Darryl Reano: Empowering Indigenous Knowledge

by | January 24, 2020 |

Meet Darryl Reano

Darryl Reano is a geologist and geoscience educator from Acoma, New Mexico. His B.S. is from New Mexico State University. His M.S. and Ph.D are from Purdue University. He is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at Florida International University, Miami.

Last Thursday he got the new Humanidades con Croquetas series at FIU off to a terrific start. He spoke on “Empowering Indigenous Knowledge Using Indigenous Research Frameworks.”

Dr. Reano works to make Western science culturally relevant for indigenous students. And he does so by allying scientific findings to tribal knowledge. For instance, geoscientists have discovered a lot about land forms like mountains. The dating of the strata in a cliff is one way to understand geology. Another is the indigenous use of those strata. Aligning the dates with the uses gives the local perspective presence and power.

For more information, read D. Reano and K.D. Ridgway “Connecting Geology and Native American Culture on the reservation of Acoma, Pueblo, New Mexico USA in GSA Today” (2015).

Equally important, Darryl seeks to make Western scientists more aware of their own practices when interacting with indigenous communities. Disseminating the broad outline of an indigenous research framework is the main purpose of this blog.

Darryl Reano: Indigenous Research Framework

This framework reaches back well into the traditions of indigenous cultures. And its current articulation is the fruit of many current researchers’ efforts. I bullet-point here the characteristics Darryl summarized during his presentation. In addition I was inspired to read into the literature and found helpful the following 2009 article by Lynn F. Lavalée:

Practical Applications of an Indigenous Research Framework and Two Qualitative Indigenous Research Methods

Among other things, an indigenous research framework is:

Holistic. It acknowledges the interconnectedness of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals with all living things and the earth.

Accountable. It involves a careful choice in the selection of topics, methods of data collection, forms of analysis, and ways the information is presented.

Multilogical. It centralizes indigenous perspectives and incorporates indigenous knowledge and beliefs in the research agenda. It understands that local stories are not separate from theory. They are legitimate sources of data and ways of being.

Equitable. It serves indigenous community interests as much as the research agenda. The benefits to the researcher and the community are equal.

Relational. If the benefits are financial, the community receives its fair share. It is also relational in the sense Wilson offers, below.

Activist. It works toward social change.

For Further Information

Dr. Reano brought to our attention other advocates for the framework. One is sustainability scientist Brian Brayboy at Arizona State University. He is also the Director of the Center for Indian Education.

Among the book titles Darryl mentioned is Shawn Wilson’s Research Is Ceremony (2008):

Wilson writes: “Relationships don’t just shape indigenous reality, they are our reality. Indigenous researchers develop relationships with ideas in order to achieve enlightenment in the ceremony that is indigenous research. Indigenous research is the ceremony of maintaining accountability to these relationships.”

Final Note. Too often Western scientists ask for forgiveness. After the fact of violating a community norm. The far better practice is to find out the community norms beforehand. And ask for permission.

All communities have tribal councils where a Western scientist can ask for appropriate permission to pursue research on native land or in an indigenous community. Here is a link to the one for Acoma.

The Center for the Humanities in an Urban Environment (CHUE) sponsored this wonderful event. Kudos to both the speaker and the organizers:

Left to right: Marcus Avelar, CHUE Postdoctoral Fellow. Melissa Baralt, Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics and the CHUE Inaugural Faculty Fellow. Darryl Reano, STEM Transformation Institute Postdoctoral Associate. Phillip Carter, Associate Professor of Linguistics and CHUE Director.

Follow Darryl on Twitter

For CHUE’s inaugural event of Academic Year 2019-2020 see:  Talking Black in America

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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