Tapestry Institute weaves Indigenous Knowledge to life through activities and publications that use Indigenous ways of knowing, learning about, and responding to the natural world.
Tapestry Institute is an Indigenous-led research and education organization working to advance Indigenous knowledge (IK). We focus on Indigenous ways of knowing (epistemic systems) because many of the serious problems the world faces are rooted in Western culture’s restricted view that only intellectual ways of knowing are valid. Knowledge acquired through, and communicated by, Indigenous art, ceremony, music, experience, story, intuition, dream, interaction with living relations and the Land, and with seen and unseen spiritual entities are all severely marginalized by Western culture’s colonialist insistence that only intellectual ways of knowing provide information about reality.
Tapestry’s small staff of professionals carries out high-level IK research in close collaboration with a contract network of Indigenous academics, Elders, artists, filmmakers, storytellers, and healers to accomplish group goals. We publish results of our work in print media and in our series of Occasional Papers. Such research serves Indigenous people, Indigenous Knowledge, and also the Land that is the engine powering everything we do and are as an organization.
At the same time, most people in the dominant culture don’t understand Indigenous Knowledge or why it’s important. Many scientists, administrators, environmentalists, political leaders, and members of the public who are deeply sympathetic to Indigenous peoples and want to be allies can’t quite perceive the reality we speak of. This is a vitally important gap to bridge because restricting the kinds of knowledge and learning that “count as real” in decision-making processes threatens the whole world’s life and health, as well as the health and well-being of every individual. Tapestry has worked for more than 20 years to bridge this gap with educational materials that help create interstitial space between Indigenous and Western Ways of Knowing. We believe that serving people of the dominant culture who sense there are important ways of understanding the earth through Indigenous worldview they don’t yet understand also serves the Land.
Our work focuses in these areas at the present time:
- We are developing the IKhana Fund to provide financial support via grants to Indigenous individuals working to advance IK in specific ways, through specific projects.
- Indigenizing Environmental Law infuses the Western concept of Environmental Law with Indigenous Knowledge to create a new and powerful way of protecting the living world.
- Yakni i Chukash, Heart of the Earth Center for Advancing Indigenous Knowledge, seeks to facilitate collaborative interactions of relationship and reciprocity between our Land partner and Indigenous people of many different nations. As part of this work, Yakni i Chukash is a place of healing and restorative Ceremony.
- Tapestry’s publications include online pages about Indigenous Knowledge and Ways of Knowing and Learning, and our blog of writings, photographs, and videos. We also publish a series of Occasional Papers and other original scholarship.
Whoever you are, and whatever brought you to our site, we’re very glad you’ve come!
Ish vla ka achukma! (Welcome!)
Tapestry Institute acknowledges that the land where we work and live is part of the traditional homeLands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota nations. This acknowledgement appears in the footer of every page on our website.
— The photograph on this page was taken in the Pine Ridge area of northwestern Nebraska by Jo Belasco, Esq., Tapestry’s co-president. © 2019 Jo Belasco. All rights reserved.
— The recording of the welcome in Choctaw was very kindly made for us by Dora Wickson, an Elder in the Language Program of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.