Indigenous Knowledge Organization: a study of concepts, terminology, structure and (mostly) Indigenous voices
The lack of published information (especially in Canada) on modified classification systems and thesauri for describing and organizing Aboriginal materials sparked the idea to conduct a survey study on this topic. The surveys were distributed at five Indigenous-related conferences and gatherings in Canada and the United States between fall 2009 and fall 2010, and more than 50 completed surveys were collected. Research findings included preferred changes in terminology from Library of Congress Subject Headings (which were seen to be outdated and inappropriate). These findings indicated that there was no clear consensus on a "one-size-fits-all" terminology for thesauri, particularly for the LCSH term, "Indians of North America". Rather, responses generally fell into three preferred terms: "Indigenous", "Aboriginal" and "First Nations, Inuit and Metis". This split in the results was not surprising given the diverse range of participants who took part in the survey; however, it also suggests that preferred terminology needs to be localized based on the users of each particular library. Respondents also commented on survey questions inquiring about the use of the "Medicine Wheel" concept as a way to organize Aboriginal-related materials, as well as other possible structures that might prove more culturally relevant for organizing these materials. There was both substantial support for and strong opposition to the use of the Medicine Wheel for this purpose, for a variety of reasons. Participants indicated a preference for non-hierarchical and less linear structures than current mainstream classification systems provide. There also seemed to be support for "landscape-based" structures. Although research findings were not conclusive, two hypotheses and some valuable insights were gained from this exploratory study. These hypotheses need to be tested, which suggests more research (and more in-depth research) in this area is required.
CitationPartnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice & Research, Vol. 6, No. 1 (2011)
Indigenous Knowledge Organization; culturally relevant library services for Indigenous / Aboriginal Peoples; thesauri