To argue that a specific study is neutral or objective is to subscribe to an idea of the world where all knowledge is finite and our understanding of knowledge as a concept can be more or less wrong based on how well we manage to find the right lens to use when we analyse the world.
This in itself is preposterous as it not only fails to take into account e.g. the collective and cultural accountabilities at play in Indigenous research, but mainly because no matter how emancipatory a research claims to be – ranging from Marxist to feminist research – it most often finds itself rooted in different levels of privilege, where a white, Western and, feminism aside, patriarchal world view is taken for granted and thus declared to be ‘correct’.
As Indigenous researchers we cannot afford to let ourselves get trapped in a web of rigid research epistomologies which to this day continue to benefit the Western status quo, no matter how liberating and non-oppressive they claim to be. We can and should only talk about ourselves in this sense; we cannot talk with authority about anything but our own culture and our own lived experiences. Knowledge is not easily defined and thus seeking to break it down and authoritatively claim that it can be explained with research methodologies that have effectively kept Indigenous people outside academia for centuries is to do ourselves a great injustice.
Talking about ourselves, thereby challenging the status quo which has researched us without our permission to a point where there arguably should not be anything more to research, is highly political whether we want it to be so or not. It becomes a decolonial protest where we locate ourselves within our communities and first and foremost reclaim our own voices which have been stolen and corrupted by those who have researched us because of our ‘Otherness’ and nothing else.
As an Indigenous person, locating myself not just physically but spiritually, culturally and generationally is crucial in understanding not only myself but also in making sense of why I do any research at all. As Indigenous people we face a world where we constantly have to justify who we are, both to outsiders and members of our own communities. Our entire being becomes politicised so that even the mere act of coughing in ‘the wrong place’ during a lecture is interpreted as a huge political statement by the status quo. As Indigenous researchers we are not afforded a space where what we do is construed as neutral, so to work with methodologies that seek to discover neutral knowledge should be the last thing on our list of priorities.
Non-indigenous laws that have been used to eradicate us and control us still play huge roles in Indigenous peoples lives and thus it becomes vital to dispute any and all forms of research which claims to have the ultimate answer to any question relating to ourselves.