Indigenous research methodologies situate research within an Indigenous paradigm or worldview. This involves reimagining not only how research is carried out in Indigenous communities, but also some of the foundational values and principles of western science.
What are the underlying values, principles, and worldviews that drive Indigenous research methodologies? A group of Native American STEM researchers in Montana have offered one answer to this question in The Six Rs of Indigenous Research, in the journal Tribal College.
Building on earlier work from Kirkness and Barnhardt and others, they propose a six-part framework for Indigenous research:
- Respect for the “feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions of others,” for the community, and for the earth.
- Relationship with the community, land, nature, ancestors, and future generations.
- Relevance to Indigenous perspectives, experiences, priorities, ethics, and ways of knowing/doing/living, throughout the research process.
- Reciprocity in research protocols, practices, and relationships, understood as a “continuous and intentional exchange process.”
- Responsibility for the relationships, stories, and knowledge that researchers have been entrusted with.
- Representation of Indigenous communities “at the table” combined with an understanding of the history of colonization and a strengths-based approach.
The authors offer this framework in the hopes that it can “serve Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars who are cultivating their skills and furthering the work within Indigenous communities.” While this particular formulation of Indigenous research principles is new, the authors point out that “Our Six Rs framework acknowledges and validates longstanding traditions among Indigenous communities generating scientific knowledge through processes of observation and experimentation congruent with their cultural values.”