An Indigenous Approach to Learning

Relearning the Land: A Story of Red Crow College

Enlivened Learning Project (2015)

Film Review

Relearning the Land is the first in a series of documentaries exploring various alternative universities Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, the USA, UK and Costa Rica. The Enlivened Learning Project maintains that modern university education is in deep crisis. Increasingly profit-driven and competitive, they tend to serve the interests of the global elite at the expense of society as a whole. Because they tend to alienate students from nature, community and one another, they are ill-equipped to prepare young people to address the urgent global economic and ecological crises we presently face.

This first film focuses on Red Crow Community College on the Kaina Reserve (part of the Blackfoot Confederation) in Southern Alberta. Founded in 196, the community college offers two year degrees in arts, science, nursing and Kaina Studies and is open to non-Blackfoot students. In addition to offering classes in Blackfoot language and First Nations history, Kaina studies offers classes in Blackfoot ecological knowledge, handed down from ancestors trained to look after the beaver bundle. A beaver bundle is knowledge of how to survive that plants and animals gift to human beings.

In the Blackfoot world view, human beings are the baby species and must learn from older species how to adapt and fit in. The European settlers erroneously believed their culture and technology was superior to that of First Nations people, which is why they tried to destroy their culture and technology by kidnapping their kids and forcing them to attend residential schools.

For the most part, first Nations technology, geared towards adaptation and survival was far superior to that of the Europeans. Left unchecked, European ignorance and arrogance is on track to destroy the entire human species.

Update: Sadly Red Crow College was burned down by an arsonist in August 2015 and the Blood Tribe is seeking donations to help rebuild it.