Proud Kuku-Yalanji man and founder and CEO of Indigi Lab
“Much of my upbringing in Northern Queensland was spent on Yalanji Country learning cultural practices including the community’s land management practices. That cultural knowledge led me into a career in the media sector, where I found myself working on projects and covering stories about Indigenous science. It really opened my eyes to the fact that this ancient knowledge didn’t really have a voice – Western science was the only scientific practice that held any kind of importance. So that’s where the idea to launch Indigi Lab came from, about six years ago, to educate people about Indigenous science: what it means, how it’s different to Western science, and how the two can be merged.
“One of the key differences to Western Science is that First Nations land management is really culturally and geographically specific because local communities understand their Country with really deep insight. So when we started Indigi Lab, its central goal was to find ways that could inform and embed itself in the way we use the land today, and that has inevitably aligned much of the work we do with sustainability goals.
“Partly that’s about bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientists to drive discussions and thought leadership, to ask the question: ‘What’s the next step? How can we really look at what’s happening today, at what social factors are involved, and collaborate and work together to solve these huge issues, like climate change?’
“For many First Nations people, this summer has brought such a deep sadness, not just because of what has happened to the land, but because we knew it was coming. Ever since the environmental movement began in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there has been a disconnection between eco-activism and Indigenous culture and knowledge. And I think that’s because people see the land as a resource, rather than a brother or a sister or a mother.
“Very little to no knowledge from Indigenous perspectives is embedded in fire management or water management strategies, and yet our culture is deeply rooted in how to work with the elements and respect the elements. All my community can really do is continue to show that fire management practices are the way to go, to continue to share our understanding of how the ecology has changed since colonisation. Just listen to us, that’s all we ask.”