July 7th-14th is NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week in 2019. NAIDOC Week is a public celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The theme for this year's NAIDOC week is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Please take the time to read over the NAIDOC statement and encourage others to read it also.
It's also a good time to look over the Uluru Statement From The Heart and consider two of the key reforms called for in the statement. Firstly, that Indigenous Australians be acknowledged in the Australian Constitution and secondly, that a Makarrata Commission be set up to facilitate truth telling and reconciliation.
As is often repeated, Australia is one of the few liberal democracies in the world which does not have a treaty or treaties with (or even a formal acknowledgement of) its Indigenous peoples. If Ken Wyatt can pull off the seemingly impossible task of getting the current government to commit to a referendum on Indigenous recognition in the constitution it would surely be a great opportunity for Australia to mature as a nation. Assuming that the referendum is successful, can a Makarrata Commission be all that far away? Let's hope not.
A student at the Australian National University, Nick Skopal, and Lao archaeologist Souliya Bounxayhip, have been undertaking research into the distinctive and mysterious stone jars that are present in many locations across Laos. During fieldwork undertaken by the team, 15 previously unknown stone jar locations were found. Additionally, a program of excavations took place and the team are waiting for the results of optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments immediately under some of the jars that they hope may answer some long standing questions about the age of the jars.
Images sourced from the ABC and ANU websites.
The Western Australian archaeological community is in mourning this month following the death of a giant of the discipline in the state, Sylvia J. Hallam. Hallam is perhaps best remembered for her fantastic book Fire and Hearth: A study of Aboriginal usage and European usurpation in south-western Australia, published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1975. She was committed to regionally-focused approaches to archaeology and cast a long shadow over both academic and commercial archaeology in the south west of the state. In 2011, her contribution to Australian archaeology was acknowledged and celebrated in a volume of collected essays in her honour published by the Western Australian Museum (Supplement 79).
An overview of Hallam's career was written for the aforementioned Records of the Western Australian Museum supplement by the similarly legendary John Mulvaney and can be reviewed here.
An insight into Hallam's approach to archaeology can be seen in this wonderful quote (here paraphrased), her response to what she saw as the solipsistic tendencies of the then-trendy New Archaeology: ‘This is how archaeology actually advances ...not by obsessive introspection on significance, relevance, definitions, aims and methodology'...but with the ‘mud, dust and sweat’ of fieldwork.
She will be missed.
The discussion and consultation phase of the ongoing review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) is nearing its end (see information about the review here). An excellent submission has been prepared by the Western Australian chapter of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc (AACAI) and can be reviewed by opening the PDF below.