Knowledge Systems of Indigenous America

  • Laurelyn Whitt
Reference work entry

First Words

“Knowledge is inherent in all things” (Luther Standing Bear 1933).

Luther Standing Bear's observation that knowledge inheres in all things openly expresses what many indigenous knowledge systems presuppose, and what, by being presupposed, shapes several of their distinctive features. The inherency of knowledge, and the inclusiveness of its scope, are reflected in what is taken to be primary or fundamental – in what knowledge is held to be knowledge of. They are also reflected in a web of prescriptions and proscriptions that guide the process of knowing. In both respects, indigenous knowledge systems stand in contrast to their counterparts originating within the West (a location more ideological than geographic).

We can only begin with our own assumptions, with what is taken for granted in what follows. And that is that knowledge systems are diverse and their value is contextual. Oppressive relations of power, however, have shaped their histories and continue to inflict the...

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Links to Relevant Websites

  1. American Indian IKS Internet Resource Index:
  2. AAAS: Handbook on Intellectual Property and TEK:
  3. Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network:
  4. Indigenous Environmental Network:
  5. Seventh Generation Fund:
  6. Native Tech Internet Resource:
  7. Infography: Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge Systems:
  8. Native Eyes Indigenous Studies:
  9. Indigenous Knowledge Management Software
  10. Science and Development Network – Indigenous Knowledge:
  11. Science and Development Network – Intellectual Property:
  12. Indigenous People's Biodiversity Network: Declaration on Biodiversity:
  13. Joint ICSU & UNESCO version of Study Group Report:
  14. UNESCO: 1999 Budapest Declaration:
  15. UNESCO: Science‐Agenda Framework for Action:
  16. Columbia University CIESIN Agriculture IKS:
  17. UNESCO: Indigenous Knowledge: Best Practice:

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurelyn Whitt

There are no affiliations available