Decolonization and Life History Research: The Life of a Native Woman

Jyl M. Wheaton-Abraham


Focusing on stories told to the author by her mother, this life history work counters critiques that qualitative life history research is weak on method and theory by taking a decolonizing approach. Working with decolonizing theory to understand the stories shared, the author examines how the continued colonization of native women’s minds and bodies impacts their humanity in both perception and treatment by others. The author discuses decolonizing research as both action and process, considers the effectiveness of a decolonizing strategy in life history research, and calls on others to take a decolonizing approach in their own work.



Decolonization; Indigenous Identity; Life History Research; Native American Women; Indigenous Anthropology; Indigenous Research Methods; Decolonized Research Methods; Native Studies; First Nations Studies; Feminist Anthropology; Feminist Studies


Chilisa, Bagele. 2012. Indigenous Research Methods. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed. London: Zed Books.

Tuck, Eve. 2009. “Suspending Damages: A Letter to Communities.” Harvard Educational Review 79: 409-427.

Vizenor, Gerald. 1994. Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance‬. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

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