Macquarie University
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Seven generations healing: traditional ecological knowledge, recording, application, maintenance and revival

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posted on 2022-03-28, 09:42 authored by John Hunter
The thesis is the result of a collaborative participant action research project. It was directed by an alliance of indigenous people in Australia and North America working together to record, maintain and apply traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in an attempt to address key indigenous aspirations identified within the framework of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The primary aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of Traditional Knowledge Revival Pathways (TKRP) methodology against the delivery of identified community targets. The aims of the methodology included the protection and restoration of the natural environment through the revival and maintenance of indigenous cultures, beliefs, languages and traditions. The research involved six indigenous communities documented as six case studies, two in the United States of America, one in Canada and three in Australia. The communities used TKRP as a means to independently record and apply TEK with their own resources and direction. The 6 case studies established a foundation to evaluate the usefulness of the TKRP methodology as a culturally appropriate basis to record and apply TEK against a Monitoring Evaluation Reporting and Improvement (MERI) tool predominately based on Natural Resource Management (NRM). The TKRP projects were monitored for a period of 2 years from 2008 - 2010 to establish data for assessment. The duration of the use of TKRP methodology by the case study communities varied little except for the Kuku Thaypan TKRP community based in Cape York Australia which initiated the TKRP approach. This community acted as a 'control' to measure success within the 2 year period. The findings of the performance evaluation found that the TKRP methodology is a culturally appropriate methodology. Its method of recording, maintaining and protecting TEK enhances opportunities for the application of TEK in a number of diverse areas. It develops professional and cultural capacity and addresses social issues. The success of the methodology was influenced by a number of factors that included historical circumstances associated with colonisation and sovereignty, the duration of application, resources, and most significantly partnerships and levels of capacity. However, the methodology applied over the framework of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples meets the expectations and aspirations of the participating Indigenous communities. The weaknesses of program delivery related to the central requirement for high levels of community capacity to successfully initiate and drive projects as well as the reliance on pivotal facilitators who have the cultural and professional mandate to maintain and develop partnerships as a key mechanism for success. Other issues included the problems associated with the technical resources and expertise needed to deliver the program and maintain the integrity of TEK recording, the limitations of Intellectual Property (IP) protection, and the application of TEK without strong partners willing to support community initiatives. However, the TKRP approach measured against the aspirations outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples successfully develops cultural and professional leadership resulting in the development of inter-generational community capacity and in situ maintenance, revival and application of TEK with associated environmental management outcomes.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Background -- Chapter 3. The pathway forward -- Chapter 4. Case studies -- Chapter 5. Discussion/


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 344-367

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Indigenous Studies - Warawara

Department, Centre or School

Department of Indigenous Studies - Warawara

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Julia E. Raftos


Copyright John Hunter 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




Australia North America


1 online resource (368, 11, 30 pages) colour illustrations, maps (some colour)

Former Identifiers