What is Indigenous Science?

Like Western science (WS), Indigenous science (IS) relies upon direct observation for forecasting and generating predictions; it’s power lies in its ability to make connections and perceive patterns across vast cycles of space and time. Indigenous scientists are trained in various specializations such as herbalism, weather observations, mental health, and time keeping, and there are tests to ensure IS validity.

One marked difference between the two sciences: Data from IS is not used to control the forces of nature, but instead is used to find methods and resources for accommodating it. Other critical distinctions apply to IS, including:

  • Indigenous scientists are an integral part of the research process and there is a defined process for ensuring this integrity.
  • IS tries to understand and complete our relationships with all living things. All of nature is considered to be intelligent and alive, thus an active research partner.
  • The purpose of IS is to maintain balance.
  • IS collapses time and space; our fields of inquiry and participation extend into and overlap with past and present.
  • IS is holistic, drawing on all senses, including the spiritual and psychic.
  • The end-point of an IS process is an exact balance where creativity occurs.
  • We always remain embodied in the natural world. In other words, when we reach the moment/place of balance, we do not believe that we have “transcended.” Instead, we say that we are normal.
  • Humor balances gravity and is a critical ingredient of all truth seeking, even in the most powerful rituals.