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Stories from the sky: astronomy in Indigenous knowledge

8 Dec 2014, 12:27 UTC
Stories from the sky: astronomy in Indigenous knowledge
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by Duane Hamacher (University of New South Wales)Indigenous Australian practices, developed and honed over thousands of years, weave science with storytelling. In this Indigenous science series, we’ll look at different aspects of First Australians' traditional life and uncover the knowledge behind them – starting today with astronomy.This article contains the names of Aboriginal people who have passed away.Originally published on The Conversation on 1 December 2014.Night sky over Lake Tyrrel in Western Victoria – home of the Wergaia people. Alex Cherney, CC BY-NC-NDIndigenous Australians have been developing complex knowledge systems for tens of thousands of years. These knowledge systems - which seek to understand, explain, and predict nature - are passed to successive generations through oral tradition.As Ngarinyin elder David Bungal Mowaljarlai explains: “Everything under creation […] is represented in the ground and in the sky.” For this reason, astronomy plays a significant role in these traditions.Western science and Indigenous knowledge systems both try to make sense of the world around us but tend to be conceptualised rather differently. The origin of a natural feature may be explained the same in Indigenous knowledge systems and Western science, but are couched in very different languages.A story recounted by Aunty Mavis Malbunka, ...

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