AAA2020 Virtual Conference Banner 7 - 10 Dec

Indigenous Archaeologies in Australia: Shifting the Narrative from Decolonisation to Truth Telling

Kellie Pollard
Charles Darwin University

Chris Wilson, Flinders University
Jillian Garvey, La Trobe University

While progress has been made in Australian archaeology over the last few decades in regards to consultation and collaboration with First Nation people, there is still much to be done to fully decolonise the discipline. Given the current polarising political movements we believe that it is time that this important conversation occur with the focus on how archaeology can move forward to become more inclusive and embrace truth telling.

This session brings together theoretical and methodological approaches to Australian archaeology and how we can begin to reconceptualise ethics, research, and practice within Indigenous communities in an increasingly uncertain future.

We invite contributions from all sectors including private, museums, government, research and Indigenous communities working on the investigation, management and protection of Indigenous cultural heritage and archaeological assemblages.

Taking Control of Significance Assessment During the Cultural Heritage Management Process

David Tutchener
Flinders University. Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

Rebekah Kurpiel, La Trobe University
Robert Ogden, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
Anita Smith, La Trobe University

Cultural heritage management in Victoria produces hundreds of Cultural Heritage Management Plans a year. However, the level of input from Indigenous people in the significance assessment of places uncovered during this commercial work is minimal at best. There is need within the Bunurong RAP area to standardise the way significance assessments are produced during this process. This process needs to not only include Indigenous perspectives but create the space for Indigenous control of how these places are assessed and consequently preserved and managed.

The purpose of this project is to ensure that Indigenous cultural values drive the assessment of cultural heritage significance. Therefore, the questions that this project seeks to address is: Can an Indigenous driven cultural heritage significance rubric be developed? Will this rubric produce a space that will allow for Aboriginal places that are being assessed during commercial archaeological projects to adequately include Aboriginal cultural values? Through the production and implementation of this Cultural Heritage Significance Assessment Rubric, there are important outcomes that can be gained. Cultural heritage significance assessments can be used as a tool to standardise results, empower traditional owners, promote useful and comparative science, add meaning to the cultural heritage management process and instil cultural relevance to the outcomes of the Cultural Heritage Management Plans.

The Archaeology of Everyday Racism in Australia

Claire Smith
Flinders University

Kellie Pollard, Charles Darwin University
Jordan Ralph, Flinders University
Jasmine Willika, Flinders University
Antoinette Hennessey, Flinders University
Elizabeth Doherty, Flinders University
Gary Jackson, Flinders University

This presentation focuses on the archaeology of everyday racism in Australia. Subtle forms of racism permeate daily life through jokes, stereotypes and the omission or exclusion of particular groups. This ‘everyday racism’ has a material dimension that maintains and reinforces racially-based inequality. The power of everyday racism is discussed in terms of examples ranging from posters at community centres to the recording of cemetery plots, from relatively simple omissions to government-sponsored racism.

Towards an Australian Ochre Charter

Dave Johnston
Director, Aboriginal Archaeologists Australia

Australia’s Indigenous archaeologists have long spoken up about the nation’s ever diminishing Indigenous heritage legislation and the effects it has had on the management and protection of our significant heritage sites and places. This ongoing systemic destruction of our history and heritage directly impacts the social and emotional well- being of all Indigenous Australians, as our identity and our right to exist and express our long association to this country continues to be treated with disdain. The deliberate destruction of our sites, allowed  by governments to accommodate commercial developments and interests (including mining) has unfortunately been aided and abetted by the many, ‘company archaeologists’, that cater to those interests and that of their own.

From whatever cultural heritage management angle or cultural perspective you view the situation, it is an international disgrace to Australia, our Indigenous communities and our Archaeological Discipline. It is time to call this situation out for what it is – ‘Racism and Greed’- and to call out those from our Archaeological discipline who continue to be complicit in the destruction of our First Australian’s heritage, through accepting payment for services from those destroying Australia’s invaluable cultural heritage.

This paper, presents a proposed ‘Ochre Charter’ for Australia’s Indigenous heritage management future,  outlining the minimum requirements necessary to re-commence addressing nationally, Indigenous heritage protection reform.”

Culturally Appropriate Research Collaborations on Dja Dja Wurrung Country

Amos Atkinson
Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Djandak

Aunty Marilyne Nicholls, Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Djandak
Pauline Ugle, Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Djandak
Jillian Garvey, La Trobe University
Rebekah Kurpiel, La Trobe University
Susan Lawrence, La Trobe University
Nicola Stern, La Trobe University
Julie Andrews, La Trobe University
Anita Smith, La Trobe University
Richard Cosgrove, La Trobe University
Peter Davies, La Trobe University
Katherine Thomas, La Trobe University
Nathan Wong
Jon Marshallsay

This talk will share details about the establishment of a new collaborative research partnership between the Yung Balug clan of the Dja Dja Wurrung language group in central Victoria, and Aboriginal researchers and archaeologists from La Trobe University. Combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and western science, the projects being worked on under the umbrella of this partnership will investigate cultural change across country, through both time and space, and their specific direction will be driven by what we want to know about our Country and what we want to achieve as a community.

To ensure that this project is culturally appropriate, and community led, we have established a structured research partnership between the Traditional Owners and La Trobe University. The research contracts and MoU we have developed ensure that we have certainty about important project details, such as how Intellectual Property will (and will not be) shared and how data will be stored.

These projects will have a number of significant outcomes and impacts, both tangible and intangible. There will be ongoing reciprocal exchange of knowledge between the Yung Balug Traditional Owners and La Trobe researchers about Djandak (Country), Gatjin (water) and Wi (fire), and how each relates to the cultural landscape. This will provide multiple benefits to the specific ‘cultural heritage’, ‘bush tucker and medicine’ and ‘rivers and waterways’ management goals in the Boort Yung Balug Djarra Dja Dja Wurrung Healthy Country Plan. It is anticipated that these new research projects will also contribute to one of the primary long-term goals of the Country Plan; having the Lake Boort Cultural Landscape and its scarred trees recognised as one of the key Aboriginal cultural heritage places in Australia and contribute to a National Heritage Listing.

Black Lives Matter: What’s that got to do with Archaeology?

Kellie Pollard
Charles Darwin University

The effect of the BLM movement that swept the world from north America left an abiding impact on social justice movements in Australia where ‘Blak’ lives matter. The government’s latest close the gap targets omit any reference explicit or otherwise to history or heritage, with the possible but vague notion of interests in heritage in target 15(a) “By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in Australia’s landmass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests”, and target 15(b) “By 2030, a 15 per cent increase in areas covered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests in the sea”. Clearly, a lot is to be done to generate greater appreciation of the relationship between Indigenous health and well-being and rights to country, and the related sustenance of Indigenous health and well-being deriving from rights to visit and care for cultural places of importance on land and seascapes. Looking at the new close the gap targets though, one could be forgiven for assuming this relationship is not as important as education, health (cognitive, bio-medical, psychiatric), employment, housing and mortality disparity primarily, and secondarily incarceration. By ignoring the relevance of history and heritage the new gap targets ignore 250 years of land injustice especially as it relates to the trauma Indigenous people suffer from detrimental impacts of capitalism such as mining and development on blak heritage. This paper will focus on how BLM is an opportunity for archaeologists who work with Indigenous communities to re-frame the conversation about why it’s critical Indigenous voices must play a leading role in disciplinary pedagogy and advice to government about the relationship between Indigenous health and well-being and caring for country and heritage and the need for heritage law and policy reform.

Approaching Indigenous Archaeologies in Australia: Where are we at?

Chris Wilson
Flinders University

Where are we?

Indigenous archaeology is more than just rescue/salvage investigations and research collaborations and is now becoming heavily relied upon in our national public arena in the areas of native title, higher education, museum studies, Indigenous science, health, and well-being. How do we approach our work collectively and begin to shift the narrative to empower Indigenous communities? This paper will reflect on recent approaches to Indigenous archaeologies in Australia. It will problematise some of the key issues that continue to impact Indigenous communities around cultural heritage and caring for country in Australian Archaeology from papers presented and experiences of working with the Ngarrindjeri community in South Australia.

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