Working with Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: A Reader and Guide for Places of Higher Learning

By: Herman J. Michell, PhD


Dr. Herman Michell has produced a practical, easy to follow, reader designed to provide both examples and suggestions so as to allow readers the ability to establish “a starting base from which they can develop their own ways of working with Elders…” (p. ii). By exploring key Indigenous concepts, [i.e., definitions of Indigenous identity in Canada, Indigenous People and Indigenous knowledge; Indigenous worldview; who are Indigenous elders; etc.], Dr. Michell hopes to build cross-cultural bridges. This book is a must read for anyone wishing to quickly obtain an understanding of what underlies Indigenous ways of perceiving.

  • ISBN: 978-0-9811518-4-7
    Price: $23.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 2011
    Rights: World
    Pages: 112
    Size: 6″ x 9″

  • Table of Contents


    1. Definitions of Indigenous Identity in Canada

    2. Indigenous People and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

    3. Indigenous Worldview

    4. Who are Indigenous Elders

    5. Approaching Elders and Accessing Indigenous Knowledge

    6. Working with Elders in Places of Higher Learning

    7. Coming to Understand Indigenous Ceremonies

    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.

  • Interest in the decolonization and Indigenization of today’s social institutions has arisen with a growing awareness of he injustices of colonial forms of education and acknowledgement of the contemporary value of Indigenous knowledge systems. Dr. Michell’s book is an invaluable resource for educators and administrators seeking meaningful and respectful engagement with Elders and knowledge keepers in places of higher learning (and beyond). Through straightforward discussions of Indigenous identity, knowledge, worldview, and ceremony, Dr. Michell provides an outstanding introduction to the complexities of this transformative work. In the spirit of valuing diverse ways of knowing and being, Dr. Michell draws from his unique experience as a culturally grounded Nîhîthaw (Woodlands Cree) man and University Administrator to create important bridges between Indigenous and Euro-Western perspectives. As Cree Elder Rosalyn Ing states in the Forward, “There is ‘pimatisiwin’ (life) in this book.” Indeed, this text is a significant contribution to the collaborative endeavor of creating more equitable and sustainable ways of living for us all

    Jeff Baker

    Assistant Professor & Chair in Aboriginal Education
    College of Education
    University of Saskatchewan

    Canadian universities are beginning to take up the challenge of Indigenization for the purposes of decolonizing higher education. Dr. Herman Michell offers university employees an insightful and practical introduction to some aspects of Indigenization. Working with Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: A Reader and Guide for Places of Higher Learning provides the reader with an opportunity to de-mystify this work. This book is a gift for administrators and faculty alike who are taking those first tentative steps to decolonizing their thinking about our collective work in the academy. Kinanaskomom.

    Shauneen Peet, PhD

    Associate Professor (Aboriginal Education)
    Executive Lead: Ingigenization
    University of Regina

    Herman Michell has had decades of experience working with Indigenous elders in community settings and at post secondary institutions. His publication is a valuable introduction and guide for educators, administrators and others wanting to understand the essentials of Indigenous knowledge and the protocols necessary for establishing proper relationships with elders and traditional knowledge keepers. Working with Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Systems provides practical advice on topics ranging from defining Indigenous identity, explaining Indigenous worldviews, incorporating elders in teaching environments, appropriate use of ceremonies such as smudging and sweat lodges, understanding medicine wheels, dreams and visions, healing, avoiding common pitfalls in incorporating Indigenous knowledge, and more.

    A. Blair Stonechild, PhD

    Professor of Indigenous Studies
    First Nations University of Canada