For us, Indigenous encompasses the place from which we see the world, interact with it, and interpret social reality.
- First and foremost, place (kula ni fuli, literally, "place situated in source," that is, place of one's existential foundation) in this context refers to the geographical or physical location of Kwara`ae district on Malaita.
- Second, place refers to genealogy, that is, one's location in a Kwara`ae kin group, both in the present and reaching backward and forward in time.
- Third, place means having land or the unconditional right of access to land in Kwara`ae through genealogy and marriage.
- Fourth, place means the unquestioned position, based on genealogy and marriage, from which one may speak to important issues in Kwara`ae without being challenged about identity or the right to engage in dialogue, such as during a communal meeting.
- Fifth, place means native fluency in both registers of Kwara`ae language, that is, ala`anga kwalabasa `low rhetoric' (informal register; literally, "meandering, unimportant speech") and ala`anga lalifu `high rhetoric' (formal register; literally, "importantly rooted speech").
- Sixth, place means the assumption that because one is already defined as Kwara`ae, one is knowledgeable about Kwara`ae culture, history, cosmology, ontology, epistemology, and so on.
- Seventh, place is accompanied by certain kin obligations and responsibilities that cannot go unfulfilled, and from which one is freed only by death. Such responsibilities include contributing to brideprice or bridewealth payments in marriages, uniting with one's kin group in times of land or other major disputes and for communal projects, and contributing food and other necessities to the family of a kin member who dies.
- Eighth, place means that one shares Kwara`ae perspective(s) through which to view and transform social reality, and be transformed by it -- that is, one shares Kwara`ae indigenous ontology and epistemology.
- Ninth, place means knowing cultural models and having a Kwara`ae cultural framework such that even if one is born and raised in another space, on going to Malaita one can quickly make sense of and acquire depth in aspects of Kwara`ae cultural knowledge that one previously did not know. The framework makes rapid learning possible.
The foregoing constitutes a very strong test of indigeneity. On the other hand, it also means that a Kwara`ae person can live anywhere in the world for long periods or perhaps permanently on a day-to-day basis, and still be seen as indigenous. Moreover, Kwara`ae persons can be born somewhere else and still be seen as indigenous so long as they are not of mixed blood. (Children of mixed marriages, for instance, are seen as Native Kwara`ae but not Indigenous.) Space (kula ni tua, literally, "place situated in dwell[ing]"; that is, place not of one's existential being but rather of temporary or even long-term staying) refers to a space that is not of one's identity or origin. Space has to do with the location where a Kwara`ae person may be at any given time as necessitated by contemporary conditions (such as going to an urban area to get a job to meet basic needs, or going overseas in pursuit of an education). The underlying image in kula ni tua is that one is sitting in a space that, should one get up and leave it, will be occupied by someone else. Space is the location a Kwara`ae person occupies while in motion or in circulation, to draw a metaphor from Murray Chapman's work on population mobility and circular migration. For the Kwara`ae, therefore, because of the possibility of space, a person can be anywhere and still be inextricably tied to place. Place is portable and, as we Kwara`ae say, "It's in our blood."
David Gegeo, "Cultural Rupture and Indigeneity: The Challenge of (Re)visioning "Place" in the Pacific."