Whose Country? Native Title and Authenticity in Rock Art Research
Leslie F. Zubieta [+]
University of Barcelona
Jo McDonald [+]
University of Western Australia
Aboriginal peoples’ connection to their ancestral homelands is recognised by Federal Law through a legal process known as ‘Native Title’. The first successful Native Title claim in the 1990s invalidated the dogma of terra nullius - that Australia was an empty land before European colonisation. Despite the positive consequences resulting from this recognition, the legal and regulatory processes still pose many challenges for native title holders, contemporary Aboriginal communities and researchers working with Aboriginal knowledge holders. Maintaining authenticity, for both communities and the rock art sites for which they are custodians, in the post-native title era is highly complex. This paper discusses some of these issues in northwest Australia based on our experiences during the development of a conservation management plan for the Port Hedland rock engraving sites.