About the EDL
The Ethnomathematics Digital Library (EDL) is planned as a resource network and
interactive learning community for ethnomathematics, with emphasis on the indigenous
mathematics of the Pacific region. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is extensively
involved in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education (SMETE), and has
funded the EDL as a collections project of the National SMETE Digital Library (NSDL) under
The EDL has three primary goals:
To identify, review, seek copyright clearance, digitize, index, and archive high quality
ethnomathematics materials (with emphasis on Pacific island communities), regardless of
their current location or format
To create an online database of these materials that is reliable, searchable across a range
of parameters, and easily accessible to regional, national, and international users
To establish a virtual ethnomathematics curriculum and research exchange network that will
foster the development of culturally sensitive mathematics curricula and inform future research directions.
Over the past 20 to 30 years, ethnomathematics has developed as an academic discipline to explore the
interaction of mathematics and the culture in which it arises. "Ethno" can refer to indigenous societies,
as well as to groups identified by profession, religious affiliation, sport, ethnicity, and so on.
"Mathematics" can designate a wide range of practices, including methods of counting, measuring, and
calculating; symbolic systems; geometric and spatial applications; and ways of reasoning and inferring.
A basic premise of ethnomathematics is that mathematical ideas are mental constructs created by individuals
and groups in response to cultural activities. In the Pacific region, these activities might include the following:
Architecture and building
Barter and trade
Design and construction of canoes, musical instruments, jewelry, and household items
Sewing, quilting, and weaving
Tattooing and other body ornamentation
Toys and games, including gambling.
Partners & Services
PREL will oversee the development of the EDL. The following collaborative partners will provide support
through the establishment of the Pacific Ethnomathematics Collections Network (PECN):
Australian Academy of Science
Ohio State University’s Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education
University of Guam
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of the South Pacific.
Other interested groups will be invited to join.
The EDL will provide ethnomathematics information relevant to the following groups of users:
students and teachers in elementary and secondary schools
undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in institutions of higher education
curriculum developers and publishers
researchers and scholars.
The EDL will also encourage users to apply this information (for example, to carry out student projects,
to customize curriculum materials, or to undertake related research) and to submit their own materials for
The EDL will advance our current understandings of the mathematical constructs developed by indigenous
communities and identifiable groups, and foster the creation and distribution of culturally sensitive
instructional and research materials that acknowledge and respect these constructs.