Aboriginal history Environmental issues Heritage

AAA conference 2008: the land and sea session

A few months back I posted about a session that Daryl Guse, Cameo Dalley and I had proposed for the Australian Archaeological Association conference in Noosa this year. You can read that post here, but in short, the session was looking for papers about the way in which cultural heritage management is undertaken in the context of Indigenous Land and Sea Management programs in Australia. At the time we proposed the session we wondered whether it would attract much interest, however it seems it has. We had 14 papers proposed and have accepted 12 of those to go into the program. They cover a broad range of geographic areas with presenters coming along to discuss work in the Torres Strait, Mornington Island, eastern and western Arnhem Land, the Pilbara coast in north west Australia, several papers from southern Western Australia, another from the lower Murray area near Adelaide, western Victoria, western New South Wales and finally, several papers from the Wet Tropics area around Cairns. We are quite excited by the level of interest, particularly given that the session is not really about traditional archaeology (it is an archaeology conference after all).

My own paper is a joint presentation with Darlene McNaughton – my partner and an anthropologist at James Cook University. Our abstract is:

A foot in the door: mining, cultural heritage and Indigenous cultural and social values around land management

This paper explores the issue of managing indigenous cultural and social values around land and sea management in the context of large-scale mining related development in western Cape York Peninsula. There is little question of the important role that Land and Sea Centres play in managing these values: an emerging problem however is how to ensure these values are identified and managed in contexts where viable Indigenous land and sea management programs do not exist. This is a particular concern in the context of large scale mining related developments where existing Indigenous land management regimes may not be able to effectively deal with the scale and extent of land management issues bought on by mining. Without early identification it arguably becomes more difficult for Traditional Owners to have cultural and social values around a range of land and sea management issues incorporated into environmental management strategies of mining companies. Here we argue that cultural heritage management frameworks can support Indigenous land management regimes in such contexts by providing an opportunity for the early identification of social and cultural values around land and sea management.

The paper will be a little more heritage-centric than this abstract reads however we think it highlights some important issues that are often not discussed in the context of cutlural heritage management.

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