There is a global priority to protect and revitalize Indigenous knowledge (IK) and increasing evidence suggests that IK is critical to restoring health and well-being in indigenous communities. How do the dominant cultural perceptions of health-related IK (HRIK) compare with those of an indigenous community whose culture has been eroded? A systematic review of the literature and a brief ethnographic pilot study in a Secwepemc community in British Columbia revealed that mainstream academic perceptions of HRIK often fail to recognize the potential applications of IK in connections between the well-being of the individual, the community, and all aspects of the ecosystem. Culturally-rooted community priorities such as language, stories, and ceremony are absent in mainstream academic depictions of HRIK. Research that incorporates the community’s perceptions of HRIK, validated in terms accepted by mainstream academicians and policy-makers as well as indigenous groups themselves, may help communities restore their cultures and health.
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Thesis advisor: Janes, Craig
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