Indigenous Lifeways and Knowing the World

John A. Grim

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780199543656
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Indigenous Lifeways and Knowing the World


This article seeks to explore selected examples of diverse indigenous ways of knowing the world. It acknowledges differences not only among indigenous ways of knowing but also between indigenous knowledge and systems of knowing within industrial–technological societies. This latter difference is especially evident with regard to the presentation and organization of indigenous knowledge using the ideas and methods of Western, Enlightenment thought. Typically, indigenous ways of knowing are framed by such Western template ideas as monotheism, social contract theory, private property and individual rights, unilateral views of democratic governance, and scientific views of the objectivity of reality. The discussion considers the organic relationality of lifeway, land, and indigenous knowledge as mutually interactive processes. While differently described by diverse native peoples, indigenous ways of knowing are not simply about creating systems of knowledge; rather, they bring into possibility the lifeway itself.

Keywords: indigenous knowledge; industrial–technological societies; Enlightenment thought; lifeway; native people

Article.  9517 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religion and Science

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