Indigenous Citizenship and Education (ICE) International Project: Policy and Practice


Educational systems are tools for state politics and policies regarding First Nations peoples. As such, education is an arena for colonisation, assimilation and marginalisation, but also an important domain for First Nations peoples to (re)claim and (re)articulate their cultures, languages and self-governance. Following this, education is also important for excluding or including First Nations peoples’ ideas and practices of citizenship and belonging within their own nations and the wider nation states in which they now reside. This international project aims to understand the process of Indigenising education and citizenship from different points of the relationship between policy and practice.

The project is being led by researchers from the Centre for Sámi Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and involves researchers from the University of Lapland, Umeå University, Auckland University of Technology, and the Australian National University. It is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and UiT from 2018 until 2022. More information about the ICE research team can be found on our Members page.

The project has three parts.

Part One consists of political and philosophical analyses of concepts like ‘citizenship’ and ‘Indigenous people’ and their relationship with education and rights, as well as reviews of normative theories on the conditions of justice and equal rights. This analysis is based on legal frameworks and international conventions.

Part Two investigates how citizenship education happens in practice. Curricula and textbooks provide, more or less, the official standpoint regarding Indigenous people, and what citizens should learn. On a local level, in municipalities and in particular schools, laws and conventions encounter local customs and conditions, teachers and school leaders, and students and their families. It is these encounters that are explored in this part. Here, education ideally forms citizenship. Topics like history, language, identity and rights are included.

Part Three examines the production of knowledge surrounding Indigenous issues. The history of research on Indigenous issues is far from positive. This part includes reflections on how research in this field should be conducted, in accordance with ethical guidelines within Indigenous research.

In each part of this project, researchers engage with cases of Indigenous education and citizenship from a range of contexts, including Sápmi, Namibia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and Australia. Taking the Sámi as a starting point, we seek to understand the role of the Sámi in the educational system, as well as how the rights of Sámi children and students are recognised and acted upon. Case studies from Namibia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and Australia add depth to our exploration of Indigenous education and citizenship as well as provide a comparative dimension to the project. All case studies are based on analysis of data from different fields of education and citizenship, from policy and curriculum analysis to analysis of local negotiations in the process of Indigenizing education.

The project is guided by the overarching aim to create and present new knowledge about the complex relationship between Indigenous peoples, education, and citizenship. We are employing diverse methods to communicate research findings, including this websites, books, journal articles, social media, and public meetings. Through these modes of communication, we hope to stimulate new ways of thinking about Indigenous education and citizenship among scholars, teachers, educational leaders, students, local communities, schools, politicians, and government on local, national, and international levels.

Latest updates about the project can be found on our News page.