Five centuries after the first arrival of European settlers in what they called the Americas, indigenous peoples and ways of knowing continue to be largely represented and reified by Western scholars and epistemologies. We argue here that, even within Qualitative Inquiry and its critical paradigms and theories, indigenous bodies and narratives continue to be relatively scarce as our interpretive communities attempt to advance decolonizing knowledge production, pedagogy, and praxis. In this article, we argue that this persistent segregation is related to an academic structure that continues to privilege Western paradigms (e.g., theoretical sophistication over visceral knowledge of oppression) and ways of knowing (e.g., reductionist binary definitions of indigeneity still too obsessed with authenticity). The center-piece of our article and critique is an email exchange between the authors about ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues of indigenous qualitative inquiry over the period of one year. We attempt to use our exchange as an instantiation—a textual, intellectual, and emotional performance—of ontological questions on indigenous qualitative inquiry: Who is indigenous? Are there common grounds among indigenous peoples of the earth? And if so, can we find more effective ways to gather in these common grounds in the 21st century? We conclude by offering our own suggestions toward decolonizing imaginations and praxis.
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