Indigenous sciences are foundationally based in relationships, reciprocity, and responsibilities. These sciences constitute systems of knowledge developed through distinct perspectives on and practices of knowledge creation and decision-making that not only have the right to be pursued on their own terms but may also be vital in solving critical twenty-first-century challenges. “Science” is often treated as if it were a single entity, free of cultural influences and value-neutral in principle. Western science is often seen as instantiating and equivalent to this idealized, yet problematic, view of science. We argue for engagement with multiple perspectives on science in general, and increased engagement with Indigenous sciences in particular. As scholars focused on human learning and development, we share empirical examples of how Indigenous sciences, sometimes in partnership with Western science, have led to new discoveries and insights into human learning and development.
For many years, wildlife biologists who observed coyotes and badgers hunting in the same area hypothesized that they were competing for game and speculated that badgers would follow coyotes in hopes of snatching their prey. After further observation, the biologists realized that badgers and coyotes often hunt cooperatively and that this in fact makes them more successful. The logics in these studies mirrored reasoning patterns within some Indigenous communities: that is, Indigenous peoples often focus on and inquire about reciprocal relationships between entities. It is possible, therefore, that different cultural orientations may facilitate different insights into badger and coyote behavior. To further test this insight and place these findings in a cultural context, we removed all the text from a children’s book on coyote/badger hunting, asked U.S. college students and Indigenous Panamanian Ngöbe adults to look at the book’s illustrations, and listened to what they thought the book depicted. U.S. college students interpreted the story . . .