Working Alongside: Community Archaeology in Post-native Title Australia
Cultural heritage research is not impartial to local or wider politics. While community-based projects need to address local issues, histories and protocols, external forces such as legislation also influence methodologies. This chapter describes a process for developing collaborative approaches to research projects with Aboriginal groups in the Australian Wet Tropics that addresses local protocol and legislative frameworks to produce mutually beneficial research outcomes (of benefit to the researcher and the community). This process provided two-pronged outcomes—the researcher was able to identify, record and assess the preservation of cultural sites while Aboriginal communities used the project to assert ownership, build their own site databases, train younger land managers and rangers and record cultural knowledge. The approach also had limitations. Governance, resourcing, recognition of “native title” and other factors influenced both the capacity and desire for groups to participate in heritage projects. The resulting power sharing arrangements provides a framework for “working alongside” community groups in a post-native title landscape.
KeywordsCommunity archaeology Wet Tropics Native title rights Heritage ownership
We thank MaMu Aboriginal Corporation, Mullen Bun Goon Limited, Wabubadda Aboriginal Corporation, Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Yirrganydji Gurabana Aboriginal Corporation and all the individual custodians involved in fieldwork, administrative support and project management for the rock art and dendroglyph recording and our many associated projects. This research was part of the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant Objects of Possession: Artefact Transactions in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, 1870–2013 and individual projects received funding from the Wet Tropics Management Authority Student Research Grant Program, Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Grants Program and James Cook University Post-Graduate Research Scheme.
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