Ancient wisdom goes high-tech

Launching the Bundjalung Mapping Project last week were (l-r) NRMCA chair Judy Henderson, SCU mapping project manager Dr David Lloyd, Auntie Joyce Summers and Bill Walker.

A technical hitch nearly put an end to the launch of the Bundjalung Mapping Project a new digital way of preserving traditional indigenous knowledge and information before its lost forever.

Its an ironic twist, given that for 40,000 or so years Australias indigenous people had no problem with passing down wisdom and knowledge to the next generation. Then along came the meddling white fellas.

Us white people have the fantastic ability to foul our own nest, said Tweed Shire Councils Max Boyd, one of the guests at the Lismore launch last week. But lets hope this project gives the indigenous people pride in their wisdom so they can take their proper place in our community.

Preserving the wisdom of Elders and giving indigenous communities a greater say in how information about traditional land is managed is the aim of the Bundjalung Mapping Project, a highly secure, user-friendly database.

Dr David Lloyd, Mapping Project manager, said it was the equivalent of a filing cabinet, with folders and an index system, with only indigenous communities and delegated persons holding the key to open it.

This project is aimed at giving value to the knowledge of indigenous Elders and giving youth pride in their cultural history and pride in their community, said Dr Lloyd.Files which contain information of a highly spiritual nature will only ever be accessed by nominated Elders who can choose to pass on their access codes when the time comes.

Dr Lloyd said the database will also be a useful in the development of Aboriginal cultural heritage management plans, which local government uses for the preservation and protection of Aboriginal significant sites and places.

This project is a safekeeping for our knowledge, said Bundjalung Elder Bill Walker, to ensure our rights are protected.

Communities can record oral, visual and written histories, photographs, films and any other kind of digital media about their cultural landscapes and file them securely on the database.

Its a really good example of how Aboriginal Elders and traditional owners can work with contemporary researchers in harmony and keep these sites in as pristine a condition as possible, said Des William, Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council. I think its a forerunner for shire councils throughout the country.

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