Knowledge from nature: Select examples observed in indigenous cultures

E.C. Allen
There are arguably very few observable universals among the vast diversity of North American First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNIM) cultures, however Allen and Brunanski (2009) identify a cardinal commonality; one that is regularly acknowledged, and therefore readily recognizable in expressions of FNIM identity. That universal pertains to the ultimate source of FNIM knowledge as being derived from the natural world. Allen and Brunanski (2009) describe how FNIM ways of knowing are largely informed and ordered by the processes, interactions, and connections observed in nature. They argue that many divergences among FNIM cultures are in part a function of the natural systems evident in their respective traditional territories. Like natural phenomena, regionalism and vernacular variation can also be found in the teachings of elders and traditional knowledge keepers, as well as in the readily available literature. The fundamental concepts are constant however and are encapsulated in some form regardless of the variation. These concepts include movement, connectivity, and balance (McCormick, 1996, 1997; Allen and Brunanski, 2009; Twigg and Hengen, 2009; Gone, 2010). Recognizing Allen and Brunanski (2009) observations, this paper offers descriptions of movement, connectivity, and balance as the common core of two distinct understandings; one arising from an Inuit perspective and one from a Plains or Prairie perspective. For new learners, these descriptions will help exemplify how the processes, interactions, and connections observed in nature manifest in FNIM knowledge's.
Allen, E.C. (2019). Knowledge from nature: Select examples observed in indigenous cultures. Acta Hortic. 1246, 17-22
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1246.3
FNIM, elder, traditional knowledge keepers, traditional knowledge bearers, Inua, medicine wheel