This paper maps ethical and epistemological issues around attempts by a university to negotiate with the traditional custodians of the Sydney basin, the Darug, to facilitate the intergenerational transmission of knowledge within their community, and through the university curriculum. The theory and practice of research raised some important methodological questions about what constitutes knowledge in Aboriginal and western contexts. The project brought us to reflect upon the epistemological basis of our research to consider whether it was history, ethnography, cultural resource management or memory work. As we worked through these issues during the process of consultation and negotiation with Senior Darug, the inquiry began to focus on how a university can acknowledge a commitment to its community. Such a commitment for a university must be built around attentiveness and respect, rather than an epistemology of control. We find that respecting the power structures and organisation of an Aboriginal community is a crucial step for a university in performing such a commitment. Respect for the established power relations in these communities constitutes the very basis of a generative methodology.