A Critique of the Call to "Always Indigenize!"
Elina Hill
University of Victoria


Intent on working toward decolonization, Len Findlay encourages scholars in Canadian universities, particularly in the humanities, to "Always Indigenize!" Findlay is aware that this is no simple task, yet he remains hopeful that academics can maintain active and political stances, refusing to "play down or attempt to suspend sociopolitical determinants," in order to bring people's attention to "Indigenizing vision". Such vision, he argues, if ethically attended to, "can be of enormous benefit to all people", not only enriching and diversifying Western knowledge and thinkers, but also connecting and informing Indigenous scholars. Indigenous and non-Indigenous thinkers can then better exploit the university in order to reach Indigenous goals, including decolonization.

Indigenous peoples have had little choice but to engage with Western institutions imposed upon their lands, and have sought to make such spaces more responsive to their needs and goals. As such, Findlay insists that the master's tools can "be used to dismantle the master's house," despite Audre Lorde's argument to the contrary. However, Findlay does not sufficiently consider the implications of such an undertaking. As Lorde points out, expecting the oppressed to educate their ignorant and reluctant oppressors can lead to "a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought." When Indigenous people participate in efforts to make Indigenous thought coherent for university scholars, and consequently the colonial state, they spend less time engaged with institutions of knowledge in their communities. Figuring the university as a central site of Indigenous knowledge "can displace and demean the knowledge of elders in people's own communities," as Andrea Bear-Nicholas writes. Meanings are often lost as Indigenous languages are translated into the lingua franca of the university. Critical frames of reference may also be lost. As Indigenous thinkers are focused away from engagement with community members, important issues and debates may become obscured by academic interests and deliberations that are less relevant. While attending to Indigenous thought is crucial, a focus on "Indigenizing" might actually help to avoid self-critical work toward decolonization on the part of the university. Instead, work aimed to always decolonize, for example through the support of Indigenous knowledge (social, political, linguistic, etc.) in situ, might better resist exploitative moves on the part of the university and the state, as well as set the ground for thinkers to pay attention to the already coherent narratives of Indigenous people.



Intent on working toward decolonization, Len Findlay encourages scholars in Canadian universities, particularly in the humanities, to "Always Indigenize!"[1] Findlay is aware that this is no simple task, yet he remains hopeful that academics can maintain active and political stances, refusing to "play down or attempt to suspend sociopolitical determinants," in order to bring people's attention to "Indigenizing vision" [2]. Such vision, he argues, if ethically attended to, "can be of enormous benefit to all people" [3], not only enriching and diversifying Western knowledge and thinkers, but also connecting and informing Indigenous scholars. Indigenous and non-Indigenous thinkers can then better exploit the university in order to meet Indigenous goals, including decolonization.

Indigenous peoples have had little choice but to engage with Western institutions imposed upon their lands, and have sought to make such spaces more responsive to their needs and goals, including that of decolonization. As such, Findlay insists that the master's tools can "be used to dismantle the master's house," despite Audre Lorde's argument to the contrary [4]. However, Findlay does not sufficiently consider the implications of such an undertaking. As Lorde points out, expecting the oppressed to educate their ignorant and reluctant oppressors can lead to "a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought" [5]. When Indigenous people participate in efforts to make Indigenous thought coherent for university scholars, and consequently the colonial state, they spend less time engaged with institutions of knowledge in their communities [6]. Figuring the university as a central site of Indigenous knowledge "can displace and demean the knowledge of elders in people's own communities" [7]. Meanings are often lost as Indigenous languages are translated into the lingua franca of the university. Critical frames of reference may also be lost. As Indigenous thinkers are focused away from engagement with community members, important issues and debates may become obscured by academic interests and deliberations that are less relevant. While attending to Indigenous thought is crucial, a focus on "Indigenizing" might actually help to avoid self-critical work toward decolonization on the part of the university. Instead, work aimed to always decolonize, for example through the support of Indigenous knowledge (social, political, linguistic, etc.) in situ, might better resist exploitative moves on the part of the university and the state, as well as set the ground for thinkers to pay attention to the already coherent narratives of Indigenous people.

So what does it mean to indigenize? The term might mean to "bring (something) under the control, dominance, or influence of Indigenous or local people" [8], or to "make Indigenous" [9]. Both sound promising for Indigenous peoples, though perhaps miraculous at best or dangerous at worst, in the current context of the neo-colonial University. Findlay acknowledges the "employment of the English language to express a sentiment like 'Always Indigenize!' that may have important consequences for Indigenous peoples, in Canada and elsewhere, is neither innocent nor 'merely' practical" [10]. While there is a risk that certain people will exploit Indigenous peoples' knowledge in pursuit of neo-colonial goals, Findlay insists that avoiding engagement with Indigenous thought could lead to worse consequences. Indigenous perspectives on any and all subjects or issues raised on Indigenous lands (Canada) are relevant, and not only for Indigenous peoples, Findlay argues, but for all Canadians, "whether one is thinking of new pedagogies or sustainability, or institutional internationalization, or other topical issues" [11]. The notion of any purely "objective" discipline is no longer tenable, and must be challenged, since all thought, "whether made in published form or from a podium, habitually depends on formulations and explorations of research questions that play down or attempt to suspend sociopolitical determinants without ever fully or permanently erasing evidence of their agency" [12]. To continue to ignore the effects of research, or to pretend that they are someone else's concern, is to continue colonizing from the site of the university. Indeed, the absence or obfuscation of Indigenous perspectives from Canadian knowledge systems over the last few centuries has distorted realities for all, and has led to increasingly complex ethical, legal, and practical dilemmas. As well, Findlay's call for "an enhanced capacity for analytical and imaginative critique of the current (Amerocentric, neocolonial, capitalist) hegemony" ought to be heeded by those concerned with decolonization [13]. But is the corrective for all these distortions and oppressions first and foremost to "always indigenize"?

Findlay insists that "we" (at the university at least) must "Always Indigenize!" He writes that his understanding of "indigenization" is grounded in the work of Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Findlay refers to Smith's emphasis on the importance of demystifying and "recentring" Indigenous knowledge in projects that include the telling (and re-telling) of Indigenous (hi)stories and critical engagement with colonial knowledge. He also highlights her insistence that such work is "inevitably political" and connected to "broader politics and strategic goals" [14]. Findlay argues that Smith offers a prescriptive approach to Indigenizing that ought to be taken up by "Indigenous scholars and direct the efforts of non-Indigenous colleagues" [15]. Smith undoubtedly offers important strategies for decolonizing work, work that undermines power at the colonial centre and returns it to Indigenous communities (among others). However, such strategies need not be relegated to a category of "indigenization." Smith rarely uses the word "indigenization," and instead lays out a methodology repeatedly employing terms such as "decolonization," "political," and "theorization." Certainly, Smith emphasizes the importance of approaches or theories by Indigenous scholars that are "grounded in a real sense of, and sensitivity towards, what it means to be an Indigenous person" [16]. My concern is that defining such theories, strategies, and methods as "indigenization" might once again work to mystify the thought of Indigenous people, relegating them to a "cultural" category of difference with the ability to infuse Western thought with new life (Indigenous life?), and/or able to criticize (Western) theory and scholarship, always "counter" to or working against, but never really at the centre. Why not focus on the "vision" of Indigenous thinkers (and peoples) instead of "indigenizing vision"? Could there be instances in the end where, with the right approach in place, Indigenous people are not even necessary for indigenizing?

Instead of "indigenization," decolonization is at the forefront of Linda Tuhwai Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People. In the book, Smith does specifically use the term "indigenizing" in order to describe one of the "25 different projects currently being pursued by Indigenous communities" towards decolonization [17]. "Indigenizing," she writes, is a project with two dimensions. The first involves an intense awareness of Indigenous perspectives and interests, and an acknowledgment that such world views are not continuous with or subordinate to the world views of "settler society." This, Smith notes, is a project that "involves non-Indigenous activists and intellectuals" [18]. While this seems to be the kind of "indigenizing" that Findlay encourages us to take part in, his first concern is with improving the university and the settler state, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens alike; decolonization is secondary to the call to "Always Indigenize!" For Smith, on the other hand, indigenizing is one of many ways toward decolonization and toward improving Indigenous lives. For her, decolonization is the primary goal.

Sharing knowledge at the site of the university may be part of decolonizing processes, and the university can be a space where both settlers and Indigenous peoples learn to respect and even offer support for common goals. Taiaiake Alfred is hopeful that attention to Indigenous thought and perspectives might lead to the kind of mutual care and understanding necessary for better relations between settlers and Indigenous peoples [19], as well as improved circumstances for Indigenous people [20]. However, Alfred emphasizes that "universities are not safe grounds"; rather, they are merely "microcosms of the larger societal struggle" [21], another colonial space where Indigenous people exist, resist and work to ensure their continued survival in the face of colonization [22]. In the context of the university, "indigenization" may help to empower Indigenous peoples interacting with colonial institutions, but we cannot forget that Indigenous peoples have long had little choice but to engage with colonial institutions (from courts, to schools, to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and so on). Of course Indigenous people have welcomed opportunities for engagement that seemed to be less offensive and detrimental to their communities. While Alfred supports better institutional circumstances for Indigenous people, he remains adamant about the need for Indigenous scholars to be accountable to "their people in the communities," and to avoid "assimilation's endgame" [23]. For Alfred, "indigenizing" the university is meant to be a disruptive process, aimed at promoting unsettling truths toward decolonization, including the positive content of what it means to be Indigenous, as well as criticisms of colonialism [24].

Similarly, Jeff Corntassell asserts that "Indigenizing the Academy" will allow for "insurgent education," which he feels is necessary for decolonization [25]. Insurgent education is less concerned with "mediating between worldviews as much as challenging the dominant colonial discourse." Instead, Corntassel writes,

It is about raising awareness of Indigenous histories and place-based existences as part of a continuing struggle against shape-shifting colonial powers. Insurgent education entails creating decolonizing and discomforting moments of Indigenous truth-telling that challenge the colonial status quo. It does this by questioning settler occupation of Indigenous places through direct, honest, and experiential forms of engagement and demands for accountability. Insurgent educators exemplify Indigenous forms of leadership by relating their daily struggles for Indigenous resurgence to broader audiences using innovative ways that inspire activism and reclamation of Indigenous histories and homelands. [26]
As Corntassel points out, Indigenous people must be strategic in dealing with ever changing forms of colonization. They must be in control of "indigenizing" processes, to ensure these are useful for realizing Indigenous goals (as defined by Indigenous peoples) that may or may not converge with the goals of neo-colonial institutions such as the university. Ideally, Corntassel hopes that insurgent education will lead to "accountability and action to counter contemporary colonialism and to make amends to Indigenous peoples" [27]. Indigenizing the university is not an end in itself; rather, it is a possible means to achieving decolonization both at the university and in broader society. Such "indigenizing" is not particularly aimed at helping to improve the university, or Canada (though such improvements might result). Instead, insurgent education grounded in Indigenous perspectives is aimed first and foremost at assisting Indigenous peoples in reclaiming their lands and their (Indigenous) lives.

The second dimension of "indigenizing" that Linda Tuhwai Smith addresses goes beyond taking Indigenous thought seriously: it involves drawing "upon the traditions -- the bodies of knowledge and corresponding codes of value -- evolved over many thousands of years by native peoples the world over," and truly centring "a politics of Indigenous identity and Indigenous cultural action" [28]. This aspect of indigenizing refers to grounding oneself in Indigenous thought, which spills over from intellectual concerns and into daily existence. Smith notes that this "second aspect is more of an Indigenous project" [29]. As outsiders to Indigenous communities and identities, non-Indigenous researchers are not equipped to ground themselves in Indigenous traditions or positions. While non-Indigenous people ought to take Indigenous thought seriously, they cannot easily take up Indigenous traditions or positions in order to forward their own projects. There needs to be keen awareness of how such a move might risk further exploiting Indigenous peoples and their knowledge. Because interactions between settlers and Indigenous peoples have long been fraught with imbalances of power, ethical non-Indigenous researchers engaging with Indigenous thought must do so in partnership with Indigenous peoples, and with recognition for Indigenous goals. This second dimension of "indigenizing" is rooted in strong Indigenous communities, which are (ideally) further empowered by respectful decolonization and through supportive and healthy relationships with interconnected settler populations.

The promise of education, as exacted by Indigenous peoples in treaties across Canada [30], also has the potential to add to the strength of Indigenous communities. Such potential was envisioned by Indigenous leaders forced to engage in treaties in the face of increasing settlement and colonization. Sheila Carr-Stewart's work shows that beyond those references recorded at treaty negotiations by "both the Crown and First Nations that education would be for the future prosperity of First Nations," oral histories consistently and specifically reflect the understanding that as Indigenous peoples' "means of survival were taken away," the government would provide for education to assist with alternate means of success [31]. For instance, John Chenoweth, the Dean of Instruction at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), emphasizes the practical aspects of post-secondary education for Indigenous peoples. He asserts that Indigenous knowledge is welcomed, disseminated, supported and sometimes prioritized among Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) students and faculty at NVIT. However, Chenoweth says that while NVIT's "programs deal with building capacity for aboriginal communities and people," and while the majority of the students are aboriginal, "I think it would be wrong for us to say, 'this is what Indigenous means,' because [students and faculty] grew up in their Indigenous communities"[32]. He is clear that it is not NVIT, but rather Indigenous communities who must authorize meanings around tradition and identity. Further, he notes,

I myself and this is just me speaking, I think that that goal of getting the fear out [of learning], takes a priority for me over the Indigenous knowledge. Because the Indigenous knowledge is in there, and they know how to get it once they get the fear out. Becoming a healthy human being. And by healthy I mean they're confident, they're able to communicate, they're able to ask questions. Get support. Know how to help themselves, and then get there on their own. [33]
Chenoweth is not overly concerned with making NVIT an "indigenized" space: the Indigenous people on campus ensure that diverse Indigenous knowledge is present and welcomed. They bring their circumstances and understandings to bear on their teaching and learning. The wide range of intellectually, politically and practically relevant courses, are meant to serve the students, not the other way around. As one (Indigenous) instructor remarked to Chenoweth, "no one is going to come in here and tell me that I need to be more aboriginal" [34]. Though Indigenous people may develop or exist dynamically within neo-colonial institutions like the university, the authority and grounding of Indigenous identities and practices takes place in Indigenous communities.

There is no doubt that many Indigenous peoples are wary of "indigenization" even as they participate in "indigenizing" efforts. While Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson are explicit in raising "Indigenous nation building" as a primary reason for "indigenizing the academy" [35], they know that an improved atmosphere for Indigenous people at the university is itself necessary. Without such changes, the institution, which can prove to be a useful tool, would be unbearable. Mihesuah and Wilson are also aware that such an improvement benefits the university, which then shows a concern for diversity, if only at the margins: "To a certain extent, we are needed, if only for show" [36]. Despite this, the authors continue to engage:

All the contributors to Indigenizing the Academy believe, at least at present, that there is something worthwhile or salvageable within the academy, though we suspect that all of us have seriously questioned our participation on a regular basis. Some of us wonder daily if we might be more useful, more productive, and more successful if we removed ourselves from the academy and continued our research, writing, and scholarship in other arenas. Some of us feel as though we can only beat our heads against the wall so many times before the damage to our spirits outweighs whatever small gains we might be making within institutions that do not value our contributions. [37]
Such wariness seems to be common among even the most energetic of Indigenous scholars who participate in efforts to indigenize. And yet, I notice little trace of this frustration in Len Findlay's exuberant call to "Always Indigenize!" While it is good to be hopeful, and to pay attention to the important impacts that Indigenous peoples and thought are having within universities, it seems wrong to disregard the profoundly colonial nature of even the most "indigenized" of post-secondary institutions. Without an explicit goal of decolonization, engagement with Indigenous thought might simply overlay (or worse, strengthen) processes of colonization.

As Findlay briefly acknowledges, a risk of the call to "Always Indigenize!" is that Indigenous issues might always be figured as subordinate to the supposedly "broader and more 'developed' project of Western marxism" [38]. As well, he allows that academics might get caught up in the trope of the benevolent colonial rescuer. But Findlay's call for appropriate and necessary attention to Indigenous people's thought in spite of these acknowledged risks in order to indigenize the university and broader society might also forestall efforts at decolonization. If moves to indigenize overshadow attempts to decolonize, colonial institutions maintain their power -- in fact, these institutions appear to improve: a better kind of university, with knowledge toward a better kind of still colonial Canada. As Michel Foucault argues, the late modern state is able to so effectively secure borders and establish and maintain authority over populations because it takes into account the knowledge and/or understandings of populations as they already exist without trying to restrict them [39]. As more diverse populations seem to ascribe to, or at least accept, the knowledge being employed to run the state, the more tolerant, informed and acceptable the state seems to be. And so the more powerful the state becomes. Foucault notes that, from the point of view of security, authorities need not agree with or control all knowledge being put forth, but they must account for such knowledge, and redirect it if necessary in ways that will be least obstructive to the flow of capital. Some may find the goal of an improved state, a state that relates better to people for whatever reason, to be a worthy one. However, it is important to recognize that an "indigenized" state risks undermining goals of decolonization.

While Indigenous people have necessarily (and effectively) engaged with Western institutions, it is important to remember that this necessity came about largely due to a need to respond to colonial impositions. Colonizers wanted Indigenous lands, and ultimately found imposing institutions to be a most effective way of stealing that land. Against such imposition, Indigenous Peoples have fought long and hard to maintain their particular Cree, Syilx, Nlaka'pamux, Salish, and otherwise Indigenous identities and territories against encroaching settlers. In keeping with understandings around the importance of relationships, various Indigenous peoples have used diplomacy and engagement to help defend their positions [40]. Perhaps from the perspective of prioritizing integrity and accountability, and due to a belief that people are able to transform via engagement, Indigenous people have continued to offer critique and commentary on the effects of colonialism, and proof of their existence and worth, against settler arguments that Indigenous communities are better off to assimilate. Upper Nicola band member and cultural heritage resources manager Lynne Jorgeson mused to me, "Western society has been a slow learner. When are non-native people, as a whole, as a society, going to get it? When are we going to reach enough critical mass? I just believe one person at a time, like just sitting here with you [has value and can change things]" [41]. How long must Indigenous peoples continue to work to make themselves understood as worthy of existence? How long must they struggle to prove to others that decolonization is the right thing to do? How much must Indigenous people continue to give in order to achieve meaningful decolonization?

Many Indigenous people are reluctant to provide Indigenous knowledge if it is seen, as Findlay suggests it be, as an "invaluable resource" to be employed by the university, by students, by scholars and by the Canadian state, in the pursuit of "new national imaginaries" [42]. This use of Indigenous knowledge may help to improve the university or the Canadian state, but often does little to disrupt power away from the centre; it falls short of the kind of decolonization where real power over land shifts into the hands of Indigenous peoples. Even if, at the university, Indigenous knowledge is taken up in tandem with projects of "exposing" Eurocentric "connections to injustice" [43], as Findlay insists is necessary, what might Indigenous peoples have to lose? For one, they risk losing control over their intellectual property, as the university or the state or others exploit such thought for their own gain. While Findlay speaks to the importance of strengthening publicly funded institutions in Canada, this may be a low priority for First Nations keen on restoring health to their own "national" institutions. Many Indigenous people are wary of exploitation, as it has been common among their experiences with academia. Upon first meeting to speak with me in the course of my own research [44], Scotty Holmes, a former chief of the Upper Nicola band, wanted to know where the interview was "going to end up, how it is going to get there, why you're doing it?" Further, he wondered,

Why should I give you some answers why should I tell you lies, why should I tell you truths? The reason, uh, I guess it is a question, you know, we got a lot millions of students come out into our country and ask us these same questions, and we never see anything, ever, become of, them in a positive light So, we are skeptical about, and we distrust people coming out and, you know, asking these questions. And we kind of think, sometimes, it is kind of selfish on your part, or people like you that come out, because it is for your benefit, and for your marks and your disciplines, eh? And when this information that I give you is of no benefit to anybody but you that kind of seems to be a cheat, in terms of you know beneficial all the way around. Where in most cases we are trying to- I don't have no problem educating, and making, uh, people like yourself aware of our, our concepts and ideas and perspectives. (..) It's not that. It's that, it seems to be worthless to us, to sit with you, and spend all of ten minutes or 45 minutes, telling you all the storiesIt is my responsibility to ensure that my information, or our information that I'm given is, is held responsibly And that's the part that it isn't- we find that these institutions use your thesis and your research to interpret and translate for their own biases. To discriminate [against] the actual tradition, the actual, you know, the beliefs of our people[to] put it up to their standard, [when] they don't even know what ours [are]- and they try to say, we're not capable of that. And so, what we're trying to say is that the institutions like UVic and UBC are notorious for that, that blatant misjudgment of us. [45]
Holmes went on to make clear that he felt Indigenous people in his own community needed to be guarded when dealing with researchers, and that scholars needed to be sure to act in a way that was "conscious and responsible" to the Okanagan people, no matter what the goals of the researcher. In the Okanagan and elsewhere, many Indigenous people have been reluctant or unwilling to part with their intellectual property because they have been aware that their words might be used in ways that would be unacceptable to them [46]. In order to guard against exploitation Indigenous peoples must be in control of their intellectual property.

None of this is to deny that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people should be engaging with important work and thought being put forth by Indigenous people. Respectful engagement is often possible and desirable to Indigenous peoples. If engagement occurs repeatedly in desirable, meaningful, accountable and unsettling ways with Indigenous peoples, and with dynamic Indigenous thought, all the better. However, once one has engaged with Indigenous thought, is the next move necessarily to "indigenize"? The work of decolonization, as Findlay himself argues, is not only the work of Indigenous people. Non-Indigenous thinkers must find ways to be attentive and reflective of Indigenous thought, inside and outside of the academic sphere, without simply "indigenizing"' (or "making native") settler systems of belief. Certainly, just as Indigenous people are working towards "a reaffirmation of Indigenous epistemological and ontological foundations" to strengthen resistance against "the colonial forces that have consistently and methodically denigrated and silenced them"[47], so too must non-Indigenous people reconsider their own epistemological and ontological foundations. As Paulette Regan argues, non-Indigenous people have been so focused on solving "the Indian problem" that they are blind to their "own need to decolonize" and miss "how settler history, myth, and identity have shaped and continue to shape attitudes in highly problematic ways" [48]. In Unsettling the Settler Within, Regan works carefully to unravel "the foundational myth of the benevolent peacemaker" [49], one among a number of faulty premises (including terra nullius and white/Western superiority) that have helped to support the legitimacy of the Canadian state. Alas, unless non-Indigenous people (myself included) are prepared to confront, consider and adjust their own mythic beliefs - beliefs that continue to block Indigenous peoples from their lands, and continue to blame Indigenous peoples for social ills that are a result of genocidal colonial policies - and unless we are seriously prepared to give up colonial control of the land, why on earth should we expect Indigenous peoples to work at helping us to improve? I am not advocating a rejection of the many valuable contributions and critiques of Indigenous scholars and thinkers, too many of which are already ignored. Further, I do not reject an ethos of forgiveness and cooperation. However, more self-critical work by non-Indigenous people is essential in order to achieve better relationships and decolonization.

Part of such an approach would be acknowledging Indigenous sources of authority that exist outside of the university. As Keira Ladner points out, Indigenous people have "their own ways of validating knowledge" that have nothing to do with the academy [50]. They have oral traditions with methodologies and features that are familiar to those within an Indigenous group. Methods for substantiating content vary from public forums with witnesses, discussions, and other forms of community participation to developed structures of accountability and attention to particular features of the land. Within appropriate Indigenous frameworks, oral traditions are relevant and rich with meaning; outside of these frameworks, meaning can be lost. Various Indigenous scholars, and some non-Indigenous scholars, have already emphasized the importance of understanding Indigenous knowledge within Indigenous knowledge structures [51]. Others may follow their lead, and do their best to follow protocols and work with Indigenous peoples, in order to locate relevant information and authoritative knowledge within Indigenous communities. Such a process may be difficult, time consuming, political and, for some, even impossible. Outsiders may not know the proper channels, or be aware of debates in the community around issues of concern. Further, Indigenous peoples are not always interested in engaging with people or colonial institutions that only seem to lead to further oppression. In such cases, scholars can still do decolonizing work by attempting to understand the ways that they are implicated in processes of colonization.

Those working toward decolonization must also be keenly aware of the links between Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous land. Leanne Simpson emphasizes that attention to Indigenous knowledge is not decolonizing if knowledge is removed from Indigenous frameworks on Indigenous lands, and then integrated into Western knowledge systems elsewhere for colonial uses (from colonial land management plans, to colonial policy development, etc.) [52]. Much of Indigenous knowledge has been cultivated and passed on by and for people living on particular lands. Stories passed on have practical aspects that are important for sustaining Indigenous communities. These aspects are social and spiritual, as well as physical. Lynne Jorgeson spoke to me about how "absolutely" important "being, living and working physically in the place that nourished [her] ancestors," was in order to understand, and experience, Okanagan history and culture [53]. She explained how the landscape functioned "like a personal historymy great grandma Nellie Gutierrez, would tell stories," pointing out and naming places and using them as "markers that contain cultural memories, or genetic memories even" [54]. People orient themselves toward these shared stories, and shared spaces, in ways that reaffirm their connections with each other, and with the land. Leanne Simpson argues that once Indigenous knowledge is removed from these contexts, and written down for academic study, it becomes

stripped of its dynamism and fluidity it is void of the spatial relationships created between Elder and youth. It becomes generalized and depersonalized. It is separated from the land, from the worlds of spirits, from its source and its meaning, and from the methodologies for transmission that provide the rigor that ensures proper communication. It becomes coerced and manipulated into a form that cannot possibly transform or decolonize. [55]
As Jorgesen and Simpson both make clear, Indigenous knowledge is inextricably connected not only with Indigenous peoples, but also with Indigenous lands. With efforts to always decolonize, Indigenous knowledge can be maintained by Indigenous peoples as they employ such dynamic thought in living their lives on their lands.

While many Indigenous people have been able to maintain a connection with their traditional lands and peoples, this is not the case for everyone. Some have been forced off their lands, or cut off from their communities, because of the damage wrought by colonial policies. Still others may have limited connections to their traditional lands, as they choose, or are forced, to engage with urban and capitalist economies to make a living. Further, with colonial and capitalist social systems pressing in, and challenged to manage limited resources, Indigenous people have engaged in identity politics that have exacerbated divides between Indigenous people living on reservations and those living in urban centres [56]. In response to this, some Indigenous people are working to make Indigenous stories and languages relevant for Indigenous people off reserves [57], while others seek ways for urban Indigenous people to make more meaningful connections with people on reserves [58]. In such instances, decolonizing gestures that recognize the damage caused by the colonial state, and begin the return of lands and resources to Indigenous peoples, are appropriate and just responses.

Some might argue that indigenizing institutions, like universities, will help to support people who have been cut off from their traditional lands. However, there is room for skepticism toward any project that aims to improve neo-colonial institutions through indigenization. Andrea Bear Nicholas is highly critical of schemes that amount to "co-opting a limited and decreasing supply of Indigenous knowledge holders into teaching non-Indigenous [people] rather than our own, and to building up institutions that are non-Indigenous rather than our own" [59]. The universities are sure to benefit as they build capacity to provide Indigenous knowledge to Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) people. However, in this process, Indigenous communities will see the efforts of intelligent and committed Indigenous people aimed toward strengthening neo-colonial educational institutes, often at the expense of their own languages and ways of passing on Indigenous knowledge. Further, not only language immersion, but also cultural immersion is lost, as "Indigenous" becomes the touch point at the university, rather than Maliseet, Cree, Okanagan, or whatever particular Indigenous identity is at stake [60]. While universities certainly ought to pay attention to Indigenous and anti-colonial thought, the central site of such thought will not always be at the university. Indeed, as Indigenous peoples invest efforts into their own communities, Indigenous thought will often necessarily be elsewhere than the university. The university must find ways to respectfully attend to such realities.

Indeed, Indigenous knowledge ought to be focused in Indigenous communities as speakers place efforts on reviving language institutions. Attention to various "Englishes," as Findlay suggests [61], is one way to appreciate the multiplicity of interconnected and divided political realities present on these colonized lands. But, while attention to "Englishes" will be enlightening for many interested in anti-colonial thought, Indigenous languages must not be ignored as a result. Despite the "outlawing of Indigenous languages, the privileging of colonial languages and the overt strategies of shame, punishment and abuse employed in the education of First Nations children" [62], many Indigenous languages have persisted. Beyond attending to the political and cultural history of these languages, universities could work harder to "promote and support mother tongue teaching to keep knowledge systems alive" [63]. Many Indigenous people have insisted that Indigenous languages are key to Indigenous concepts, and must be used together with and within Indigenous cultures [64]. As Andrea Bear-Nicholas argues, dwindling numbers of "speakers shouldn't be co-opted by universities, but rather they should find a way to support those teachers to teach people in their own communities" [65]. In this way, language and knowledge resist becoming static, and are kept alive and Indigenous, through dynamic use by Indigenous peoples. Bear-Nicholas calls for community based immersion education for more widespread understanding of the "practical value of Indigenous languages and the practical benefits of bilingualism," and for awareness of the rights of Indigenous people to "revitalize, use and pass on their languages into the future" [66] ought to be heeded by those interested in decolonization. Scholars could also help by drawing attention to the appropriation and misuse of oral tradition, or areas of interest for Indigenous communities. Whether one is an Indigenous person working to reinvigorate language and culture from within their community, or a scholar working to better understand the roots of colonialism and the realities of the colonized, aiming for decolonization will help to guide efforts in ways that are useful without being exploitative.

Rather than heeding the call to "Always Indigenize!" at universities, we must work harder to always decolonize. In aiming to decolonize, the thoughts and interests of Indigenous people must certainly be attended to, in their already coherent forms. Much Indigenous knowledge has already been offered in order to help settlers understand the histories of this land, and of colonization. Continuous engagement with Indigenous peoples, in order to understand these histories and "Indigenous knowledge," is necessary, and cannot be replaced by "indigenizing" non-Indigenous people and processes. If universities are not first and foremost interested in the business of decolonizing, the call to Indigenize might simply serve neo-colonial agendas. There is much decolonizing work to be done on the part of the university to address the ignorance and misinformation perpetrated by past scholarship, both in its contents and its forms. Wide dissemination of basic and truthful information about the colonial history of Canada is desperately needed, along with better understandings of Indigenous perspectives. No student of the university, at least, should leave without some knowledge of the myth of terra nullius, the terrible history of residential schools, and numerous other duplicitous colonial policies and actions that stripped Indigenous peoples of their lands and rights, while simultaneously promising them protection. Students should know something of the particular Indigenous group who thinks of the university's lands as part of their own traditional territories. More than indigenizing, decolonizing requires meaningful political action on the part of the university, aimed at restoring Indigenous control over such lands, and at supporting Indigenous rights to control and possess their knowledge, languages, and cultures.

Notes

[1] Len Findlay, "Always Indigenize!: The Radical Humanities in the Postcolonial Canadian University," ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 31:1-2 (2000): 306. Findlay is known as a "cultural and intellectual historian, editor, translator, critic of literature and the visual arts, and a student of the university as an institution, of the humanities as an evolving formation, and of Canadian educational policy." University of Saskatchewan, "Awards and Prizes," http://awards.usask.ca/faculty/2011/findlay.php.

[2] Findlay, "Always Indigenize!" 312.

[3] Ibid, 314.

[4] Ibid, 310.

[5] Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Trumansburg, NY : Crossing Press, 1984), 113.

[6] I wholeheartedly acknowledge the existence of Indigenous communities on University campuses; however, within such communities Indigenous thinkers need not waste time explaining normative ideas around rights or colonialism, among other things. Maori Scholar Graham Smith calls this the "politics of distraction, " where important Indigenous issues are put aside as scholars are "drawn into engaging with and justifying ourselves to the dominant society." Quoted in Christopher B. Teuton, "Theorizing American Indian Literature: Applying Oral Concepts to Written Traditions," in Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective, ed. Craig S. Womack (Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), 197.

[7] Andrea Bear-Nicholas, "Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenizing the Academy," Needs No Introduction podcast, Rabble.ca, http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/needs-no-introduction/2011/07/Indigenous-knowledge-and-indigenizing-academy.

[8] Oxford Dictionaries Online, s.v. "Indigenize," http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/indigenize.

[9] Dictionary.com, s.v. "Indigenize," http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/indigenize.

[10] Findlay, "Always Indigenize!" 308.

[11] Ibid, 314.

[12] Ibid, 312.

[13] Ibid, 324.

[14] Ibid, 309-10.

[15] Ibid, 309.

[16] Linda Tuhwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People (London: Zed Books, 1999), 39.

[17] Ibid, 142.

[18] Ibid, 146.

[19] Taiaiake Alfred, "Warrier Scholarship: Seeing the University as a Ground of Contention," in Indigenizing the Academy, eds. Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 91.

[20] Ibid, 99.

[21] Ibid, 88.

[22] Ibid, 91.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid, 97.

[25] Jeff Corntassel, "Indigenizing the Academy: Insurgent Education and the Roles of Indigenous Intellectuals," Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Fedcan Blog, http://blog.fedcan.ca/2011/01/12/indigenizing-the-academy-insurgent-education-and-the-roles-of-Indigenous-intellectuals/.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ward Churchill, quoted in Smith 146.

[29] Smith, 146.

[30] The website for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada notes, with regard to the numbered treaties in Canada created between 1871 and 1921, "Under these treaties, the First Nations who occupied these territories gave up large areas of land to the Crown. In exchange, the treaties provided for such things as reserve lands and other benefits like farm equipment and animals, annual payments, ammunition, clothing and certain rights to hunt and fish. The Crown also made some promises such as maintaining schools on reserves or providing teachers or educational help to the First Nation named in the treaties." In "Treaties with Aboriginal People in Canada," Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100032291.

[31] Sheila Carr-Stewart, "A Treaty Right to Education," Canadian Journal of Education 26.2 (2001): 129-130.

[32] John Chenoweth (Upper Nicola Band member and Dean of Instruction at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology), interview by Elina Hill, July 22, 2011, transcribed by Elina Hill, October 2011: Transcript lines 74-105. Note that the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), in Merritt, in the Upper Nicola Valley, is billed as "BC's Aboriginal Public Post-Secondary Institute." All of my interviewees had previous experience working with academic researchers, and agreed that they ought to be named in order to receive credit for any thoughts or experiences they chose to share with me.

[33] Ibid, lines 203-8.

[34] Ibid, line 97.

[35] Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson, "Introduction, " in Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 2.

[36] Ibid, 6.

[37] Ibid, 6-7.

[38] Findlay, 309.

[39] Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collge de France, 1977--1978 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 31, 40, 46.

[40] Among others, Indigenous theorist Shawn Wilson explores in great detail the ways that Indigenous intellectual work prioritizes relationships, as knowledge is fundamentally understood as connected (and connecting) to people. Accountability results from a good grounding in relationships. Beyond integrity and accountability, the potential for creativity and transformation through relationships is central to Wilson's argument. See Shawn Wilson, Research is Ceremony, 81; See also, George Manuel's writing on relationships and diplomacy in George Manuel and Michael Posluns, The Fourth World: An Indian Reality (Don Mills, ON: Collier Macmillan, 1974).

[41] Lynne Jorgesen (Upper Nicola Band member and cultural heritage resources manager), interviewed with Lottie Lindley by Elina Hill, July 21, 2011, transcribed by Elina Hill, August 2011: Transcript lines 595-600.

[42] Findlay, "Always Indigenize!" 314.

[43] Ibid.

[44] In conducting my research, I had done my best to follow all of the ethics protocols, those of the University of Victoria, and more importantly, those of the Upper Nicola Band. These included explaining in advance who I was, what I was looking for, what I was planning to ask/write about, what my background was, some examples of my writing, and some idea of what my personal and academic goals were. I also came into the community with the recommendation of my advisor, Wendy Wickwire, who has known me for several years, and who has deep ties with various Upper Nicola people including Lynne Jorgeson, the band's cultural resource manager. Lynne and I spoke several times on the telephone, and sent emails back and forth prior to meeting. She suggested various people who might be interested in meeting with me, but did not confirm any interviews until meeting and spending time with me.

[45] Scottie Holmes, (Upper Nicola Band member and former chief), interviewed by Elina Hill, July 21, 2011, transcribed by Elina Hill, August 2011: Transcript lines16-65.

[46] For example, Shawn Wilson notes that when stories are "separated from the rest of their relationships, the ideas may lose their life or become objectified and therefore less real" (Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Winnipeg, MB: Fernwood Publishing, 2008), 119). An unnamed Tlingit elder refused to be recorded by Alaskan researcher William Schneider, as she "didn't want to be absent from 'any discussion of her world.'" Quoted in William Schneider, So They Understand: Cultural Issues in Oral History (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2002), 64. An unnamed Nlha7kapmx elder told fellow community member and researcher Mamie Darwin that she "wouldn't be taped because she believed that it would take her voice away. " Others entirely refused to participate. See Darwin Hanna and Mamie Henry, "Introduction," In Our Tellings: Interior Salish Stories of the Nlha7kapmx People (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1996), 14.

[47] Angela Cavender Wilson, "Reclaiming Our Humanity: Decolonization and the Recovery of Indigenous Knowledge," in Indigenizing the Academy, eds. Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2004): 69-87.

[48] Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2010), 11.

[49] Ibid, 11.

[50] Keira Ladner, "Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenizing the Academy," Needs No Introduction podcast audio program, Rabble.ca, http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/needs-no-introduction/2011/07/Indigenous-knowledge-and-indigenizing-academy.

[51] For example, see Winona Wheeler, "Reflections on the Social Relations of Indigenous Oral Histories," in Walking a Tightrope: Aboriginal People and Their Representations, eds. U. Lischke and David T. McNab (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005), 189-214; Angela Cavender Wilson, "Grandmother to Granddaughter: Generations of Oral History in a Dakota Family," Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska, 1998), 27-36; Julie Cruikshank, ed., Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1990); and Wendy Wickwire, "To See Ourselves as the Other's Other: Nlaka'pamux Contact Narratives," The Canadian Historical Review 75 (1994): 1-20.

[52] Leanne R. Simpson, "Anticolonial Strategies for the Recovery and Maintenance of Indigenous Knowledge," The American Indian Quarterly 28.3-4 (2004): 375.

[53] Interview with Lynne Jorgesen (Upper Nicola Band member and cultural heritage resources manager), interviewed by Elina Hill, July 21, 2011 on Douglas Lake Reserve, transcribed by Elina Hill, August 2011: Transcript lines 373 and 398-406.

[54] Interview with Lynne Jorgesen (Upper Nicola Band member, and cultural heritage resources manager), interviewed by Elina Hill, July 23, 2011 in Merritt, BC, transcribed by Elina Hill, October 2011: Transcript lines 8-16.

[55] Simpson, "Anticolonial Strategies," 380.

[56] Kathryn Lucci Cooper, "To Carry the Fire Home," in Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing, ed. MariJo Moore (New York, NY: Nation Books, 2003), 8-9.

[57] Ben Geboe, "Unci (Grandmother)" in Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing, ed. MariJo Moore (New York, NY: Nation Books, 2003), 155.

[58] Barbara Helen Hill, "Home: Urban and Reservation," in Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing, ed. MariJo Moore (New York, NY: Nation Books, 2003), 24-25.

[59] Bear-Nicholas, "Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenizing the Academy," podcast.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Findlay, 322.

[62] Andrea Bear-Nicholas, "The Assault on Aboriginal Oral Traditions, Past and Present, " in Aboriginal Oral Traditions: Theory, Practice, Ethics, ed. Renee Hulan and Renate Eigenbrod (Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, 2008), 18-19.

[63] Bear-Nicholas,"Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenizing the Academy," podcast.

[64] Ibid. See also William Cohen, "School Failed Coyote, So Fox Made a New School: Indigenous Okanagan Knowledge Transforms Educational Pedagogy." PhD diss., University of British Columbia, 2010. p. 4, and throughout.

[65] Bear-Nicholas,"Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenizing the Academy," podcast.

[66] Bear-Nicholas, "The Assault on Aboriginal oral traditions," 32.

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Bio

Elina Hill is working toward her MA in History and Cultural, Social and Political Thought (CSPT), an interdisciplinary program at the University of Victoria. Her research interests include colonial discourse theory, post colonial discourse, oral history, and critical theory. Her MA thesis is entitled Decolonizing History: Respecting Indigenous Historical Practices, and aims to gain a better understanding of Indigenous historical practices as they exist inside and outside First Nations communities. Through this project, Elina has begun to understand the ways that Indigenous forms and approaches to history, such as orality, proper listening practices and relationships, are crucial for understanding.

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