Australia’s Indigenous Knowledge and knowledge systems are by their very nature complex and interdisciplinary and cannot be viewed as mere subsets of Australia’s Western knowledge systems. To provide an easy to navigate, central resource that brings together information about Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems, as well as indigenous studies these pages, have been structured into six themes:
The First Australians had millennia to study the way that land, plants and animals interacted and were interlinked. Their ability to observe and collect information about these natural systems allowed 60,000+ years of continuous culture. This makes Australia’s first people the earliest observational scientists who’s society is still with us. This encyclopedia-like knowledge and an understanding that nature was different across place and time, and was vital to successfully inhabit every part of Australia. The perspectives that developed over those millennia are still here for us to learn from. We have chosen the large overarching topic of Ecosystems to match the complexity the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders see the world. Plants do not exist without the birds that feed on their fruit, the microbes that keep their roots healthy, and the nutrient in the soil in which they grow. Systems are complex and Indigenous knowldeges and perspectives embrace that complexity at their core.
Over 60,000 years. Indigenous food knowledges have continued to develop and refine a variety of methods for the processing, cooking, and preserving of native flora and fauna. Indigenous native foods are commonly referred to as ‘Bush Tucker’ and are notably nutrition dense, sustainable food options for the Australian continent. Indigenous food knowledge ranges from the agricultural practices used to farm crop plants, to the intricate traps engineered to filter and capture eel populations, medicinal and health properties of native foods, and the preservation methods used to prepare meats for long distance transport. In this section, we provide resources relating to these areas.
Health and Wellbeing
This section covers both topics that mainstream science would currently identify as “medicine” along with more holistic approaches to medicine. The Aboriginal view on health (National Aboriginal Health Strategy) considers “not just the physical well being of the individual, but the social, emotional, and cultural well-being of the whole community. This is the whole-of-life view and it also includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life”.
Number patterns cover the diverse way that numbers, counting, and relationships between things can be expressed or considered. For some background of Indigenous number patterns, or mathematics see this video for the AECC website by Quandamooka man and Professor of mathematics, Chris Matthews.
The skies have been used for millennia to encode Indigenous knowledge systems, serving as a library for oral cultures, and inform many Aboriginal cultural and scientific practices. Indigenous astronomy is a field that exemplifies the interconnected nature of Indigenous science and Indigenous knowledge systems as a whole. Each field of knowledge is tightly interwoven, and this section will go on to demonstrate how even features in the sky are connected to features with us on the ground.
While it is a common myth that Australia’s first peoples didn’t have any technology that is categorically untrue. The technology used and perfected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout Australia shows regional adaptation, development over time, a long history, and a strong understanding of the resources available. In this section, you will find resources about how aquaculture systems were built into the rock and how you have to understand aerodynamics to make a good boomerang.