Eco-aesthetics, Metaphor, Story, and Symbolism: An Indigenous Perspective

A Conversation
  • Gregory A. Cajete
  • Dilafruz R. WilliamsEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Discussions of Indigenous ecological knowledge and aesthetics are largely missing from mainstream education and environmental education. This chapter takes a unique approach to research and scholarship, one that is an emergent decolonizing methodology though it has long been used by Indigenous cultures: A conversation. In Indigenous cultures, oral language and storytelling are one of the oldest traditions. In keeping with the topic that is explored, Tewa scholar, educator, and artist Gregory Cajete and eco-educator Dilafruz Williams raised in India have come together to share through conversation the nature of eco-aesthetics, metaphor, story, and symbolism in Indigenous thought presented in Cajete’s writings of three decades. Our conversation method aligns with Indigenous worldview and upholds its relational significance. We discuss aspects of the Indigenous mythopoetic tradition as part of the traditional education practices of Indigenous cultures. We draw upon our lived cultural experiences and professional practices to elaborate upon the rich use of metaphor, story, symbols, and art to convey notions of eco-aesthetics in the teaching and learning process and the education of children. Our goal is to produce new levels of insight as we engage in this dialogue. Exploring the environmental, mythic, visionary, artistic, affective, communal, and spiritual dimensions of Indigenous education, we conclude the chapter with a discussion of how Indigenous ecological thoughts may be eco-aesthetically symbolized through contemporary art forms to show possibilities for childhood and nature interconnected.


Indigenous Myth Story Metaphor Learning Eco-aesthetics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Native American StudiesUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Leadership for Sustainability Education, Graduate School of EducationPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Rousell
    • 1
  • Dilafruz Williams
    • 2
  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  2. 2.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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