Moving Through Country: A Community Based Project to Map and Share Indigenous Cultural Perspectives

Non-indigenous Australians frequently have little appreciation of the many, separate, indigenous nations that make up modern-day Australia. Even for those interested in Indigenous culture, it is rarely easy to find information. This presentation gives an account of an emerging project that will use open data provided by Aboriginal communities to share their perspectives on ‘country’ with the wider population and visitors who are moving across the landscape.  The aim is to use digital technologies to engage, inform and invite visitors to visit community centres to learn more about Indigenous cultures via phone apps and a website.

The project will enable regional communities to opt in by mapping their communities using OpenStreetMap and add information about cultural knowledge, cultural centres and a welcome to country.  The use of OpenStreetMap as a means for communities to map and maintain representation is a central goal. This map rendering will also be open-sourced and made available for use by each indigenous community. We want to develop a self-sustaining, ongoing, community project devoted to ensuring that local indigenous communities are adequately represented on their own maps, hosted by and within the worldwide OpenStreetMap project.
For visitors and travellers, the project will primarily consist of a public website and mobile phone apps presenting information on the local indigenous nations and directing them to a Welcome Point where they can participate in a one-on-one Welcome to Country with a member of the local indigenous community, and where they can be further directed to public points of interest of relevance to travellers.

While it would always be desirable for a physical Welcome to Country, virtual and augmented reality could also be useful to allow for the traveller to take part in Virtual Welcomes and view indigenous sites and artefacts that may be closed to the general public.

Travellers will be able to look at which nations they have been Welcomed to on an Australia-wide map, and easily share their travels across Australia’s indigenous nations on social networks.

The development of this project in collaboration with communities will require a clear protocol to enable elders to make decisions about which traditional information is suitable for sharing and to support the younger members of their community and community enterprises as they raise the profile of culturally important aspects of the present landscape.  As communities opt in, and become skilled mappers, the Indigenous presence, cultural knowledge and history in the country will become more easily accessible to travellers and people interested in visiting the website.  Our aim is to raise awareness of the 65,000,000 years of cultural heritage that is unique to Australia and to engage elders and young people in communities in building and sharing their culture in the present and into the future.

Presentation type: Full length
Session: State of the Map


Kate Crawford