My name is Lorraine Williams.
I am a Larrakia woman and Research Associate with the
School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge systems. For
a lot of my life I have been involved in and have given
evidence as a claimant in the Kenbi Land Claim and the
Darwin Native Title proceedings. I am currently working
on Larrakia Cultural Heritage Management focusing on
Larrakia archaeological sites in the Darwin region and
I have a keen interest in all things Larrakia. In years
gone by I have worked on Larrakia ethnobiology with
the view to keeping Larrakia language and culture strong.
I am a member of the Batcho family of the Larrakia Nation
The Larrakia in previous years
referred to themselves as Gulumerrgin. Gulumerrgin is
the name of the language spoken by the Larrakia. The
Larrakia are the traditional owners of the land in and
around the city of Darwin. The Charles Darwin University
is situated on the land of the Larrakia.
The Gulumerrgin Database Project
is a collaborative project that will allow for Larrakia
people to protect knowledge and disseminate knowledge
by means of computer technology. In particular I am
concerned with making sure that the younger members
of my family are given the same opportunity as me to
learn the Gulumerrgin/Larrakia names for the land, plants,
and animals. I envisage that historical accounts of
special events will be recounted and revisited with
commentaries and photographic records from surviving
members of my family.
Over a few months of discussion
with several of my siblings, we have begun to work on
a computer database system which will use a map interface
which has Larrakia place names located on it, complete
with sound files of (place names and associated stories).
Photographic attachments will be available for viewing
'behind' 'hot spots' on the map. It is important to
note that there are cultural protocols and spiritual
issues to consider with recorded sites names and associated
stories on Larrakia country. These sound recordings
will need to be negotiated with family members about
which names could be recorded (if any) and who they
should be available to and under what circumstances.
There will be two parts to this
project: one that will enable Larrakia people to have
access to Larrakia information that is currently in
the public domain and there will be the ongoing negotiated
entry of data, that is part of the Victor William's
family history (my father) that will be partly protected
from the public domain.
This resource in the first instance
will be exclusively for my family. Some of the photographs
and information have been used as evidence in the Kenbi
Land Claim and Native Title court cases and together
they represent one possibility of a rich collective
memory making resource. Whenever our people reminisce
with photos, storytelling starts again and collective
memories are rebuilt.
We have employed my niece Leanne
Hunter, to work alongside me to create a database of
historical photographs, showing sites and food resources
that have been collected in Darwin and surrounding areas.
Donna Jackson of the Browne
family of the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation,
as the founder of the 'Gunumitjanda Rangers', will provide
data, support and comments to directly benefit the Larrakia
rangers that will be using the information as part of
their base-line data surveys for future training.
My office now has maps of Larrakia
country on the wall, and place names are slowly being
negotiated and added to it. Computer technicians have
organised three computer systems to be available for
data entry these include ArcView software, Fugawi software
and one using an interface prepared using Flash software,
created by Trevor van Weeren.
Ongoing work with Donna, Leanne
and myself will involve user-testing the various computer
options and looking at the ways in which they can be
used for teaching young people, as well as looking carefully
at how similar software could be shared with other groups
within and outside the Larrakia people.
My sisters and other older people
in my family continue to raise important issues about
knowledge protection, ownership and access rights. Issues
of the separate identities of various groups of Larrakia
people including the eight family groups, which make
up the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation have arisen,
therefore it is vital that the processes of obtaining
informed consent have to be negotiated concurrently,
as several Larrakia families hold information collectively,
whilst for others it has become uniquely highly specialized
The flora and fauna part of
the project aims at making some of the ethno-biological
sound recordings, which have been collected from Larrakia
people in the past, more available for use by the people
who are privy to that information. There will be careful
negotiation of the use of these sound recordings with
preference given to the descendants of the elders who
have previously given the knowledge.
With endorsement from Larrakia
family members, this project will aim to promote the
Larrakia protocols for looking after country. This project
is dedicated to the Larrakia family members who have
since passed on and held strongly their cultural obligations
to 'Looking after Larrakia country'.
This report: Lorraine Williams