Australian Aboriginal Studies: Issue 1, 2005

Jun, 2005
Product type: 
Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal
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Abstracts for Issue 1, 2005

Archaeology, claimant connection to sites, and native title: employment of successful categories of data with specific comments on glass artefacts
Peter Veth and Susan O’Connor

This paper argues that Indigenous utilisation and manipulation of post-contact materials should be given more attention in both routine and native title-oriented archaeology. We analyse a range of categories of postcontact occupation, including art, habitation sites, and implements based on introduced materials. We draw particular attention to glass artefacts in that they have the advantage of being near ubiquitous in the landscape. We would argue that judiciously treated they can be highly informative about the timing and nature of settlement and subsistence patterns after contact (revealing both continuities and transformations). They may also reflect on group identity and processes of aggregation during the imposition of pastoral, mining, forestry, defence and other regimes on traditional lands. Of the numerous Federal Court archaeology expert witness reports prepared by the authors in the arid zone, in all cases glass artefacts were recorded. Equally, in all cases claimants had some connections to and knowledge of sites where such postcontact artefacts were noted.

Contact archaeology and native title
Rodney Harrison

Contact archaeology in Australia is emerging as an important tool in the independent ‘verification’ of claimants’ testimony regarding the post-sovereignty occupation and use of particular parts of the landscape in a continuous and ‘traditional’ manner. This paper reviews the literature on post-contact archaeology and material culture in Australia, and provides an assessment of the ways in which this evidence has been used in native title claims to date. The utility of post-contact artefact forms, both in terms of providing evidence of post-sovereignty use and occupation, as well as in demonstrating long-term continuities in claimant land-use patterns, is discussed, with reference both to knapped bottle glass artefacts, the most well known post-contact Aboriginal artefact type in Australia, as well as other post-contact artefact forms such as stone artefacts and modified metal tools. It is argued that an examination of a broader range of post-contact material culture items and archaeological site patterning has potential not only in directly informing native title archaeology, but also in developing more complex archaeological narratives concerning both continuity and change in Aboriginal societies in the past, which may serve political and social agendas in the present.

Archaeological evidence in the De Rose Hill native title claim
Josephine McDonald

This paper examines the nature of some of the archaeological evidence used in the De Rose Hill native title claim. The archaeological evidence was not a point of contestation in this claim. Archaeological evidence gathered by the claimants’ archaeologist and the Crown’s archaeologist was seen as supporting several important components of the Native Title Act 1993. The methodological implications of collecting evidence for native title claims are discussed in terms of the broader ramifications for archaeological practice.

Nukun and Kungun Ngarrindjeri Ruwe (Look and listen to Ngarrindjeri country): an investigation of Ngarrindjeri perspectives of archaeology in relation to native title and heritage matters
Amy Roberts, Steve Hemming, Tom Trevorrow, George Trevorrow, Matthew Rigney, Grant Rigney, Lawrie Agius and Rhonda Agius

Australian archaeology has in past decades been subject to criticisms from Indigenous Australians for its treatment of and lack of consultation with their communities. Since these critiques the situation has changed and archaeologists are now required to consult with Indigenous communities, leading to improved relationships between many archaeologists and Indigenous peoples. However, there are still a number of factors that inhibit meaningful collaborative research. The utilisation of archaeology in native title and heritage research, particularly in relation to ‘future acts’ and ‘site clearances’, provides an added tension to this arena where different cultural values, politics and worldviews collide. Thus, it is now more important than ever that archaeologists have a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples’ ‘lived experiences’ as well as their responsibilities to the communities with whom they work. Part of this involves an appreciation of Indigenous research agendas. It is also crucial that archaeology understand its power as an important player in the politics of knowledge surrounding native title and heritage regimes in contemporary Australia.

This paper explores these issues through the ‘lived experiences’ of six Ngarrindjeri people who have extensive experience in native title and heritage matters, and was written in collaboration with two researchers. It is hoped that the ‘lived experiences’ of the Ngarrindjeri authors may be used to educate archaeologists as well as other researchers, particularly those who may be new to an Indigenous community, so that future relations between Indigenous peoples and archaeologists will undergo profound changes. Such changes will mean that archaeologists can work ethically, sensitively and professionally with, and more importantly for, Indigenous communities and thereby contribute to the improvement of native title and heritage processes.

Identifying Aboriginal ‘contact period’ sites around Darwin: long past due for native title?
Patricia M Bourke

Stimulated by questions arising from my own experience as an expert witness in the Larrakia native title process, I report here on preliminary investigations aimed at identifying Aboriginal ‘contact period’ sites around Darwin, Northern Territory. The initial findings, of uniquely Aboriginal urban places, representing historic Aboriginal activity on top of older pre-contact sites, provide evidence of continuity and change in Aboriginal settlement and subsistence behaviours on the fringes of Darwin. This paper suggests that systematic research and production of a baseline database of urban ‘contact period’ sites, to potentially provide important historical evidence on the activities of urban-based Aboriginal people, relevant for native title, is long overdue.

Native title archaeology: a synopsis of the role of archaeology in litigated native title determinations in Australia
Andrea A McCarron-Benson

The archaeological evidence used in litigated determinations has the ability to provide valuable data upon which archaeological practitioners can draw. Equally, the limitations of archaeology in native title to address issues of continuity, and the discipline-embedded limitations in being able to establish ethnicity and ‘boundaries’ in the archaeological record as required by the courts, must also be recognised. My research establishes the unique, but limited, role of archaeology in providing evidence for the requirements of native title, with specific reference to the length of occupation of a territory in question and continuing traditional customs and laws concerning it. My critique attempts to illustrate what the most relevant uses of archaeology to the requirements of native title might be, within the limits of the rules of evidence and the duty of the expert witnesses. This research, undertaken as a recently completed BA (Honours) thesis, establishes the need for revised methodology for native title archaeology.

‘Everyday archaeology’: archaeological heritage management and its relationship to native title in development-related processes
Luke Godwin

This paper reviews various case studies to examine the capacity for including cultural processes and practices in the design and implementation of development-related cultural heritage projects that demonstrate the maintenance of a body of law and custom consonant with native title. The paper shows that even apparently small cultural heritage projects linked to the development cycle afford an opportunity to gather a range of information that may likewise be of use at a later stage in native title–related matters. It then considers the design of terms of reference for cultural heritage projects that recognise that subsequent use of the results of that study may have to fulfil a larger purpose than may originally have been envisaged. Finally, attention is given to the role of the professional cultural heritage adviser in the context of native title. It is concluded that significant change in the role of such advisers is demanded by these circumstances.

Journal title: 
Australian Aboriginal Studies
Last reviewed: 12 Sep 2016