By Lori Lambert
Salish Kootenai College Press (2014)
Review by Wesley Thomas
Published by Salish Kootenai College Press, Lori Lambert’s new book is much needed in the academy by all Indigenous students and faculty alike. Currently, there are a handful of publications available which approach our Indigenous paradigms, but the total volume is quite limited.
For generations, our ancestors have been conducting research as part of their daily lives, which Lambert describes. At times, we are questioned by the Western academy on where and from whom we receive our traditional knowledge. Of course, they are our parents and grandparents. It is an oral, cultural knowledge handed down from previous generations.
Lambert’s book is one spokes-wheel rod attached to the centralized topic of Indigenous research. Other contributions include works by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Bagele Chilisa, Margaret Kovach, and Shawn Wilson. Similarly, there are works like Theorizing Native Studies, edited by Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith, and published by Duke University Press in 2014.
In several publications, including this book, the word “alternative” shows up repeatedly. It is odd that we, as Indigenous people, use this particular word as a reference to our own academic work. We need to move on to the point where we give valued credit to our own research and not talk about it as an “alternative” form of academic work.
Decolonizing Western academics in our communities begins with Indigenous research methodologies. Now we need to take it a step further, which means writing our Indigenous academic works in our own tribal languages. This process would provide the ultimate and true meaning of what Indigenous research is. Sadly, many of us do not have access to our own tribal language. But from the process of doing Indigenous research we can definitively determine what is Indigenous research. There has to be a specific means of communication among Indigenous academics to announce that they are doing Indigenous research.
It is wonderful to see the work of Dr. Lambert among the writers on Indigenous research methodologies. There certainly is a need for more and the current listing of publications by the authors noted above should be required reading for all researchers at higher education institutions in North America, and for that matter in the global academy.
Wesley Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), is the chair of the School of Diné and Law Studies at Navajo Technical University and editor of the book, Two Spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality.