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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Anthropology

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Jean Forward

Second Advisor

Robert Paynter

Third Advisor

Leah Wing

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

Indigenous people have long-held perceptions of the existence of ideological conflicts between indigenous worldview and Western worldview. Western worldview is understood by indigenous people to be embodied in American Anthropology as a discipline and, by extension, in American anthropologists. These conflicts may be considered the genesis of a divide that began with the colonization of the indigenous world and one which continues to sustain the on-going marginalization and oppression of Native populations by a colonizing society; a society which considers indigenous worldview to be an unsubstantiated belief system, while not recognizing that the science upon which anthropological thought is built is itself a belief system and one which reflects a Western worldview.

In examining the history of the ideological conflicts between indigenous people and Anthropology, the long-term results of the conflicts, and considering ways in which the divide may be narrowed, two broad questions were conceived as a beginning point of study: “is ideological conflict within American Anthropology a manifestation of colonization and, if so, is some form of resolution possible?” From these two related questions, at least three other questions logically follow and it is these questions upon which the dissertation heavily focuses: first, how does the difference between traditional indigenous forms of knowledge conflict with mainstream anthropological thought? Second, what have been the effects of these differences in efforts to make Anthropology a more inclusive discipline; for example, in graduate studies for indigenous students and the formation of professional level organizations? Finally, is a rapprochement possible, and under what conditions?

The continued marginalization of indigenous perspectives raises a number of questions in the minds of indigenous practitioners; questions such as, “why are indigenous knowledge systems excluded from Western pedagogy?” And in particular, “why are indigenous knowledge systems excluded from anthropological pedagogy?” These questions have led indigenous anthropologists to seek ways in which to create a space for expanded and respectful dialogue.

The generous participation of indigenous graduate students, indigenous and non-indigenous anthropologists, and the voices of Native American tribal leaders and tribal elders of New England provide an invaluable contribution to this dissertation.

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