Saturday, March 28, 2015

Student Blog Post #8: Indigenous Knowledge, Culture and Building the Social Economy

This week in class I am leading discussion on Priscilla Settee’s, “Indigenous Perspectives on Building the Social Economy of Saskatchewan."

I am by no means an economist or a political scientist like many of my classmates, but I find Settee’s work incredibly compelling. Perhaps more compelling to me is her conviction to Indigenous values and their application today.

I come from the college of archaeology, a place where I regularly learn about Indigenous people’s culture and history. I genuinely love learning about the cultures of the first peoples that inhabited Saskatchewan and being part of their recovery and protection.

I am quite familiar with Saskatchewan’s 14000 year history of inhabitation and can inform you as to why a specific projectile point or tool is better than another. I hope to someday be employed by a field that protects  Indigenous people's material past from being destroyed by the hand of the multi-billion dollar pipeline projects.

Yet modern indigenous culture and the culture Settee argues for is completely foreign to me. There has been a disconnect in my mind because I associate the material remains I see with individuals from 4500 years ago and not the culture that lived on and exists today.

I must ask myself why? Is my privilege as a middle class white male unchecked? The short answer to this question is without even realizing it until putting myself and my own experience under the microscope: yes, it is.

I now consider this a great failure on my part as a student, a human being, and a citizen of this wonderfully multifaceted cultural landscape we known as Canada. As I enter my career I hope to remedy this situation and open pathways of access for Indigenous peoples into the archaeological process and share their history as equals. I believe a better understanding of Saskatchewan's history can genuinely be beneficial for all involved and begin a discourse that will bring our multicultural mosaic together as equals.

-Kevin Nyborg

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