Native Title and cultural heritage

Project status: 

Following strong interest from Indigenous stakeholders for a project focused on cultural heritage management and native title, this three year project will be a major focus of the 2012-15 NTRU Program. The project, led by NTRU Research Fellow, Dr Pamela McGrath, will examine regulatory regimes as well as the practical management of heritage by native title holders. This project aims to identify how current state and commonwealth Indigenous cultural heritage management regimes interact with native title rights and policy across a range of jurisdictions.

Impact statement

The project will make important contributions to the body of research literature about cultural management and native title in Australia. It will deliver a range publications and advice for native title groups to improve policy and practice through independent and critical research. The project will produce a number of publications, including an edited volume and a discussion and/or issues paper. The project has also facilitated an AIATSIS Seminar Series: “Culture in Crisis? The Protection and Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage Management in the 21st Century”, which brought together leading Indigenous, non-Indigenous scholars and public thinkers to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the contemporary context.

Project team

Project Manager and Lead Researcher: Pamela McGrath (Research Fellow NTRU)

Research assistant: Robert Williams (NTRU Research Officer)


Native Title Conference 2013, Panel Discussion: ‘The Right to Protect Sites’

Pamela McGrath, ‘The real world significance of 'right to protect sites’, presentation at Native Title Conference 2013: Shaping the Future, 3 June 2013.

Dave Johnston, ‘Who is Standing up for the Protection of Our Australian Indigenous Heritage Sites and Places? Australian Archaeology, Heritage Legislation, Cultural Heritage Management Practice and the Impact of Native Title: An Indigenous Archaeologist's Reflection of the Last 20 years’, presentation at Native Title Conference 2013: Shaping the Future, 3 June 2013.

AIATSIS Seminar Series Semester 2, 2013: ‘Culture in crisis? The protection and trade of Indigenous heritage in the 21st century’

The AIATSIS Research Seminar Series, convened by AIATSIS research fellows Dave Johnston and Pam McGrath, focused on contemporary Indigenous cultural heritage to explore questions of who’s got it, who wants it and who controls it. The series attracted a number of prominent scholars and specialists, who presented on various topics in Aboriginal heritage management, including:

  • 5 August, Dave Johnston (AIATSIS): ‘The protection and management of Australia's Indigenous sites and cultural heritage values: a crisis of neglect?’

  • 12 August, Barbara Glowczeski (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique): ‘Ethics of anthropological archives: academic heritage and Indigenous priorities’

  • 19 August, Ben Scambary and Gina Smith (AAPA): ‘Profit over protection: the Bootu Creek sacred site desecration case’

  • 2 September, Margo Neale (NMA): ‘If it’s mine can I take it back please?’

  • 9 September, Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh (Griffith University): ‘Cultural values, cultural heritage and agreement making in the mining and energy industries’

  • 16 September, Mark Dugay-Grist: ‘To Do or not to Do: Archaeology and its Future as a Discipline within Australia’

  • 23 September, Graeme Ward (AIATSIS): ‘A legacy of heritage: the role of AIATSIS in promoting Indigenous cultural heritage research and protection’
  • 14 October, David Ritter (Greenpeace): ‘Green and Black revisited: understanding the relationship between Indigenous and environmental political formations’

  • 21 October, Mary Edmunds and Sharon Reynolds: ‘The living heritage of Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula) and the Dampier Archipelago’

  • 28 October, Sam Wickman Juparulla: ‘Indigenous perspectives on how cultural heritage is being managed in Australia, through the eyes of a Wotti (lore man)’

  • 4 November, Peter Veth (UWA): ‘The art of identity: dynamism in Australian rock art and cultural resilience’

  • 11 November, Emma Kowal (Univerity of Melbourne): ‘Indigenous DNA’: biology as culture?


Reading and resources

Last reviewed: 22 Apr 2020