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Indigenous Culture & Land-Based Education

Discover how the One Dish Project can enhance and/or develop transferrable skills among all learners.

One Dish, One Spoon, One Project

When people hear "land-based education" or "food sovereignty", their thoughts immediately diverge to activities outdoors; outdoor education for example. This is entirely not the case, and is a common misconception. When applying land-based education from an Indigenous perspective, the meanings behind the teachings and lessons become more meaningful for both the learner and facilitator.

Adding the perspectives of the Indigenous people across Turtle Island and around the world. Each Nation understands and has a close relationship with the biome in which they reside. The close personal relationship with the land, animals, and elements of their areas only enhance the learning. This style of learning lends itself to the development of transferrable skills which have always helped Indigenous people stay "modern" without compromising identity.

Thinking Styles and Indigenous Education

Deficit and agentic thinking are the epistemology behind the “clash” of Eurocentric and Indigenous cultures, where “no matter how dominant a worldview is, there are always other ways of interpreting the world” (Little Bear, 2000, p.77). The distinction is that agentic thinking honors Indigenous students and their experiences recognizing and accepting there are ways of knowing other than mainstream education, and deficit thinking is rooted in racist stereotypes creating low expectations of Indigenous students from non-Indigenous educators.

Deficit thinking is the original framework of education which was intended to remove the Indian and keep the child, along with the indoctrination of the non-Indigenous population into the ideals of the settler-colonial governments. This type of thinking, which is ineffective for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, focuses on “what they lack, rather than what they are doing well and building upon such strengths; looking for what’s wrong rather than what’s right. (Smith, 2016 p.51).

When “teacher voices maintained a strong deficit tone and were focused on the problems of dysfunctional students and families who they held responsible for continuing student failure” (Seeking their Voices 2014, p. 106; Smith 2016 p.51). With more professional development aimed toward agentic pedagogies in the school system students will become empowered.

Agentic thinking reinforces the relationship between traditional Indigenous identities and improving educational outcomes for Indigenous children (Berryman & Allington, 2014, p.29). “Indigenous educators must become agents of change because transformation must come from the people themselves” (Smith, 2016, p.52). In this way of thinking, we move from being the educator at the front of the class with all the knowledge, to an education facilitator where we can guide all learners to find answers using the appropriate means.

Transferring Skills

When taking part in, or facilitating, cultural land-based and language education there are a number of skills that are enhanced which are invaluable in a persons life. The cost of living is going up and we are living in a recession, which is history repeating itself; when shifting the educational delivery method to this style we are reaching back to an ancient way of teaching.

Learners will develop sustainable, independent living skills while enhancing their language abilities that can be applied in an evolving technological world. The demand for Mohawk and other Indigenous language speakers is going up for cultural sustainability, educational and entertainment purposes.

Planting, harvesting, and fishing compliment and enhance global citizenship and sustainability while encouraging innovation, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and even entrepreneurship. When we add canning, preserving, hide tanning and media studies with guest speakers it encourages collaboration, giving everyone the skills to carry with them into the modern world.

"Along with support changes to curriculum and policy, reconciliation in education begins with the teachers”
- Jody Wilson-Raybould

Culture Based Education

Anishinaabe Elder Darrell Boissoneau (Darrell Boissoneau - Anishinaabe Culture-Based Education, n.d.) summarized in four sections the importance of culture based education. When speaking of education, the worldview he holds is similar to ours as Rotinonhsyon:ni and many other Nations across Turtle Island and globally. When he alluded to language learning and complex thinking, it only made sense that land based learning would be an essential part of our culture. With the many different concepts that are ingrained into Indigenous languages, there is a direct need for hands-on, experiential learning.

The comparison of Tribal similarities and the effects of colonialism around the world stood out significantly to me. First Nations University of Canada Elder Willie Ermine from Sturgeon Lake First Nation speaks about choice and willingness to accept others. Anybody “can have the option to say, " I want to go to this Western institution for this kind of learning” and that you can “choose this Indigenous institution for this kind of learning” (Introductory Videos, n.d.).

This reinforces the message Elder Darrell Boissoneau was trying to convey, that knowledge belongs to everyone. It is something that helps you not only find your identity, but start expanding your mind to a larger worldview through complex and critical thinking paired with physical experience (ie: land based learning) and community engagement.

An Educational Approach to Reconciliation

“How Land-based Learning Supports Indigenous Students” comes from the Indigenous Farm Hub in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Indigenous Nations are applying land-based learning and community building in the same way the One Dish Project is striving to do.

At the beginning of the video, Barbra Bobroff reinforces states “the first policy that was put in place concerning Native American communities was to separate children from their families in such a way that’s left huge gaps in knowledge of Indigenous ways of living. The knowledge that we can pass on through Indigenous perspectives and learning is really powerful” (Indigenous Farm Hub, 2023; 0:00-0:14). In other words, “Education was originally intended to assimilate us on Turtle Island”.

“Children hold a sacred place in the cultures of Indigenous peoples. With that comes a sacred responsibility to care for them” (Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, 2022). Through transformative teaching and an “Indigenist” approach (Battiste, 2013, p73), teachers can better apply land-based learning practices into their lessons that focus on the communicative, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of the student (Focusing on Middle Childhood, n.d.) while following the curriculum with the student as the centre of learning, not the content.

In a brief conversation with Jody Wilson-Raybould on June 20th, 2023 she stated that along with support to “changes curriculum and policy” that reconciliation in education “begins with the teachers” (Wilson-Raybould, 2023). Along with adding she comes from a long line of teachers, she spoke of the importance of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge in the classroom, and the need to reach all students. “The land is the teacher and one can make links with different subject areas” (Michell, 2018, p34) which this video points out in five minutes.

The Indigenous Education section of Cross-curricular and integrated learning states “It is important to create a learning environment that is respectful and that makes students feel safe and comfortable not only physically, socially, and emotionally but also in terms of their cultural heritage” (Program Planning, 2023.). This gives educators the autonomy to implement land-based learning to help support the whole child and facilitate learning in a safe, healthy, and uplifting environment.

The One Dish Project

The Project is based in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and aims to provide fresh produce and medicines to the community. Indigenous people do not have to pay for the food that comes from the gardens or greenhouse, but in the name of reconciliation settlers can access services by donation. The first priority is to feed Elders and the most vulnerable people first, and as we grow we will be able to sustain our community and the surrounding area.

In addition to providing food, workshops on planting, harvesting, canning, preserving, and even cooking and baking will be provided. People will be able to come and gain sustainable living skills while broadening their worldview and understanding with Traditional Indigenous Knowledge. In addition to these workshops that will be provided seasonally, you are able to book workshops for you schools, classrooms, and community groups.

The goal is to remind everyone that we are all treaty people, and the wampum does not just belong to Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. The intention is not only to physically feed people, but to nourish their minds, emotions, and spirit as well.

Donate to Restoration, Reclamation, Reconciliation, and Decolonization

You can contribute directly as an individual, group, or business by donating directly from our project page. Contribution to this project goes directly to the community and never through a government operated system. By the end of February 2024 we need to raise up to $5000.00CAD for lumber, tools, soil, and fencing.

Sha'tekayenton Brant

Diploma in Kanyen'keha - Trent University; 2010

Indigenous Teacher Education Program B.Ed. - Queen's University; 2025 (Currently Enrolled with 4.3GPA)


One Dish Project,

Two Row Coffee & Tea Co,

Kenhte:ke Paranormal Society


Ohahase Education Centre

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