Cree Ways of Knowing and School Science

By: Herman J. Michell, PhD


Drawing upon a variety of academic sources as well as personal and professional experiences, Dr. Michell, a member of the Barren Lands First Nation, offers a book designed to assist educators in coming to understand the larger frameworks of Cree ontology (ways of seeing the world and one’s place in it), epistemology (ways of understanding knowledge), and methodologies (ways of teaching).

While Dr. Michell’s book is a specific example of Cree culture, from northern Saskatchewan, the message is most certainly transferable beyond the Barren Lands First Nation example, and as such, offers readers entry into thinking about how to make bridges between diverse ways of knowing that is applicable cross-culturally.

  • ISBN: 978-0-9811518-9-2
    Price: $23.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 2013
    Rights: World
    Pages: 98
    Size: 6″ x 9″

  • Table of Contents

    Table of Contents


    1. Introduction

    2. Nîhîthawâk Ithînîwak

    3. Nîhîthawâk Ithînîwak and School
 Science: A Storied Reflection

    4. Nîhîthâwatîsîwîn

    5. The Concept of Indigenous Science

    6. The Concept of Western Science

    7. Assumptions in Western and Cree
 Ways of Knowing

    8. Promising Practices: School Science in Cree Contexts

    About the Author

  • Herman J. Michell, PhD

    Herman J. Michell, PhD is a Member of the Barren Lands First Nation, and President & CEO of the Northern Teacher Education Program and Northern Professional Access College.

  • The book Cree Ways of Knowing and School Science provides a good personal description of Cree culture and how it can improve science teaching in the classroom for First Nations students. Drawing from his experience in Northern Saskatchewan, Dr. Michell illustrates the importance of hands-on experience for students and the need to relate what they are learning in the classroom to their culture. Most importantly, Dr. Michell promotes taking the students to the knowledge holders (the Elders) and to the natural teaching lab (the land), thus incorporating traditional knowledge in the teaching of science. Elders are an essential component in this endeavour. This book will be of interest to current and prospective teachers as well as to anyone interested in cross-cultural experiences and learning. This book provides a timely contribution to the question of how to improve educational outcomes for First Nations students, a critical issue for federal, provincial and First Nations governments.

    Fidji Gendron, PhD

    Associate Professor of Biology
    Coordinator of the Bachelor of Arts in Resource and Environmental Studies
    First Nations University of Canada

    As a Woodland Cree woman who has been immersed in Western based science for the majority of my educational years, this book is long overdue and a welcome addition to the growing list of Indigenous scholarly contributions. Dr. Michell has captured the intricate webs of knowledge and understanding among the Woodland Cree and presents viable real world suggestions for teachers of science to incorporate these knowledge systems within First Nations schools. Connecting students to who they are and where they come from by developing a deeper understanding of their spiritual connectedness to land in the science classroom will foster their pride in who they are and their own knowledge systems. Incorporating the Elders and traditional knowledge keepers from the community into the curriculum will reintroduce their traditional teacher role that has been lost due to colonization and residential schools. Gaining control of First Nations education was the beginning, making First Nations educational systems reflect First Nations ways of knowing in every subject and every grade should be the hallmark of First Nations controlled education. As Dr. Michell states, “To embrace change, adversity and transformation is the hallmark of survival” and we as Woodland Cree know how to survive.

    Rose Roberts, RN, PhD

    Co-Editor, Radical Human Ecology: Intercultural and Indigenous Approaches
    Clinical Faculty
    College of Medicine
    University of Saskatchewan