The extensive body of literature on Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing written since the 1980s has for the most part been conducted by scholars operating within Western epistemological frameworks. These frameworks tend to deny the subjectivity of knowledge and privilege masculine authority and as a result, the literature predominantly reflects the types of knowledge traditionally held by men, yielding a perspective that is at once gendered and incomplete.
Even those interested in consulting with Indigenous peoples for the purposes of planning, monitoring, and managing land use have largely ignored the knowledge produced, preserved, and transmitted by Indigenous women. This omission reflects patriarchal assumptions and the sometimes reductionist tendencies of researchers and policy makers, who have sought to organize and deploy such knowledge in the service of external priorities. Such efforts to apply Indigenous knowledge have had the effect of abstracting it from place as well as from the world view and community—and by extension the gender—to which it is inextricably connected.
From a variety of methodological perspectives, contributors to Living on the Land explore the nature and scope of Indigenous women’s knowledge, its rootedness in relationships, both human and spiritual, and its inseparability from land and landscape. This collection focuses on the integral role of women as stewards of the land and governors of the community and points to a distinctive set of challenges and possibilities for Indigenous women and their communities.