Education | Opinion

Steven Newcomb: What does it really mean to 'indigenize' curriculum?

The First Nations University in Saskatchewan, Canada. Photo: daryl_mitchell

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute wonders if the movement to "indigenize" college curriculum materials addresses the legacies of colonization, genocide and domination:
As someone fascinated with words, I find myself puzzled by the use of the word “indigenous” as a verb, as in the action word “to indigenize.” My Webster’s Third New International Dictionary says that “indigenize” means “to cause to have indigenous characteristics : adapt to indigenous conditions or practices,” and “to cause to be chiefly of an indigenous personnel.”

Looking up the word “Indigenous” provides various results: “Native,” and “originating or developing or produced naturally in a particular land or region or environment.” We also find, “of, relating to, or designed for natives,” “inborn, innate, inherent.” Yet something is missing from the expressed desire on the part of some people to “indigenize” more things in the world, such as college curriculum materials.

The context missing from the typical use of “indigenize” is found in the Foreword to Indigenous Peoples A Global Quest for Justice, “A Report for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues."

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: What does it mean ‘to Indigenize’? (Indian Country Media Network 4/10)