Choosing Border Work

Canadian Journal of Native Education, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1992

Assuming that research, the creation of knowledge, influences local power and authority and may in fact contribute to changing power relationships between First Nations and non-First Nations peoples and institutions, is it a paradox for a non-Native researcher to enter a social arena - a Native education centre dedicated to Indian control of Indian education - and to profess to contribute to the struggle for control, through research? In a retrospective on just such a research project, Haig-Brown conceptualizes her place in the struggle for Indian control as being on a border that demarcates a wider struggle related to land and to a First Nations definition of people's relationship to land. A subsidiary struggle is for recognition of the legitimacy of First Nations' conceptual ordering of research priorities and of First Nations voice in the articulation of research findings. Haig-Brown reviews the detail of research design, entry into the research "field," the nature of an ethnographer's relationships with the people who provide information, and the choosing of strategies for making generalizations and for reporting the experience. Those discussions are tangential border positions for a triangulated focus on questions about the legitimacy and adequacy of ethnographic research in such a situation.

Celia Haig-Brown ~ Last updated: 03-Feb-2005