An indigenous philosopher is an indigenous person or associate who practices philosophy and has a vast knowledge of various indigenous history, culture, language, and traditions. There are very few contemporary indigenous philosophers alive today.
Brian Yazzie Burkhart, a "Cherokee, has described his experience of the story of Coyote:
|“||Coyote is wandering around in his usual way when he comes upon a prairie dog town. The prairie dogs laugh and curse at him. Coyote gets angry and wants revenge. The sun is high in the sky. Coyote decides that he wants clouds to come. He is starting to hate the prairie dogs and so thinks about rain. Just then a cloud appears.
Coyote says, "I wish it would rain on me." And that is what happened.
Coyote says, "I wish there were rain at my feet." And that is what happened.
"I want the rain up to my knees," Coyote says. And that is what happened.
"I want the rain up to my waist," he then says. And that is what happened.
Eventually, the entire land is flooded. Coyote's mistake is not letting what is right guide his actions, but instead acting entirely on his own motivations. This is a reminder that one must be careful about what one desires, and must keep in mind the things around us and how we relate to them. Burkhart terms this the principle of relatedness:
|“||The idea here is simply that the most important things to keep in mind are the simple things that are directly around us in our experience and the things to which we are most directly related. (In calling these ideas principles, I do not mean to give them special philosophical status. In American Indian thought, they are simply ways of being. These principles are merely abstractions from these ways of being. [...] Principles in the traditional philosophical sense have no place in American Indian philosophy.||”|
Anne Waters has described a "nondiscreet "ontology of being" in the context of gender. With a different attitude towards labels, Waters argues that American Indian viewpoints are more tolerant to those that don't fit into a strict binary gender framework.