AAA 2008: the Indigenous land and sea management session

I just thought I should give a quick plug to a session at this years Australian Archaeology Association Conference where a couple of colleagues and I are convening a session. The session is entitled ‘Land and Sea: Natural Resource Management versus Cultural Heritage Management’ and it is a joint session with Daryl Guse and Cameo Dalley. For the uninitiated, Land and Sea Management programs are a fairly common thing in Australia and they generally set out to provide core land and sea management services for Traditional Owner groups. They undertake various things such as environmental management work, managing or facilitating local tourism enterprises, managing heritage, managing outstations or homeland centres and all sorts of other important things.

I’m not sure where the title for our session came from – the session is not really about NRM versus CHM but more about the way in which NRM and CHM is undertaken in the context of Indigenous Land and Sea Management programs in Australia. The session abstract follows:

In this session we seek papers which explore the interaction of NRM and CHM in the context of Indigenous land and sea management programs across Australia. In recent years, these grass roots organisations have come to the fore as lead agencies in the management of what are conventionally understood as natural and cultural heritage values and resources within many remote areas. Within this context, Natural Resource Management (NRM) has gained a particularly high profile due to the imprimatur of many Government agencies to encourage ‘Natural Resource Management’ programs, i.e. fire regimes, weeds and feral animals. Funding arrangements such as the Natural Heritage Trust and even some environmental lobby groups explicitly favour such programs. This is despite the fact that managing cultural heritage (e.g. recording language, cultural heritage places and Traditional Knowledge) is of utmost importance to Traditional Owners and is often the framework within which NRM activities are understood and carried out locally. In particular, we seek papers discussing:

– successful approaches to developing cultural heritage management programs and projects in the context of Indigenous land and sea management;

– ways in which natural resource management are conceptualised or practiced as ‘cultural maintenance’ or ‘cultural heritage management’ within Indigenous communities;

– how Indigenous modes of natural resource management effectively address cultural heritage management outcomes (or vice versa);

– the changing role of archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners working in Indigenous communities;

– case studies on holistic land and sea management programs or community-managed cultural maintenance or heritage programs;

– successful partnerships between NRM and CHM bodies (including Indigenous Rangers).
I’m not yet sure if the session will get enough papers to actually make the cut, but we are really interested in getting a bit more discussion around indigenous land and sea management centres and the important role they play (or should play) in relation to managing heritage. My interest in this stems from my work at Weipa in the area of indigenous land and sea management where I managed one such program in 05-06 and am currently helping develop several other such programs there this year. I am not yet sure what my paper will be on but will throw some ideas up here in time. I am sure Daryl and Cameo will come up with some good papers resulting from their respective work in Arnhem Land and Mornington Island.

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