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Working with Indigenous science(s) frameworks and methods: Challenging the ontological hegemony of ‘western’ science and the axiological biases of its practitioners

Kate Harriden

2023 Australia

Globally, Indigenous scientific frameworks and methods have been damaged and derided by ‘western’ science, a strategy of the colonial project. Contemporary Australia is no exception, with the transmission of the suite of scientific values and practices formed over millennia in and for this place being actively prevented by legislation, government policies and colonial opprobrium. This paper shows how two crucial Indigenous science(s) frameworks, used alongside two Indigenous research methods, can transform hegemonic scientific research and fieldwork priorities and practices. This transformation occurs because of the focus of each framework. The first, centring country, requires decentring the human to bring forth the needs of the web of relationships that is country. The second framework, relational accountability, is about tending to a broad range of relationships, are often kin-based and including the other-than-human, with yindyamarra (or local equivalent). Relational accountability also offers an inbuilt ethic of care superior to institutional ethics protocols. By describing these frameworks and methods and discussing how and when to use them, this paper supports their greater understanding and more widespread use, particularly by Indigenous practitioners, so we may continue to (re)build what colonisation has damaged.

Centring country, deep observation, frameworks, Indigenous science(s), methods, relational accountability, walking country