Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity

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Being an indigenous scholar: Why do I bother?

As an indigenous scholar, reading aged academic articles about my own people is both frustrating and soul destroying, but at the same time one of the most important tools in the act of challenging current misconceptions about indigeneity. By being able to address inaccuracies through the same medium as the oppressor, by being able to quote, analyse and disprove academics whose opinions have been and continue to be accepted as gospel truth because of said academics’ status within the field, one has a far better chance to fight prejudice that has been touted off as “scientific research” by the Ivory Tower than one would otherwise have.

Academia as a field is intrinsically prejudiced, self-centered and the latest top research within the humanities is far more often characterised by being decades behind current discussions amongst the very peoples academia loves to study. Most people within the humanities know this, but simultaneously the academic status quo has spent a ridiculous amount of resources to silence the Other, in order to not have to accept responsibility for the role it has played in the cultural genocide of indigenous peoples and other minorities around the world. By ignoring research projects originating within an indigenous community that aim to benefit the community itself in order to instead prioritise a continued outsider-perspective on indigeneity, indigenous peoples continue to be coded as research objects lacking agency, rather than as researchers with competence originating from an educational tradition that lies outwith the restrictive confides of Western education.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith once wrote that “research is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary” and this to me is one of the main reasons as to why it is so important to me as an indigenous scholar to do my best to decolonise the field in which I work, not only by refuting the amount of ridiculous inaccuracies currently passed off as truths by academics, but also by opening up a closed field to indigenous, non-western methods of knowledge transmission. I want to do anything that works to stop the ongoing contribution by majority academics to the colonialist imperialism of academia; I wish to challenge and change the field from within. I refuse to see more books being written about my people that do not originate from members of my own people, and I live by the creed that anything that has to do with indigeneity has to come from the community itself, be for the community itself and work with the community itself.

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