18 Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science

Dakota Reid and Kaysha Tickner

Contributors’s Biographies:

Dakota Reid is a fourth-year student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and wishes to teach High School participants in the future. To do this, they are gaining a major in Geography and a minor in Counselling Psychology. Dakota is passionate about education and creating equal learning opportunities for all students; this resource will help do just that!


Kaysha Tickner is working towards becoming an Elementary school teacher and looks forward to integrating Indigenous Knowledges in their future classroom.


Resource Overview


Snively, E. G., & Williams, W. L. (2016). Knowing home: Braiding Indigenous science with Western science: Book 1The University of Victoriahttps://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/knowinghome/   

Grade Level: Grades five to twelve


The resource assists educators in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of Indigenous science and how educators can intertwine these teachings and knowledge systems into the Western science curriculum relating to our Earth, home, and land. This book exemplifies important Ways of Knowing that reach beyond the Westernized approach. With this resource, educators can easily incorporate the following forms of Indigenous education: 1. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), 2. Indigenous Knowledge (IK), 3. Indigenous Science (IS). The book Knowing Home discusses intent by stating that:

“since Indigenous Peoples have developed time-proven approaches to sustaining both community and environment, Elders and young people are concerned that this rich legacy of Indigenous Science with its wealth of environmental knowledge and the wisdom of previous generations could disappear if it is not respected, studied, and understood by today’s children and youth” (Snively & Williams, 2016, p. xiv).

The book is a reminder that many people living in Canada are settlers, meaning people who have immigrated and settled on land that they reside on.  


Significant Indigenous Knowledge: 

The resource predominantly takes an Indigenous Science Approach and framework. Snively & Williams demonstrate Indigenous Ways of Knowing by discussing Indigenous children’s ideas, beliefs, and worldviews. The resource’s approach to learning is significant for all participants and extends beyond those with Indigenous culture, status, or ancestry. The authors reiterate that “this book refers to the science knowledge of all peoples who, as participants in culture, are affected by the worldview and interests of their home communities and homelands” (Snively & Williams, p. 80, 2016). One of the significant differences between Westernized views and Indigenous views is the teaching strategies. Within Indigenous science frameworks, the term “coming to know” is used. An important question to consider is how do we come to know things, and how do we pass down the things we know to others? Indigenous teachings and learnings revolve around lifelong journeys “towards wisdom” (Snively & Williams, 2016, p. 80).  


Necessary Prior Knowledge:

Before using this resource, it is recommended that the educator becomes familiar with Indigenous perspectives. It is imperative for reconciliation that educators move away from Eurocentric views of teaching and learns how to incorporate multiple perspectives, as “[r]esearch shows that a majority of participants prefer to understand nature through other worldviews” (Snively & Williams, 2016, p. 2). Educators must understand the importance of different views and the benefits these various teachings bring to classrooms. Knowing Home is not stating Westernized teaching is wrong. However, it acknowledges that Indigenous perspectives are just as valuable. The book suggests Westernized, and Indigenous science should coexist or be taught alongside each other. The parallel of teaching both cultural science views will enhance one another.


Suggested Learning Activities

The first possible activity that incorporates both Westernized and Indigenous science is learning about the Salmon life cycle. The activity can begin by teaching anatomy and the life cycle of salmon from the curriculum with a Western approach. Next, discuss the significance of the salmon life cycle for Indigenous communities and how the exploitation of natural ecosystems can have negative repercussions. Furthermore, it is essential to incorporate how Indigenous communities spiritually view salmon. The activity could be reinforced by learning about hatcheries with an experiential field trip or class video. Numerous sections in Knowing Home refer to the Salmon Cycles, including pages 52, 92, 172, 200, 247, and 248 (Snively & Williams, 2016).  
The second possible activity may look at plants with a blended approach of Western and Indigenous science. The activity may be supported by incorporating the Gitga’at Plant Project as found in the resource. Within Knowing Home, Chapter 15 discusses in-depth the Gitga’at Plant Project. To promote hands-on learning, the educator can incorporate a field study into this lesson. Participants are asked to find a plant that is important to a local Indigenous community. Participants could create a diagram of their chosen plant and label the parts accordingly. Participants could also discuss how this plant relates to others by discussing how Indigenous Peoples’ use the plant, and how the plant responds to the seasons or other plants/animals in the bioregion. Then, the participants could present their studied plant to the group. Depending on the age of participants, the educator may incorporate a microscope component using the research plants (Snivley & Williams, 2016, pp. 215-224).


Knowing home: Braiding Indigenous science with Western science
Image description: book with ribbon skirt by ribbon and roots – heart berry fabric by Indigenous nouveau
Image by: Rachel Chong BY-NC-ND (Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives)




 Snively, E. G., & Williams, W. L. (2016). Knowing home: Braiding Indigenous science with Western science: Book 1The University of Victoriahttps://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/knowinghome/   


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Indigenous Teaching Resources: Students Collection Copyright © 2022 by Dakota Reid and Kaysha Tickner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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