Oral Indigenous Knowledge Systems Different From Written Western Science Traditions

Oral Indigenous Knowledge Systems Different From Written Western Science Traditions

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1. How are oral Indigenous knowledge systems different from written Western science traditions?

Indigenous knowledge is local experience, the knowledge that is unique to a particular culture or society. It is the information base for a society that enables communication and decision making in aboriginal communities. In today’s global knowledge economy a country’s ability to progress is not only dependant on financial capital but equally involves skills, insights and experiences of indigenous populations. There are some distinct differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and Western knowledge also known as ‘Western science’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge is based on oral practice and is passed around through word of mouth across generations, and from the ancestors. Western knowledge on the other hand is written down, encrypted into books and reports and in other types of media platforms. The Internet is also very important for the way in which we think about knowledge and information in today’s modern world. Western science places a lot of importance on proof, evidence. Although the differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Western forms of knowledge are increasingly becoming similar in some ways. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are becoming more involved now in using and developing technologies such as TV, film, video, for managing and sharing their knowledge in and out of their communities.

An important feature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge is that
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t usually make their knowledge permanent, unless the information is written down, recorded it or made into a painting on sculpture. The ...

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... their roles, responsibilities and obligations. Maintaining knowledge about the plants and animals, and the ceremonies associated with them, is the responsibility of the people of the social group to which the plants or animals belong.
In Aboriginal systems there may be different levels of knowledge, which are generally demarcated according to age. Levels of knowledge can be delineated by age, they can also be determined by gender, kinship and other social structures. From the Aboriginal point of view, the ways of classifying plants and animals are many and complex. Significantly, these ways of understanding the natural order are not limited to the identification of plants and animals as objects. They are also used to interpret and construct social positions within communities.

3. Discuss both the merits and negative impacts of bioprospecting on Indigenous peoples.

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