“You’ve Heard It Now:” Traveling Through Stories While Teaching Indigenous Studies at a Polytechnic University in California’s Central Coast


  • Elvira Pulitano




This essay makes the argument for the use of stories in the classroom as a pedagogical tool to help students decolonize some of the Eurocentric tenets of Western education and open up to differing epistemological orientations. Using Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories (2003), I argue that King’s predicament about storytelling, including the social and moral responsibilities that come with it, intersects with Walter Mignolo’s notion of “border thinking” and his overall theorization on decolonialialism. Using my experience of teaching Native American Studies in a California “Polytechnic” State University, against a campus demographic that remains predominantly white, I offer, at the end of my discussion, an example of a successful program that holds great promises for a future characterized by a shift toward that polycentric education increasingly (re)claimed by scholars in the global south.  


Adichie, Ngozi Chimamanda. “The Danger of a Single Story.” Ted Global, 2009. Web. https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story. Last visited April 15, 2017.
Brave NoiseCat, Julian. “Standing Rock is Burning, but Our Resistance isn’t Over.” The Guardian 23 February 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/23/standing-rock-burning-dakota-access. Last visited February 25, 2017.
De Sousa Santos, Boaventura, ed. Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies. London: Verso, 2007.
De Sousa Santos, Boaventura, João Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Menese. “Introduction: Opening Up the Canon of Knowledge and Recognizing Difference.” Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies. Ed. Boaventura De Sousa Santos. London: Verso, 2007. xix-lxi.
“Cal Poly Academic Affairs.” http://www.academicaffairs.calpoly.edu/. Last visited March 28, 2017.
“Cal Poly Faculty Handbook - The University.” http://www.academic-personnel.calpoly.edu/content/handbook/university. Last visited February 11, 2017.
“Cal Poly Report, Sept. 28, 2016.” http://www.calpolynews.calpoly.edu/cpreport/16-reports/sep-28.html. Last visited March 1, 2017.
Cal Poly View. “Characteristics of Students Enrollment at Cal Poly, Fall 2016.” http://content-calpoly-edu.s3.amazonaws.com/ir/1/images/Fall%202016%20PolyView_2.pdf. Last visited March 1, 2017.
“The Closing of the Intercultural University ‘Amawtay Wasi’ in Ecuador.” UNPFII Network. 19 December 2013. http://unpfip.blogspot.it/2013/12/the-closing-of-intercultural-university.html. Last visited March1, 2017.
“From Ethnic Studies to the World.”http://ethnicstudies.calpoly.edu/alumni. Last visited March 28, 2017.
“Haudenosaunee Confederacy - Culture.” http://www.haudenosauneeconfederacy.com/culture.htm. Last visited February 10, 2017.
Kimmerer, R. W. “Weaving Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Biological Education: A Call to Action.” BioScience 53.5 (2002): 432-38.
King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
Mignolo, Walter. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
---. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011.
---. The Idea of Latin America. Malden: Blackwell, 2005.
Pulitano, Elvira, ed. Indigenous Rights in the Age of the UN Declaration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Santa Ynez Reservation. http://www.santaynezchumash.org/reservation.html. Last visited March 28, 2017.
“The University - Mission Statement.” http://www.academic-personnel.calpoly.edu/content/handbook/university. Last visited March1, 2017.
Verma, Priya, et al. “Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science into Forestry, Natural Resources, and Environmental Program.” The Journal of Forestry 114.6 (2016): 648-55.
Vizenor, Gerald. Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.