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Gnibi hosts Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge Symposium


Sharlene King
4 September 2017

Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from different nations - including the Bundjalung Nation, the Australian continent and the Pacific - have gathered this week on the NSW North Coast to further develop and articulate the Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge.

Hosted by the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University, the five-day Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge Symposium is being held at Ballina from September 4 to 8.

In the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the First Nations of this land asserted their sovereignty over Country and seek constitutional reform in order to determine their own destiny. Indigenous knowledge is a sacred link to the knowledge of the ancestors which can provide a vision for the future. 

The sovereignty of Indigenous peoples' land, language and knowledge is intricately interconnected and grows together. This symposium will focus on how Indigenous Knowledge is a process that is developed in relationship with community. It flows from Country and is described by Indigenous languages. 

Yarning Circles will be used to develop participants' cultural capacity to engage respectfully, insightfully and sensitively with multiple perspectives, and to recognise the impact of these perspectives on personal and collective understandings of the Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge.

Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the across the Bundjalung Nation, the Australian continent and the Pacific will lead Yarning Circles during this symposium, on a range of issues and topics related to the Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge.

Guests include: Professor Mary Graham, Professor Graham Smith, Professor Herman Pi'ikea Clark, Professor Maggie Walter, Dr Anne Poelina and Mr Fred Hooper.

Gnibi scholars will also present, including: Professor Norm Sheehan, Dr Shawn Wilson, Dr Stuart Barlo, Ms Rachel Lynwood, Mr Rod Williams, Mr Lyndon Murphy, Ms Janine Dunleavy, Dr Liz Rix and Dr Deborah Donoghue.

Professor Mary Graham is a Kombumerri person (Gold Coast) through her father’s heritage and affiliated with Wakka Wakka (South Burnett) through her mother's people. She has worked across several government agencies, community organisations and universities. In her lecturing, Professor Graham has taught in the areas of Aboriginal history, politics and comparative philosophy.

Professor Graham Smith is a prominent Maori educationalist and advocate who has been at the forefront of alternative Maori initiatives in the education field and beyond. His academic background is within the disciplines of Education, Social Anthropology and Cultural and Policy Studies. His academic work has centred on developing theoretically informed transformative strategies related to intervening in Maori cultural, political, social, educational and economic crises. Professor Smith is the foundation chairperson of the Council for Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi: Indigenous-university in Whakatane. 

Professor Herman Pi'ikea Clark is the Mark Laws Chair of Technology, Innovation and Arts, and Director of the Tokorau Institute for Indigenous Innovation at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, one of the three indigenous universities in New Zealand. Born and raised in Hawaii, Professor Clark has a background in Design/Art and Education. Professor Clark teaches Indigenous/Pacific cultural perspectives in Design while contributing to the development of Indigenous design theory and methodologies for research and professional practice.

Professor Norm Sheehan is a Wiradjuri man born in Mudgee NSW. He completed a PhD in Education at the University of Queensland in 2004, winning the NV Varghese Prize for Comparative Education. His expertise is based on identifying and activating existing strengths within Indigenous communities as a basis for relevant education and development initiatives. Professor Sheehan is the Director of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University.

Dr Shawn Wilson is Opaskwayak Cree from northern Manitoba, Canada and now lives on Bundjalung land. His scholarly work focuses on theories that underlying Indigenous research methodologies. Through working with Indigenous people internationally, Dr Wilson has applied Indigenist philosophy within the contexts of Indigenous education, health and counsellor education. Dr Wilson is the author of the book Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods and co-author of Ceremony at a Boundary fire: a story of Indigenist Knowledge. He is the Director of Research at Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University. 

Mr Lyndon Murphy is a lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge with Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at Southern Cross University. He has written and lectured extensively in the areas of Indigenous politics and Aboriginal affairs. He has recently returned from the Uluru First Nations Constitutional Convention and is actively contributing to dialogue on the sovereignty of First Nations.

Ms Rachel Lynwood is the Deputy Director at Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University. Rachel is also Director of Academic Programs and is the Co-Chair of the SCU Reconciliation Action Plan Committee - and the SCU Reconciliation Action Plan (Executive) Committee. Rachel has been Deputy Chair of the Gnibi and School of Arts & Social Sciences School Board – and is the incoming Chair of the Gnibi School Board 

To RSVP or for more information about the Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge Symposium: