Effects of Indigenous Epistemology on Indigenous Secondary Retention Rates
AbstractThis article presents the findings of a qualitative study that examines how Indigenous epistemology affects secondary Indigenous students’ retention rates within public schools. The purpose of this study was to focus on Indigenous epistemology that is present in Indigenous culture and language courses to determine whether Indigenous students who engage in this curriculum have higher success rates than those of Indigenous students who do not participate in this particular curriculum. As a Blackfoot scholar, I used a Blackfoot theoretical framework grounded in an Indigenous research methodology. Eight Blood Tribe members were interviewed: four participants (three graduates and one non-graduate) who attended a high school with Indigenous epistemology courses (offered Blackfoot language classes and Aboriginal Studies) and four participants (three graduates and one non-graduate) who attended a high school that did not offer Indigenous epistemology courses (did not offer Blackfoot language classes and Aboriginal Studies). The findings show that not only does the epistemology in the school play a role in Indigenous students’ success in public education, but the epistemology also accompanies and influences the participants throughout their adult lives by shaping their identities and affecting how they function as adults.