It is always important to think critically about the author to evaluate their authority on any particular subject. When we evaluate typical Western academic sources, we are taught to check for the author’s education level, field of study, and their associated university. Indigenous Protocol has a similar, but unique way of accessing author credibility.
Indigenous and allied authors will most often situate themselves early on in their journal article or book. This is an Indigenous way of sharing credibility and reduces pan-Indigenous stereotypes by emphasizing the unique and plural perspectives of Indigenous communities (Wilson, 2008, ; Wemigwans, 2018). It is also a way that Indigenous scholars share humility by acknowledging that the information they share comes from a specific perspective. While Western science take pride in removing the researcher from the research subject, Indigenous science believes we all carry a bias and that to acknowledge that bias is key to establishing trust and credibility (Yunkaporta, 2020).
Situating the author can be very brief (a couple lines in a journal article) or it may include multiple pages within a book. That said, situating typically includes one or more of the following:
- Information regarding the author’s family history.
- A statement on the authors personal journey and what led them to their research.
- An acknowledgement of key teachers, such as Elders, family, academics etc
- Details on which Nation/s they come from. For allied literature this would include identifying as a settler or newcomer.
Below is a brief example of situating the author from the article Tobacco Ties: The relationship of the sacred to research by Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) researchers Debby Danard Wilson and Jean-Paul Restoule in the Journal of Native Education.
“My name is Debby Danard Wilson. I am Anishinaabe Ojibway, Sturgeon Clan, from Rainy River First Nations in North Western Ontario. As a mature student and mother or four, I started on my path in education to pursue my lifelong dream of being a teacher. Currently, I am a PhD Candidate studying in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at OISE, University of Toronto. Along this path, I discovered the need for traditional Indigenous knowledges and worldviews to inform and transform education. By looking to my own family and community, I learned that academia could be a vehicle to share my research work with those who shared, directed, and guided me: the community. My hope is that Aboriginal communities will continue to strengthen and heal by reclaiming their history, identity, traditions, culture, and languages.” (Wilson & Restoule, 2010, p. 33)
Indigenous allies are typically non-Indigenous people who approach Indigenous research and Indigenous communities with respect. Indigenous allies must follow proper Indigenous Protocols. While there are many fantastic allies within Indigenous academia, there is an over representation of non-Indigenous people writing about Indigenous experiences. Indigenous Peoples are experts on their experiences (Younging, 2018).
When possible seek sources that come from Indigenous authors to balance your research. Ideally, when researching a specific community or Nation, find sources that are written by members of that community or Nation. Within Indigenous worldviews, these authors would be seen as the most authoritative on the subject. Selecting authors from the community or Nation of interest also increases the likelihood that local Indigenous Protocols are being followed (Younging, 2018).