Project Update: Research and Next Steps

After having another week to organize my thoughts, complete another module of work, and some time to meet with my classmates, I have nailed down some next steps for my project, mainly regarding the research I need to do to develop the content.

To provide the first draft of my finalized plan, this is what my project is:

Big picture. Overall, I want to create a website that provides several modules of educational work that explore Indigenous methodologies, providing exercises/activities for in-class work and that can be used to create lesson plans. This will serve as a teaching resource for college level classes covering research ethics and methodologies and can be utilized by both faculty and students seeking to investigate non-Western paradigms and understand their application for academic research.

Small picture (project for this course). Working within the big picture, my digital project for this semester will consist of the website meant to host these modules. To keep it simple and to execute it well, I will focus on one module in particular, based off my mini-essay of how to reconcile apparent contradictions among Indigenous sources. This module will contain information about Indigenous methodology and research ethics and the exercise/activity will focus on understanding Indigenous-related primary sources, such as creation stories and (potentially) ledger art. The goal will be for visitors/students/teachers to learn how to analyze and understand these sources in a historical context, but also how to apply Indigenous methods to researching these items to provide a new cultural framework to then derive interpretations, which will encourage historical thinking.

To accomplish this, I will need to research the type of platform I want to use to host this site; existing Indigenous research paradigms and methodologies to inform my approach of applying these methods to historical sources; and the actual primary sources I will use for the exercises/activities.

I have already started my search for a platform, though not by establishing the actual website. After some discussion with my professor, I have started to storyboard an outline of what I want the site to accomplish. From here, I can begin to conceptualize which platform can provide what I’m seeking. I have also started looking at Indigenous research methods, which is partly accomplished by my previous work that serves as the inspiration for this project. And I have started researching the creation stories I can use for this project (luckily, I might be able to use examples from my Tribe as we have multiple creation stories!).

This has definitely raised some question, though, that I will be thinking about while doing this project. Some of these questions can be answered over the course of doing this work and through the production of this project while others are more for the audience to consider. Some of these questions were also provided by my classmates:

  1. How do Indigenous methods differ to Western methods of analyzing primary sources and what is the value of this difference?
  2. How can Indigenous methods cause us to arrive at different conclusions?
  3. What are the ethical components involved with utilizing a particular set of research methods?
  4. What is the purpose of using Indigenous methodologies to understand Indigenous sources?
  5. Can Indigenous methodologies be useful for analyzing and interpreting non-Indigenous primary sources?
  6. How effectively can orality be translated into the digital space?
  7. What are the cultural components of Indigenous primary sources and how can we investigate them properly?
  8. Are there and have there been differing interpretations of said texts within the Indigenous community?
  9. How can learners trained in Western thought find ways to stay meta-cognitive about what they bring in?

Related to question 8 is something that stuck out to me in a “meta” sort of way: can we observe differing interpretations of related (or contrasting) Indigenous sources from not just Indigenous communities at large, but from within the same Indigenous community that produced the source(s)?

Questions aside, my most immediate next steps are clear:

  1. Finish storyboarding my model website to guide my decisions for a platform.
  2. Compile my research and primary sources for use.
  3. Outline how the exercises will work.
  4. Begin searching for and experimenting with digital platforms and tools to present and execute my project.

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