Ḥaaḥuupa and fisheries: an indigenous methodological approach to Tla-o-qui-aht knowledge systems in support of community renewal




Milne, Saul D.H.

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Indigenous research methodologies encourage indigenous scholars and allies to re-make research. Deliberately positioning academic inquiry as part of a research design, research can sustain and renew a community’s ability to engage their political priorities while fostering a transition back to community-based knowledge production. In this dissertation, I report on two research projects I was involved in that were led by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Both projects examine Tla-o-qui-aht knowledge systems and values in relation to other lifeforms like salmon. I document how the Tla-o-qui-aht community and I, as a researcher, navigated a series of existing institutional and community-based ethical processes together and were able to create new ones to guide our research as well as research in the future. These processes included: creating a Tla-o-qui-aht Research Liaison position, establishing a Traditional Resource Committee for the review of all research involving Tla-o-qui-aht, and relocating the researcher to the community. The practices emerging from these processes reoriented Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations’ research accountabilities toward their ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chiefs) and ḥatkm̓iiḥ (high-ranking women) as part of their regeneration of their relationships with the ḥaḥuułi (chiefly territories). This praxis of indigenous research in Tla-o-qui-aht ḥaḥuułi, that is, ensuring that practice is informed by community knowledge, demonstrates the importance of placing research leadership in the community. By situating leadership and researcher in community the ontologies of Tla-o-qui-aht knowledge systems emerged as a way to describe dissonance, recentre lived values and imagine possible futures of abundance. The use of filming as research method, centring Ciiqciqasa (speaking Nuučaan̓ułʔath), digitization of community records, and analysis of existing community records of ḥaaḥuupa (teaching, storytelling) were directed by Tla-o-qui-aht and reflect how academic research can serve community renewal.



Indigenous Research Methodology, Fisheries, Knowledge Systems, Values, Film as method, Auto-methods, community renewal, Story as method