International Review of Education

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 87–116 | Cite as

Educate to perpetuate: Land-based pedagogies and community resurgence

  • Jeff CorntasselEmail author
  • Tiffanie Hardbarger
Original Paper


Indigenous youth today are in a precarious position. The elders who guided their grandparents and parents often suffered from direct racism and dislocation from cultural practices, land, medicine, language, knowledge and traditional lifeways. Family and community kinship networks that provided emotional, spiritual and physical support have been brutally and systematically dismantled. When perpetuation is discussed within an Indigenous context, it often refers to the transmission of Indigenous knowledge to future generations and how they act on and regenerate it. This perpetuation of Indigenous knowledge and nationhood occurs every day, often in the shape of unnoticed or unacknowledged actions carried out within intimate settings, such as homes, ceremonies and communities. Focusing on everyday acts of resurgence shifts the analysis of the situation away from the state-centred, colonial manifestations of power to the relational, experiential and dynamic nature of Indigenous cultural heritage, which offers important implications for re-thinking gendered relationships, community health and sustainable practices. The authors of this article examine ways in which land-based pedagogies can challenge colonial systems of power at multiple levels, while being critical sites of education and transformative change. Drawing on a multi-component study of community practices in the Cherokee Nation conducted by the second author, this article examines strategies for fostering what have been termed “land-centred literacies” as pathways to community resurgence and sustainability. The findings from this research have important implications for Indigenous notions of sustainability, health and well-being and ways in which Indigenous knowledge can be perpetuated by future generations.


Indigenous resurgence Cherokee Nation everyday acts decolonisation colonisation Indigenous knowledge land-based education experiential learning 


Éduquer pour préserver : pédagogies adaptées au milieu ambiant et renaissance communautaire – Les jeunes autochtones se trouvent aujourd’hui dans une situation difficile. Les aînés qui avaient guidé leurs parents et grands-parents ont souvent souffert d’un racisme ostensible et d’un éloignement de leurs pratiques culturelles, territoires, systèmes de guérison, langues, connaissances et modes de vie traditionnels. Les réseaux familiaux et de parenté communautaire, garants d’un soutien émotionnel, spirituel et physique, ont été brutalement et systématiquement démantelés. Quand la préservation est abordée dans un contexte autochtone, elle désigne souvent la transmission du savoir indigène aux futures générations, ainsi que la manière dont celles-ci traitent et revitalisent ce savoir. Cette préservation des connaissances et de la nationalité autochtones s’accomplit chaque jour, souvent sous forme d’actions inaperçues ou méconnues, effectuées dans des cadres intimes tels que foyers, cérémonies et communautés. L’examen des actes quotidiens de cette renaissance fait passer l’analyse situationnelle des manifestations de pouvoir coloniales et centrées sur l’État vers la nature relationnelle, expérientielle et dynamique de l’héritage culturel autochtone. Ce dernier contient d’importantes implications permettant de repenser les relations entre les sexes, la santé communautaire et les pratiques pérennes. Les auteurs de l’article examinent comment les pédagogies adaptées au milieu peuvent ébranler à de nombreux niveaux les systèmes coloniaux de pouvoir, tout en constituant des espaces critiques d’éducation et de changement en profondeur. À partir d’une étude de cas à plusieurs composantes sur les pratiques communautaires dans la nation cherokee menée par la seconde auteure, ils explorent les stratégies censées stimuler ce que l’on appelle les « alphabétisations adaptées au milieu », pour en faire des moyens de renaissance et de pérennité communautaires. Les résultats de cette étude comportent d’importantes implications pour les notions autochtones de pérennité, de santé et de bien-être, ainsi que pour la façon dont les générations futures peuvent préserver le savoir indigène.



Although the opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Cherokee Nation, we thank the Cherokee Nation for their continued support. Open image in new window /wado [thank you] to the guest editors, Elizabeth Sumida Huaman, Miye Tom and Teresa McCarty, for all of their amazing work on this special issue and for their feedback on earlier versions of this article. The second author would like to thank Stilwell High School and Northeastern State University for being supportive partners as well as the American Philosophical Society for providing research funding through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Scholars Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship. Additionally, we want to say Open image in new window /wado [thank you] to the many people who offered their voices as a part of this work, as well as the editors and reviewers for their feedback.


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Copyright information

© UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indigenous Studies DepartmentUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Cherokee & Indigenous Studies DepartmentNortheastern State UniversityTahlequahUSA

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