Tribal Journeys: An Integrated Voice Approach Towards Transformative Learning




Halber Suarez, Tania

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This study examines transformative learning in the context of an annual First Nations journey in traditional cedar dugout canoes tracing ancestral trading routes between Western Washington and British Columbia. Transformative learning is a shift or change in perspective of self, life, and the world. The goal was: to illuminate the role of Indigenous cultures in facilitating transformative learning for Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners; to contribute to the development of transformative learning theory; to provide research that contributes convergent solutions to global issues and the development of interdisciplinary methodology, integrating Western and Indigenous worldviews; and to construct an integrated transformative program for participants to ensure that the results benefit them. To achieve these goals, an Integrated Voice Approach (IVA) was applied, piecing together different techniques, tools, methods, representations and interpretations to construct a multi-faceted reality. The IVA is constructed through the use of five “voices” strengthened by building on each other: Indigenous Voice, Grounded Theory Voice, Auto-ethnographic Voice, Ethno-ecological Voice, and Integrative Voice, harmonizing the previous four voices. Demonstrated here are an integration of interviews, researcher field notes, participation, observations and photographs, revealing that transformative learning in this context is dependent on the cultural landscape, cultural memory and somatic and embodied knowing, enacted in a repeating cycle of paddling, circling, dancing, singing, storytelling and drumming. The components of this learning process are measured through mental, emotional, spiritual and physical indicators and draw on traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom. The study develops guiding principles to provide a foundation for future curriculum development for transformative learning.



Indigenous Studies, Ethnoecology, Conciousness change, Tribal Journeys, Transformative learning, Integrated Voice Approach, Indigenous Transformational Learning Landscape, Adult education