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AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference 2014 Breaking Barriers in Indigenous Research and Thinking Professor Dennis Foley School of Humanities and.

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Presentation on theme: "AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference 2014 Breaking Barriers in Indigenous Research and Thinking Professor Dennis Foley School of Humanities and."— Presentation transcript:

1 AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference 2014 Breaking Barriers in Indigenous Research and Thinking Professor Dennis Foley School of Humanities and Social Science The University of Newcastle

2 Australian Aboriginal Tourism: Still an opportunity, but keep the culture intact

3 Warami

4 The Diversity of Aboriginal Australia In the late 18th century, there were between 350 and 750 distinct Aboriginal social groupings, and a similar number of languages or dialects Dalby, AndrewDalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Bloomsbury Publishing plc. pp. 43. ISBN 0-7475-3117-X. ISBN0-7475-3117-X Walsh, Michael. 1991. Overview of indigenous languages of Australia. In Suzane Romaine (ed), Language in Australia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33983-9ISBN 0-521-33983-9 Key point: diversity of language and culture Professor Eve Fesl.

5 John McCorquodale legal historian since the time of white settlement governments have used no less than 67 classifications or definitions to determine who is an Aboriginal Person (Commonwealth of Australia 1991) Key Point: Inability of Colonial Australia to define our identity


7 So why does Aboriginal culture become uniformly defined

8 ABSTRACT The paper looks at the shortcomings in cultural heritage tourism, supported by a recent small qualitative case study of 20 German, English, Irish and Norwegian visitors together with a supporting literature review from the Indigenous Australian author’s standpoint However let us look at some of the issues in the traditional lands of my mother and sisters matrilineal culture

9 ‘The last member of the last tribe’ … as he dances on a boat in Sydney harbour to a robotic trance designed purely for the international tourist watching another blackfella in a red nappy with the mandatory white handprints and didgeridoo, an instrument commercialised within the tourism industry and by Aboriginal performers who do not respect its sacredness … yet it is a standard backdrop to any Aboriginal performance in Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth Sydney Harbour's Authentic Aboriginal Cultural Cruise

10 ‘The last member of the last tribe’ Words of a usurper who has no blood connection to this land: first recorded in the evidence of Mahroot in 1845 to a parliamentary enquiry in the broader discussion and context of debating the justification of child removal in lieu of alleged infanticide practices. ‘The last of the tribe’ is a convention in Australian Literature; T. G. Strelow, Spencer, Mountford and Henry Kendall’s poem of 1869. The image to the side is from the Victorian Reader, a School Textbook in Victoria in 1928 entitled ‘The Last of His Tribe’ which included Kendall’s poem. The convention was a key component of ANTA’s conferring of a moribund black ‘race’ 1930’s The last of his tribe is a phrase commonly used by a former ‘Heritage Advisor’ to the Local Aboriginal Land Council and a former Director and advisor to the same cultural experience cruise Possibly a script from something read?

11 Now in Sydney traditional culture determines that a yidaki is alien; rather a chorus of possum skin drums and other wooden percussion instruments are the traditional musical instruments. Not a termite hollowed out stick! The ‘Didg’ in Sydney is reinvented-hybrid culture, no doubt like the peace pipe, head feathers and dream catchers are to our American First Nations cousins as they are in turn trivialised and sold in flea markets loosing their cultural significance Set sail on a journey to discover the stories of the Eora, Cadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people. Come ashore on an island in Sydney Harbour to an authentic Aboriginal cultural performance

12 The justification to this ethical problem in Australia is that Aboriginal Tourism has been portrayed by several governments as the economic alternative to welfare and indeed is seen by some as a means to make a quick dollar without respect for cultural heritage as the operators (black & white) invent stories, dances or songs or just pure ignorance by the performer who thinks they know what the tourist is looking for Sydney Harbour's most un-Authentic Aboriginal Cultural Cruise Retail Prices valid to 31 March 2013 Adults $60 Concession $45 Child (5-14 yrs) $40

13 Mr John Moriarty, well known Indigenous identity and businessman, informed me about his fear of the ‘invention’ or ‘re-invention’ of Aboriginal culture that was happening in Sydney by some sections of the community (2008)

14 Susan Moylan-Coombs, well known TV producer and community identity also is concerned over the ‘un-authentic’ Aboriginal stories being taught to a gullible public (2013)

15 Busking Industry Circular Quay


17 APPLYING FOR A BUSKING PERMIT The Authority is the issuer of permits for busking at Darling Harbour and The Rocks and Circular Quay. The issue of permits subject to - the provision valid public liability insurance, -valid City of Sydney permit or an ACAPTA P.A.S.S. cost $20 Application can be made online or in person with an appointment at a precinct office.

18 Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council have developed initiatives to promote Aboriginal busking within Circular Quay and Darling Harbour … Performers at this pitch must be identified as Aboriginal through accreditation by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council All Aboriginal performers must hold a busking permit and public liability insurance (in the sum of $AUD10 million)

19 an organisation set up under Land Rights legislation that has no traditional owner representation determines Aboriginal Accreditation

20 Dr Barry Jones AO past Vice President Australia ICOMOS In November 2003 the Heritage office co-hosted the Australian ICOMOS Annual Conference at North Head, in the plenary Barry Jones concluded that … the key issue of the interpretation and presentation of Aboriginal cultural heritage is knowing the right people to speak to Barry Jones raised the question: if ICOMOS cannot get it right who can!

21 At such a prestigious Cultural Heritage conference ICOMOS and the Heritage Office did not recognise the traditional owners and therefore missed the opportunity to understand the cultural significance of the physical site that they were on

22 Professor John Mulvaney Professor Mulvaney the Australian Grandfather of Archaeology and ethical scholarship after reading ‘Repossession’ wrote to me and apologised for getting it wrong, he now understood that our culture was alive

23 To illustrate the division in knowledge between the traditional owner and the Land Rights organisation propped up by government The local Aboriginal Land Council published a book claiming that North Head was a Whales Tail / Tale

24 North Head called Car-rang gel or Gar-rang gel or Car-rang gul …. Is a totemic landscape And a Koradji ceremonial site Car-rang (n.b. C can be replaced G or a K in translation) means Pelican & gel gul or gal determines place Car-rang gel = Pelicans land

25 North Head has nothing to do with whales This is a falsehood invented by the Local Aboriginal Land Council to suit their own purpose


27 WARNING: whoever controls the story controls the cultural heritage… thus Santa is now a myth!


29 Experience a Koomurri didgeridoo workshop in a natural bush setting right in the heart of the Sydney CBD … From beginner to advanced students Private lessons start from $120. Duration : 60-90 minutes Gather a group of friends and save with Group bookings for minimum of 5 people starting from $40 per person. We supply all tools and didgeridoos for the whole group and also the didgeridoos are for sale to take home with you at a far better price than you will buy in store. Another cultural commercial Business based in cultural Heritage disregarding Protocols and cultural sensitivity

30 DIDGERIDOO FACTS 1. Possibly the world's oldest musical instrument 2. A wind instrument originally found in Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. 3. Is made from limbs and tree trunks hollowed out by termites (insects). 4. Is cut to an average length of 1.3 metres and cleaned out with a stick. or hot coals. 5. Used as an accompaniment to chants and songs. 6. Produces a low-pitch, resonant sound with complex rhythmic patterns. 7. In some tribal groups only played by men but in most groups by men & women – women not normally in public 8. Traditional various forms of the didgeridoo where found in Central Australia

31 WHERE DOES THE WORD DIDGERIDOO COME FROM? bamboo didgeridoos were quite common among northerly groups in the Northern Territory during the 19 th century is confirmed by the word 'bamboo' which is still used in the lingua franca by some Aborigines when referring to the instrument, though 'didjeridu‘ or ‘yidaki’ are commonly used. the first didjeridus perhaps were of bamboo because of the availability of bamboo in the north-western region of the Northern Territory, & the first didjeridu players may well have belonged to that region. observations by R. Etheridge Jr. in 1893 'three very curious trumpets … [the trumpets] are made from bamboo lengths, the diaphragms having been removed Ref: Robert Lawlor (1991) Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime (Inner Traditions)

32 May have been more widely distributed in Australia, some evidence for this is to be found in the literature on central Australian groups. Spencer and Gillen (1899) refer to a 'rudimentary trumpet" (60cm. In length) called ilpirra or ulpirra. This was used by Aboriginal men as a magic charm for obtaining wives (Carl Strehlow 1908: 77 and Teil IV,p.15) shows illustrations of the tjurunga ulburu and the karakara, the latter used in an Aranda Itata, or public celebration in which women participated. Theo Strehlow (1947: 78-9) writes of a 'low toned wooden ulbura trumpet' used by southern Aranda people on the Finke River. The instrument is pictured representing the neck (rantja) of a venomous snake 'playfully "biting" a novice from another Aranda group' (picture facing p. 89). Eylmann (1908) refers to wooden and bamboo trumpets; and his illustrations include a 'Trompete der Waramunga', that is of a desert group Ref: Robert Lawlor (1991) Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime (Inner Traditions)

33 1932 National Tourism Organisation (Charles Holmes) included the didgeredoo in its national audit of tourism ‘assets’ important role in defining National Heritage ‘[ … fifty years after the Arnhem Land Expedition, [Mountford 1948] every tribal group within Australia seems to have adopted the didgeridoo of the Top End Aborigines as their own musical instrument.’ Specht 2012: 54. … do doubt the increased mobility of Aboriginal people post 1960’s and the development of Aboriginal Tourism spread the instrument to Sydney …

34 Ref: Robert Lawlor (1991) Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime (Inner Traditions)

35 So what’s wrong with this? Semi structured interviews were undertaken with 20 random selected international Travellers Their main response concerning Aboriginal cultural performances was: - an indifference to the content/meaning - boring after the first performance - tended to be very similar no diversity - short presentations, lack of depth in content

36 An Irish Professor of tourism & small business stated: ‘Once you have seen one performance they all look and sound the same’ Photo of Max courtesy: _sydney_australia

37 Is there no diversity anymore

38 Is the hegemony of the didgeridoo and portray of Aboriginal culture in tourism supporting Urey’s experience of the ‘exotic difference’ and

39 has the didgeridoo in Australia become the Mc’Donaldisation of Aboriginal Culture in Tourism


41 The rumour of World Heritage Listing? If Sydney Harbour attains World Heritage listing Shudder the thought that Aboriginal culture like the buskers is maintained by a government supported land rights organisation without customary – traditional owner involvement Consider the loss of authenticity, & loss of customary knowledge

42 Australian Aboriginal Tourism: still an opportunity... But keep the culture intact

43 Acknowledgements: Dr Jillian Barnes for reading & suggestions within the field of Critical Tourism Studies

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