Native Science and Participatory Research
University of Calgary
Faculty of Social Welfare
Paper presented at the Participatory Research Conference, University of Calgary, May 3, 1988
Until the present time, we have had to stretch Western science so far that knowledge about Indian culture seems unreal. Research has been perceived and presented as mono-cultural, thus not accepted by the Indian community. All peoples including Native Americans have science or a way of coming to knowledge; each tribe has its specific methods, but for the purposes of introducing the concept of Native science and exploring its relationship with Participatory Research, we will deal in generalization about “Native” metaphysics.
Reflecting on the implications of two sciences, it is clear that a bicultural research model recognizing both Indian science and Western science needs to emerge. Newly evolved Western research methods such as ethnographic research, content/issue analysis, and the framework of Participatory Research can be drawn upon to complement of meet Indian science and culture.
Traditional Indian science must be articulated in contemporary terms to permit scholarly exchange growth and to empower Indian people in the scientific arena. Further, an integration of Western and Indian ways of thinking must occur if we are to develop research strategies and outcomes which are acceptable and respected by both cultures. (“Integration” refers to a blending of research findings, not the domination or extension of ideological control by one culture’s science).
A bi-cultural research model must be both valid and reliable; strengthen traditional Indian science and enhance cross cultural communication and understanding, while at the same time promoting the growth of both sciences. This paper will present an epistemological foundation of Indian science and will explore the possibility of creating a scientific, intercultural, infrastructure by the use of Participatory Research as a rosetta stone or translator.