ALIA Dreaming 08 – PM Concurrent Sessions – Jason M Gibson

Unpacking the indigenous knowledge centre concept – Jason M Gibson

Idea of a national indigenous knowledge centre was flagged at the 20/20 summit, with the idea of regional centres in support was favourably supported.

Inspiration has come from Mexico and other countries. Suspicion has been aroused by these centres as they seem to appear in countries where indigenous culture has been exploited or neglected.

In Central Australia alone there are 5 regions, with up to 20 languages in each region. Such a centre has to cater to them all.

NTL started testing this idea out nine years ago. Three remote communities were chosen to trial the knowledge centre concept. Had a vision of a physical space which would be interpretive, keeping, a museum, a library etc, the aim to improve access relevant to local communities and with the ability to assist in creating and hosting new content.

Several pilot services were launched but have not been sustained. In 2004, the Our Story database was launched and this has been successful. Research showed that the Our Story database had stimulated communities to conduct further research, including through the use ditigal resources.

Tea Tree Gully has had quite a successful result, with stories, place names, oral histories and much more. Internet access, books and information are available in a centre open 5 days a week. The community has taken ownership of their centre.

Indigenous knowledge had not been acknowledge as a legitimate structure until the 1980s. Indigenous peoples persisted in its maintenance and creation regardless. The need is now for improved access to information in its many and varied formats.

(session ran over time, so had to leave to get to next session)