February 2006
(Volume 9, Number 1)
ISSN  1449-2091

Michael Michie


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






Kung Hei Fat Choy: Happy New Year to everybody! 

The Indigenous Science Network Bulletin is now into its ninth year. It will be pretty much the same format as in previous years, coming out 6 times a year at the beginning of February, April, June, August, October and December.

As always, I'm looking for news, views, resources, and information about events and conferences. Anything to do with indigenous science and indigenous science education. I look particularly for things which can be accessed using links to the World Wide Web. Please consider contributing something this year.

Access to the Bulletin is free and you are welcome to recommend to to your colleagues or students. You can also become a member of the network and get occasional updates via e-mail.

Michael Michie

[Publication dates are 1 February, 1 April, 1 June, 1 August, 1 October and 1 December. Please submit material at least two days beforehand, to allow for international time differences.]

Indigenous Australian Astronomy

How important are the stars and sky in Australian indigenous cultures? We know that most indigenous cultures feature stories and songs about the sky, but are these key parts of the culture or just a peripheral add-on? Building on some of the excellent but varied studies in the past, my collaborators and I have started an “Indigenous Australian Astronomy Project”. This project, which we expect to run for several years, has two main threads:

1. Studying artefacts of indigenous groups whose cultures have been erased or damaged by European settlement (e.g. Sydney Rock Engravings, Victorian Stone Arrangements), to see whether there is evidence that these had an astronomical connection. For example, some of the Sydney Rock Engravings may be oriented so that they mirror the corresponding figures in the sky, and some of the Victorian stone arrangements seem to be carefully aligned to the cardinal points of the compass, and perhaps to rising and setting positions of the Sun. We hope that we may even be able to help some indigenous groups rediscover some of their lost culture.

2. Working with communities (e.g. the Yolngu people at Yirrkala) whose culture is very much alive, to record their stories and ceremonies (or at least, those that they are comfortable sharing with uninitiated people) which have an astronomical connection. For example, the important Morning-Star ceremony and associated stories seem almost unknown outside Arnhem Land.

In both these threads, we are guided by the need to respect and support the cultures of those people with whom we are working, and, where possible, ensure that the indigenous communities retain ownership and control of the information. To this end, we hope to have indigenous co-authors on all our journal publications.

Why do this? Apart from curiosity, we hope that, like music and art, astronomy could build an important bridge of understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. In the many public talks on astronomy that I have given, I have been bowled over by the reaction from people from every age and every walk of life. We all live under the same sky, we are all intrigued by its beauty and mystery, and we all love to swap stories about it. By doing so, this project aims to promote a greater appreciation of the depth and richness of indigenous Australian cultures.

If you would like to contribute to this study, we would love to hear from you!

Ray Norris

(Prof. Ray Norris is an astrophysicist with the CSIRO Australia Telescope, and can be contacted on

Native Access to Engineering Programme

The Native Access to Engineering Programme (Montreal, Canada) is acting as the information gathering source for a growing network of people across the country who are interested in engaging Aboriginal young people in math and science. As a first step, we are hoping to compile an inventory of  existing programmes, projects, initiatives etc. for Aboriginal children and youth (and their parents and communities) which focus on math and science. We are particularly interested in programmes which provide means for young people to examine both indigenous and western approaches to understanding the world and the way it works.

Programmes may be operated by a tribal authority, community centre, region, province, school or an enthusiastic local teacher.  They can include (but are not limited to) science fairs or camps, cultural fairs, after school clubs or community centre groups. We know there are many excellent and exciting programmes out there, and are hoping to find a way to more effectively share information about them.

Please visit the following site to submit information about programmes in your local area,

There is a deadline of February 10, 2006, 17h00 EST for submission.

In order to encourage participation in this project, particularly by local teachers, everyone who submits a programme to the inventory will be eligible for a drawing for a $500 gift certificate from Chapters. Please note that while we are interested in programmes based in Canada,  programmes based  in the US or other countries which allow for participation of students from Canada can also be submitted.

(This item was submitted by Dawn Wiseman)

World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) Report

The WIPCE meeting was held late last year in Aotearoa New Zealand. The report accessible here is through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

2006 ASSA Summer School for Indigenous Postgraduate Students

We are pleased to announce that the Fourth ASSA Summer School for Indigenous postgraduate students will be held at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, on 6-10 February 2006. The Summer School is a partnership between the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia and the Australian Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Melbourne. For more information, visit  (submitted by Martin Nakata).


Australian Indigenous Knowledge and Libraries

Australian Indigenous Knowledge and Libraries, edited by Martin Nakata & Marcia Langton, has now been published by the Australian Academic and Research Libraries as AARL, Vol. 36, No. 2, June 2005; price AUD29.95. Copies can be purchased from: Australian Library and Information Association Ltd., PO Box 6335, Kingston, ACT, 2604, Australia. Email:

This book is an outcome of the Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Colloquium held at the State Library of New South Wales in December 2004. The editors have taken advantage of the opportunity provided by the substance and scope of the papers presented at the Colloquium, and the degree of professional interest in the issues associated with Indigenous Knowledge in libraries and archives, to put together an edited collection that is accessible to a wider audience.

If it is possible to guide the way readers respond to this collection, then perhaps the first thing the authors would like readers to take away would be an appreciation and understanding of the complexities that professionals must engage with in meeting the needs of Indigenous people and the issues associated with managing Indigenous knowledge. From the Indigenous perspective, we can well understand the profession’s desire to have clear prescriptions for practice and practical assistance. However, the path to developing clear and high standards of practice in this area rests on building a strong foundation for understanding what informs the concerns of Indigenous people about the intersection of our knowledge and cultural materials with library and archival systems and practice. This requires a broad sweep across issues of knowledge, culture, history, heritage, law, and information technologies. It requires consideration of articulations between the local/global, the Indigenous/Western, and traditional/contemporary dualities. Most importantly, it requires professional understanding at a level deep enough to generate problem-solving and innovations to practice to overcome the manifold tensions that emerge across all these in a diverse range of situations.

For a flier, visit

Anthropology & Education Quarterly - theme issue on Indigenous epistemologies and education

The March 2005 issue of AEQ (volume 36, issue 1) is a theme issue on Indigenous epistemologies and education and contains a number of papers which may be of interest to members of the network. They include one by Ray Barnhardt and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley entitled "Indigenous knowledge systems and Alaskan Native ways of knowing".


McGill University, Montreal, Canada - 9-10 June 2006

The symposium will take a broad and cross-disciplinary approach to technology in society. Participants will include researchers, teachers and practitioners whose interests are either technical or humanistic, or whose work crosses over between the applied technological and social sciences.

A special theme of this symposium will be the complex relations between Technology and Citizenship. Technology is deeply implicated in the organisation and distribution of social, political and economic power. Technological artefacts, systems and practices arise from particular historical situations, and they condition subsequent social, political and economic identities, practices and relationships. In short, technology - "industrial technology, transportation technology, information and communication technology, learning technology, bio and genetic technology, nanotechnology, etc.-is a matter in which citizenship is at stake. This symposium is dedicated to exploring the various ways in which technology and citizenship bear upon each other historically, and in the present context.

We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the symposium call for papers. The symposium will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations. Papers submitted by participants will be peer-refereed and published, if accepted by the referees, in print and electronic formats in the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society. If you are unable to attend the symposium in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic journal, as well as access to the electronic version of the journal (including all historical material). The deadline for the first round of the call for papers is 15 JANUARY 2006. Proposals are reviewed within four weeks of submission.

Full details of the symposium, including an online call for papers form, are to be found at the symposium website -


The Social Capital Foundation invites all interested persons or organizations to present a paper at its upcoming international, interdisciplinary seminar on social fragility that will be held on June 16-18, 2006, at the American University in Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

1. Definitions of social fragility,
2. Components and factors of fragility and precariousness in our societies,
3. Assessment of social fragility. Is social fragility on the rise?
4. Mutations in community links, family links and social networks,
5. Moral values and social cohesion,
6. Mental and physiological public health issues,
7. Economic precariousness and social bond,
8. Ethnic and cultural contradictions,
9. Mechanisms of the emergence of new major risks.

Additionally, the THRACE project (Targeting Human Research for Anchoring Cooperative Evolutions in Europe) supported by The Social Capital Foundation will be presented at the seminar. It is an investigation on how to use social capital to favor transborder cooperation in the border regions of Europe, and to elaborate appropriate tools for doing so.

For more information please go to

University of the Aegean, Island of Rhodes, Greece, 18-21 July 2006.

The conference will examine the nature of disciplinary and interdisciplinary practices across the social sciences, as well as the relation of the social to the natural sciences, applied sciences and the professions. The focus of papers will range from the finely grained and empirical (research practices and results exemplifying one or more disciplines), to wide-ranging multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary practices, to perspectives on knowledge and method. One of the featured themes of the 2006 conference will be interdisciplinary perspectives on gender.

I would particularly like to invite you to respond to the conference call for papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for consideration before or after the conference in the fully refereed International Journal of the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, to be launched in 2006. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in the journal, and give you access to the electronic version of the journal.

The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 31 January 2006. Proposals are reviewed within four weeks of submission. Full details of the conference, including an online call for papers form, are to be found at the conference website -

We look forward to receiving your proposals and hope you will be able to join us in Rhodes in July 2006.

Prof. Chrissi Vitsilakis
Dean, Faculty of Humanities
University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece

 Australian Association for Environmental Education

The AAEE conference theme is "Sharing wisdom for our future - environment"; 4-6 October in Bunbury, WA. Pamphlet available at



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

February 2006

12-16 February 2006: Third International Conference on Ethnomathematics, Auckland Aotearoa New Zealand. To be sent notices of the conference, please email your expression of interest to: Berlane Martins, or visit (Oct05)

April 2006

3-6 April 2006: National Association for Research in Science Teaching annual meeting, San Francisco, (

7-11 April 2006: American Educational Research Association Conference, San Francisco, (

May 2006

22-25 May 2006: Eleventh Annual International Conference, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, "Shaping the Future of Science, Mathematics and Technical Education", (Dec05)

June 2006

9-10 June 2006: Symposium on Technology, Knowledge and Society, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. (Feb06)

16-18 June 2006: Social Capital Foundation Conference at the American University in Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. For more information please go to (Feb06)

28-30 June 2006: (Re) Contesting Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Studies Conference 2006, Gold Coast Marriott Hotel, Surfers Paradise - Queensland Australia, (Dec05)

July 2006

5-8 July 2006: Australasian Science Education Research Association conference, Canberra ACT.  (August05)

9-13 July 2006: CONASTA55: Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association, Adelaide, SA (August05)

18-21 July 2006: International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, University of the Aegean, Island of Rhodes, Greece, (Feb06)

30 July - 4 August 2006: XII IOSTE Symposium: Science and Technology Education in the Service of Humankind, Penang, Malaysia. (Dec05)

September 2006

3-8 September 2006: 12th Gender And Science And Technology (GASAT12) International Conference. University of Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom. Email (Dec05)

October 2006

4-6 October 2006: Australian Association for Environmental Education conference, Bunbury, WA. Pamphlet available at

November 2006

28-30 November 2006: APERA 2006, the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Conference 2006, Hong Kong. (Oct05)

April 2007

14-17 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching annual meeting, New Orleans, (  (still being advertised as here on the website)

July 2007

8-12 July: World Conference on Science and Technology Education (ICASE/CONASTA56), Perth WA. (August05)


WIPCE 2008, Victoria, Australia

Last updated: 1 February 2006