Quotes on indigenous knowledge systems
These quotes on indigenous knowledge systems will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the nature of indigenous knowledge systems as an area of knowledge?
- What do they suggest about the purpose of indigenous knowledge systems?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as an area of knowledge, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at previous TOK essay titles, and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it)
1. The nature of indigenous knowledge systems
Everywhere is the center of the world.
Everything is sacred.
What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak”
In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world.
Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.
Chief Oren Lyons
This is a coca leaf. This is not cocaine. This represents the culture of indigenous people of the Andean region.
Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.
Thousands of years ago, civilizations flourished in Africa which suffer not at all by comparison with those of other continents. In those centuries, Africans were politically free and economically independent. Their social patterns were their own and their cultures truly indigenous.
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
We borrow it from our Children
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Flowers do not force their way with great strife. Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun. Don’t be in a hurry about spiritual matters. Go step by step, and be very sure.
2.Indigenous knowledge systems and emotion
Envy is a worm that gnaws and consumes the entrails of ambitious men.
3.Indigenous knowledge systems and intuition
I believe very firmly that indigenous populations had a really good, intuitive understanding of why we’re here. And we’re trying to gain that same understanding through psychology and intellect in modern civilization.
4.Indigenous knowledge systems and language
Be careful when speaking. You create the world around you with your words.
Diné (Navajo) proverb
5.Indigenous knowledge systems and ethics
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
In our every deliberation,
we must consider the impact of our decisions
on the next seven generations.”
Iroquois Confederacy Maxim
We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its
appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s
spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity.
They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.
The truth is nobody can own anything. That was an unheard-of concept among indigenous people. We invented that.
6.Indigenous knowledge systems and human sciences
The problem with politicians getting to know the issues in indigenous townships is that we tend to suffer from what Aboriginal people call the ‘seagull syndrome’ – we fly in, scratch around and fly out.
Colonialism. The enforced spread of the rule of reason. But who is going to spread it among the colonizers?
Debating Imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?
7.Indigenous knowledge systems and natural sciences
Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realize
we cannot eat money.
Cree Indian Expression
One thing to remember is to talk to the animals. If you do, they will talk back to you. But if you don’t talk to the animals, they won’t talk back to you, then you won’t understand, and when you don’t understand you will fear and when you fear you will destroy the animals, and if you destroy the animals, you will destroy yourself.
Chief Dan George
8.Indigenous knowledge systems and religious knowledge systems
One major difference between our people and those of the dominant society today is humility. Among our people, no matter how far or how high a person goes, they know they are small in the presence of God and the universe.