Indigenous Knowledge & Territories
Indigenous knowledge is firmly rooted within the territories or environments in which a community live. The relationship between land and knowledge, place and wisdom, is one which deepens over time, because it is only by remaining within an environment over a long period that one can really understand its rhythms, cycles and stories. It is for this reason that Gaia's work with partners and communities focuses on unearthing, reviving and protecting indigenous knowledge which risks being lost forever in the global race to "develop" and "industrialise".
Through long-term relationships and community dialogues we and our partners have been able to support communities to renew their confidence in the unique value of their own indigenous wisdom. It is the local people who best understand their ecosystem; their feelings for the natural world in which they are embedded arises out of their daily participation within Natures cycles, from dusk till dawn. Indigenous knowledge is living knowledge, kept alive through relationships and practices which dialogue with the land and with Nature. It is because of these relationships that it is living and responsive, not static.
Community dialogues enable the communities to learn from their Elders and to analyse what has happened to them; to identify their challenges and their priorities. Once a certain level of confidence and cohesion is reached, communities have found eco-cultural maps and calendars to be a very useful tool for consolidating their work into images which represent their vision and knowledge of their territory over time. By mapping the landscape in which the community has lived, worked and carried out rituals and practices for centuries, the communities develop a common visual image of their land. They are able to map their territory not just physically but spiritually, and energetically, showing the meaning embedded in their land and the vital role of sacred sites within it. Gaia has worked with partners and a number of communities in the Amazon and Africa, to share this potent tool and, as a result of this, we have seen huge shifts in the confidence and cohesion of communities.
Find out about our work in reviving and protecting indigenous knowledge by clicking on articles on the left hand side. You may also like to learn more about eco-cultural mapping, a process which Gaia and our partners have carried out with communities in both the Amazon and Africa to revive the rich indigenous knowledge associated with territory. Eco-cultural mapping has shown that by participating in a process which encourages communities to remember and revive both their physical and spiritual connections with their land, a vast amount of indigenous knowledge is unearthed and valued once again.
We realised that the eco-mapping methodology was a potent way for us to recapture memory, to work with the Elders and to stimulate inter-generational learning within the community.
Wanjiku Mwangi, The Porini Association, Kenya