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Research for Indigenous Survival: Indigenous Research Methodologies in the Behavioral Sciences

Lori Lambert

2014 United States

Lori Lambert (Mi’kmaq/Abenaki) examines the problems that researchers encounter when adjusting research methodologies in the behavioral sciences to Native values and tribal community life. In addition to surveying the literature with an emphasis on Native authors, she has also interviewed a sampling of indigenous people in Australia, northern Canada, and Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation.

Members of four indigenous communities speak about what they expect from researchers who come into their communities. Their voices and stories provide a conceptual framework for non-indigenous researchers who anticipate doing research with indigenous peoples in the social, behavioral, or environmental sciences. This conceptual framework created by indigenous stories similarly provides a framework for hope and empowerment as indigenous communities endeavor to pass on their values and stories to future generations.

Indigenous research methodologies developed from stories told by elders help researchers to both respect the unique character of Native communities and contribute to their healing and empowerment. Indigenous research as such, however, is not a new phenomenon. Indigenous story keepers have always, through careful observation, articulated in their stories how their world works, thereby also preserving knowledge of their community’s past.

Lori Lambert is a member of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe of Vermont and a descendant of the Mi’kmaq/Huron Wendot. For the last twenty years she has taught at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana. Lambert is the founder of the American Indigenous Research Association.