5 votes Truth and Native American epistemology Posted June 19, 2021 by DMBuce Tags: usa, indigenous peoples, native americans, truth, epistemology, pdf, long read https://webpages.uidaho.edu/~morourke/524-phil/Readings/hester.pdf 4 comments Collapse replies Expand all Comments sorted by most votes newest first order posted relevance OK  mooey June 19, 2021 Link A very interesting read. I'm not well-versed in epistemological canon (irony intended), but I notice that this article oversimplifies the world into a glob of "Natives" and "Westerners". Is it... A very interesting read. I'm not well-versed in epistemological canon (irony intended), but I notice that this article oversimplifies the world into a glob of "Natives" and "Westerners". Is it really true that all Amerindians use "responsible truths"? Is it true that all of the rest of the world believes that they've got it all figured out with only occasional disturbances from philosophers? To me the article seems just a bit premature, I guess. I could be entirely misled. I would love to hear more about this topic. 2 votes  DMBuce (OP) June 20, 2021 (edited June 20, 2021) Link Parent I am neither a Native American nor a philosopher, but a white American man who got curious about Native American and other Indigenous worldviews and read a few (maybe a little more than a few)... I am neither a Native American nor a philosopher, but a white American man who got curious about Native American and other Indigenous worldviews and read a few (maybe a little more than a few) things to try to understand. So take what I say with a huge shaker of salt. I have a very tenuous grasp on this stuff compared to Native American scholars who have lived experiences to draw upon. That said, I think it's worth pointing out that for a long time, and in many contexts today, what's called "Philosophy" or "Epistemology" is actually Western Philosophy and Western Epistemology, and the Western philosophical tradition did not / does not recognize Indigenous philosophies or Indigenous ways of knowing ("ways of knowing" is more or less another way of saying "epistemology" btw). And in cases where Indigenous ways of knowing are recognized, they are not given equal footing with Western epistemology. For example, when I went to college, if you wanted to learn about Native American philosophy, there was a single course you could take through the American Indian Studies department. By contrast, there was an entire department devoted to Philosophy that dealt almost exclusively with the Western philosophical tradition. So while classes in the (Western) Philosophy department could devote an entire semester to a given topic from the Western tradition, all the various and diverse Native American cultures' philosophies had to be compressed into a single course. It should go without saying, but this is problematic because the Western world doesn't have a monopoly on complex thought regarding the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence -- i.e., philosophical thought. Native American and other Indigenous cultures have their own philosophical traditions and ways of knowing that developed over thousands of years. That development happened simultaneously and independently of Western schools of thought, it was informed by non-Western values, and their philosophies are just as complex as ours. The problem is that, due things like colonialism and settler bias, those philosophies and ways of knowing were and are often suppressed and/or overlooked. The result is that indigenous philosophies aren't seen as serious areas of study worthy of scholarship, and are often relegated to separate, underfunded Indigenous Studies departments who are tasked with teaching many different social sciences from an Indigenous perspective, while those same social sciences get their own departments devoted to teaching the Western perspective. My limited understanding is that this is changing and improving, but we still have a long way to go. Another outcome of colonialism and settler bias is papers like this one published in 2001, which is aimed at an audience of mostly Western philosophers, many of whom are/were largely unaware of these issues and largely unaware of their own Western biases. So I think that the paper paints a picture in broad strokes in order to simplify things for a Western audience. At the same time, I think there really are some commonalities among many Native American ways of knowing that are not shared by Western epistemology. As I said before, Native American cultures developed together for thousands of years, independently of Western cultures. Those cultures are not a monolith, but I don't think it's that weird to suggest that their cultures exchanged ideas throughout that time, and that their philosophies share some things in common with each other. Those commonalities can be acknowledged while at the same time acknowledging the incredible diversity of the various Native American cultures, each with their own particular ways of knowing. In the paper, Lee Hester expresses this better than I can when he says: Throughout this paper, I will use terms like ‘Native American’ or ‘Indian’ as if my conclusions are readily applicable to the peoples of all the sovereign Indian Nations. This is not necessarily true, though I do think there are many similarities from nation to nation. As Viola Cordova has said, any Native American has more in common with any other Native American than with any non-Indian. Perhaps there are other factors that I'm not considering due to my own lack of knowledge, and/or my own Western biases, that contribute to the paper's "Native American" vs. "Western" framing. I have found many such biases within myself while exploring Indigenous epistemologies, and it wouldn't surprise me to find many more. So again, this is just my limited understanding. Is it really true that all Amerindians [...] I don't think that the paper claims to speak for all Native Americans. See Lee's quote above, and also Jim Cheney's introduction, where he defers to Lee's worldview, points out his own lack of authority on such a worldview, and claims that his own perspective merely "peeks into Native American worlds, gleaning small understandings as best I can." 3 votes mooey June 20, 2021 Link Parent I will use this paper to start researching the topic further (once libraries are open again...)! Thank you for contextualizing this for me. With that said, I wanted to clarify that the author of... I will use this paper to start researching the topic further (once libraries are open again...)! Thank you for contextualizing this for me. With that said, I wanted to clarify that the author of this paper slices the world between Western and Native, without considering the Orient. Or at the very least, that's my understanding of it. The pagans in my family similarly play with stories (not just religious ones) in order to act "best". Speaking from my gut, the paper does sound like the authors are overexaggerating the "otherness" of Natives. My eyes were set on the "responsible truths" creating a world to abide by even if it's not necessarily true, because it reminds me of Campbell's thesis in the Power of Myth. Being raised alongside Catholics with a very WWJD mindset leads me to believe that it's a bit strange to claim that Natives are unique for loosely interpreting (there's a better phrase) these myths and stories. /wordsalad 3 votes DMBuce (OP) June 19, 2021 Link The topic ‘Truth and Native American Epistemology’ is a grand one. One which I undoubtedly do not have all the ‘answers’ to, and maybe don’t have any answers to. As I said, I will mainly present some observations, though my Euro-American philosophical training will drive me to some deductions based on the observations. Throughout this paper, I will use terms like ‘Native American’ or ‘Indian’ as if my conclusions are readily applicable to the peoples of all the sovereign Indian Nations. This is not necessarily true, though I do think there are many similarities from nation to nation. As Viola Cordova has said, any Native American has more in common with any other Native American than with any non-Indian. A short story will serve as a jumping of point for the rest of the talk.