Panel 1: Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge: Models for Collaborations in Outreach and Preservation (2013)

Sunday, May 19, 2:30-4:00

Moderator:  Teresa Chapa, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Rapporteur:  Gabriella Reznowski, Washington State University


  • The Inter-institutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) at Penn State — Audrey N. Maretzki, Pennsylvania State University
  • Indigenous Knowledge in Academic Libraries: Collaborations in Outreach and Preservation — Helen M. Sheehy, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Audrey Maretzki (Penn State) presented on the conceptual development of ICIK at Penn State. This global indigenous knowledge resource center was developed during the period between 1995 and 2003 and similar to others elsewhere such as the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Rural Development (CIKARD) established at Iowa State by Dr. Michael Warren.  Warren’s goal was to work with indigenous communities around the world to develop a network of indigenous knowledge resource centers; and in 1995, he became an honorary chief in an Igbo village in Africa and was invited to Penn State. On that occasion he conducted a ceremony to mark the inception of Penn State’s efforts to develop a center for indigenous knowledge.

ICIK was designed to create a space where faculty, students, and local community interest in “knowledges” generated outside the academy could be shared in order to balance the concept of “outreach” with the concept of “inreach.” The idea was to engage with respectful research in collaboration “with” communities rather than research “about” communities or “in” communities.

Many colleges collaborated with ICIK, including the College of Medicine’s Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine; the American Indian Leadership Program at Penn State, the College of Education, the College of Agricultural Science, Liberal Arts, the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program, and Penn State’s Global Development Center. Groups outside the university include the Centre County United Nations Association and the Center for Amazon Community Ecology.

ICIK’s endeavors include a listserv, L-ICIK, which currently reaches 800 subscribers around the world;  a course that is open to graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty, and taught by Dr. Bruce Martin of the University of Michigan in cooperation with tribal leaders in northern Minnesota through the Community and Economic Development program at the College of Agricultural Sciences. Students in the course spend three weeks exploring the history of the nations, engaging in conversations with elders and community leaders (Dennis Banks, Annie Dunn, and Winona LaDuke) and participating in important ceremonies at the Red Lake reservation.  In 2004 ICIK hosted their first international conference on indigenous knowledges. Thie event entitled “Transforming the Academy” welcomed over 100 participants from around the globe.

Dr. Maretzki referenced Oscar Koagli’s “Houses of Knowledge” concept, which likens opening all indigenous knowledge to allowing everyone into all the rooms of a home, and cautiously advises against such broad access.  A survey of academic and extension employees also helped to identify barriers to including indigenous knowledge in research, teaching and outreach. These responses led to the formation of a working group on Indigenous Knowledge and Development and four-day workshop in Arusia, Tanzania which included the involvement of two rural communities. Faculty from Tumaini University and Penn State worked with community members to investigate cultural tourism of Masaii villages and Masaii learning and to develop a tourism curriculum and a cultural craft center at branch campuses.

In 2008/2009 ICIK received a $100,000 endowment from the Whiting Center which is used to support IK activities at Penn State. AcademIK Connections was developed as a video series to provide a platform for faculty to showcase how they were using indigenous knowledge in their curriculum. There are currently 12 videos in the series which include indigenous ways of knowing, sustainable forestry, and nutria-business. An ICIK hosted viewing of the film Milking the Rhino (2009) helped to illustrate how the Maasaii in Kenya and Tanzania and the Himba in Namibia use their natural resources in culturally appropriate ways, to improve their economic situations. Maretzki shared a video of a portable pot cooler that uses wet sand to pull heat away from water kept in a milk-jug container:

Helen Sheehy (Penn State), who became involved with ICIK in 2010 when Maretzki approached her about collaborating with the libraries, addressed efforts to expand the reach of the program and improve its visibility. As a community gathering place, the Penn State library was a logical space for campus to come together in an interdisciplinary location. The library’s established liaison relationships with the academic departments were also useful for expanding ICIK’s interdisciplinary reach through collaboration and raising their campus visibility in a neutral territory.

There were no questions