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About the Project


The research journey



What does IKRMNA stand for?

The official title of this project is; Indigenous Knowledge and Resource Management in Northern Australia. This is an ARC Linkage Project which means that the money for this project comes from an ARC Linkage grant, and from our research partners.

Our research included

Audit of databases

The audit of databases which represent Indigenous knowledge in the Top End of Australia has been completed.

Software & Hardware

The development of specifications and electronic proofs of concept, for digital systems which support indigenous people building collective memory. Emerging solutions include Larrakia, Garma Cultural Studies Institute, Kapulwarnamyo, East of the Arafura Swamp, Charles Darwin University, 'For the children', Murayana. These groups of indigenous people, in particular contexts, are seeking ways to use digital technology (computers, digital cameras, sound recordings) to keep their own languages, and ecological knowledge systems strong

This web site

Methods we adopt in IKRMNA are informed by our experience with Yolngu educators at Yirrkala School in the 1990s. These methods—open and emergent, flexible and varied, are informed by our understanding of Yolngu metaphors (see for example the native rat methodology). We know from experience that although this looks messy and disordered the approaches we learned from Yolngu elders and teachers at Yirrkal are generative and productive.

Nevertheless there are problems with adopting this approach: how to show the muddle of diverse activities we are engaged in as we are doing IKRMNA research both to ourselves and to others? For our own purposes we need to keep track of what we are doing with the multiple entities we are engaged with and where each engagement seems to be going. At the same time in this approach to research it is crucial to be as transparent as possible about the processes by which the order(s) our IKRMNA work is creating are being made: articulating the process is one of the products.

Casting around for a way of dealing with those issues, quite early on in the life of the project we came up with the idea of using the project website to achieve both. The method of the IKRMNA website can be understood as a sort of display, but to a large extent it is a display of the mess of 'doing research'.

Research Publications

To show our work in the wider academic world we published some academic papers which can be found on the publications page along with work by people working on related projects.

Project Partners

ARC Linkage projects must involve both university and industry partners. In the IKRMNA project, the university partner is Charles Darwin University (CDU) and industry partners are the Northern Land Council (NLC) including Northern Australian Indigenous Land Sea Management Alliance NAILSMA, the Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment (NTDIPE) and the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) including the Garma Cultural Studies Institute (GSCI).


To find out more about the partners visit the links section of the website

Chief Investigators

Michael Christie (Associate Professor, School of Education, CDU)

Michael is a linguist and educatorspecialising in the Yolngu languages of northeast Arnhemland. His current research interests focus upon digital technologies, knowledge management and sustainable livelihoods in remote Aboriginal communities.

Helen Verran (Reader in the School of Philosophy, University of Melbourne)

Helen has a background in biochemistry, philosophy and social science. Her current research interests focus on indigenous and local knowledges, including Yolngu Knowledge, drawing on perspectives from philosophy, sociology of knowledge, and studies in ontology and epistemology.

Waymamba Gaykamangu (Lecturer in Yolngu language and culture, SAIKS, CDU)

Waymamba is an Indigenous lecturer working in th Yolnguy Studies department of the School of Australian Indigenus Knowledge Systems. She is active in facilitating the engagements between CDU and Arnhemland communities.

Other people involved in the project

Bryce Anbins-King (Research Associate CDU, Arts/New Media Consultant)

Bryce has worked as an artist and researcher in new media and has worked closely with a number of Yolngu on various multimedia projects. His interest is in the relationship between media environments shifting texts and social understandings of country

Wulumdhuna Yunupingu

Wulumdhuna has worked as the teacher at the homeland school of Durranalpi on Elcho Island. She has been researching a number of related family groups in order to create resources to enliven the children's understanding of who they are and where they live.

Merri Creek Productions: Trevor van Weeren & Juli Cathcart

Trevor and Juli have spent many years working with Yolngu and with organisations that provide services to Yolngu. Trevor has worked as a teacher, artist and new media practitioner and is interested in interface design and visual reprsentations of knowledge. Juli has experience with education in cross cultural contexts and is interested in educational communities


a Liya-dhalinymirr elder, grew up on his mother and grandmother country, the Arafura Swamp. Later after earning his pilots licence, Yingiya returned to live and continue learning from the land, his families and elders. Yingiya’s interests include use of digital technology to present and represent Yolngu knowledge, improving white Australia’s understandings and respect for Yongu language, culture and traditions and growing sustainable living options for Yongu on country.


a Liya-dhalinymirr elder grew up and continues to live on his custodial country, the Arafura Swamp. Mängay while deeply concerned about the disrespect shown by ‘others’ for Yolngu traditions and cultures, uninvited intrusions onto land and the movement of Yongu from custodial lands to towns he actively pursues options to respectfully demand understanding and respect for Yongu traditions and cultures.

John Greatorex

is an educator who lived and worked on Elcho Island in close association with his Yolngu families. His interests include promoting the emotional, social and physiological benefits of living on custodial lands, sustainable options for homeland living, and promoting respect for Yongu culture, language and traditions.





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