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Land Education  

Austin R. Cruz

Land education from an Indigenous perspective can be understood as the learning of deep social, political, ethical, and spiritual relationships on and with land. By extension, the approach of land-as-pedagogy applies the understanding that the primary and ultimate teacher is the very land itself. Land education offers scholars and students a nuanced, culturally responsive, and responsible critique of the notion of place and field of place-based education, particularly with regard to historically minoritized students and communities such as Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Building from Indigenous scholarship and drawing connections between global examples of Indigenous relationships to land, the educational implications of land education and land-as-pedagogy compel everyone involved in enacting curricula and pedagogy to center such ideas into all learning irrespective of academic “subject” or discipline. By acknowledging where events, relationships, experiences, and understanding happen, communities and learners are afforded the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm the ontological and epistemological basis that all knowledge is contextualized and that contextualization starts with/in land. Examples of the positive educational outcomes of such curricular, pedagogical, administrative, and educational policy change around land include the affirmation and strengthening of Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, self-determination, and self-education, as well as the larger enculturation of non-Indigenous learners to more applied, reflexive, and explicit alliances and interdependencies with land and other communities. Repositioning land education and land-as-pedagogy from a marginal to central place within formal and informal education initiates the logical consequence and responsibility of such pedagogy: the complex, ethical, and historically informed process of Indigenous land repatriation.