Indigenous Science Network Bulletin
February 2004
(Volume 7, Number 1)
ISSN  1449-2091

Editor: Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs, Munupi Arts & Crafts Association, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT







This item is repeated from the December issue last year. Please take a look at it and the draft paper and consider making a response.

To Members of the Indigenous Science Network

At the July conference of ASERA in Melbourne last year two paper were presented that gave depressing reports about how valiant efforts to build recognition of traditional knowledge into science curricula in PNG and in NZ had been thwarted in the case of PNG and led to little if any advantage to the indigenous group in the NZ case.

The Papua New Guinea case seems to have been thwarted because funding agencies like the World Bank take advice from persons who are quite unaware of the very substantial work on culture and science education that has been done over the last ten years. In some cases these "expert" advisers may be expatriates from the country applying but are now in many ways by their own success in past years separated from the students and their contextual situations that cry out for recognition in the teaching of science.

Michael Michie and I conferred about this and decided to approach the members of the Network with a proposition that a Statement be prepared by the Network and that some of its members should take the step to arrange face-to-face meetings with very senior members of bodies like the World Bank, Asia Bank and UNESCO.

The fact that the 27th Assembly of ICSU in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, endorsed the substantial Report of the Study Group on Science and Traditional Knowledge in which the importance of traditional knowledge is affirmed, gives us a strong platform on which to base our Statement.

For those who do not know of this Study Group, it was set up following the World Conference on Science organized by UNESCO and ICSU and held in Budapest in 1999. ICSU in 2000 appointed this Study Group but it appears no science educators were part of the Group, the Report itself confirms that there is no discussion in it of the implications for the teaching and learning of science were considered.

This is, however, a powerful report and we should seek to extend it rather than do something on our own and hence appear to be unaware of ICSU’s moves in this direction.

These reports can be accessed at

Michael has prepared a draft for us to react to and suggest how it could be developed into a suitable Statement. (Click here for a copy of the draft statement which is slightly changed since last issue.)

In putting this to the Network we are asking for reactions to the idea of taking this pro-active action and the means whereby it can be done.

Peter Fensham and Michael Michie

If you would like to be involved in this process or have some comment on the draft statement, please contact either Peter or Michael (or even both of us).


Reflections on the NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education) Conference held 4-11 October  2003 in Anchorage, Alaska: ‘Thinking Globally While Acting Culturally’

Anne Scherer, NT Department of Education Employment and Training,  Environmental Education Project

Anne works at the Alice Springs Desert Park (somebody has to) and has had lots of experience in Aboriginal Education, as well as Environmental Education. The following is from a report she wrote, focusing on some of the cultural aspects of the conference.

Cultural Connections

Because of the location and focus of the conference, there were many presentations with a cross-cultural theme. This is one I found very exciting ……… (and I’ll list some of the others that looked good as well ……… ).

Developing Partnerships with Tribal Entities and Rural Communities: Creating the Savin’ Raven Environmental Education Activity Kit, a success story
The focus of this workshop was a board game called ‘Savin’ Raven’ (I have a copy) which looks at environmental issues in remote locations of Alaska. The game itself is simple but effective and is beautifully produced. However the strength of it goes well beyond the game, as many of the issues that arise can be the subject of comprehensive teaching / learning programmes in themselves and it links to many support materials / programmes that have been already been produced. One of the main features of the workshop was seeing the way in which the development team had approached the concept development and trialing of the product. It had taken two years and consultation with many community groups, and the work goes on now in implementing it.

The game itself could be used ‘as is’ in the NT (despite its ‘Alaska specific’ context, there are many generalisations to be made) but it also has potential as a ‘model’ for an NT version with NT environmental issues.

( provides information about RAVEN AmeriCorps, the group that developed Savin’ Raven)

Others that I thought looked interesting and have contacts for:

  • Teaching Native American Topics in the Science Classroom

  • 7 Generations Addressing Village Environmental Issues
  • Education Spirit and the Environment in Alaskan History
  • Reframing EE: Towards guidelines for Cultural Sensitivity

  • Creative Collaborations: The Tohono O’odham Nation Merges Past and Present

  • The Right Fit: Adapting EE Materials for Diverse Audiences (Conservation International and WWF)

  • Hawaiian Skies – Combining Modern Astronomy with Ancient Stories

  • Education Indigenous to Place (described a huge project established by the Alaska Federation of Natives with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Rural School and Community Trust, to assist teachers across Alaska to integrate Alaska Native Knowledge, ways of knowing and world views into all aspects of education)

  • Using Legends to Teach Environmental Values

  • Documenting Native Knowledge with Young Children

  • Inhabitants of Place, Citizens of the World (a programme from New Mexico)

  • Paralysis or Possibility : Examining the Role of Culture in Environmental Education, a panel discussion

For further information you can contact Anne Scherer (

NARST Conference 2004

NARST is the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and some members of this network will be attending the 2004 conference in Vancouver at the beginning of April. This includes me, for the first time. I know we don't have a funny handshake but I am looking forward to meeting other members of the network, some of whom are just names on the tops of research papers (and on my mailing list). If you are going to be attending, why not e-mail me by the beginning of March and perhaps I can compile a list of people who will be there and circulate it. Michael Michie

ISSN and archiving the Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

From this issue, the Bulletin has acquired an ISSN, which appears at the top. Also I've been approached by the National Library of Australia for permission for them to archive the Bulletin in an electronic format. If you have any concerns about the Bulletin being archived, please contact me. Michael Michie


Melbourne University School of Development Studies

The twelfth of our Working Papers has recently been posted to the Melbourne University Private website and is available to download if you wish. The title of Working Paper 12 is 'Microfinance as an Intervention Against Child Labour in Footwear Production in the Philippines'.  The author is Thomas Kring. The paper can be accessed at:

The second issue of Three60 - the Melbourne development forum is now available on the Melbourne University Private website. Three60 is an e-bulletin published by the School of Development Studies in collaboration with the School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies of the University of Melbourne. The focus of Three60 is development in practice. Each issue explores actual development projects - discussing the global problems; examining concepts behind the designs; presenting project management issues and solutions - a practitioner tool-kit; and sharing the views of various stakeholders, including grassroots points of view. The feature projects for Issue 2 are a number of AusAID's short-term training projects managed by Melbourne University Private.


Kurtal The Snake Spirit
Kurtal - Snake Spirit is a rare documentary of a journey undertaken by members of an Aboriginal community going back to country to perform an ancient ceremony. Produced by Nicole Ma Productions

Dream and the Dreaming
For over thirty thousand years, the Desert People of Central Australia had walked their lands, their life governed by ancient and immutable laws laid down by the totemic ancestors and their Dreamings.
A CoJo Production with assistance from the Film Finance Corporation Australia, 2003 55mins

In 1988 Australia celebrated the 200th Anniversary of white European settlement in Australia. Bob Maza, Mitch Torres and more… 1986 30mins (the literal translation of the title is "barbecue area". MM)

This is an account of how the Gagadju divide their year into six seasons, not measuring with a calendar as we do, but by reading the changes in the world around them. 1995 27mins

Also available is the Program Sales Indigenous Catalogue for purchasing of videos. This is a catalogue of the latest releases. We are able to send you the Acrobat file on request if you would like to have a copy. The attachment is a large PDF file and some people may find it difficult to download. Send us an email at the address below and we will forward you the attachment.

(This information comes via Message Stick Online which you can receive by e-mail, contact

NSW Board of Studies

Aboriginal Education research and curriculum resources can be downloaded from

These include a series on Aboriginal perspectives through integrated units, including one on Aboriginal technologies.

Indigoz News

This message has been sent from the Indigoz News list <>

This is just to let you know that the Indigoz Web Directory and Search Engine were both updated over the holiday season.

The Directory continues to list over 500 websites of direct relevance to Indigenous Australian issues. All have been recently checked and verified.The Directory can be accessed at: Please feel free to check and make sure your favourites are included and let us know of any you think we are missing.

Regular users will note that an increasing number of sites in the Directory have been highlighted with a link symbol. This is to recognise our appreciation for them linking to us. If your site links to us and the Directory is not currently showing it, please let us know. All of the websites have also been examined by the IndigOz Search Engine at:

the IndigOz team @

Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net,

Indigenous Knowledge (editorial)
Awareness of the value of indigenous knowledge — particularly its potential contribution to sustainable development — is growing at a time when such knowledge is being threatened as never before.

David Dickson (2003). Let's not get too romantic about traditional knowledge.
Supporters of traditional knowledge argue that one of its strengths is the extent to which it is tied to specific cultural contexts. The idea that this may not be the case enhances the opportunity for productive interaction with modern science.

2004: time for the 're-globalisation' of science. (editorial)
The last year brought many reminders of the limitations of global approaches to social issues. The task ahead is to modify such strategies — and find ways of incorporating science appropriately into them.

Recent papers

The latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (volume 8, 2003) focused on research in environmental education. Some papers may be of interest to researchers in indigenous education.

Hunter, B.H., & Schwab, R.G. (2003). Practical reconciliation and recent trends in indigenous education. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Discussion Paper 249. (available at

Koul, Ravinder. (2003). Revivalist thinking and student conceptualizations of science/religion. Studies in Science Education, 39, 103-124.

O'Donoghue, Rob. (2003). Indigenous knowledge: Towards learning materials and methodologies that respond to social processes of marginalisation and appropriation in eastern southern Africa. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 19, 57-67.

Rogan, John M., & Grayson, Diane J. (2003). Towards a theory of curriculum implementation with particular reference to science education in developing countries. International Journal of Science Education, 25(10), 1171-1173.

Thomson, Norman. (2003). Science education researchers as orthographers: Documenting Keiyo (Kenyan) knowledge, learning and narratives about snakes. International Journal of Science Education, 25(1), 89-115.


Effective Sustainability Education. What works? Why? Where next? Linking Research and Practice. The NSW Council on Environmental Education is convening a major conference on at the University of NSW from 18 – 20 February 2004. The conference is designed for all who are interested in environmental education and social change: including industry and business groups, state and local government educators and policy makers, environment and community groups and formal educators in early childhood, schools, vocational education and training, and universities. Our website link is

Living Landscapes: Linking Ethnobiology and Restoration Ecology in the Revival of Native Systems Society for Ethnobiology, 27th Annual Conference, University of California, Davis. 24-27 March 2004

We invite you to attend our three-day conference to discuss the enduring stewardship legacy of the Native peoples of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as other Native peoples around the world. Ethnobiologists, restoration practitioners, environmentalists, watershed planners, and others, will come together to share their research findings and project successes at Wright Theater (Hall) on the University of California, Davis campus.

(Carol Brandt sent the following note about this conference: I wanted to forward this information to you about a conference on Ethnobiology and Traditional Knowledge in the US. They are also offering airfare for Indigenous scholars to participate in the conference.)

"Educating For A World View: Focus On Globalizing Curriculum and Instruction" World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) 11th Triennial World Conference, 5-9 July 2004, Novotel Northbeach Hotel, Wollongong, NSW

WCCI is a transnational educational organisation, committed to advancing the achievement of a just and peaceful world community, through:

  • collaboration in curriculum and instruction projects, 

  • dialogue on educational and social issues of a global nature,

  • the exchange of ideas, concerns and solutions to problems, and

  • person to person contacts and professional relationships.

WCCI is an NGO of the United Nations in consultative status with UNESCO and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WCCI has organised triennial world conferences since 1974. The first conference was in England, then Turkey, Philippines, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Egypt, India, Thailand, and the latest one was in Spain in 2001. 

Creating Ethical Communities Now: Footprints, Pathways, Possibilities. 28 September-2 October, 2004. Adelaide, South Australia. Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) together with the Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE), the South Australian Global Education Centre (GEC), and Urban Ecology Australia (UEA). To find out (nearly) all you need to know please go to We look forward to meeting you in 9/04! It's Spring in Adelaide then - or post-winter, maybe pre-spring, depending on your sense of place! There'll be more about that and many other things.


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

February 2004

18–20 February: Effective Sustainability Education. What works? Why? Where next? Linking Research and Practice, NSW Council on Environmental Education, at the University of NSW.

March 2004

24-27 March: Living Landscapes: Linking Ethnobiology and Restoration Ecology in the Revival of Native Systems. Society for Ethnobiology, 27th Annual Conference, University of California, Davis.

April 2004

1-4 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2004 Conference meets in Vancouver, Westin Bayshore Hotel,

11-14 April: Asia Education Foundation's Third Linking Latitudes: Ha Noi, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos international conference for Australian educators,

21 - 23 April: Pacific Circle Consortium 28th Annual Conference 2004Hong Kong SAR, China. Civic Values and Social Responsibility in a Global Context. Conference Website:

May 2004

27-29 May: Indigenous Knowledges: Transforming the academy, Pennsylvania State University. Information for submitting proposals is available on the conference Web site:

June 2004

25-28 June: Science and IT Education Joint Conference, Rockhampton, QLD. 

July 2004

5-9 July: "Educating For A World View: Focus On Globalizing Curriculum and Instruction" World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) 11th Triennial World Conference, Novotel Northbeach Hotel, Wollongong, NSW

14-17 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 35th Annual Conference, University of New England, Armidale NSW

September 2004

26-30 September: CONASTA 53 - Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference, Canberra ACT. Theme: Excellence in Teaching and Science

28 September - 2 October: Creating Ethical Communities Now: Footprints, Pathways, Possibilities. Adelaide, South Australia. Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) together with the Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE), the South Australian Global Education Centre (GEC), and Urban Ecology Australia (UEA).

July 2005

Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 36th Annual Conference, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Sometime 2005 - World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, Aotearoa New Zealand

A list of conferences is also maintained by the University of South Australia's Indigenous Online Network, at
ION Updates are released fortnightly and are forwarded to members of this Network. If you wish to receive these Updates directly or you know of other people who would like to receive them, please ask them to send a message to asking that they be included on the distribution lists. 
Anyone with information or resources they would like added to the site can email from the website or to the general ION email address.

Last updated: 01 February 2004

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