From: pdh@U.WASHINGTON.EDU (Preston Hardison)
Date: 1 Sep 93 09:07:22 GMT
Reply-To: Preston Hardison



The world has suffered and continues to suffer from a profound loss of indigenous peoples and rural groups and their knowledge about the natural world constructed from their intimate ties to land and place. This loss has been accompanied by neglect and the marginalization of their practices and beliefs, often figured as inferior forms of knowing to be replaced by universalized knowledge derived from the Western scientific tradition.

While the latter tradition has great beauty, power and utility, attempts to apply it universally without regard for traditional knowledge systems has in many cases led to failures in sustainable resource use and the erosion of biological diversity. The imposition of scientific management regimes without the participation of local communities and the incorporation of their knowledge systems has also contributed to the weakening and destruction of traditional religious, political and social structures with great beauty, power and utility in their own right. This has prompted debate on whether the neglect of traditional knowledge violates human rights, civil rights, and indigenous rights.

In recognition of these issues, there is a dramatically growing national and international interest in incorporating indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), including traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), into truly participatory approaches to development. Communities are recording their knowledge for use in their own educational systems and planning processes, grassroots networks of indigenous and rural communities for promoting IKS are emerging, national institutions are now regarding IKS as an invaluable national resource, and the development community designs development projects that emerge from problems identified and assigned priority by the beneficiaries themselves, and that build upon and strenghten community-level knowledge systems and organizations. is a forum for discussing issues associated with indigenous knowledge systems and traditional ecological knowledge. INDKNOW will carry notices about publications, projects, ideas and questions of individuals and groups working to understand, validate and apply indigenous knowledge systems and traditional ecological knowledge; to promote the use of indigenous knowledge as complementary to the scientific tradition; to expedite the obligations of States to support IKS under provisions contained in Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Convention, and other international agreements and conventions applying to indigenous peoples; to work for protection of IK and just compensation to communities for their knowledge; to support the international Indigenous Knowledge and Development (IK&D) network consisting of more than 2500 participants in 106 countries worldwide; and to facilitate the growing number of formally established indigenous knowledge resource centers.

Appropriate discussions on INDKNOW include the scope of intellectual property rights or other property rights regimes concerning the protection of traditional knowledge, methods for compensating peoples for sharing their knowledge and for protecting them against unfair exploitation, the relation of traditional ecological knowledge to the preservation of cultural and biological diversity, failures of traditional practices to maintain ecosystem health and meet human needs, methods and ethics for investigating indigenous knowledge, the role of community involvement in using indigenous knowledge for sustainable development, the relationships between traditional knowledge and the Western scientific tradition (e.g.: ethnomedicine, ethnobiology, ethnobotany; ethnozoology, ethnoecology, agroecology, natural forest management; etc.) and their complementary use for planning and decision-making, the use of indigenous knowledge in sustainable development, the close involvement of local communities with development planning, the development of formal and non-formal education systems for the transmission of traditional knowledge, and strategies for empowering local communities and indigenous peoples to strengthen and incorporate their own belief systems into their self-determined development.

The investigation of indigenous knowledge is contentious because it involves local belief and knowledge that may be sacred or belongs privately to a particular group. It is not the intention of this list to reveal such knowledge and, as such, subscribers should not post details of practices that are not already published or are generally known, that are sacred or private, that involve potentially patentable or commercially exploitable concepts, or that are offered without the informed consent of the originators of such knowledge until generally acceptable methods of compensation are worked out.

Furthermore, the list should not be used for notices about indigenous and rural political struggles, action alerts for halting human rights abuses or for the discussion of primarily spiritual beliefs. While the ability to practice traditional practices and beliefs closely relies on land rights and cultural rights, these issues are covered in detail by NativeNet (a set of electronic conferences sponsored by the South and Meso American Indian Information Center (SAIIC) and Gary Trujillo carried on the APC network, as an electronic mailing list, and as a Usenet list. Contact Gary S. Trujillo, and in conferences on the APC network (for information, send a blank e-mail message to We encourage people to subscribe to and follow the important discussions there.

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This list is facilitated by the Center for Indigenous Environment and Development (CIED), Seattle, Washington, USA; the Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development (CIKARD); the Center for Traditional Knowledge (CTK), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; the Centre for International Research and Advisory Networks/Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (CIRAN/NUFFIC), The Hague, The Netherlands; Cultural Survival (CS), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) and the Honey Bee Network, Ahmedabad, India; and the University of Washington Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB-UW), Seattle, Washington, USA. Facilitators help maintain INDKNOW as an open forum for discussion, and do not necessarily subscribe to all of the views expressed on the list. Other IKS networks are invited to become facilitators to INDKNOW.

For more information contact:

Prof. Anil Gupta Chairperson, SRISTI and Honey Bee Network
c\o IIM Ahmedabad 380015
Fax: (91 272) 427 896

Preston Hardison, List Manager
4224 University Way Seattle, WA 98105
Tel: (1 206) 547 2361
Fax: (1 206) 547 1666

Julian T. Inglis
Center for Traditional Knowledge
Canadian Museum of Nature
P.O. Box 3442, Station "D"
Ottawa, ONT K1P 6P4
Tel: (1 613) 998 9890
Fax: (1 613) 952 9693

Dominique Irvine
Cultural Survival - West
106 West Dana Street Mountainview, CA 94041-1223
Tel: (1 415) 964 5086 Fax: (1 415) 964 5087

Michael Warren
318 Curtiss Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011
Tel: (1 515) 294 0938
Fax: (1 515) 294 1708

Gerard van Westrienen
International IK and Development Network
P.O. Box 29777
2502 LT The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel: (31 70) 426 0325
Fax: (31 70) 426 0329