by Gary Scott
School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Charles Darwin University, Darwin.
The task of the Indigenous
Knowledge Database Audit Subproject
has been to audit existing digitised data in Indigenous
Knowledge (IK) collections in Northern Australia, including
the ways in which they are stored, potential access
and hardware/software configurations.
There are three general
questions to consider:
• What is the full range of digital data representing
Aboriginal knowledge in Northern Australia?
• How useful might the data be in the traditional
education of young people?
• What approaches are recommended to achieve this
for specific contexts?
The audit involved phone
interviews with specialists from a range of indigenous
and non-indigenous organisations working with digitised
IK. It catalogued their experiences working on database
projects with indigenous people. It also recorded some
of their reflections and opinions of what constitutes
good policy and practice in this field.
of Indigenous Knowledge Databases in Northern Australia
Bibliography of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge in Northern
For the purposes of constructing this bibliography the
following search limits were set:
Geographic extent: Northern Australia
was broadly defined as including Torres Strait Islands,
Cape York and Far North Queensland, the Gulf Country,
the Top End (roughly comprising the jurisdiction of
the Northern Land Council, the Tiwi Land Council and
the Anindilyakwa Land Council) and the Kimberley region.
A few references from the Pilbara region of Western
Australia are also included along with one or two references
from Central Australia as well as a number of references
with nationwide geographic coverage.
Subject extent: The general rule followed
was that references needed to
directly address the indigenous people / environment
(country) relationship, particularly, but not exclusively,
in the context of contemporary resource management practices.
Searches were made under terms such as 'indigenous fire
management', 'traditional bush medicine', 'Aboriginal
environmental knowledge', 'Aboriginal resources' and
so on. Therefore anthropological studies that primarily
described indigenous kinship relationships, even if
they discussed them in relation to land ownership patterns,
were generally excluded. Otherwise, the final result
would have been to make the bibliography top-heavy with
references more relevant to land claim research than
to indigenous ecological knowledge research.