November 1st to 30th, 2020
This is an opportunity to get involved with a community archaeology project that will take place over four weeks based in the heart of Wooditj Bilya (Margaret River), in southwestern Australia. The project is part of a long-term, heritage preservation and community-based research program. A collaborative team is working to develop a Cultural Plan for this area, focused on the Wadandi coastal cultural places and landscapes of the Cape to Cape region.
The larger program is aimed at embedding cultural leadership in natural resource management, integrating cultural knowledge systems with Western-based scientific methods, empowering youth, and protecting and restoring cultural complexes and their associated ecological zones.
Wadandi cultural systems are interwoven with the landscape and its ecosystems. There presents a need to strategically manage, protect, monitor, and research the integrated cultural and natural landscape to ensure the area can mitigate pressures and impacts associated with erosion, climate change, population pressure, development and tourism.
For this stage, in November 2020, the team will carry out a regional survey as a condition assessment of the numerous archaeological sites and cultural complexes that exist across the limestone and sand dune systems. From here the team will work with Elders and cultural facilitators to develop site forms linked to an interactive database and mapping system, to feed into a long-term monitoring platform.
As part of this stage, two targeted archaeological excavations will take place in locations identified by Wadandi Cultural leaders - one is an open site in a landform of dune systems that represent the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene transition. The second is part of a limestone cave system associated with a cultural Songline. The intent of the excavations is to gather information on cultural histories, chronologies and historical ecology.
The diversity of archaeological sites and features attest to the function of these zones during traditional times as a significant cultural landscape that was utilized by Wadandi People for a variety of cultural activities and practices. Lizard traps, gnamma holes (waterholes), burials, stone artifact scatters, quarry sites, fish traps, rock-art sites, and ceremonial places, all exist at different locations, as physical manifestations of the ways in which People engaged with their cultural ways and ecological zones in the past.
None of the archaeological features exist in isolation from one another or from the ecosystems and natural features of which they are a part. The features are all important components of a cultural landscape now, just as they were components in a cultural system in the past. However, increasing population pressure and tourism is having a negative impact on many cultural features and archaeological sites, and impacting upon the Wadandi cultural values.
As an outcome of this field school, we will develop a cultural map for specific areas under the direction of cultural leaders. The information will be collected via oral histories, interviews, field survey, archaeological investigations and archival research, as part of an integrated team effort. This work will involve targeted field surveys and site recording focused on Wadandi traditional place names.
There will also be practical workshops in heritage legislation, cultural protocols and methods of evaluation. The work will involve archaeological survey, testing and mapping, and provide you with a collection of skills required of a field archaeologist, anthropologist and environmental scientist. We will also integrate with local community and cultural activities.
From here, the team will workshop how cultural mapping is the basis for developing an integrated heritage management plan. We will workshop current threats and methods for ongoing community-based protection and management at the site and landscape level. We will also participate in workshops with Elders and specialists to learn about ways of cultural monitoring and management, and develop cross-cultural understandings. The program also includes formal workshops for understanding the rights of nature - ‘to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve’ (Earth Law Center).
The program can be custom-designed to your specific studies or interests.
What you will learn:
This program will equip you with the skills and knowledge related to college studies and experience working as a professional heritage and environmental officer. The program is open to high-school and college students, those interested in their own professional development, or anyone interested in collaborative heritage and science.