Waponahki Intellectual Tradition of Weaving Educational Policy

  • Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson University of Alberta

Abstract

This article describes an articulation of a Waponahki intellectual tradition from the experience of a Waponahki woman attempting to position Indigenous knowledge systems in the academy. The author shows how the Waponahki intellectual tradition of weaving baskets can serve as a theoretical framework and foundation for understanding Waponahki policymaking and research. The article reports on a new law implemented in 2004 in the State of Maine that mandates the teaching of Waponahki history and culture in kindergarten through grade 12 and how teacher education programs are being developed to prepare teachers to comply with the legislation. The vision of policy direction resides in the minds of the policymaker and the community for which and with which he or she works. Like policy development, the blueprints of design for the basketry are constructed in the mind of the basketmaker; both work toward the future and continued survival of the Waponahki people. Policy development and basketmaking are more than writing texts or weaving strips of wood: both rely heavily on experience, connection to the people, and knowledge of who we are. Our basketry is intrinsic to our culture, rooted in our creation story; similarly, our policy development is critical to our decolonization and survival. The article calls for Indigenous peoples to revitalize, preserve, recognize, or even uncover their own Indigenous intellectual traditions with the vision of expanding knowledge systems.

Author Biography

Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson, University of Alberta
Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson is of the Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, Maine of the Waponahki Confederacy of Maine and the Maritimes. She received her master’s in education from Harvard University. She is the eighth child of the Elizabeth Sockbeson clan, the aunt of over 30 Waponahki and Stoney youth, and the mother of three children and wife of the Reg Cardinal family from the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation, Alberta. Rebecca is a doctoral candidate in the Indigenous Peoples Education program, Department of Educational Policy Studies.