Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Knowledge
Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Over time, Indigenous peoples around the world have preserved distinctive understandings, rooted in cultural experience, that guide relations among human, non-human, and other-than human beings in specific ecosystems. These understandings and relations constitute a system broadly identified as Indigenous knowledge, also called traditional knowledge or aboriginal knowledge. Archaeologists conducting excavations in Indigenous locales may uncover physical evidence of Indigenous knowledge (e.g. artifacts, landscape modifications, ritual markers, stone carvings, faunal remains), but the meaning of this evidence may not be obvious to non-Indigenous or non-local investigators. Researchers can gain information and insight by consulting Indigenous traditions; these localized knowledges contain crucial information that can explain and contextualize scientific data. Archaeologists should, however, strive to avoid interference with esoteric knowledges, sacred sites, ritual landscapes, and cultural property. Research consultation with local Indigenous knowledge-bearers is recommended as a means to ensure ethical practice and avoid unnecessary harm to sensitive sites and practices.