Science General
knowledge is accessible to the public ('the nation")
knowledge is only accessible to experts and can be accessed through
developing sufficient expertise
knowledge requires specialized language and training.
Between Native and Western Science Language
of expert knowledge in Western Science is technical and usually
of expert knowledge in Native Science is particular native language
to expert communities is largely determined by individual choice
in Western Science
to expert communities is determined both by choice and by invitation
in Native Science (in the case of sacred societies)
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