(CS EdX Sessions) Randell-Moon, Holly

Title: Indigenous Automation in the Budj Bim eel and Brewarrina fish systems: Cultural Responsivity in Cross-Cultural Indigenous Science Education

Presenter: Dr Holly Randell-Moon (Senior Lecturer)

Co-presenter(s): Nick Ruddell

Faculty / Division: FoAE

School / Unit: Indigenous Australian Studies

Session Type: Paper

When: Friday, 19 November 2021 @ 11:15am – 12:15pm)

Where: https://charlessturt.zoom.us/j/66936498609


In this presentation we outline how pre-invasion Indigenous engineering can contribute to teaching and delivery of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) materials in high schools and universities. There is a growing body of work that argues effective STEM delivery should engage with Indigenous communities, their epistemologies, and their aspirations. This presentation discusses and realigns the way we view the theoretical space that exists between western and traditional Indigenous knowledge systems by focusing on Indigenous engineering principles of automation in the Budj Bim eel and Brewarrina fish systems. The eel systems at Budj Bim are a vast aquaculture network designed by Gunditjmara peoples to manage and automate the flow of eels and fish. The Brewarrina fish systems, devised by the Nyemba peoples, are estimated to be one of the oldest human technologies and similarly to the eel systems, worked to automate fish farming.

Despite principles of automation underpinning the design and operation of many Indigenous agricultural and aquacultural practices, contemporary engineering and technological debates regarding automation exclude Indigenous perspectives. The purpose of the presentation is to show how western and Indigenous knowledges can be productively bought into a cultural interface and effectively taught in STEM education. Highlighting the case studies’ use of automation is an impactful way of connecting Indigenous engineering to contemporary STEM debates about technology, sustainability, and social inclusion, and engage students with Indigenous science as an ongoing and lived practice.