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Biology: Indigenous science and ways of knowing

Related Guides

OERs (open educational resources)


Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science, Book 1. University of Victoria. Edited by Gloria Snively and Wanosts’a7 Lorna. 2016. 

The book provides a window into the vast storehouse of innovations and technologies of the Indigenous peoples who live in Northwestern North America. It is our hope that the Indigenous Science examples, research and curriculum models will inspire deep reflection regarding the under-representation of Aboriginal students in the sciences.

Download and read the book from BCcampus

(P)articipatory Research

"...participatory environmental restoration uses both local/Indigenous knowledge and Western science. In some cases, local knowledge can provide essential information not otherwise available to science."(Johnson, 2016)



Understanding Socio-Technological Systems Change through an Indigenous Community-Based Participatory Framework

Figure 1. Michigan Community Anishinaabe and Rural Energy Sovereignty (MICARES) Medicine Wheel Framework.

Schaefer, M. et al., 2021. Understanding Socio-Technological Systems Change through an Indigenous Community-Based Participatory Framework. Sustainability, 13(4), p.2257. Available at:


"Participatory conservation planning aims for the use of complementary knowledge from Western science and local/Indigenous communities. As in the case of monitoring, participatory conservation planning makes use of scale complementarities between the two kinds of knowledge" (Johnson, 2016).

Further reading:

Jessen. (2022). Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment., 20(2), 93–101.


Finding academic literature

Hedges are standardized search strategies that can be used to help retrieve relevant articles.Hedges are also called filters, clinical queries, or optimal search strategies. They are not a guarantee of retrieving quality research; you still need to critically appraise results for quality and relevance.

Connect with your subject librarian for assistance in utilizing these comprehensive search filters. 

Recommended Reading

Critical texts exploring traditional ecological knowledge and biodiversity

"Mutually respectful and reciprocal relationships between people and their environment is a central tenet of many Indigenous worldviews. Across the Americas, this relational connection is particularly evident when it comes to freshwater ecosystems" (Alexander, 2021). Alexander. (2021). Bridging Indigenous and Western sciences in freshwater research, monitoring, and management in CanadaEcological Solutions and Evidence.2(3).

"Contrary to the Western approach that seeks to dominate and interrogate nature, Indigenous societies and knowledge systems have developed to sustain reciprocal relationships between culture and nature and therefore utilize scientific approaches that are rigorous in their own methods and rely on long-term observations" (Johnson, 2016).

Johnson, J. T. et al. (2016) Weaving Indigenous and sustainability sciences to diversify our methods. Sustainability science. [Online] 11 (1), 1–11.

"When we try to standardize biodiversity, we lose some of the nuance and some of the beauty" (Owens, 2019).

Owens, B. (2019) How one Canadian scientist is tapping into the knowledge of Indigenous communities. Nature (London). [Online]
"Drawing on the work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, we argue that transformative change requires the foregrounding of Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights and agency in biodiversity policy." (Reyes-Garcia, 2021) Reyes-García, et al. (2021). Recognizing Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights and agency in the post-2020 Biodiversity Agenda. Ambio [online] 51(1), 84–92. 
"[training] Indigenous scientists in genomics so that they can introduce that field's tools to their communities as well as bring a sorely needed Indigenous perspective to research" (Wade, 2018)

Wade, L. (2018) To overcome decades of mistrust, a workshop aims to train Indigenous researchers to be their own genome experts. Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science). [Online]