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Type: Report
Title: The Arabana people, water and developing cultural indicators for country
Author: Nursey-Bray, M.J.
Arabana Aboriginal Corporation
Publisher: Goyder Institute for Water Research
Publisher Place: Adelaide
Issue Date: 2015
Series/Report no.: Goyder Institute for Water Research Technical Report Series
ISSN: 1839-2725
Assignee: Goyder Instiute for Water Research
Statement of
Nursey-Bray. Melissa, Arabana Aboriginal Corporation, Primary Industries and Regions (SA), SARDI
Abstract: Water is of paramount importance to the Arabana people who live in the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre region. Assessing the ongoing condition of aquatic ecosystems is an important part of management. Development of indicator frameworks that can incorporate both scientific and cultural values can ensure Indigenous involvement in management, but also facilitate ways in which local and traditional knowledge can be acknowledged as being of value. This project aimed to identify and document the values and indicators for water systems held by the Arabana people with the view to developing ideas about how future assessments across the whole region may: (i) engage with and then, (ii) build a template for cultural indicators across the whole region. This project was implemented using Indigenist and participant methodologies. Arabana people were employed as co-researchers. Three field trips and meetings were held to identify Arabana values for, and indicators about, water in their country. Results indicate that Arabana people value water in multiple ways including for survival, culture and identity. Interestingly, Arabana people also valued water variability and its absence: historical, dry or degraded water sites were noted as significant. Arabana people used a number of indicators or ‘signs’ to assess the ongoing condition of a site. This included flora, fauna, soil, knowledge, history, use, and pressure indicators. In many ways, the cultural indicators used by Arabana people have complementarity with scientific indicators and thus have potential to be built on and then implemented in conjunction with other indicator suites. A cultural indicator schemata is presented as is a co-engagement model for use in wider assessments with other Indigenous groups. However, this research concludes that it is not possible to develop a generic template for integration of all indicators across the region and questions whether or not this is really necessary. Ultimately, what is required is funding and investment into each Indigenous group across the Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre region to support each group to develop their own specific schemata (based potentially on the one we suggest here), and then allocation of funds to train and employ Indigenous people to implement them. The knowledge set built over time in this manner, especially if grounded in the principles of co-existence rather than integration, will also facilitate the conditions for effective and adaptive management. It will be a true complement to scientific indicators and knowledge, while respecting and incorporating Indigenous people aspirations in the region.
Rights: © 2015 The University of Adelaide. To the extent permitted by law, all rights are reserved and no part of this publication covered by copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means except with the written permission of The University of Adelaide.
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 7
Geography, Environment and Population publications

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