Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

April 2002 (Volume 5, Number 2)

Editor: Michael Michie







Inquiry to the Network

I recently had the following inquiry which I put out to the Network, to see if anybody was able to respond to it. I'm writing this summary, primarily because I think this is what the Network is about - helping others to find answers.

"Hello, I am Anita Sanyal and I am currently pursuing my master's of education at University of Maryland.  I am also a high school science teacher and I would like to infuse indigenous science into my biology curriculum.  I am writing to see if any of you could provide me with some resources.  I have the following units left in the year and I am looking for some ways that I can relate indigenous science to these specific topics: genetics, evolution, ecology.
Any insight that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Anita Sanyal <>."

My own response follows:

"Hello Anita

Off the top of my head I can only think of some units which were written with indigenous students in mind, rather than giving an indigenous perspective. The two projects I'm thinking of are the Alaskan Native Knowledge Network ( and Cross-Cultural Science and Technology Units (CCSTU) which have now been completed and can be found at the website,

I also have a friend who has written some units and I think one of them was on genetics, but again for indigenous students. I haven't seen the units so I don't know whether they address an indigenous perspective. They aren't available on the internet either.

I imagine that genetics and evolution would be the two areas where indigenous perspectives could be difficult to incorporate. I haven't really thought about it myself.

Ecology is more obvious but probably not all that easy, particularly if you want be more than tokenistic. It is usually easier to pick on a particular habitat and research how indigenous people use the resources and modified it. I'm doing some of this with my upper primary class at present, incorporating western and local indigenous knowledge.

The theme of "the earth is my mother" runs through this kind of work and if you pick a local habitat you could compare indigenous and modern use and possibly bring in indigenous people to help if they still have the traditional knowledge (which is a separate issue). If you are living in Maryland this might be difficult. There has been some work done on Chesapeake
Bay which might incorporate a historical-indigenous perspective on land use.

The area of genetics could incorporate a number of issues - ethical problems - that deal  with race (genetic) and racism (political), the human genome project and why indigenous groups are against it, and the acquisition of indigenous medical knowledge and patenting medicines by commercial enterprises. In my part of the world (northern Australia) there are
traditional arrangements for selecting a marriage partner and I wonder if these incorporate an intuitive genetic pattern of avoidance.

Evolution? There are explanations about how animals came into being and changes in the landscape (the latter is my area of interest), and various explanations about creation. I tend away from describing them as stories, myths or legends. To me there are many ways of looking at the world and science is only one of them. Also my work in the cultural studies of science
education has led me to believe that even the best-detailed logical arguments will not make a person change their beliefs unless they want to, so I must admit that I now avoid the evolution/creation area (except perhaps as a political one).

You could have a look at the Indigenous Science Network, at, at the bulletins there. Otherwise feel free to e-mail me if you want to discuss anything further."

Lani Semali also responded, and his response points out some resources and a website which I have been to a couple of times but I hadn't included previously in the bulletins.

"Hi Anita
It's good to hear that you are interested in integrating indigenous knowledge in your science curriculum. At Penn State we have been struggling with this issue and are in the process of designing a masters degree in indigenous knowledge. We have held several conferences on this subject and we have attracted crowds. But the area continues to be new to many people, largely because of stereotypes that are associated with indigenous people. To date you can find a large collection of publications including my own book (Semali and Kincheloe, "What is indigenous knowledge: Voices from the academy" or "Indigenous Knowledge in Global contexts" by George Sefa Dei, Budd Hall, and Dorothy Rosenberg). Much has been published in the Development Monitor, a publication of Nuffic, Netherlands.  You may access that on their Web. <> or contact <> Several titles will show up if you simply search the  Well, I encourage you to stay in touch since we are neighbors, we might involve you in our forthcoming summer institute on this subject you have raised.  Cheers, Ladi."

Another, different inquiry

One of my own students, an indigenous girl about 12 years old, had been looking at a book on dinosaurs. She asked me a number of questions about the dinosaurs, like, "How do they know what bones go together?" and "How do they know what the skin was like?" These were easy to answer and she listened happily. Then she asked me a tricky question. "How do they know what their names were?" may seem to be easily answered but in fact was a fairly challenging one in terms of worldview, and she wasn't satisfied with my response.


Garma Festival forum to focus on environment

This year's Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land will feature a forum on indigenous people and the environment.

The forum, organised by the Yothu Yindi Foundation in conjunction with the World Wide Fund for Nature, will be conducted over four days in August.

Organisers say the forum will bring together indigenous peoples from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Canada and the Arctic Circle.

It will also include scientists, resource industry representatives and tourism operators.

(Report from ABC Message Stick,

For more reports on Australian Indigenous News, visit the ABC's Radar website

Collins committee on indigenous education meet

Chief Minister Clare Martin and Employment, Education and Training Minister Syd Stirling today met with members of the Learning Lessons Steering Committee, as they gathered for the first time to oversee implementation of the Government’s Indigenous Education Strategy. (Northern Territory Government media release, 14 March 2002).

For full text, go to

The NT Department of Education also released its Indigenous Education Strategic Plan – 2000–2004 on 21 February. You can obtain a pdf copy at


Recent publications

Aikenhead, G. (2001). Integrating Western and Aboriginal sciences: Cross-cultural science teaching. Research in Science Education, 31(3), 337-355. The article addresses issues of social power and privilege experienced by Aboriginal students in science classrooms. First, I present a rationale for a cross-cultural science education dedicated to all students making personal meaning out of their science classrooms. Then I describe a practical research and development project, "Rekindling Traditions: Cross-Cultural Science & Technology Units", that modestly illustrates cross-cultural science teaching for years 6-11, in which Western and Aboriginal sciences are integrated. This integration is discussed in terms of the "Rekindling Traditions" units, including the assessment of students. (Abstract)

Lucarelli, Gina. (2001). Focus on: schools in Thailand. Preserving local knowledge through discovery learning. Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor, 9(3). Recent legislation in Thailand has opened up the process of curriculum development to allow for decentralization to the local level. The 1999 revision of the National Education Law makes local educational institutions responsible for tailoring the content of the national curriculum to the social needs of each community and, most importantly, for teaching 'local wisdom' as part of the coursework in public schools. Curriculum content can now be developed at the local level. PLAN International, a child-centered community development organization, has supported schools and communities in northeastern Thailand in their efforts to develop local curricula. (website) (This article was in Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor, volume 9(3))

Burra, Laksar. (2001). Spirit of the night sky. Marleston, S.A.: J.B. Books Australia (AU$10.95). This book aims to give a basic, easy-to-follow guide to the stars and constellations of Australia's night skies, looking up from down under, interweaving myth, mystery and science from around the world to convey the sense of awe experienced by stargazers past and present (Cover).

Sharing our pathways is the newsletter of the Alaskan Native Knowledge Network. Two issues have been produced in 2002 and they can be accessed at In both issues there are lists of some of the curriculum work that has been done by the Network. In issue 1, there is an article entitled "Translating Standards to Practice Now Available on the Web" by Cyndy Curran, which is available at

Australian Association for Research in Education - 2001 conference proceedings AARE has published the proceedings from their Fremantle conference in 2001 online. A number of the papers may be of interest to members of this network. The proceedings can be accessed at


Leslie Jones e-mailed the network recently with this message. If you are interested, get in contact with her. The two conferences she refers to are the AERA conference (1-5 April) and NARST conference (7-10 April), both in New Orleans (see below).

"If anyone is crossing the Pacific for AERA & NARST, there is a 1 day break between conferences and we are having a 1 day session on Gender and Science Education (GASE) that will look at global issues.  Let me know if you are interested and I can forward the call."

Australian Indigenous Education Conference, Sharing Success : An Indigenous Perspective. 2-4 July 2002, Townsville, Queensland

This three day national conference is designed to inform and inspire participants to recognise and acknowledge Indigenous educational achievement. This conference will bring together professional educators and community people, to showcase Indigenous achievement across all levels o f education and celebrate Indigenous pathways to success. This Conference will appeal to people in both government and non-government sectors, including schools, VET, TAFE and higher education institutions. The School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University, invites you to register NOW. More information available at the website,

For registration forms and information, please contact :

Indigenous Education Conference Secretariat

Ms Raewyn Dooley, Conference & Events Management, PO Box 771, TOWNSVILLE, QLD, Australia, 4810

Phone: 61 7 4721 2377, Fax: 61 7 4721 4936, Email:

Australian Science Teacher's Association (ASTA) National Conference, Hobart Tas, 6-11 July 2002: "Problem Solving and the Ethical Dilemma". For information visit

AUSTRALASIAN SCIENCE EDUCATION RESEARCH ASSOCIATION, 33rd Annual Conference, 11 - 14 July 2002, Townsville, Queensland

Abstracts for ASERA2002 conference papers are now due - email to no later than April 1.

As per previous correspondence, ASERA2002 leads you to Townsville in tropical North Queensland over July11 to July14.  Details are posted on the conference website at The conference brochure, including registration, can be obtained from Steve Ritchie.

For the first time we are conducting a limited trial of paper proposals for only those researchers who need refereed acceptance to secure funding.  We expect the majority of paper presenters will submit an abstract only, as usual.  If you are one of the few who needs to submit a proposal, the details (and criteria) are listed on the conference website - simply activate the "call for papers" button.  In order to review the proposals, we'll need experienced researchers to volunteer to assist Dr. Greg Thomas with this trial.  If you are interested and available, please contact Greg directly at

I have been advised by the Southbank Hotel that they have taken bookings for the conference already.  Please book your accommodation early (there is a NRL football game scheduled for Townsville over the same weekend).

I hope to see you in Townsville in July. Cheers, Steve Ritchie

Papers on Postcolonial science education, ASERA, 11-14 July, 2002, Townsville

I would like to put together a symposium (or more if the interest is there) on postcolonial science education for the coming ASERA conference in Townsville. In particular, I was looking at some of the theory out of literary criticism and philosophy - the likes of Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Frantz Fanon and several others. Is there anyone that is working with some of the ideas from these people in science education and would be interested in joining a symposium at Townsville? Peter Ninnes and myself would be interested in this aspect. I was thinking 4 or 5 papers perhaps. I will coordinate this one if there is interest.

There is probably scope for other 'cultural' foci as well if there is enough interest. Perhaps someone else could do that if there is enough interest.

Contact Liz McKinley on <>

World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education - August 4 - 10, 2002

WIPCE 2002 will be hosted by the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium (FNAHEC) at a beautiful site on Stoney Nation lands in the mountains just west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium, Suite 310, 6940 Fisher Rd. SE, Calgary, AB T2H 0W3. Phone: (403) 258-1775, Fax: (403)258-1811

For more information, visit their website at

Garma Festival Forum, Nhulunbuy NT, 13-17 August 2002

This year's Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land will feature a forum on indigenous people and the environment. The forum, organised by the Yothu Yindi Foundation in conjunction with the World Wide Fund for Nature, will be conducted over four days in August. The festival also incorporates a cultural gathering of the Indigenous owners of the land, the Yolgnu people.

Attendance at the Garma Festival is by invitation and inquiries can be made to Wayne Willis at or by telephone on 08 8941 0202. 

There is a report of the 2001 festival at their website, at It was compiled by Michael Christie from the Northern Territory University on a day-by-day basis. Check each of the days' activities. (Nhulunbuy is located about 600 km east of Darwin.)

Globalization and Localization Enmeshed: Searching for a Balance in Education, organized by the Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand on 18-21 November 2002.

The Hong Kong Institute of Education is one of collaborating institutions of this very important International Conference.  The Conference has three objectives: 

  1. To share knowledge and experience of globalized and localized education
  2. To study direction and alternatives in education for globalization and localization
  3. To analyze and develop direction of teacher education in the changing world.

Around the world, education is undergoing remarkable transformation, with the role of teachers and students being redefined by such development as globalization and localization.  Globalization offers many opportunities as well as posting new challenges to local education. How can we glean from the opportunities offered by globalization?  How can we reform our education and teacher education in order to generate knowledge and create our future, capitalizing on the increase in international collaboration, the diversity and richness in the regional cultures, and the growing
sense of a regional perspective?

The Conference offers a timely forum for collective reflection on these and related issues.  We write to extend to you a very warm invitation to participate at this important International Conference.  For the detail of the Conference, please visit the Conference website at or contact the organizer of E-mail:


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given in previous bulletins or circulated by e-mail. A web-based contact is usually included.

April 2002

1-5 April 2002: American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, USA (

6 April 2002: Gender and Science Education (GASE) looking at global issues, New Orleans (contact Leslie Jones)

7-10 April 2002: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST 2002), New Orleans, USA (

May 2002

1-3 May 2002: The Pacific Circle Consortium 26th Annual Conference 2002, Seoul, Korea. For further information and registration, please visit the website at or email to the Conference Secretariat at <>.

July 2002

2-4 July 2002: Australian Indigenous Education Conference, "Sharing Success : An Indigenous Perspective". Townsville, Queensland. The School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University, invites you to register NOW. More information available at the website,

2-6 July 2002: Australian Association for Environmental Education 12th Biennial Conference, Sustaining Environmental Education: Celebrating Diversity, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. A call for papers (in .pdf format) can be downloaded from:

6-11 July 2002: CONASTA 51 Australian Science Teacher's Association (ASTA) National Conference, Hobart Tas: Problem Solving and the Ethical Dilemma. For information visit

11 - 14 July 2002: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 33rd Annual Conference, Townsville, Queensland. Convenor: Dr Steve Ritchie, for information

14-18 July 2002: CULTURAL ASPECTS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS, A section within the 6th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics - SCI2002, Orlando, Florida (USA)

27 July - 2 August 2002: "Rethinking science and technology education to meet the demands for future generations in a changing world", IOSTE 10th Biennial Symposium,  Foz do Iguaca, Brazil (

August 2002

4-10 August 2002: World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education - Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 6-11 August: 'The Boston TEE Party'. DRAFT details of North American Association for Environmental Education's 2002 conference, Boston Email:,

13-17 August 2002: Garma Festival Forum, Nhulunbuy NT, inquiries can be made to Wayne Willis at or by telephone on 08 8941 0202. 

November 2002

18-21 November 2002: Globalization and Localization Enmeshed: Searching for a Balance in Education, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. For the detail of the Conference, please visit the Conference website at or contact the organizer of E-mail: <>

December 2002

December 2002:  Australian Association for Research in Education, 2002 Education Research Conference, Brisbane, Queensland  (

July, 2003

30 July  to 3 August 2003: 7th  International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The conference chair is Professor Art Stinner (, and the conference secretary and programme chair is Dr Stephen Klassen ( Further details are available from the secretary and from the IHPST web site (

A listing of conferences is also maintained by the University of South Australia's Indigenous Online Network, at From there you can also access proceedings from the first Forum on Indigenous Research (the Umulliko forum).

Last updated: 1 April 2002

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