Document Sample
indigenous-knowledge-and-archives Powered By Docstoc
					                    AERI 2009 – Los Angeles

                         Indigenous Knowledge and
                         the Archives: Embracing
                         Multiple Ways of Knowing
                         and Keeping

                         Sue McKemmish & Shannon Faulkhead
                         (on behalf of Trust & Technology Team
                         and Indigenous SIG, ASA)

Renewed focus on Bringing Them Home 1997
  recommendations, including recordkeeping
Relevant Rights Statements
A milestone for Australia – Sorry Day, 13 February
  2008: The National Parliamentary Apology to the
  Indigenous People of Australia and the Stolen
Renewed national energy for reconciliation – how
  should the archival profession respond?

Renewed Focus on Bringing Them Home
• From 1910 to 1970 up to 50,000 children were forcibly taken
  from their families.
• Bringing Them Home tells some of their stories
• Findings included:
    – Need for Indigenous Australians to reclaim identity by
      knowing their family background and reconnecting with
      the places and cultures of their people.
    – Importance of telling the stories of post-colonisation
      experience, in particular of separation, within Indigenous
      communities and beyond to the wider Australian
      community as a means of honouring the experiences of
      these generations of Indigenous Australians and ensuring
      their place within Australia‟s history and memory.
    – In the longer term, the need for Indigenous communities
      to control their own historical documentation.

Response of Australian Archival Community

• Initiatives to provide better access to records and better
  services to Indigenous people seeking information for family
  link-ups, land claims and redress
• Greater awareness of need for culturally sensitive description
  and appraisal
• Consultation with Indigenous people and communities,
  especially re access and exhibitions
• Undertaken within paradigm that positions Indigenous people
  as subjects of records and clients of archival services
• The third recommendation - Indigenous community control of
  their historical documentation – has not been addressed.

Related Rights Statements

2007 UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
UN Human Rights Council‟s Joinet-Orentlicher Principles
    – the right for individuals and communities in post-colonial
       and post-trauma societies to know the truth about past
Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights
    – provide for the ownership and control of Indigenous
       heritage, including „documentation of Indigenous peoples‟
       heritage in all forms of media‟
2003/05 World Summits on the Information Society
    – advocated „people-centred, inclusive and development-
       oriented Information Society‟; recognised „special
       situation of indigenous peoples‟, and need to „preserve
       their heritage and their cultural legacy‟.

Parliamentary Apology to Indigenous Australians by
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 13 February 2008

   To the Stolen Generations, I say the following: as Prime Minister of
       Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Government of Australia, I am
       sorry. On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry. And I offer
       you this apology without qualification. We apologise for the hurt, the
       pain and suffering we, the parliament, have caused you by the laws that
       previous parliaments have enacted. We apologise for the indignity, the
       degradation and the humiliation these laws embodied. We offer this
       apology to the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters, the families
       and the communities whose lives were ripped apart by the actions of
       successive governments under successive parliaments…
   I say to non-Indigenous Australians listening today who may not fully
       understand why what we are doing is so important, I ask those non-
       Indigenous Australians to imagine for a moment if this had happened to
       you. I say to honourable members here present: imagine if this had
       happened to us. Imagine the crippling effect. Imagine how hard it would
       be to forgive. But my proposal is this: if the apology we extend today is
       accepted in the spirit of reconciliation, in which it is offered, we can
       today resolve together that there be a new beginning for Australia. And
       it is to such a new beginning that I believe the nation is now calling us.

Archives and Renewed National Energy for
As Indigenous and settler communities in various countries and
   regions have jointly reflected on their engagement with
   archives, there has been a growing recognition that Western
   archival methods reflect and reinforce a privileging of
   settler/colonist voices and narratives – often although not
   always expressed in written form – over Indigenous ones.
   Further, the conventional positioning of individuals as the
   subjects of the archive has had a particularly disempowering
   effect on Indigenous people whose lives have been so
   extensively documented in archives, often for the purposes of
   surveillance, control and dispossession.
Renewed national energy for reconciliation may be conducive to
   exploring the legal, policy and archival challenges involved in
   implementing the Bringing Them Home recommendation re
   Indigenous community control of their historical

Trust & Technology Project: Building Archival
Systems for Indigenous Oral Memory
About eighty Koorie people, the Indigenous people of South-Eastern Australia,
   participated in the project, along with researchers from the Public Record
   Office Victoria, the Koorie Heritage Trust, the Victorian Koorie Records
   Taskforce, the Australian Society of Archivists and Monash University.
T&T set out to find out about the experiences and opinions of Koorie people in
   relation to archives – oral and written – to enable archivists and Koorie
   people to develop systems and services which work better for Koorie
Findings highlight need for
     – Australian archival profession to understand the priorities of
         Indigenous communities and embrace Indigenous frameworks of
         knowledge, memory and evidence.
     – legal, policy and professional approaches that support Indigenous
         frameworks of knowledge, memory and evidence, and re-position
         Australian Indigenous communities as co-creators of archival records
T&T developed a draft statement of principles relating to Indigenous
   knowledge and the archives and a related action agenda.

 Stories are powerful. The courage of        Indigenous Knowledge
   the telling, and the richness of the
     content, can move people and            and Archives
 communities to rethink their identities,
   and the meanings and values they
   assign to their lives. Stories are a                       I think it is very important for us
      fundamental method used by                                    … the stories around the
                                                               biographical stuff of our family
marginalized groups around the world in                      and Ancestors, and also some of
their efforts to reclaim their history and                   the stories about culture and law
  culture, and assert their place in the                     … they are relevant to where we
                   world                                         are from, and for our kids as
                                                                   well, … probably the most
                                                                     fundamental thing is an
Australian Indigenous communities rely on sources of          individual’s identity, where they
   knowledge and methods of transmission that differ           fit in, and where they belong…
   from the knowledge frameworks of the wider                 Having some way to reconnect
   community.                                                     with family, community and
Oral memory is a very significant and storytelling lies at
   the heart of Indigenous knowledge transmission
   within communities.
Far reaching implications for the archival profession in
   Australia, archival institutions, systems and
   services, and archival science.

 Outcome 1: All forms and sources of Indigenous archives
 should be respected and preserved

All sources – stories told within families and communities, recorded
    stories, the records of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations
    – are valued.
Archival science & practice privilege Western expressions of memory
    and evidence.
Archival sources of Indigenous knowledge are fragmented & dispersed.
Dispersal of archival sources and fragmentation of Indigenous
    knowledge mirrors dispossession, dislocation and disempowerment
    of colonialism.
Need for frameworks and systems for sustainable community archives
    that integrate, preserve and makes accessible to the community all
    records relating to the community, in whatever form or medium,
    including government and church records, as well as community and
    family records.
Recovery and re-integration of Indigenous knowledge from non-
    Indigenous archival sources, and acknowledgement of significance
    of oral records are particular priorities.

Action re Outcome 1

The research team is working with
  stakeholder communities to ensure
  definitions of Indigenous knowledge are
  inclusive of archival sources, including the
  archives of government and non-Indigenous
A draft statement of principles relating to
  Australian Indigenous Knowledge and
  Archives has been developed for
  presentation to ASA Council in July 2009

Archives, state libraries and other
      repositories house many         Outcome 2: Indigenous people need
      significant records about
 Indigenous communities. These
                                      greater control over their archives
        are the products and
   consequence of colonisation,
 dispossession, removal and the
  relentless surveillance to which
      Indigenous people were
  Many archival records about Indigenous people are not owned by them.
    Indigenous people are not alone here: Australians generally do not
    own information collected about them by governments and other
    organisations. However, for Indigenous people archival records have
    been instruments of dispossession or family separation. More
    recently they are playing an important role in restoring family and
    community connections. It is essential that Indigenous people control
    these records.
                                      I’d want to know what they’re going to use it for
                                           and why. I don’t want them to use it as a
                                        means to be against the [tribe name] people.
                                        I’d never ever give permission for that sort of
                                        stuff. I’ll be very restrictive with the whitefella
                                       because it’s all about trust and knowing where
                                         they’re coming from. For to us these stories
                                                              are life.
   When you think back, when we went
  through our land claims, it makes you
  wonder … the access the government
                                             Outcome 3: Rights in
lawyers had to our families was unreal. It
really opened our eyes when we couldn’t
            get it ourselves.

 Human rights statements and Indigenous protocols say Indigenous
     people have the right to make decisions about the creation and
     management of their knowledge in all its forms.
 Indigenous peoples have particular rights in records which arise from
     the part they have played in the past in their oppression and
     dispossession, and their role in the present and future in recovering
     identity and memory, re-uniting families, seeking redress and
 But Indigenous people in Australia have few rights over records relating
     to them in government and other archival institutions.
 Many Indigenous people view all records that relate to them as their
     records, but the institutions that house and control the records do not
     view them in the same way.
 Indigenous people have access rights, but there are no rights of
     disclosure, and no shared decision-making relating to ownership,
     custody, preservation and access.
                                                        Why does everyone have to know
                                                        about anyone’s family unless they
                                                        give permission. Everyone knows
                                                       everything about you, but you don’t.
Action re Outcomes 2 & 3

The largest obstacle to the realisation of Indigenous rights in
   records is the Australian legal and archival frameworks. This
   could be addressed by:
     – Reforms to legal frameworks and extension of
       international and national laws and protocols to all
       records and archival sources of Indigenous knowledge
     – Re-definition of records creation enforcing broader
       spectrum of rights and obligations.
A research and action agenda for reform of legal and archival
   frameworks is being developed in consultation with the
   Monash Castan Centre in Human Rights Law. An
   International Workshop bringing together archival, legal,
   Indigenous studies and community experts is planned for
Outcome 4: A holistic, community-based approach
to Indigenous archives
Indigenous knowledge cannot be made to adhere to
   the usual institutional/sectoral boundaries of
   archival programs. Holistic, community-based
   approaches would bring together, physically or
   virtually, all archives of a community, regardless of
   their source or form, and would model community
   perspectives on the interconnectedness of Western
   and Indigenous knowledge traditions.
Actions re Outcome 4
     – Australian Research Council grant, Koorie Archiving:
       Communities and Records Working Together (Shannon
       Faulkhead, Indigenous Post Doctoral Fellow)
     – NAA pilot of a participant model involving Indigenous
       community sharing in decision-making about records
       relating to their community
  That’s right, just to put the record straight.
“That wasn’t the way it happened. This is the      Outcome 5: “Setting the
 way it happened”. People want to pussyfoot
around the truth … To read something that is
  incorrect is pretty hard because you know
                                                   Record Straight”
 that wasn’t the way it happened. If you can
     have your chance to be heard, then

   Indigenous people want to challenge the contents of „official‟ records by
       recording their own narratives and perspectives alongside them.
   International human rights principles and the experiences of other post-
       colonial, post-surveillance societies endorse this as an important
       means of acknowledging and limiting the ongoing potency of records
       which have been the tools and products of dispossession and
   Indigenous people need mechanisms to set the record straight,
       comment upon the inaccuracies or limitations of institutional records,
       contribute family narratives which expand upon or give context to
       institutional records, and present their version of events alongside
       the official one.
   Action re Outcome 5
   Implementation of KAS, a Koorie Archiving System based on Web 2.0
       technologies, by Public Record Office Victoria, Koorie Heritage Trust
       and Monash University

Outcomes 6 & 7: Archival education and

Archival education should enable students to recognise their own
    cultural perspectives and how these come into play in their
    work and research.
Students need exposure to the experiences of Indigenous people
    who have interacted with the dominant knowledge framework
    represented by mainstream archival institutions.
Initiatives needed to increase the participation of Indigenous
    people in archival education as educators and students.
Archival profession needs to consider its role in archival training
    for Indigenous communities.
Archival research relating to Indigenous communities should be
    conducted within research design and ethics frameworks and
    adopt participatory research methodologies which better
    reflect the values and rights of communities.

Actions re Outcomes 6 & 7

PacRim Pluralizing the Archival Paradigm Through Education
   Project (UCLA, Monash, Rienmen)
Inclusion of provisions to address inclusive education issues in
   accreditation and recognition processes
Development of inclusive and culturally sensitive curriculum
Scholarship and internship programs, e.g. Monash Indigenous
   Archives Scholarship (NAA, PROV, ASA sponsorship)
Advocacy action within Monash and in appropriate national and
   international forums re community-centred archival research
   design, ethics and methods
Publications providing “literary warrant” for community-centred
   research design, ethics and methods

Draft Statement of Principles

Principle 1 Recognition of all Archival Sources of Indigenous
    Knowledge: Archival sources of Indigenous knowledge are diverse
    and include records held in the archives of Government and non-
    Indigenous organisations
Principle 2: Recognition of Rights in Records: The rights of Indigenous
    people should extend to making decisions about the creation and
    management of their knowledge in all its forms, including knowledge
    contained in records created by non-Indigenous people and
    organisations about Indigenous people.
Principle 3: Recognition of Rights in Legal and Archival Frameworks:
    Given the extent to which Indigenous people are documented in
    archives, the circumstances under which many records were created
    and the part that these records have played in their dispossession,
    dislocation and disempowerment, as well as in the recovery of
    identity, reconnecting families, pursuing land claims,
    intergenerational healing, redress and reconciliation, Indigenous
    rights in records need to be recognised in legal, political and
    professional frameworks.

Draft Statement of Principles

Principle 4 Adoption of Holistic, Community-Based Approaches
   to Indigenous Archiving: Community-based, community
   controlled archival systems and services based on a holistic,
   approach to Indigenous archiving – bringing together,
   integrating, preserving and making accessible to the
   community, physically or virtually, all archives of value
   regardless of their source, form or medium – will best meet
   the needs of Indigenous communities.
Principle 5 Recognition of Need for Indigenous People to
   Challenge „Official‟ Records: Mechanisms are needed to set
   the record straight, comment on inaccuracies or limitations,
   contribute family and individual narratives, and present their
   version of events alongside the official one.

6. Recognition of Need for Inclusive Education and
Training for Recordkeeping Professional Practice

Principle 6 Recognition of Need for Inclusive Education and
   Training for Recordkeeping Professional Practice: A set of
   principles relating to inclusive, pluralistic and culturally aware
   recordkeeping education and training should inform course
   recognition/accreditation and the expectations set by
   employers and professional associations for ongoing
   professional development.
Principle 7 Researching Together, Rethinking the Relationship
   between Academia and Indigenous communities: University-
   based researchers need to overhaul research methods which
   position Indigenous communities as the subjects of research,
   pursue a participatory model of community-based research,
   and avoid approaches which involve a re-colonisation or
   misappropriation of Indigenous knowledge by researchers.
   The principles of community-based participatory action
   research need to be embedded in academia.
Ancestral Memories

  Acknowledgement: Artist Vicki Couzens, Gunditjmara Tribe, from the
  Koorie Heritage Trust Inc. Collection

  The T&T Project selected this image as its logo as it reflects the
  continuity of Koorie knowledge through the generations – that the
  memories of our Ancestors continue with us today. As Vicki said in
  Wrapped in a Possum Skin Cloak: „I‟m firmly in the belief that we have
  ancestral memories, that it comes from within‟. The T&T project found
  that oral memory is a very important source of Indigenous knowledge.
  Written records, including government records, are another. When
  researching possum skin cloak designs Vicki found this as well: „I‟ve
  reinterpreted those symbols, I‟ve done a bit of figuring out, and I‟ve
  talked to my dad a lot about it … I‟ve looked at some of those symbols
  and thought, “Well what do they mean?” And some I haven‟t got a clue,
  and some I‟ve gone, “This has to be what this means! It makes sense, it
  feels right …” If you look in George Augustus Robinson‟s writings … at
  the drawing that shows a map of eel traps, and then you look at one of
  the designs on the Lake Condah cloak – you go, “Well this has to be
  that. It just looks like it and it makes sense…” (Reynolds, J.R., National
  Museum of Australia Press, 2005)

The Project Team gratefully acknowledges the support of our industry partners: the Public Record Office of
     Victoria, the Koorie Heritage Trust Inc., the Victorian Koorie Records Taskforce and the Australian
     Society of Archivists Indigenous Issues Special Interest Group. We thank in particular Jason Eades,
     Chief Executive Officer of the Koorie Heritage Trust, and Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of
     Public Records for their commitment to the project. In his former position as Director and Keeper of
     Public Records, Ross Gibbs was instrumental in establishing the project, and we thank him for his
     ongoing interest in the project‟s progress since moving to the National Archives of Australia.
The Australian Research Council funded this research through its Linkage Scheme.
The Monash University Chief Investigators were Professor Lynette Russell (Centre for Australian Indigenous
     Studies), Professor Sue McKemmish, Emeritus Professor Don Schauder, Dr Kirsty Williamson (2003-
     04) and Associate Professor Graeme Johanson (from 2005) (all from the Caulfield School of
     Information Technology). Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records, was a Partner
Researchers engaged on the project at various times were Andrew Waugh, Graeme Hairsine, Simon Flagg,
     Rachel U‟Ren, Emma Toon, Merryn Edwards, Sharon Huebner, Dr Stefanie Kethers, Fiona Ross, Carol
     Jackway and Jen Sullivan. Diane Singh, the project‟s Community Advisor, played an extensive and vital
     role at all stages of the project. Shannon Faulkead was the Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry)
     PhD student attached to the project, although her contribution also extended far beyond the usual role
     of a PhD student.
The Team also thanks the Project‟s Advisory Group for their support at various stages of the project: Jim
     Berg, Kathryn Dan, Jenni Davidson, Jason Eades, Dr Jane Hunter, Angela Jurjevic, Michael Piggott, Dr
     Dianne Reilly, Joan Vickery, Chris Walker. We are grateful also to Koora Cooper and John (Sandy)
     Atkinson who were community representatives for the project at the Memories, Communities,
     Technologies Conference in 2006.
Colleagues Dr Livia Iacovino and Professor Eric Ketelaar contributed their expertise in archives and
     information law to the project.
Finally the Team acknowledges the eighty-one participants from the Koorie communities of Victoria who
     agreed to be interviewed as part of the project, along with thirteen archival service providers, managers
     and mediators who participated in stage two. Their preparedness to share their time, opinions and
     experiences is greatly appreciated and valued.


Slide 9: Liza Dale (Senior Curator, Technology and Sustainable Futures,
    Museum Victoria), „Stories and Storytelling: A Cultural Partnership
    between Museum Victoria and the Victorian Women on Farms
    Gatherings‟, Paper presented at the Setting the Agenda for Rural
    Women Conference, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. 16-17
    July 2002.
Slide 9: Trust and Technology Interview No. 42
Slide 12: Lynette Russell, „Indigenous Records and Archives: Mutual
    Obligations and Building Trust‟, Archives and Manuscripts 34:1,
    May2006, p. 35
Slide 12: Trust and Technology Interviews No. 37
Slide 13: Trust and Technology Interviews No. 11
Slide 13: Trust and Technology Interview No. 61
Slide 16: Trust and Technology Interview No. 64


•   United Nations General Assembly, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
    Peoples, 2007,
    (accessed September 2007).
•   The original Joinet Principles were adopted by the UNHRC in 1997 and were
    reviewed and extended in 2005 to become the Joinet-Orentlicher principles.
    They are available at
    pdf) (accessed July 2007).
•   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Our Culture Our Future: A
    Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights,
    1999, (
    (accessed August 2007).
•   World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva 2003 – Tunis 2005), Tunis
    Commitment, ( (accessed July

                    Thank You

Shared By: