the issue of values head on by laying out answers to such questions as:
Isn’t Aboriginal knowledge in the land itself? How can knowledge be stored in the land and in databases too?
Aren’t ritual and ceremony important parts of Aboriginal knowledge? How can you recognise the role of ritual when
knowledge is stored in databases?
Access to Aboriginal knowledge is controlled by elders, and only certain people can know certain things. How doesdatabasing deal with these problems of privacy?
Databases are forms of Western scientific knowledge. Aren’t t
hey incommensurable with Aboriginal knowledge?How is this overcome?
If young Aboriginal people are using computers, doesn’t that impair their learning of traditional knowledge, and
alienate them from their culture? The answers in some cases led to more questions, but the organizers at least attempted to situate their endeavor in a
light of awareness. One answer acknowledges that “Often a lot of work and much skill and patience, is required toovercome incompatibilities … Western knowledge traditions a
re often not very good at recognising the metaphysics and
metaphoricity that is built into all knowledge” . Although not connected to the questions above, this quote fromLieberman embodies the spirit of the responses provided by IKRMNA: “To get ahead
in the modern world without losingtheir heritage, indigenous communities need to develop a biculturism that enables them to move between two cultures
and to combine certain elements of each harmoniously” .
The approach IKRMNA took in trying to reconcile some of the concerns they faced is echoed in a similar but
unconnected project, Ara Irititja (which means “stories from a long time ago” in the language of the Anangu people of
Central Australia). From its inception in 1994, Ara Irititja has gathered hundreds of thousands of cultural and historicalitems significant to the Anangu people for preservation in their growing digital database. Patterned after the ways
knowledge is shared in their community, the archive “is interactive and participatory at the
community and personal level.