Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 69. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: email@example.com Date: 2020-05-29 01:25:41+00:00 From: William Pascoe
Subject: Juukan Gorge Dear readers, Juukan Gorge, a sacred site occupied for 46,000 years, has just been blown up. An archaeological find of a 4000 year old braided hair shows direct connection to Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people of today, for whom it is sacred and who carry on some of the longest living traditions of the world. Such a significant site is important to all of us, and to any human for as long as there are people. Juukan Gorge was blown up by mining company Rio Tinto, with the full consent of the government. To try to translate what this means, we wouldn't blow up Notre-Dame, the Forbidden City, or the Taj Mahal just to get some iron ore. To think of these sacred places as no more than a cave or a mountain is like saying St Peters in Rome, Al-Haram Mosque at Mecca or the Golden Temple are just piles of bricks. We are quick to condemn the Taliban blowing up the Bamyan Buddhas or ISIS defacing reliefs and statues in Iraq but this is no better. This is only one among many such incidents. In the town I live, a few years ago a building excavation uncovered thousands of artifacts but archaeologists had only two weeks to excavate before a Kentucky Fried Chicken was built over it. This travesty did lead to some improvements in legislation but clearly not nearly enough. I mention this here not only because this sort of thing cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed but because it is a palpable reminder of why I am working on the DH project I'm on at the moment, TLCMap (Time Layered Cultural Map). It's a reminder of why digital humanities projects matter and how they can work across personal and public levels. I grew up not knowing there was a ceremonial bora ring at the end of my street. I didn't hear about Cherbourg, QLD and Palm Island until I went to Uni. I didn't know what 'dog licences' were until only last year, yet I'm in the same room as people who had to live with them. These are things I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit. These things should be common knowledge, but when I ask around, like me, most people remain unaware of our own history and the meaning of the places we live. Many Australians have Aboriginal ancestors without knowing it. Some are let in on this secret 'when we are old enough'. Nobody explained we are here with this DNA because of government eugenics policies. Such things are hard to believe and some remain in denial. Our children still think Australian history is boring because nothing much happened. Yet when asked, they haven't even heard of the world heritage site only an hour away, let alone understand the subtle interplay of layers of law, literature, mythology, navigation, and astronomy there, or appreciate how the pathos and nuance of a story is amplified as you learn to read it in the mountains and rivers themselves (it's like the difference between saying "It's story about two people who fall in love but their families are enemies so they kill themselves." and the full performance beginning "Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene..."). It is all there, and some know it well, but too many are unaware. I doubt if any other country is as ignorant of what is most valuable to it as Australia. The destruction of Juukan Gorge is another reminder that this history of erasure and survival continues to this day. It is a long history of 200 years, but also brief compared to 46,000. There are changes to celebrate, such as the restoration of the Bunya festival after a hundred year lacuna, but there is a long way to go. This is why, so many years ago with the germ of an idea, it seemed important to add layers of culture to maps and make them easy for people to add to and find. TLCMap is a platform for culture and Australia generally but I have learned a great deal about how to do this from indigenous 'deep mapping' techniques. There have been many setbacks, not least the Coronavirus, our much needed upgrades are delayed, and it remains to be seen how useful it will be, but this is a palpable reminder of why we do what we do. Compared to the struggle of Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people on the other side of the continent, what I do here in my bedroom on a computer is a small thing, but it's something, and the least we can all do, a first step, is be aware. What we aren't taught we must teach ourselves. The place names Juukan and Purlykunti Creek aren't on common maps or in gazetteers but the site is within Rio Tinto's $1.5bn Brockman 4 iron ore mining site which covers 80,000km², about the same size as Scotland. I can't say precisely where Juukan Gorge is but it's in this vicinity: https://goo.gl/maps/kAJZcRyRa9SLTLKe7 Some References: Fullagar, Melanie & Fillios, Richard 'Aboriginal Settlement during the LGM at Brockman, Pilbara Region, Western Australia' Dec 2009 https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Juukan-gorge-looking-towards-Purlykunti- Creek_fig3_260741424 'Rio Tinto just blasted away an ancient Aboriginal site. Heres why that was allowed' SBS News: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/rio-tinto-just-blasted-away-an- ancient-aboriginal-site-here-s-why-that-was-allowed 'Rio Tinto blasts 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site to expand iron ore mine' The Guardian, Australia: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/26/rio- tinto-blasts-46000-year-old-aboriginal-site-to-expand-iron-ore-mine 'Rio Tinto Brockman 4 Iron Ore Mine, Pilbara' https://www.mining- technology.com/projects/brockman-mine/ 6500 Year Old Heritage Junked, Newcastle Herald, https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/470946/6500-year-old-heritage-junked/ 'Submission No 151 Inquiry Into Planning Process In Newcastle And The Broader Hunter Region' https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/46977/0151%2 0Awabakal%20Traditional%20Owners%20Aboriginal%20Corporation.pdf Bill Pascoe, writing in Awabakal country. _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)
This site is maintained under a service level agreement by King's Digital Lab.