Land-Based Education: Embracing the Rhythms of the Earth From an Indigenous Perspective

By: Herman J. Michell, PhD


Land-based education is in demand within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Within this book Dr. Michell introduces basic elements of land-based education from an Indigenous perspective. Herman discusses four curriculum orientations (Positivist, Constructivist, Critical, and Post-Modern) that are connected to environment-related education so that educators have a springboard from which to ground their practice. Two Indigenous land-based educators, one male and one female, share their experiences and insights. Dr. Michell then discusses Land-based Education in terms of the Woodlands Cree Seasonal Cycle.

Foreword by Dr. Rose Roberts. Reviews by: Dr.’s Michael Hankard, Michelle M. Hogue, and Priscilla Settee

  • ISBN: 978-1-926476-19-3
    Price: $23.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 2018
    Rights: World
    Pages: 113
    Size: 6″ x 9″

  • Table of Contents

    Table of Contents

    FOREWORD by Rose Roberts, PhD

    The Woodlands Cree
    The Land
    The People
    The Culture
    The Language

    Land-based Education: Incorporating Cree Knowledge
    Cree Worldview
    Cree Epistemology
    Community Involvement
    Elder Involvement
    Youth Involvement
    Experiential Approach
    Multi-subject Approach
    Woodlands Cree Culture and Calendar Cycle
    Woodlands Cree Social and Historical Realities

    Indigenous Teaching Strategies

    Environment-related Education Theory and Practice
    The Positivist Orientation
    The Constructivist Orientation
    The Critical Orientation
    The Post-modern Orientation

    Stories of Land-based Education
    Story of Morris Cook
    Story of Hilma Clarke

    Land-based Education and Woodlands Cree Seasonal Cycle
    Six Seasons of the Woodlands Cree
    Spring – Sekwun… 72
    Break Up – Mithoskumin
    Summer – Nepin
    Autumn – Tukwakan
    Freeze Up – Mikiskaw
    Winter – Pipon

    Conclusion and Summary Remarks

    Appendix 1
    Appendix 2


  • Herman J. Michell, PhD

    Herman J. Michell, PhD is originally from the small fishing/trapping community of Kinoosao, on the eastern shores of Reindeer Lake in northern Saskatchewan. He speaks fluent Woodlands Cree (‘th’ dialect) and has Inuit, Dene and Swedish heritage.Dr. Michell has been involved in Aboriginal education in different capacities
since the 1990s. He is a published author. He served as President & CEO of NORTEP-NORPAC for 5 years, a post-secondary organization in northern Saskatchewan. He was a tenured Associate Professor at First Nations University of Canada where he taught undergraduate courses in Indigenous Health Studies, Education and Environment. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Michell sat on the Board of Governors as a faculty representative for 7 years. Dr. Michell has over 10 years of post-secondary administration experience. He served as Vice-President Academic at First Nations University of Canada where he was in charge of 12 departments. He also completed a four year term as Department Head of Science. Dr. Michell is a trained university counselor and has several years of experience working with Aboriginal students. He regularly visits schools and communities promoting science-related professions. Dr. Michell has made numerous presentations on bridging Western Science and Indigenous Ways of Knowing in pre-service teacher programs.

  • Land-Based Education: Embracing the Rhythms of the Earth From an Indigenous Perspective is a tribute to First Nations cultural resiliency. It draws from Cree oral tradition, describing the Indigenous connection to the land, and discusses how land-based education transforms the learning experience. By describing the contribution of Cree traditional knowledge, beliefs and understandings to land-based education, it represents the return to traditional forms of experiential Indigenous learning that are currently undergoing a revival. It also highlights theoretical, practical and traditional perspectives that returning to land-based learning have to share with us. The book illustrates the transformation taking place within Indigenous education from one of classroom learning, to one rooted in traditional teachings, knowledge and understandings. I know from experience that land-based learning is often a life changing experience for students. They discover their own place in the natural environment, which is transformative in itself, but more importantly leave with a positive understanding that reverberates to their families and communities long after leaving our natural ‘classroom.’ This book should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the importance of learning from the natural world.

    Michael Hankard, PhD

    Associate Professor/Chair
    Department of Indigenous Studies
    University of Sudbury

    Herman Michell once again bridges cultures between Indigenous and Western ways of coming to know, this time enabling the reader to see the land as both teacher and classroom. In his latest book, Land-Based Education: Embracing the Rhythms of the Earth From an Indigenous Perspective, Michell weaves traditional Cree knowledge and practice with Western theory and methodological approaches and invites educators to think creatively about their curriculum and how they might move out of the classroom to the land. Using his own narrative experience and sharing traditional stories and knowledge, Michell illustrates how Cree ways of learning from and on the land are embedded with stewardship, relationship and responsibility to the land and all gifts of the Creator. Land-based education is a critically important call to action in response to our current global environmental crisis, the result of the cumulative effects and impact of unfettered and unchecked Western science. Through narrative and reflection, and using Cree ways of learning from the land as a culturally relevant framework, Michell illustrates how educators can use their own knowledge and experience to think creatively outside the traditional pedagogical, ontological and methodological practice of Euro-Western education and engage all learners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in this call to action in ways that attend to 21st Century learning.

    Michelle M. Hogue, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Coordinator First Nations' Transition Program
    University of Lethbridge

    This is an informative and insightful book based on Michell’s rich culture and experiences as a child growing up in the beautiful lands of northern Saskatchewan. Dr. Michell has gained vast knowledge by listening to the stories of elders, fellow teachers and other land based experts. In turn he explains the important values that continue to keep communities intact despite the colonial impacts of residential schools and other impositions of cultural imperialism. This book is a valuable source for educators and teaches important lessons and methodologies. it includes using Cree concepts and language to expand our important notions of education to learn from Indigenous greatest teachers, the land. Thanks Herman for continuing to remind us of our rich heritage and roots and its importance for future generations.

    Priscilla Settee, PhD

    Department of Indigenous Studies
    Women and Gender Studies Program
    University of Saskatchewan