Tracing pathways: writing archaeology in Nyiyaparli country

Caroline Bird, Fiona Hook, James W. Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) uniquely placed Aboriginal perspectives at the heart of assessing significance and protecting Aboriginal places, alongside “historical, anthropological, archaeological and ethnographic” interests. In practice, however, archaeological and anthropological assessments have been routinely separated in development surveys. A narrow “scientific” paradigm has come to provide the overarching model for significance assessments and, thereby, archaeological survey and site recording. Arguably, WA Aboriginal heritage management now embodies an impoverished discourse that depersonalises the archaeological record and undervalues Aboriginal archaeological places. In this paper, we explore alternative ways to weigh up archaeological evidence through an interweaving of Aboriginal understandings about archaeology, sites and country with our own archaeological understandings. We describe and analyse connections between different components of the archaeological record along Kakutungutanta Creek in Nyiyaparli Country in the eastern Chichester Range. This analysis suggests an alternative approach to assessing the significance of these sites, based on landscape and Ingold's (1993) concept of the “taskscape”. This, we argue, better reflects Nyiyaparli and archaeological understandings of place and provides a sound basis for communicating the significance and meaning to clients, government and the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Dec 2019


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