Land as Teacher

The worldview of Indigenous peoples is deeply connected to land. Land and place are seen as multidimensional and a source of knowledge including rich and precise knowledge of local ecosystems. Land is much more than a physical marker, a geographical location, or a landscape. Land and place encompass spiritual and emotional sensibilities.  “All my elders say that it is land that holds all knowledge of life and death and is a constant teacher” (Armstrong, 1998). Indigenous identity and livelihood are intimately connected to land. Indigenous ways of knowing include the belief that all things are related and rooted in reciprocity, relationship, respect, responsibility, and science (Traditional Ecological Knowledge). As educators, we can learn to value and respect time-honoured cultural connections to land through learning about language, story, experience, and law. When we take children to the land we learn together to connect to ourselves, others, and place.

What does Land based learning look like from an Indigenous perspective?

Indigenous Peoples believe Land is sentient and is treated as sacred being. Simpson (2014) describes the intimate and consensual reciprocal relationality that is developed through ceremony to be in a space to learn from the Land.


Post Author, Jesse Halton

Video created for EDUC 440 Aboriginal Education in Canada, Rural and Remote Teacher Education program, UBC

With thanks to contributors including the Indigenous Education Circle, Jesse Halton, Bonny-Lynn Donovan, Megan Read, and Denise Flick.


Armstrong, J. C. (1998). Land speaking. In S. J. Ortiz (Ed.), Speaking for the generations: Native writers on writing (pp. 174-194). University of Arizona Press.

Simpson, L. B. (2014). Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 3(3).

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.