Sandi’s Book: Teaching Indigenous Concepts of

“Clean Work” to Western Business Thought




Change Theory: A set of hypotheses that addresses organizational, social, structural, and human behaviours and actions, associated with the difference between current and antecedent conditions.


Colonial Discourse: A term introduced by Edward Said as a notion of discourse, which describes the system and range of practices termed colonial or having to do with taking over lands and people. It builds upon Foucault’s definition for discourse as a system of statements within which the world can be known.


Community: A hypothetical representation of groups, organizations, and communities I have participated with in research and community economic development initiatives.


Community Inputs: The narratives, historical and contemporary documents located in the community and the resources available to the case study members, in order to fully participate in this study.


Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS): A model that engages in dialectic exchange between the whole and the parts, in a cyclical fashion that is dynamic and interconnected (Olsen and Eoyang, 2001). The model is characterized by three elements:


1.   a self-organizing system, contained through physical, environmental, or conceptual boundaries;

2.   patterns that emerge during the self-organizing process, which reflect and reinforce system-wide patterns, defined as significant differences, such as power, areas of knowledge and experience;

3.   transforming exchanges through connections, relationships, and factors, known as system agents, which work to organize, adapt, and transform specific parts of the whole system.


         Complex Adaptive System (CAS) is the merger of many autonomous parts; CAS is able to respond to external changes and form self-maintaining systems with internal feedback paths. The essence of CAS is they self-organize to optimize function and provide over-constrained system benefits through more freedom and choice, random or otherwise, proving to be more successful. Conversely, an over-free system will benefit from changes that add stability. Such systems are well placed to explore new niches, to search their fitness landscape, changing their composition to fit the changing patterns they encounter. This adaptation internalizes environmental information; the system generates a model of the world outside, a distributed set of rules corresponding to the interesting or valuable aspects of their context. Machines based on these concepts act like living cells. Companies transform from static cold-blooded dinosaurs into dynamic warm-blooded organisms. Societies evolve into diverse ecosystems, infused with freedom and creation.


Concepts: A bundle of meanings or characteristics associated with certain events, objects, conditions, situations, and the like. The challenge is to develop concepts that others will clearly understand; therefore we narrow the concept by specifying common easily understood concepts such as time.


Embodied Wholeness: A concept linking Ceremonial and Traditional Teachings to everyday practices. Ceremonies, stories, and teachings shared within the community translate original wisdom into everyday practices for individuals, family, and community. The concept establishes a wholistic expression located within a spirit-based expression of economic theory.


Ethical Space: The term was introduced by Roger Poole in his text Toward Deep Subjectivity. Catherine Hoppers has summarized Poole’s term as “the tension riddled enterprise of cultural border crossing. It is a space where a precarious and fragile window of opportunity exists for critical conversations about race, gender, class, freedom, and community. It is a space with a moment of possibility to create substantial, sustained, and ethical moral understanding between cultures”. Indigenous scholars Willie Ermine and Marlene Brant Castellano have used the term to express “a statement of recognition of cultural jurisdictions at play in which dialogue about intentions, values, and assumptions can be brought out and negotiated. The space imperatives would include:


1.     Two-way bridge of awareness building and understanding;

2.     No preconceived notions of the other’s existence;

3.     Values, motivation, and assumptions are brought to bear;

4.     Dialogue on issues of knowledge, ownership, control, and benefit (Ermine and Castellano 2004, cited by Hopper, 2007:11).


Eurocentrism (eurocentric worldview): The conscious or unconscious process by which Europe and European cultural assumptions are constructed as, or assumed to be, the normal, the natural, or the universal.


First Nations Wholistic Health Model: A proposed framework announced by the Assembly of First Nations, July 2005, as a means to conceptualize the economic, social, cultural, physical, and environmental complexities influencing a wholistic perspective of health (


Globalization: The process whereby individual lives and local communities are affected by economic and cultural forces, which operate world-wide.


Hermeneutics: A process by which “understanding text requires uncovering values and norms embedded in the surrounding community's language” (Burnett, Dickey, Kazmer, and Chudoba, 2003:2). These applications operate from an objective that participants understand their environment, and function together to disseminate knowledge and build group cohesion (Orr, 1990).


Hooks: The method of isolating themes, not as objects or generalizations but as hooks or knots in the webs of our experiences, around which certain lived experiences are spun and thus lived through as meaningful wholes.


Humanistic Eco-dynamics: A form of integrative research that links socio-economic theory and human behaviour. For this study, humanistic eco-dynamics represents a wholistic approach to understanding the dimensions of work and workplace practices, integrated by an indigenous knowledge framework.


Indigenous:  Ways of knowing and being that, through held memories, include the community, its language, communication, history, life experience, wisdom and more. The terms indigenous and aboriginal are interchangeable in this paper. As well, the terms non-indigenous and eurocentric are interchangeable. In many incidents the choice to use one term over the other was directed by literature or conversational sources that referenced a specific term.


Indigenous Knowledge: For this work, indigenous knowledge is defined based on a definition quoted by Thomas Maracle, February 5, 2001, cited in March 16, 2001 discussion paper for the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO).


Knowledge is a community resource. It defines and drives the community. It’s interconnected, it’s multifaceted and multidimensional, it’s revered, and it’s language, communication and history. It’s collective memory. It’s captured and maintained for future generations. It’s a reflection of life experience. It’s acquired listening and being empathetic. It’s wisdom, strength, and leadership. It’s a strategic resource. It’s the power of a good mind. It’s imperfect. It’s a gift bestowed by the Creator.


Interloping: The practice of acting as “critical organic catalyst”, to apply a range of strategies and tactics that infiltrate dominant power relations and institutions.


Is Your Work Clean? : The question posed by Peter O’Chiese, introduced to me by Michael Thrasher (Cree), while discussing my research proposal. Michael explained that Peter described the concept of one’s work being clean through several levels of being, knowing, and doing. Our awareness of this concept requires a commitment to our essential relationships with all creation through our day-to-day experiences, and responsibilities to the past and the future, based upon traditional and ceremonial knowledge. The question situates the researcher within a personal conscientiousness and principles of responsibility toward how indigenous knowledge is represented, filtered down, passed along, or held intact, while operating within a contemporary context.


Lived Experiences: The events and interpretations of a participant’s life and the relevance of these events and interpretations to the exploration of the research agenda, focusing on both how the participants recall these events and interpretations, and the influence of their understanding and actions on the whole community.


Livelihoods: The methods applied by individuals, groups, and society to create sustainable economic, social, and individual growth and actualization.


Local Knowledge: The development of models of indigenous knowledge that  articulate a system characterized by existing and developing knowledge and technologies retained and acquired by populations indigenous to a particular geographic (Grenier, 1998).


Mainstream Approaches: The tools and techniques that promote and sustain prevalent attitudes, values and practices of work and workplace theory and are currently dominated by non-aboriginal social and economic thought.


Medicine Wheel: A model of indigenous knowledge and ontology. The Medicine Wheel references provided here stem from various knowledge resources and scholars who share their understanding of the Medicine Wheel. The reference to the 28 Teachings of the Medicine Wheel was based on my personal introduction to these teachings as part of guided cultural lessons between 2002 and 2003, conducted by knowledge keepers from Brantford, at the Woodland Cultural Centre. The 28 Teachings of the Medicine Wheel was also shared by language teachers, who participated in the cultural programs.


Model: The representation of a system constructed to study some aspect of that system or the system as a whole whose role is representation and future predictions. Models cited, such as the Medicine Wheel and the Two Row Wampum, represent knowledge located in traditional teachings and are examples of a system that carries depth and breadth of narratives, historical and future oriented.


Praxis: The process of putting theoretical knowledge into practice.


Propositional Knowledge: Knowledge that is research based and develops theories to explain phenomena and predict outcomes. For this study, propositional knowledge involves the declaration statements of the participants, in terms of their understanding, regarding the concept of doing as captured and articulated through the DACUM process. The nature of the DACUM process differentiates propositional from procedural knowledge (know-how), because the outcome results in a shared belief and knowledge framework, which the community acknowledges as authentic and relevant to their experiences.


Reciprocity: A relationship or exchange between two parties based upon mutual action, influence, privileges, and outcomes.


Social Economic: The relationship between the social institutions and the economy.


Sustainable Development: A program used to change the process of economic development so it ensures a basic quality of life for all people, and protects the ecosystems and community systems that make life possible and worthwhile (ICLEI et al.. 1996, cited by Mark Roseland, 1998:3).


System Integration: The interaction of economic relations and structures of power, and the reproduced practices that arise and create processes from the interrelation of institutions, groups and collectivities. The processes tend to occur without direct involvement of individuals.


System Theory or General Systems Theory: An interdisciplinary field founded by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, William Ross Ashby, and others between the 1940s and 1970s with regard to physics, biology, and engineering. The terminology expanded into philosophy, sociology, and organizational theory, which later applied the term to management, economics, and social systems therapy as a means to study systems as a whole. Systems theory addresses complex and interdependent perspectives, such as human relations to society, in terms of work, community development, and livelihoods. (Retrieved from


Teachings: Knowledge transmitted within a community, through ceremony, narratives, or local knowledge keepers. In specific incidents, this document references the Teachings of the Medicine Wheel or a specific direction of the Medicine Wheel. Within this context, the term Lesson is used to express individual teachings associated with one of the 28 elements of the Medicine Wheel, or to provide a distinction between the Teachings of the Medicine Wheel and the specific direction, if the two teachings occupied the same sentence or paragraph.


Theory: The generalizations we make about variables and the relationship among them. Its role is explanation.


Tin Can Bear Fat: An analogy for situating traditional practices, such as harvesting fish, within a contemporary context, as represented by the tin can. The language of tin can bear fat represents the lived experiences shaping an indigenous research method of inquiry. The experience fits an indigenous worldview, in which a new angler (researcher) works with elders and community knowledge keepers who have harvested the waters before her. The methodology serves as a contrast to hermeneutics and phenomenology, which originated and reside in a eurocentric worldview in terms of the language associated with these inquiries, since tin can bear fat utilizes oral traditions and narratives as text.


Toolkit: Integrated resources, utilities, techniques, and approaches that support the development and application of the tin can bear fat methodology.


Traditional Knowledge: The knowledge and beliefs held by a community and transmitted through culture, stories, and practices through generations about their relationship with one another, their environment, and all living things.


Traditional Protocols: The behaviours, practices, and ethics applied, which are appropriate to the community and the community’s traditions. The protocols guide interactions between: 1) the researcher and the community, 2) the community and the knowledge keepers, and 3) the case study participants and the broader community.


Two-Row-Wampum: Community knowledge and text captured in formats that differ from text, for example, without words. This particular wampum narrates an agreement between the Haudenoshaunee people and Dutch nation, established in the 1600s.


Wade In (or Wading In): Similar to and another option to Edward Said’s concept to voyage in (1993:261, also cited in Ashcroft, 2001:48) or Ashcroft’s analogy of verandas, which are not in or outside of a house but somewhere in transition (Ashcroft, 2001:194). As a tactic, it utilizes traditional teachings and stories to inform actions as a means for indigenous knowledge to act as critical organic catalyst, to interlope mainstream practices, and to carve out ethical space. It builds upon the angler analogy of tin can bear fat analysis as a means to explore the terrain of the research.


Western Thinking: For this study, the philosophical thinking associated with a definition of the western world that includes Europe and the Americas, and involves a perspective of aboriginal people’s ways of knowing and being as non-western, which is likely to contribute to contrary and bi-polar discourse regarding western or eurocentric and aboriginal thought.

Continue to Bibliography


Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-4 Chapters 5-6 Terms
Chapters 7-8 Chapters 9-10 Glossary Sandi's Book - Introduction
Bibliography Appendix Afterword  



© 2020 M Louise Ripley