What is Traditional Knowledge?

What is Traditional/Indigenous Knowledge?

Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge that is unique to a culture or society. Other names for it include ‘local knowledge’, ‘folk knowledge’, ‘people’s knowledge’, ‘traditional wisdom’ or ‘traditional science’. This knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation, health care, education, conservation and the wide range of other activities that sustain societies in many parts of the world.

The belief underscoring this Conference is that funds of knowledge, when considered in tandem, can bring out the best strategies and models for sustainable futures. The rights and voice of Indigenous peoples around water, food and seed sovereignty, environmental use, and policy-making are essential to these ends.                                                                                                     Definition: UNESCO; Photo: Courtesy of Visit Tucson.         


A Call for Cross-Cultural Dialogue about the Future of Water and Food in Arid Lands

By Gary Paul Nabhan, W.K. Kellogg Chair in Food and Water Security, University of Arizona

We invite you to join with others of many cultures for a dialogue about the future of water and food in desert landscapes of this planet. Along with its many partners such as the International Traditional Knowledge Institute, the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is honored to be hosting and convening this dialogue that will include  practitioners of both “Indigenous” and Western” sciences. We ourselves simply wish to listen and to better understand what these distinctive funds of knowledge can offer toward more equitable, elegant and energy-efficient means of managing water and food resources in arid zones.

Our interest is fostering more productive dialogue and long-term collaboration among those conversant with both Traditional Knowledge and “modern” knowledge of desert food and water resources. We wish to grasp where they see potential complementarities, conflicts and creative tensions between these funds knowledge. Such collaborations can potentially move us all toward a more just and resilient future in the face of climate change.

Click here to read the entire article, which includes a table contrasting Goals, Participants, Frameworks, Worldviews, Methodological concerns, and Location/Scales across the domains of Indigenous science/Traditional knowledge, Western science, and Citizen science.