Indigenous Science Network Bulletin
October 2005
(Volume 8, Number 5)
ISSN  1449-2091

Editor: Michael Michie

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






Harvest Party Ceremony in Indonesian Traditional Community: Seren Taun Ceremony in Kampong Gede Kasepuhan Ciptagelar Sukabumi

Ely Djulia, Indonesia

This was a beautiful morning. Sun shine, fresh climate, welcome all the people who came from around traditional kampong and from outside. People with traditional clothes were very busy to prepare ceremony. Some still service many guest to have breakfast in big traditional house. Some photographers take appropriate position to have best shoot from many sides of the field. Others crowded people were standing around the field to have best looking at ceremony.

Ciptagelar people, one of traditional communities in West Java Province, located on one hill of Mount Halimun approximately 1200m upon the sea, keep adhering to forefathers in their way of life. This is a new resident since 2001 settled by almost 556 of selected people. Previously they stayed in Ciptarasa to then move to Ciptagelar, as the centre of holding traditional ceremonies, according to their forefathers’ divine inspiration. While the rest of people still stay in Ciptarasa that become a tourist village. (cipta means to create, rasa means to feel)

One of their loyalties is cultivating local rice once a year. After cultivating rice for almost 6 months begin with seedling, cultivate, harvest, drying, taking into rice barn, it was time for a special ceremony to celebrate harvesting called “Seren Taun Ceremony”, a kind of harvest party. All people located on traditional unity come together to celebrate and to thank God. Many guests also come from cities particularly those who concern about agriculture and believe system of traditional life. All the phases of traditional farming are demonstrated in this ceremony, and are made lively with some traditional art and music performances. Totally it takes almost a week.

This ceremony begin with bringing bunches of dried rice from lantayan (a place where rice are hang and dried for almost 40 days) by using rengkong (made of bamboo). Many traditional musics made of bamboo called angklung accompany ranks of people who bring bunches of rice, walking slowly following rhythm lead into the front of leuit si jimat (communal rice barn which can save almost 7000 bunches of rice). After collecting all bunches of rice, three people sing a mantera accompanied by traditional music instrument called kecapi. Then the leader of traditional community Kampung Gede Kaepuhan Ciptagelar called Abah Anom and his wife begin with taking rice into communal rice barn followed by others. This called “Ngadiukeun” ceremony (make rice seat in rice barn ). Thousands people and guest respectfully watch this ritual ceremony.

 Crowds of people wanting to look at the ceremony

Ranks of people bring bunches of rice by using rengkong

The communal rice barn is ready for ceremony

Boys taking part in the ceremony 

To all people The leader presents some life wisdom concerning how to live in harmonious way both with each others and to the nature. Even in any condition like lack of water and difficult to get food, it is important to help each other for security food. Every family has rice barn filled with previous crop so that it has never empty. There are approximately 5000 rice barns here, that all centered on the communal rice barn. Each family contribute two bunches of rice every time there is a harvest party. Buncir leuit loba duit (full barn rice, much money) is one of their philosophy. It is their philosophy to always harvest successfully and work hard for money. It was prohibited for each people to sell their rice, and all people obey this rule. They should get money from others works. It also means that the result of harvest is not only for fulfil their needs just a moment, but also for their next generation. From the communal rice barn it can be taken bunches of rice to help each other every time there is thanksgiving or condolence. So there almost have never got starvation.

In the main phase of the ceremony, bunches of rice
are taken into the communal rice barn. This called 
Upacara Ngadiukeun

Ciptagelar people have ecological wisdom. They know the right time when they should cultivate and harvest. They don’t cultivate rice in dry season until rainy season. They also know when insect come to the field. For them, every living and unliving things have a right time to live on earth, so it is not wise to live with disturbing each other. That’s way their farming almost have never been disturbed by plant diseases because they have right time to harvest before insect come, before May as example. Beside after harvesting they make irrigated field take rest, for 2 months not be planted by rice, but planted by plants as second crops instead. This rotation way of planting is possible for soil nutrition rotation so the soil get new fertile. They use fertilizer but not pesticides. There are no less than 146 varieties of local rice here. They classify rice based on their morphology and growth. The origin of increasing varieties happen naturally.

Each phase of managing irrigated and nonirrigated field is accompanied by prayer, that all hope in order for plant to grow well such as strong root, green leaf, strong stalk and filled grain.. They perceive rice as bridegroom, while farmer as bride. So they treat rice as careful as they can. For them planting means to marry Nyi Pohaci (the myth name for rice) with earth.

They perceive rice to be protected and conserved by treating it traditionally. But they don’t perceive rice as an object to worship. Because as Moslem they believe that there is only God who create everything to worship. To avoid people from breaking traditional rules, parents remind their children of its consequences. The leader also inform their people that there always a consequences for any breaking rules. Then people choose and decide which they prefer to. They believe to experience consequences by themselves. This make people realize to avoid forefathers’ punishment.

Previously they haven’t informed this traditional farming to others people. But know every people who come here can openly get this information, so they called their kampong as ciptagelar (cipta means to create, gelar means to exhibit).

Celebration of knowledge

TWO Kuku-Thaypan Elders, George Musgrave (Snr) and Tommy George (Snr), were awarded doctorates from James Cook University in May. George Musgrave and Tommy George are the only two surviving Elders of the Kuku-Thaypan clan with traditional knowledge and a fluency in the Kuku-Thaypan language.

This was recently reported in Savanna Views, the newsletter of the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Savannas Management; for the complete report visit

Garma Festival 2005

For a report on the Garma Festival held in August, visit

Indigenous Technology

Scientific developments in the last 50 years have show a trend towards holistic studies of the universe, also medicine has  been looking towards prevention rather than cure. Both approaches have been shown to relate to indigenous approaches to knowledge and to health. That is, in the prime of western scientific and medical development, we are finding that indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing are highly relevant.

The area of technology also needs such a refocus. Technology is the implementation of our science and also our health knowledge. In the Pitjanjatjara lands, there has been development of Health Technologies that relate technology, environment and culture to find health solutions. Also in other Technology Centres around Australia there has been efforts to design and install technology that is useable, maintainable and installable by the loca community. This involves a holistic approach to consultation, design, development and training. 

In Sydney we are looking at indigenous technology from two approaches. Firstly, the exiting technology developed by indigenous people incorporates many aspect that are also used in western technology, but are handled differently, or are only recently introduced. Examples are the aerodynamics of the boomerang which incorporate complicated concepts which are now taught through mathematics and endless exercises. In Australian Indigenous culture this was taught by example, and avoided students' being put in a situation where they may err. Also, the use of roles that is now so important in team work is an established part of indigenous communities, through 'skins'.

Secondly the increasing need for creativity in technology for Australia to maintain a world presence, we need to include the skills of all our people. In the area of ICT where innovation is still new and the level of understanding still at a basic stage, it seem ideal to bring in indigenous people from near the start and up to speed at an early stage, rather than when the area is already developed.

We hope to be setting up a network of Indigenous Technology workers and engineers soon. This will be associated with the existing Indigenous Science Network and we hope we can support each other, as western science has supported and lead the development of western technology.

Ms Cat Kutay 
University of New South Wales


Te Kotahitanga

This research project sought to investigate how Year 9 and 10 Maori student achievement in mainstream schools could be improved. Russell Bishop, the leader of the research team, is from the University of Waikato in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The report can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Welcome to a fresh view of Indigenous life

A new Indigenous magazine is hitting the roads and dirt tracks: Kantri Laif (spelt in Kriol and pronounced coun-tree life). The twice-yearly publication covers Indigenous land and sea management in the Kimberley, Northern Territory, Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and Torres Strait.

The magazine is produced by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance. Lisa Binge, Kantri Laif coordinator, said the aim of the magazine is to communicate land management activities and share ideas with other communities across northern Australia.

Kantri Laif shows that people are on country, looking after it and undertaking important projects,” said Lisa. “Indigenous land and sea managers and ranger groups want to know what other mobs are doing on country.  Government organisations have also shown interest in the publication and are asking to be added to the mailing list for future issues.”

The first issue covered a six-day walk along the edge of the Great Sandy Desert by the Kurungal people, which was held to help introduce young people to country. It also featured a message from Prof. Henry Reynolds, the Kimberley Regional Fire Management project, cane toad impacts on Elcho Island off Darwin, the Daluk Women’s Conference and much more!

You can download Kantri Laif as a PDF through the publications link at

Cultural Studies of Science Education

This new journal is being published by Springer and for more information you can visit

RESOURCE GUIDE - Resources for teaching math and science to American Indian students (from Tribal College Journal, USA)

Natural Heritage: The journal of the Natural Heritage Trust (Australia)

"This edition of Natural Heritage highlights how Indigenous communities are using cultural values and traditional knowledge to contribute towards natural resource management. Their profound understanding and respect of the land provides an opportunity for traditional knowledge and modern practices to work together." (Foreword)

You can visit the various stories in Issue 24 or download it as a PDF file by going to

Recent papers

Lewthwaite, B.E. (2005). "It's more than knowing the science". A case study in elementary science curriculum review. Canadian Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education. 5(2), 170-186.
This research exercise, based on the initial stage of a school-wide science curriculum improvement project, explores the factors influencing science program delivery in a multicultural, predominantly Aboriginal, elementary school in Northwestern Canada. Using a validated science program delivery evaluation tool, the Science Curriculum Implementation Questionnaire (SCIQ), as a foundation for data collection, staff discussion and collaborative decision-making, a school embarks on a self-review process to, first of all, identify factors influencing science program delivery and, secondly, identify strategies for improvement of science delivery. Implications of this self-review process on science program delivery improvement are discussed, especially within the context of the adequacy of teacher pedagogical content knowledge within a multicultural context. As well, recognizing the limitations of the SCIQ within the context of study, modifications to the SCIQ are also presented.

A conference we missed

The Canadian Aboriginal Science and Technology Society have just held their conference. You can visit their website at One objective of CASTS is to encourage Aboriginal people to strive for successful careers in S&T and to assist by providing information, inspiration, and support on their path (Website). The American equivalent is AISES - The American Indian Science & Engineering Association at


ANZCIES 2005 Annual Conference

Annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society. "Questioning 'Best Practice' in Education: Benefits and Disadvantages, Debates and Dilemmas" 2-4 December 2005, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

Hawaii International Conference on Education

6-9 January 2006: Hawaii International Conference on Education, Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel, Oahu,

The Multiple Faces of Agency: Innovative Strategies for Effecting Change in Urban School Contexts

Institute on Science Education Research at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. Co-Sponsored by the Center for Equity and Biliteracy Education Research (CEBER), San Diego State University.

Dear Colleagues: I would like to invite you to attend an Institute on Science Education Research to be held as part of the Hawaii International Conference on Education on Jan, 07, 2006. More information on the institute and the institute leaders is provided below. If you plan to attend, I'd appreciate it if you sent me an e-mail so that I could keep you better informed. We look forward to seeing you there, Alberto Rodriguez

INSTITUTE LOCATION AND DATE: Hawaii International Conference on Education, Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel, Oahu, Jan. 07, 2006. (Note the overall conference runs from Friday, Jan 06  through Monday, Jan. 09).

Following a full-day institute format, we will engage participants in an in-depth exploration of current research focusing on agency. Agency is defined here as the voice (or "speaking consciousness," Bakhtin, 1981) that an individual uses to accommodate into or resist against established norms within specific communities of practice. Therefore, six papers will be presented by the institute leaders to highlight innovative strategies for enhancing the participation and achievement of students in urban classrooms. Time is being allocated for discussants' critiques of each paper and for significant audience participation. While the main curriculum area framing these projects is science, the findings and insights gathered from these studies should inform the work of those interested in effecting change in collaboration with teachers and their students across curriculum areas and grade levels.

I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. (Dewey, 1897)

Various theoretical frameworks inform the work of the institute leaders, but they all have one thing in common. Namely, they perceive learning as a social enterprise that is shaped by the stakeholders who breathe meaning into it. The institute leaders are also interested in exploring more effective ways to enhance the participation and achievement of all students in science. While the calls for educational reform are abundant, it is evident that more empirical work is needed to illuminate the complexity of factors that prevent teachers from using more student-centered, culturally relevant and inquiry-based approaches to teaching. Similarly, more empirical research is needed to illuminate the sociocultural, historical and institutional codes that may obstruct or facilitate students learning for understanding in urban school contexts.
In response, the participants in this institute make agency a central construct in their research work. Agency is defined here as the voice (or "speaking consciousness," Bakhtin, 1981) that an individual uses to accommodate into or resist against established norms within specific communities of practice. The individual's culture of course plays key roles in this process, as our learned cultural norms provide certain guideposts that help us navigate the established expectations imposed by the prevailing culture.
Therefore, the research work that will be presented at this institute moves beyond rhetorical notions of good intentions and generalizations about the need for change in our schools. The institute leaders are actively engaged with experienced teachers, pre-service teachers, and/or students in the common pursuit of what accounts as meaningful learning and what is responsive and relevant teaching.

Paper #1: Students Acting as Change Agents in Culturally Diverse Classrooms
Alberto J. Rodriguez, San Diego State University
Cathy Zozakiewicz, San Diego State University
Randy Yerrick, San Diego State University

Paper #2: Expanding Collective Agency in Urban Science Classrooms
Kenneth Tobin, City University of New York

Paper #3: Putting Pathos into Science Education
Wolff-Michael Roth, University of Victoria (Canada)

Paper #4: Connecting Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science: The Role of Native Hawaiian Teachers in Sustainability Science 
Pauline W. U. Chinn, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Paper# 5: Standards-Based Science for English Learners: Translating Good Intentions into Professional Development Materials
Jerome Shaw,
University of California Santa Cruz

Paper #6: Urban Girls' Science Practices and Agency
Angela Calabrese Barton,
Teachers College Columbia University

Okhee Lee, University of Miami
Elizabeth Moje, University of Michigan


Travel and rental cars:
Hotel information:
Registration information:

Third International Conference on Ethnomathematics (ICEM-3)

The aim of the conference will be to bring together researchers in Ethnomathematics from around the world to discuss recent developments and future directions. The conference is hosted by the Department of Mathematics, The University of Auckland and the organisers are Bill Barton and Berlane Martins. The conference will open on the evening of Sunday 12th February, 2006 and will close on the afternoon of Thursday 16th February, 2006. The conference will be held in Langham Hotel Auckland, close to the university in central Auckland. Budget accommodation will be available.

To be sent notices of the conference, please email your expression of interest to: Berlane Martins, or visit

Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Conference 2006

We are pleased to inform you that APERA 2006, the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Conference 2006 will be held in Hong Kong from 28 to 30 November 2006.  The Conference is organised by Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association, Hong Kong Institute of Education and Hong Kong Education Research Association in partnership with 6 universities and 6 international organizations.  The conference aims to contribute to vision creation, knowledge advancement, and policy-making in such a way that reform efforts and education practices for students’ future in the new century can be rationalized, substantively and instrumentally in different parts of the world.

The theme of the conference is “Educational Research, Policy, and Practice in an Era of Globalization: The Asia Pacific Perspectives and Beyond”.  The conference provides opportunities for critical conversations and further inquiries on the conference themes by jointly exploring and discussing on the following issues among educators, scholars and policy-makers from the Region and other parts of the world:

1.   Access and equity in education
2.   Application of information technology in education
3.   Teacher education and educational changes
4.   Changes in language education and medium of instruction
5.   Issues in early childhood education and basic education
6.   Educational reform and national development
7.   Expansion and restructuring of higher education
8.   Life long learning, adult learning, and professional training
9.   Reforms in curriculum, pedagogy and assessments
10. Leadership and professional development
11. Management of reforms in school education
12. Marketization and privatization in education
13. Reforms in vocational/ technical education
14. Linking research with policy and practice

Educators, researchers, policy-makers and those interested are warmly welcome to attend this conference and submit proposals for presentations to the Conference Secretariat by 30 June 2006.  For the detail, please refer to the web-site: For further enquiries, please contact the Conference Secretariat:

Asia Pacific Centre for Educational Leadership and School Quality
The Hong Kong Institute of Education
10 Lo Ping Road
Tai Po
New Territories
Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2948 8504
Fax: (852) 2948 7697



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.

November 2005 

27 November - 1 December: World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, Aotearoa New Zealand

December 2005

2-4 December 2005: ANZCIES 2005 Annual Conference: "Questioning 'Best Practice' in Education: Benefits and Disadvantages, Debates and Dilemmas", Coffs Harbour NSW Australia (Oct05)

6-8 December 2005: International conference on Maths and Science Education, SEAMEO RECSAM, Penang (Malaysia). (June 05)

January 2006

6-9 January: Hawaii International Conference on Education, Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel, Oahu, Hawaii.

7 January: The Multiple Faces of Agency: Innovative Strategies for Effecting Change in Urban School Contexts. Institute on Science Education Research at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. (Oct05)

22-25 January 2006: NZ Association of Environmental Education biennial conference - Turning Point - "Taka huri haere mai te wa" which will be held in Auckland. (June05)

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: National Association for Research in Science Teaching annual meeting, San Francisco, (

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

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, (August05)

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, (  (probably somewhere else)

July 2007

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

Last updated: 1 October 2005