Wuthathi-Meriam woman and prominent legal authority Terri Janke describes Cultural Heritage as:
Cultural practices, resources and knowledge systems developed, nurtured and refined by Indigenous people and passed on by them as part of expressing their cultural identity.
Cultural Heritage is…
- Literacy, performing and artistic works including music, dance, song, ceremonies, symbols and designs, narratives and poetry.
- Scientific, agricultural, technical and ecological knowledge including cultigens, medicines and sustainable use of flora and fauna.
- Spiritual knowledge
- Moveable cultural property including burial artefacts
- Indigenous ancestral remains
- Cultural environment resources
- Immovable cultural property including sites of significance, and burials
- Documentation of Indigenous people’s heritage in all forms of media including scientific, ethnographic research reports, papers and books, films, sound recordings.
Gumatj clan members performing bunggul (traditional dance) at the Garma Festival in northeast Arnhem Land, 2019.
Australia’s ancient and continuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage is fundamental to First Nations peoples. To destroy a cultural heritage site is to sever First Nations peoples’ inherent connections to their ancestors, to country, and to culture.
First Nations cultural heritage is living, so the definition is always evolving.
Sixty-five thousand years of uninterrupted heritage, demonstrated by archaeological evidence, makes our continent unique in the world… Australia’s landscape, waters, and seas, collectively referred to as ‘country’, are alive with a profusion of heritage places. Imbued with the essence of ancestral beings that created them, it is through these places that family descent and kinship connections flow.
Dhawura Ngilan: A Vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage in Australia