Indigenous knowledge is rooted in culture and tradition, and refers to place-based understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings.
1. Indigenous knowledge comes from a range of sources and is a dynamic mix of past tradition and present invention with a view to the future. The view to the future is highly relevant in the context of climate change and its influence on the environment, and in the context of migration of indigenous populations to more urbanized areas.
2. Indigenous is also referred to as autochthonous, tribal, traditional, aboriginal or by other nomenclatures according to place and academic discipline.
3. This knowledge is integral to cultural complexes, which also encompass language, systems of classification, resource use practices, social interactions, values, ritual, and spirituality.
4. Indigenous knowledge is not just locally based and can be expressed and applied at regional, or even national and transnational scales.
5. See also “Local knowledge”.
Adapted from Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS). UNESCO. (2022, January 6). Retrieved March 3, 2023 and Sillitoe, P. (2006). Indigenous knowledge in development. Anthropology in Action, 13(3), 1-12.
Reference for Note 1: Sillitoe, P. (2006). Indigenous knowledge in development. Anthropology in Action, 13(3), 1-12.
URL: Berghahn Journals
Reference for Note 3: Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS). UNESCO. (2022, January 6). Retrieved March 3, 2023.
Meghalaya’s living root bridges
Situated in the north-east region of India, Meghalaya is famous for its high rainfall, sub-tropical broadleaf forests and biodiversity. In the West Jaintia Hills district and East Khasi Hills district, the local Khasi and Jaintia tribal communities have trained the rubber (Ficus elastica) trees to form bridges, helping more than 70 remote villages stay connected. The roots of rubber trees are manipulated to grow horizontally across the numerous rivers that traverse the hills. These bridges, locally called jing kieng jri, have strong and deep roots that provide a stable foothold, but take around 10-15 years to develop. Their load-bearing capacity progressively increases with time, making it increasingly resilient and robust. The longest known living root bridge is the 50m long Rangthylliang bridge which hangs 30m above ground. There are 72 living root bridge cultural landscapes (LRBCL) villages in the state.
These bridges have withstood extreme disasters for centuries and represent a profound human-environment symbiotic relationship. They play an essential socio-economic role and contribute to the ecology through forest and riparian restoration. They have a remedial impact on surrounding soil, water, and air. The local community is also involved in the growth process across multiple generations. These bridges are now on UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites.
- Chaudhuri, P., Bhattacharyya, S., & Samal, A. C. (2016). Living Root Bridge: A potential no cost eco-technology for mitigating rural communication problems. Int. J. Exp. Res. Rev, 5, 33-35.
- Shankar, S. (2015, September). Living Root Bridges: State of knowledge, fundamental research and future application. In Proc. of 2015 IABSE Conf.—Structural Engineering: Providing Solutions to Global Challenges (Vol. 105, pp. 1-8).
- Azad, S. (2022, September 23). Centuries-old living root bridges of Meghalaya hit by water scarcity. The Times of India. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
- Lifestyle Desk. (2022, March 29). Meghalaya's Living Root Bridges in UNESCO's Tentative List of World Heritage Sites; know more about them. The Indian Express. Retrieved December 23, 2022.