Educating for Indigenous Futurities

Applying Collective Continuance Theory in Teacher Preparation Education

  • Stephany RunningHawk Johnson Washington State University
  • Michelle M. Jacob University of Oregon


K-12 classrooms are important sites for anti-colonial and Indigenous critiques of the settler-nation, neoliberalism, and globalization, all of which undermine Indigenous futurities while simultaneously fueling climate change. We draw from our experiences as Indigenous university educators, and from the experiences of our students who are training to become elementary and secondary classroom teachers in the U.S. We analyze student journals in which students documented what they were learning, reflected on how a university course on Decolonization was shaping their understanding of their own K-12 educational experiences, and articulated aspirations for their own future teaching practice. In our work with Indigenous students who are training to be classroom teachers, we frame education as part of the larger project in which we can better understand our ancestral Indigenous teachings for the purpose of deepening our Indigenous identities and knowledges; inherent in these teachings is a responsibility to our human and more than human relations. In our paper, we argue for the importance, and provide examples of, using the Western educational system in a way that supports Indigenous teachings and Indigenous identity development. Doing so is not just important diversity, equity, and inclusion work that benefits Indigenous peoples, but rather is critical work that benefits all peoples, as Indigenous knowledges contain within them answers to some of society’s most pressing problems, including climate change. In this process, we affirm the importance of Indigenous educators who are learning to become good ancestors for future generations, which is a vital part of what Potowatomi scholar, Kyle Powys Whyte (2018) calls collective continuance. Our work in educating future teachers emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinarity, something Indigenous knowledge systems have always known and which will be critical for addressing climate change. Within Indigenous cultural teachings, it makes no sense to separate the so-called hard or natural sciences from the humanities. Why would humans see themselves as separate from the natural world? Why would our histories not be interwoven in teaching and understanding our sciences? The larger goal of our work is to center Indigenous knowledges in K-12 education. To do so, we call upon Indigenous peoples to be in front of the classroom and lead within our elementary and secondary schools, to teach about caring for Lands and relations and connecting this learning to addressing climate change caused by colonial practices. We also call upon non-Indigenous educators to educate themselves about Indigenous knowledges so that they may play an important part in collective continuance and ensuring Indigenous futurities.

Author Biographies

Stephany RunningHawk Johnson, Washington State University

STEPHANY RUNNINGHAWK JOHNSON, a member of the Oglala Lakota nation, is assistant professor of Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education at Washington State University. She completed her PhD at Oregon State University in 2020. She is co-editor with Michelle M. Jacob of On Indian Ground: A Return to
Indigenous Knowledge-Generating Hope, Leadership and Sovereignty through Education in the Northwest

Michelle M. Jacob, University of Oregon

Michelle M. Jacob is an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation and is Professor of Indigenous Studies and Director of the Sapsik’wałá (Teacher) Education Program in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon. Michelle also serves as Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies, and Affiliated Faculty in the Environmental Studies Program. Michelle engages in scholarly and activist work that seeks to understand and work toward a holistic sense of health and well-being within Indigenous communities and among allies who wish to engage decolonization. Michelle’s books include Yakama Rising: Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Activism, and Healing, Indian Pilgrims: Indigenous Journeys of Activism and Healing with Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, On Indian Ground: A Return to Indigenous Knowledge-Generating Hope, Leadership and Sovereignty through Education in the Northwest (co-edited with Stephany RunningHawk Johnson), The Auntie Way: Stories Celebrating Kindness, Fierceness, and Creativity, and Huckleberries and Coyotes: Lessons from Our More than Human Relations. Michelle is a widely celebrated author and speaker and has numerous articles published in social science, education, and health science research journals. Michelle has been awarded grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Her research areas of interest include Indigenous methodologies, spirituality, health, education, Indigenous feminisms, and decolonization. One of Michelle’s greatest joys is camping around the many beautiful places across the Columbia River basin. Michelle’s personal website is:

How to Cite
RunningHawk JohnsonS., & JacobM. (2022). Educating for Indigenous Futurities. Transmotion, 8(1), 176-208.