Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

George "Tink" Tinker

Second Advisor

Margaret Noodin

Third Advisor

Edward Antonio

Fourth Advisor

Luís León


American Indian, Anishinaabe, Anishinaabemowin, Indigenous, Language, Worldview


This dissertation examines the role of worldview and language in the cultural framework of American Indian people. In it I develop a theory of worldview which can be defined as an interrelated set of logics that orients a culture to space (land), time, the rest of life, and provides a prescription for understanding that life. Considering the strong links between language and worldview, it is methodologically necessary to focus on a particular language and culture to decolonize concepts of and relationships to land. In particular, this dissertation focuses on an Anishinaabe worldview as consisting of four components, which are; (1) an intimate relationship to a localized space; (2) a cyclical understanding of time; (3) living in a web of relatedness with all life, and (4) understanding the world around us in terms of balance. The methodological approach draws from Anishinaabemowin, the traditional Anishinaabe language, as a starting place for negotiating a linguistic-conceptual analysis of these logics to decolonize the understandings of land, time, relatedness and balance. This dissertation helps to demonstrate that the religious language as codified in the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution as religious freedom is unable to carry the meaning of the fundamental relationships to land that are embedded in Anishinaabemowin and culture. I compare the above Anishinaabe worldview to that of the eurowestern culture in America, which is; (1) the domination of space; (2) a linear progression of time; (3) a hierarchical organization of life; and (4) understanding the world as a Manichean battle of good versus evil. This dissertation seeks to decolonize American Indian translational methodologies and undermine the assumptions of eurowestern cultural universality.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Mark Freeland


Recieved from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

368 p.


Native American studies, Language, Philosophy of Religion