"An important book, for it not only teases out the subtleties of colonization from a unique perspective but also engages the reader in the larger discourse of how we interpret cultural landscapes once the culture has been colonized."—American Indian Culture and Research Journal
"There is a legacy of academic publications which interpret plant knowledge through the lens of the ‘western scientist.’ This book offers firsthand accounts from a perspective within the culture that is cognizant of both indigenous and scientific perspectives."—Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
"Geniusz has written a welcome contribution to the growing literature in Native American Studies. She never loses sight of the big picture and her work speaks to the perspective of a native scholar."—JoAllyn Archambault, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Traditional Anishinaabe (Ojibwe or Chippewa) knowledge, like the knowledge systems of indigenous peoples around the world, has long been collected and presented by researchers who were not a part of the culture they observed. The result is a colonized version of the knowledge, one that is distorted and trivialized by an ill-suited Eurocentric paradigm of scientific investigation and classification. In Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive, Wendy Makoons Geniusz contrasts the way in which Anishinaabe botanical knowledge is presented in the academic record with how it is preserved in Anishinaabe culture. In doing so she seeks to open a dialogue between the two communities to discuss methods for decolonizing existing texts and to develop innovative approaches for conducting more culturally meaningful research in the future.
As an Anishinaabe who grew up in a household practicing traditional medicine and who went on to become a scholar of American Indian studies and the Ojibwe language, Geniusz possesses the authority of someone with a foot firmly planted in each world. Her unique ability to navigate both indigenous and scientific perspectives makes this book an invaluable contribution to the field of Indian studies and enriches our understanding of the Anishinaabe and other native communities.
Wendy Makoons Geniusz is director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. She teaches courses in the Ojibwe language.
Series: The Iroquois and Their Neighbors
6 x 9, 240 pages, 14 black and white illustrations