Knowledge Systems of Indigenous America

  • Laurelyn Whitt
  • David Wade Chambers
Living reference work entry

First Words

Knowledge is inherent in all things. (Luther Standing Bear, 1933)

Luther Standing Bear’s observation that knowledge inheres in all things openly expresses what many indigenous knowledge systems presuppose and what, by being presupposed, shapes several of their distinctive features. The inherency of knowledge and the inclusiveness of its scope are reflected in what is taken to be primary or fundamental – in what knowledge is held to be knowledge of. They are also reflected in a web of prescriptions and proscriptions that guide the process of knowing. In both respects, indigenous knowledge systems stand in contrast to their counterparts originating within the West (a location more ideological than geographic).

We can only begin with our own assumptions, with what is taken for granted in what follows. And that is that knowledge systems are diverse and their value is contextual. Oppressive relations of power, however, have shaped their histories and continue to inflict the...


Indigenous People Knowledge System Traditional Knowledge Indigenous Knowledge Writing System 
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Links to Relevant Websites

  1. AAAS. Handbook on intellectual property and TEK:
  2. American Indian IKS Internet Resource Index:
  3. Columbia University CIESIN Agriculture IKS:
  4. Indigenous Environmental Network:
  5. Indigenous Knowledge Management Software:
  6. Indigenous People’s Biodiversity Network: Declaration on Biodiversity:
  7. Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network:
  8. Infography: Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge Systems:
  9. Joint ICSU & UNESCO version of Study Group Report:
  10. Native Eyes Indigenous Studies:
  11. Native Tech Internet Resource:
  12. Science and Development Network – Indigenous Knowledge:
  13. Science and Development Network – Intellectual Property:
  14. Seventh Generation Fund:
  15. UNESCO: Indigenous Knowledge: Best Practice:
  16. UNESCO: Science-Agenda Framework for Action:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Native StudiesBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada
  2. 2.Indigenous Liberal StudiesInstitute of American Indian ArtsSanta FeUSA