Questioning Indian land workshop : a ceremony based approach to learning

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Tafoya suggests, "Stories go in circles." This thesis is the story of learning to implement an indigenous research paradigm in a college classroom then designing the workshop because of the relationships formed together. First the thesis describes preparing for the research ceremony then focusing those relationships through the lens of Research is Ceremony. Followed by summarizing how the workshop functioned as a ceremony. Then characterizing how the four directions guided the evolution of the relational workshop. The research paradigm exemplified by indigenous scholar Shawn Wilson in Research is Ceremony overlaps nicely with adult educational theories that suggest making personal connections to new information is how learning occurs. Indigenous research is a relationship embodied in the elements of ontology, epistemology, methodology and axiology. Ontology and Epistemology together form each individual's worldview. Ontology questions the nature of reality. Epistemology examines how we think about what is real. Methodology and axiology describe how we remain accountable to the relationships forming our reality. Methodology is how we strengthen our relationship to reality. Axiology defines what's worth knowing more about. Through ceremony, researchers respectfully seek knowledge from the Cosmos. The workshop was a ceremony for asking personal questions about Indian land. A reality-based inquiry design rooted in scholarly practice directed by students was planned and implemented in the pilot workshop. In this workshop, the teacher learns alongside the students - acting as a guide for the self-regulated discovery of new knowledge. Respecting the knowledge and process is the ceremony. The relational workshop wheel graphically depicts the five dimensions of the cycle and their interconnectedness. By asking respectful questions of the unknown, the cycle begins. As a researcher and teacher living a congruent lifestyle and preparing the space for the ceremony, academic information and practical experience collide to devise the methodology and axiology for the journey. Bringing together the ingredients opens the space for the ceremony, where students' questions about the land guide the workshop's search. Reflecting on the knowledge gained while leading the ceremony then evolves the workshop into something accessible to responsive educators. The ceremony creates personal accountability to modify the course, and the wheel turns again.




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