Who are we?
During the 1980s, the seeds for Ara Irititja were planted in the minds of Anangu and a few people working with Anangu. School teacher Ron Lister spent a year locating photos and archival records and contacting former missionaries and others with historical collections. Slowly, the idea began to grow in different ways and a combination of events drew everyone together.
In 1994 An
angu elders, Peter Nyaningu and Colin Tjapiya, and Pitjantjatjara Council anthropologist Ushma Scales came together with archival consultant John Dallwitz, agreed upon a name for what they were trying to do, and sought funding. Ar
a Irititja was born—a social history project of the Pitjantjatjara Council Aboriginal Corporation.
The Ara Irititja project works collaboratively with many Aboriginal organisations on the vast Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands of the far north west South Australia. These included all Anangu schools and tertiary education centres, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, Anangu Pitjantjatjara (AP) Services, AP Land Council, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Land Management, PY Media, Nganampa Health Council, Ku Arts and community art centres. Many of these organisations house an Ara Irititja digital archive.
The main Ara Irititja office is in Adelaide, South Australia in rooms provided by the South Australian Museum. From 2007, the SA Museum has taken on a greater role in its support of the project. With on-going funding from the State Government of South Australia, a full-time position for Ara Irititja has been created within the Museum staff. Work on the central database of the digital archive (the mothership), the majority of digital item preparation, the physical storage of many tens of thousands of historical and cultural items, and administration of the project is carried out there. John Dallwitz manages the overall project from Adelaide. Dora Dallwitz works with John overseeing all the multi-media digitising, adding it to the archive and managing archival materials. There is also an office in Alice Springs in which Julia Burke and Linda Rive liaise with NPY organisations and have regular contact with Anangu, working with them, adding data and language material.
The Executive of the Pitjantjatjara Council guide the Ara Irititja project. Douglas Mann of Rightside Response, works on database development, graphic design and website management.
The Ara Irititja project is a strong growing project which
- collects and preserves for perpetuity historical, traditional and contemporary Anangu material and stories
- supports, through the use of the database, the maintenance of Anangu culture and language
- delivers back to Anangu via interactive multi-media archive databases the historical material that would otherwise be inaccessible to them
- sustains the long-term management of, and access to, this historical material for Anangu
The Ara Irititja project works to accommodate Anangu wishes for the delivery of regularly updated, high quality interactive multi-media databases, in Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara,Yankunytjatjara language and English, onto their communities. The project is dedicated to maintain regular Anangu access to these databases and is accountable to Anangu in its management and delivery of this historical material.
The activities of the Ara Irititja project will be clearly guided and distinguishable by the following values:
- Accountability to Anangu.
- Sensitivity to the language, cultural issues and protocols of Anangu.
- High quality and state-of-the-art database technology.
- Archivally sound best practices for the ongoing preservation of traditional and contemporary knowledge and materials owned by Anangu.
- Commitment to the growth and sustainability of an interactive multi-media archive database.
- Provision of access, through the delivery and maintenance of databases, printers and projectors onto Anangu communities.
Goals and Objectives
Goal 1 — A high quality, growing, interactive multi-media archive database for Anangu
- Collect and record historical, traditional and contemporary photographs, audio recordings, movies, documents, artefacts, stories and events for the preservation of Anangu language, culture and identity
- Process and digitise historical, traditional and contemporary photographs, audio recordings, movies, documents, artefacts, stories and events
- A computer software program and interface designed to accommodate the wishes and cultural imperatives of Anangu
- Effective articulation and communication of Ara Irititja project’s policies and best practice
Goal 2 — An Anangu population empowered and informed about the Ara Irititja Project
- Effective use of the database for the preservation of Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language, culture and identity
- Anangu trained in the skills required for the use, development and maintenance of the database
- Anangu employed as staff and in consultancy when and wherever possible
Goal 3 — Access for Anangu to the Ara Irititja Project
- Deliver to Anangu communities, by way of interactive multi-media archive databases, historical, traditional and contemporary photographs, audio recordings, movies, documents, artefacts, stories and events
- A process which monitors levels of access to and maintenance of workstations
Goal 4 — Physical historical materials, conserved and stored in archival conditions
- Original physical materials which are archivally managed and protected
Goal 5 — The continued success of the Ara Irititja Project
- A project that is financially secure and sustainable
- A project that is administratively secure and sustainable
John Dallwitz with archival film reel, working on the project feasibility study, 29 April 1994. Dora Dallwitz/John Dallwitz collection.
Julia Burke with community operators Kathy Bert and Judy Brumby, 12 March 2007. John Dallwitz/Ara Irititja collection.
Many of the ‘at risk’ collections were successfully retrieved by Ron Lister. Ron was one of the founding members of the Ara Irititja team until his retirement in 2006. 3 June 1999. John Dallwitz/Ara Irititja collection.
The Ara Irititja team during the development of the Ara Winki educational program. From left: Douglas Mann, Ron Lister, Jonathan Nicholls and Ushma Scales. In front: John and Dora Dallwitz. 5 December 2000. John Dallwitz/Ara Irititja collection.
‘Ngayulu wangkanytja wiya maru tjuta kutju, palu piranpa tjuta kulu-kulu. Piranpa tjutangku iriti culture wiru kanyininggi kunpu. Tjitji tjuta mamangku ngunytjungku kanyiningi munu nintiningi.
Kuwari nganana nyanganyi tjukurpa irititja. Maru tjutaku tjukurpa, maru city tjutaku tjukurpa, piranpa tjutaku tjukurpa.Munula nyanganyi, wangkanyi tjungungku palyantjikitjangku. Munula nganganyi maruku walytja tjuta munu piranpa tjutaku walytja tjuta.
Ka tjinguru tjana ara maru tjutaku kulira munu nyakula palyalku. Ka culture tjanampa munu nganampa kunpuringkuku. Palya.’
‘I’m not only talking about Anangu, but whitefellas as well. Whitefellas keep their history strong. The parents teach their children about it.
Today we are looking at old stories. Anangu stories, as well as city dwellers’ and whitefellas’ stories. We are looking and speaking together about how to look after these stories.
Perhaps people will think about Anangu history and learn how to look after it. And their culture and our culture will both become strong. OK?’
Alec Minutjukur, Chairperson Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Education Committee