The Experience of Time
There is an inaccurate assumption among Western societies that Aboriginal cultures are a relic of the past. That the ways of knowing and being are no longer relevant or important; that the cultures are static and have not progressed and evolved over time like other cultures have and do. This, however, is not true. Aboriginal cultures are dynamic, adaptive, and progressive (Kawagley & Barnhardt, 1998). This perspective is problematic in a couple of ways. First, in framing Aboriginal cultures as obsolete, entire groups of people are brushed aside. We lose the value of generations of knowledge and experience by assuming this knowledge and experience is outmoded. Smith (1999) and Kawagley & Barnhardt (1998) examine this issue in relation to research. In disregarding the accumulation of generational knowledge, knowledge that has endured and evolved over time, we are delaying our own advancement and progression. We are reinventing the wheel rather than acknowledging the already existing “wheels” that Aboriginal peoples have developed and studied. Second, in denying that Aboriginal cultures are contemporary, primitive and romanticized notions of indigenous peoples are perpetrated (Prins, 2002). These notions support existing stereotypes and are detrimental to the progress of accurate portrayal and representation. If one is to examine dated Aboriginal ways of being and knowing, it should be in comparison to the development of other cultures during the same time period; not in comparison to contemporary cultures.