Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education

By: Gregory Cajete, PhD


This book explores the nature of indigenous education, outlining key elements of American Indian perspectives on learning and teaching. It advocates developing a contemporary, culturally based, educational process founded upon traditional tribal values, orientations, and principles, while simultaneously using the most appropriate concepts, technologies, and content of modern education. Environmental relationship, myth, visionary traditions, traditional arts, tribal community, and nature-centered spirituality have traditionally formed the foundations of American Indian life for discovering one’s true face (character, potential, identity), one’s heart (soul, creative self, true passion), and one’s foundation (true work, vocation), all of which lead to the expression of a complete life. Indigenous education is a process of education grounded in the basics of human nature. It can provide new ways of educating for ecological thinking and environmental sustainability, and has the potential, not only for the transformation of what is misnamed “Indian education,” but also for profound applications toward transforming modern American education. Chapters explore the spiritual, environmental, mythic, visionary, artistic, affective, and communal foundations of indigenous education. A final chapter discusses ethnoscience, and relates seven core courses for an indigenous science curriculum to the seven cardinal directions honored by all indigenous peoples. An appendix lists 24 principles applicable to the holistic presentation of any content to any age level. Contains 119 references.

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  • ISBN: 978-1-882308-65-1
    Price: $40.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 1994
    Rights: Canada
    Pages: 244
    Size: 6″ x 9″

  • Table of Contents

    Preface: About Parameters and Process

    I. Introduction: Modern Education from Tribal Process
    II. Finding Face, Finding Heart, and Finding Foundation – An Overview of Traditional Indigenous Education
    III. For Life’s Sake – The Spiritual Ecology of American Indian Education
    IV. Singing Waters – The Environmental Foundation of Indigenous Education
    V. Living Our Myths – The Mythic Foundation of American Indian Education
    VI. Seeing the Voices of Our Heart – The Visionary/Artistic Foundation of American Indian Education
    VII. We Are All Related – The Affective/Communal Foundation of American Indian Education
    VIII. Living the Vision – Indigenous Education for a Twenty-First Century World
    IX. Final Thoughts – Indigenous Education and its Role in Individual Transformation

    Appendix: An Outline of Perspectives on Indigenous Teaching and Learning
    Notes to the Text

  • Gregory Cajete, PhD

    Gregory Cajete, PhD is an educator, practicing artist, and educational consultant. He is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife Patricia and son, James. Dr. Cajete has taught extensively at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where he was the founding Director of the Centre for Research and Cultural Exchange. Additionally, he has lectured widely in schools, universities, and for educational programs throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Currently, Dr. Cajete is an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico, and is also Director of Native American Studies at UNM. He also operates a private educational consulting firm, Tewa Educational Consulting, specializing in environmental education and multicultural curriculum/program development in science, social sciences, and the arts.

  • Look To The Mountain should be considered essential reading for every person concerned about the ecological consequences of modern approaches to education.

    C.A. Bowers
    Portland State University
    Author of "Education, Cultural Myths, and the Ecological Crisis: Toward Deep Changes"

    ...a new, creative and sophisticated effort to build intellectual bridges between two entirely different systems of knowing the world...the first major work by an American Indian scholar to systematically work through the tangent points that exist between Indian and non-Indian understandings of education.

    Vine Deloria, Jr.
    Author of "God is Red"

    ...an important contribution to the body of indigenous cultural knowledge and a way to secure its continuance

    Simon Ortiz
    Acoma poet and scholar

    Greg Cajete shows us how authentic education has its roots in place, specifically in the particular place we come to call home

    Dolores LaChapelle
    Author of "Sacred Land, Sacred Sex: Rapture of the Deep:

    Look To The Mountain, rooted as it is in Native traditions and folklore, will be read and easily understood by American Indians...Dr. Cajete builds his approach on the basic need for an indigenous form of education that supplements and could...substitute for the less compatible linear European forms

    Edward T. Hall
    Author of "The Silent Language: Beyond Culture" and "The Dance of Time"