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Research Guides

Indigenous Studies: Indigenous Research Methods


"To reclaim research is to take control of our lives and our lands to benefit us in issues of importance for our self-determination. It is to liberate and emancipate by decolonisation and privileging the voices, experiences and lives of Aboriginal people and Aboriginal lands so that research frameworks are reflective of this. To reframe research is to focus on matters of importance as we identify these. It is to respect our ways and honour our rights and social mores as essential processes, through which we live, act and learn."

Selected eBooks

Decolonizing Methodologies : Research and Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous Methodologies : Characteristics, Conversations and Contexts.
Indigenous Pathways into Social Research : Voices of a New Generation
Positioning Research: Shifting Paradigms, Interdisciplinarity and Indigeneity
Indigenous Research Ethics : Claiming Research Sovereignty beyond Deficit and the Colonial Legacy
Indigenous Statistics : a Quantitative Research Methodology
Indigenous Research : Theories, Practices, and Relationships
Kanaka ʻōiwi Methodologies : Moʻolelo and Metaphor
Trans-Indigenous : Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies
Applying Indigenous Research Methods : Storying with Peoples and Communities
Research Methods in Indigenous Contexts
Indigenous Research Methodologies in Sámi and Global Context
Looking Back and Living Forward : Indigenous Research Rising Up
Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies
Indigenous Studies and Engaged Anthropology : the Collaborative Moment
Disciplining the savages, savaging the disciplines
Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies
Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision

Key Principles

From: Russell-Mundine, Gabrielle. “Reflexivity in Indigenous Research: Reframing and Decolonising Research?Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, vol. 19, no. 1, 2012, pp. 85–90.

Indigenous researchers have identified some of the key principles that research by, or with, Indigenous peoples should incorporate. That is, such research should:

  • empower Indigenous peoples
  • aim to decolonise and reframe research
  • be critical and liberationist recognising social, political and historical contexts
  • have political integrity
  • privilege Indigenous voices
  • recognise and represent the diversity of cultures, voices and experiences
  • allow Indigenous peoples to set the agenda
  • focus on matters of importance to Indigenous peoples
  • use core structures of Aboriginal world-views
  • integrate cultural protocols, social mores and behaviours into methodology
  • integrate Indigenous ways of knowledge creation.

Key Questions for the Indigenous Researcher

From: Tuhiwai Smith, Linda, "Kaupapa Maori Research." In Battiste, Marie Ann. Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. UBC Press, 2000. 

  1. What research do we want done?
  2. Whom is it for?
  3. What difference will it make?
  4. Who will carry it out?
  5. How do we want the research done?
  6. How will we know it is worthwhile?
  7. Who will own the research?
  8. Who will benefit?


"Indigenous peoples are used to being studied by outsiders; indeed, many of the basic disciplines of knowledge are implicated in studying the Other and creating expert knowledge. More recently, however, indigenous researchers have been active in seeking ways to disrupt the “history of exploitation, suspicion, misunderstanding, and prejudice” of indigenous peoples in order to develop methodologies and approaches to research that privilege indigenous knowledges, voices, experiences, reflections, and analyses of their social, material, and spiritual conditions. . .

Indigenist research also includes a critique of the “rules of practice regarding research, the way research projects are funded, and the development of strategies that address community concerns about the assumptions, ethics, purposes, procedures, and outcomes of research. These strategies often have led to innovative research questions, new methodologies, new research relationships, deep analyses of the researcher in context, and analyses, interpretations, and the making of meanings that have been enriched by indigenous concepts and language. . .

Research, like schooling, once the tool of colonization and oppression, is very gradually coming to be seen as a potential means to reclaim languages, histories, and knowledge, to find solutions to the negative impacts of colonialism and to give voice to an alternative way of knowing and of being."

Sources for quotes:

 Karen Martin, "Ways of knowing, ways of being, and ways of doing: Developing a theoretical framework and methods for Indigenous re-search and indigenist research." Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies conference, The Power of Knowledge and the Resonance of Tradition, 2001. Cited in Karina L. Walters, et al., ""Indigenist" Collaborative Research Efforts in Native American Communities" In Stiffman, Arlene Rubin. The Field Research Survival Guide. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Tuhiwai Smith, Linda." On tricky ground: Researching the Native in the age of uncertainty." In Luttrell, Wendy. Qualitative Educational Research: Readings in Reflexive Methodology and Transformative Practice. Routledge, 2010.