PROTOCOL & POLICIES

IRM Protocols & Policies

. This collaborative work provides solutions to (re)connecting to the spirit of language, informed by interviews and circle dialogues with diverse nêhiyaw community members. Our work is informed by ceremony and Indigenous research methodologies (IRM), along with the guidance of nêhiyawêwin speakers and learners. Each community visit began in ceremony, protocol was offered, consent was sought and offered, and our obligations through the consent form were maintained. The interviews and dialogue circles focused on community needs, in which this work could aide in cultural and language revitalization for nêhiyawewin and other Indigenous languages across this continent. Through these interviews, we are able to address and reaffirm our understanding the of sources of Indigenous language decline, while also providing solutions which encourage a deeper and greater fluency among those ancestrally connected to the language.

 

In the process of working with these communities, we are able to propose the our own research principles, processes, and best practices when working with Indigenous language learning communities; discuss transitioning between nêhiyaw and non-nêhiyaw knowledge systems; provide narratives around connecting to the spirit of nêhiyawêwin as a nêhiyaw or nêhiyawêwin learner, particularly when ones first language is English or a European language; and support land- and ceremony-based methodologies for nêhiyawêwin language acquisition. 

About our community-based research method

While our work had been funded by various institutions, we were deliberate to not let institutional biases or funding sources interfere with the delivery and process of community-building with other nêhiyawak. This allowed us as Indigenous researchers to avoid conventional models of conducting research, and instead viewed ourselves as relatives and collaborative community partners sharing in the learning and processes of community building to collaboratively provide insight to solutions. In principle, this means being reciprocal with community members as relatives in language learning. In practice, this might look like avoiding referring to and treating the recorded interviews as data, as the knowledges shared with us are beyond conventional quantitative interpretations of data. We also avoided the academic bias of focusing on one aspect of language acquisition, such as formal linguistic approaches, and instead acknowledge that Indigenous language revitalization work is inherently interdisciplinary — with both macro, internal and micro facets of relating with the world. Inevitably, elements of ancestral knowledge had been shared in these dialogue circles or interviews while we were recording with protocols and gifts. We as Indigenous researchers have a responsibility as collaborative community partners to treat that knowledge with the utmost respect, integrity and cautions around publishing. This includes us consulting with the individuals sharing their knowledges to ensure they were comfortable sharing those knowledges in the contexts we communicated within. Before we began dialogue circles and interviews, we brought the intention of the collaborative work to ceremonies, and then began the interviews by smudging and holding prayer ceremonies led by Elders. Throughout the process of conducting the literature review, we as researchers were mindful about smudging and holding ourselves in ceremony, both for our own healing and to maintain spiritual integrity with the work as we conducted it. We then expanded our work to include collaborative idea-making around the publishing and sharing of knowledge and words shared in this research, which will involve revisiting with communities and encouraging them to share their knowledges and words and learnings and teachings around nêhiyawêwin revitalization in their own ways and words.