Week 4

Category: Education

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Heritage Interpretation: 

Heritage Interpretation

Quick Review: 

Quick Review Explain three ways I might make an interpretive talk more dynamic What are five things I might include in my guide’s backpack and why? Who was Enos Mills? What are two common problems with publicatons?


Objectives To provide you with some information on the Australian Heritage Commission’s process regarding the protection of heritage places To review best practice in terms of Aboriginal cultural interpretation and outline common problems and issues in interpreting Aboriginal culture.


Readings IAA (2006) Interpreting Aboriginal culture and country. (The Iga Warta charter) – under reference material on website Reidy, J. and Roger, R. 2002. Who should interpret indigenous cultures and sacred places? Legacy 13(4): 26 – 28. Simon, J. 2003. In their own voice. The delicate matter of speaking for others. Legacy 14(1):13-18.


References Aboriginal Interpretation Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT. 2000. Aboriginal cultural interpretation guidelines for the Northern Territory. Australian Heritage Commission and CRC Sustainable Tourism. 2001. Successful Tourism at Heritage Places. Australian Heritage Commission. 2001. Australian Historic Themes.

Notes on Protecting Heritage Places: 

Notes on Protecting Heritage Places From the Australian Heritage Commission www.ahc.gov.au

A heritage place is...: 

A heritage place is... a specific area or site, perhaps a large area such as a whole region or landscape, or a small area such as a feature or building, which is valued by people for its natural and/or cultural heritage significance Why we protect heritage strengthens personal and group identity we want to pass it on social, spiritual, ethical or legal obligations

Protecting your heritage: 

Protecting your heritage

Step 1. What is your heritage place?: 

Step 1. What is your heritage place? Heritage places are important in different ways for different people They help tell stories about this land and its people They may have natural, Indigenous and historic elements that are significant

Step 2. Who has an interest?: 

Step 2. Who has an interest? Finding out who is concerned about and responsible for a place ensures the right people are involved helps find out about heritage significance ensures all important issues are considered Ask who has knowledge about the place? who owns and manages the land? who are the custodians and caretakers? who keeps records and information? who will be affected?

Step 3. What do you need to know?: 

Step 3. What do you need to know? Basic information needed for a place a boundary or area of interest information already available whether it is on a heritage register Check have all aspects of heritage significance been investigated? what gaps are there in the information?

Step 4. Why is this place important?: 

Step 4. Why is this place important? Understanding significance of a place important elements are called ‘heritage values’ places may have natural, Indigenous and historic elements which are significant we must know what is important to protect it Why a place is important is summarised in a statement of significance Significance can be also be expressed through video, songs, artworks and displays

Step 5. What are the issues?: 

Step 5. What are the issues? What issues affect the place? what is its condition? what laws apply? what threats and trends might affect it? what resources are available? Understand issues by talking and consulting widely identifying priority issues

Step 6. What do you want to achieve?: 

Step 6. What do you want to achieve? What you want to achieve is usually written as statements called objectives Objectives are written starting with ‘to….’ or describing the place in the future vision/desired future key issues (step 5) significance (step 4) objectives

Step 7. What do you need to do?: 

Step 7. What do you need to do? Develop strategies to retain significance ‘Do as much as necessary and as little as possible’ Each place is unique - good management is about finding appropriate and creative solutions Sometimes the best approach is to do nothing Examples of strategies erecting a fence to prevent animal damage restoring a collapsed historic wall a program to reintroduce a plant species ensuring Indigenous access so traditional practices are continued

Step 8. What is your plan?: 

Step 8. What is your plan? Responses to the first 7 steps make up the key components of a management plan A management plan also includes who is responsible for what, how progress will be monitored and when and how the plan will be reviewed Heritage studies and reports can back up a plan A concise plan can be very effective

Step 9. Do it! : 

Step 9. Do it! This is the stage where you put your plan into action. Do it! take action systematically according to the plan record progress Remember project management requires a project manager keep people involved and informed

Step 10. Review it!: 

Step 10. Review it! All plans and projects require regular and systematic review Review at times indicated in the plan Circumstances change - so plans will change Record results of reviews and why changes to your plan are necessary

What is culturally significant?: 

What is culturally significant?

Types of Cultural Resources: 

Types of Cultural Resources Built (eg. buildings) Modified (eg. gardens, mining sites) Natural (eg. caves, wilderness) Australian Aboriginal Classification by Zerba 1994

How do we decide if they have interpretive potential??: 

How do we decide if they have interpretive potential??

Cultural Interpretation needs a parallel process to the Burra Charter: 

Cultural Interpretation needs a parallel process to the Burra Charter Statement of Significance (SOS) Obligations arising from SOS Other factors (external factors, Physical condition) Develop management policy Statement of Policy Develop Strategies Evaluate and Monitor Interp Statement of Significance /Interp Potential Themes that interpret significance Other factors (visitors, site constraints) Develop interp policy Statement of Policy Develop Strategies (eg. Which medium) Evaluate and Monitor Burra

Iga Warta Charter: 

Iga Warta Charter Aboriginal Australians should control the representation and interpretation of their culture and country Control of the stories and representation of their culture and country in both written and oral interpretation Agencies must acknowledge and respect Indigenous rights and knowledge Aboriginal culture should be represented as living, dynamic and contemporary, capable of change while maintaining respect for tradition Aboriginal people interpret for their own country and not for other community’s country unless they have been given permission. Non-indigenous people should respect and understand this. IAA 2006

Guiding Principles of IWC: 

Guiding Principles of IWC Relationship Ask first Takes time Must acknowledge Aboriginal control, knowledge and skill

Best Practice for Cultural Interpretation: 

Best Practice for Cultural Interpretation Define Research Deliver Evaluate Support Source: ANZECC

Definition Phase: 

Definition Phase Define the project’s objectives, scope and resources Define the site and its Aboriginal stakeholders

Research Phase Common problems in representing Aboriginal History: 

Research Phase Common problems in representing Aboriginal History use of stereo-typed negative images use of Aboriginal art as a “sales aid” focus on traditional rather than contemporary culture misinformation lack of recognition of regional differences interpretation of sensitive information reluctance to interpret controversial issues

Research & Development Phase: 

Research & Development Phase “Open” and “Closed” information Stakeholder needs Aboriginal stakeholders Visitors Park Agency Collecting Information Protocols Copyright

Delivery Phase: 

Delivery Phase Use appropriate interpretive technique Monitor and control delivery to ensure interpretation is meeting objectives.

Selecting the Correct Word: 

Selecting the Correct Word Specify the X clan or community. “Traditional Aboriginal Owner” “Aboriginal Custodian” “Aboriginal” vs “Indigenous people” “Pre-history” “Dreamtime” and “Walkabout”

Words and Phrases to Avoid: 

Words and Phrases to Avoid Myth “Discovered by X explorer” “Recently discovered” Past tenses Details of sensitive cultural information

Interpretation techniques to consider: 

Interpretation techniques to consider Use of quotes presenting different Aboriginal views equal presentation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal views Use of analogies and “cultural bridges” Discussing socio-political climate Speculation Use props


Protocols Be very sensitive of use of images and be prepared to blank out an image if it is the protocol of that community not to show images of the deceased. Examples of Warnings Eg. Beware this interactive computer program contains pictures and voices of Pitjantjatjara people who have passed away (written in English and Pitjantjatjara and and presented orally) “due to Aboriginal Cultural Sensitivity this image is temporarily unavailable for public viewing”.

Face to Face Interpretation Important things to think about...: 

Face to Face Interpretation Important things to think about... Do the community want the story communicated Authority to share knowledge Protocols Names Acknowledging you are on Aboriginal land Continuity of culture Maintaining strong involvement with Aboriginal stakeholders

Face to Face Interpretation Important things to think about...: 

Face to Face Interpretation Important things to think about... Training more than one Aboriginal guide Cultural activities use of locally authentic interpretation Aboriginal language Do the community want the story communicated Protocols Educating the public about appropriate questions

Publications and Signs: 

Publications and Signs Guided by community advice and approval Protocols Intellectual property rights Language must be accurate and culturally sensitive

Written Interpretation Important things to consider...: 

Written Interpretation Important things to consider... Stakeholder involvement Use of Aboriginal language English translations of key words Use of standard English pronunciations of key Aboriginal words (e.g Arrente (Arr-un-da) Use of appropriate Aboriginal art Explanation of cultural context Protocols

Evaluation Phase: 

Evaluation Phase Objectives Stakeholder needs Planning improvements Cost effectiveness

Support Phase: 

Support Phase Encourage Aboriginal involvement and leadership Design culturally sensitive work routines Storage of cultural material Document the project Help others in similar situations

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