Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge

This document provides sets of clearly articulated guidelines that address issues of concern in the documentation, representation, and utilization of traditional cultural knowledge as they relate to the roles of various participants, including Elders, authors, curriculum developers, classroom teachers, publishers, and researchers. Special attention is given to the educational implications for the integration of indigenous knowledge and practices in schools throughout Alaska.

Content Comments 

This document effectively defines and meets its purpose: “to encourage the incorporation of traditional knowledge and teaching practices in schools by minimizing the potential for misuse and misunderstanding.” The guidelines are developed from dependable resources and are reasonable, comprehensive without unnecessary detail and length, and segmented to reach a broad audience, as described in the resource summary. Information is effectively communicated; however, many URL links are obsolete, due to the 2000 publication year. The guidelines can be adapted by other states and education organizations and are   suggestive of a reasonable positive effect on learning, although evidence of this effectiveness is not provided.

This is a much-needed, immediately accessible resource for stakeholders involved in the process of education about, for, and with Native populations. It was developed by a consortium of Native educators and researchers for schools in Alaska. The document is not a comprehensive how-to guide. However, it clearly lays out a series of main roles and/or responsibilities for each stakeholder in order to increase his or her cultural responsiveness, and it provides explicit suggestions about how to be responsive. At the very least, the document provides a strong starting point for a discussion about what it means to be culturally responsive in the school setting. It includes a glossary of terms and a categorized appendix of additional resources with links to websites, research, books, and legal issues.