First written about by Maori scholar Graham Hingangaroa Smith in 1990, the Indigenous scholarship movement grew from a research approach called Kaupapa Maori Research. Applied within his home discipline of Education, Smith’s work set the foundation for an Indigenous research agenda, from which various theoretical and methodological approaches have since been adopted to do research within a culturally safe framework and with a greater goal of decolonizing the academy. Broadly speaking, the purpose of “decolonizing the academy” is to legitimize the knowledges of Indigenous peoples, to create a meaningful space for Indigenous peoples in the academic environment, and to carve space for Indigenous participation in research.
The Indigenous scholarship movement is important for many reasons – but perhaps the most fundamental remains its overall objective of enabling Indigenous self-determination, whereby Indigenous communities gain power, autonomy and voice over their own lives and communities through active and meaningful participation in education and research. On the global stage, the emergence of Indigenous scholarship has been fostered through the growing presence of Indigenous scholars in academic institutions, and also through the innovation and persistence of Indigenous communities themselves to undertake research about their daily lives, realities and challenges.