Capturing Indigenous knowledge in water management processes: Wudjuli Lagoon Case Study, Ngukurr, NT
North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA) for
Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) and the National Water Commission (NWC), 2012
- Capturing Indigenous knowledge in water management processes: Wudjuli Lagoon Case Study, Ngukurr, NT (PDF - 2,745 KB) | (Word - 8,266 KB)
About this publication
Water is central to the laws, culture and religion of the people of the Ngukurr region. For tens of thousands of years people lived a hunter-gatherer existence in which they conceptualised and developed a sustainable system of land and water management. The arrival of Europeans to the Australian continent brought a European rationalisation of the environment, including science and technology, the expansion of a capitalist economy, the emergence of formal hierarchal organisation and the elaboration of the legal systems (Adams 2003). These four dimensions guided the way Europeans understood the landscape and sought to master it. In the 21st century, this worldview has emerged as the dominant narrative in contemporary natural resource management models.
In the dramatic transition of land and water management regimes over a very short time frame Indigenous knowledge has received little recognition, and Indigenous histories and biogeography are rarely valued as significant data to the sustainable contemporary management of water resources. This study attempts to reverse this phenomenon by bringing attention to the narratives of the landowners of Wudjuli Lagoon, entitling the interests, knowledge, practices and values passed down through generations. Foremost, the research conducted in this study draws on traditional governance structures since these remain largely intact and continues to govern water management processes in an Indigenous context. Landowners are constantly drafting conservation plans in their minds, and this study captures an Indigenous perspective on the environmental problems, goals and locally-generated solutions that are part of this process and which display the inherent responsibility of landowners to ensure that Wudjuli Lagoon sustains future generations as it has served previous.
Note: This report was jointly funded by the National Water Commission and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Government or the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication.