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The Ara Irititja Project commenced in 1994 and has always been supported by the Pitjantjatjara Council's Cultural Heritage Unit. The project was established to repatriate to remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, historical and contemporary photos, movies and other multimedia materials and to support the maintenance and intergenerational transfer of Aboriginal cultural information, traditional ecological knowledge, family and community history and language. Aboriginal communities in Central Australia see Ara Irititja as one of the principal means of preserving and transferring knowledge from generation to generation, into the future. Local languages not only instruct the user within the software interface but also abound in both spoken and written form in audio recordings (such as oral histories, songs, meetings), transcriptions, films, documents and books. The archive is currently custodiaon to over 160,000 records.

 

In 2016 Ara Irititja became incorporated in its own right - Ara Irititja Aboriginal Corporation AIAC. The main aim of the corporation is to safeguard the longevity of the Ara Irititja Project. It's key objectives are to:-

  • guide and support the Ara Irititja Project
  • help Anangu to maintain their culture, history, language and identity
  • ensure the conservation of records and materials relating to the history, culture, language and art of Anangu
  • facilitate the intergenerational transfer of indigenous knowledge
  • support the development of Anangu through participation in their history, art and culture
  • promote the economic sustainability of aboriginal people through the utilisation of their resources of indigenous knowledge, history, art and culture
  • help Anangu to achieve further education, training and employment
  • promote, encourage and support the law and culture of Anangu
  • inform the broader Australian and world public about Anangu culture, history, language and identity

 

These goals are achieved through a custom designed user-friendly computer software program called the Keeping Culture KMS, which is responsive to Indigenous cultural protocols if there is a need.

The software has a profile for every person, plant, animal, place, story or event in the archive. It also has provision for people to make short annotations in either text, audio or movie, in real-time, directly into the archive, talking and telling stories about any item they are viewing or directly into their own private and family profiles.

 

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Ushma Scales, Sandra Pumani and Edie Umula looking at the archive, Mimili 2001


JUDY BRUMBY

Ara Irititja is really good for all the children today, and will be for all children yet to be born, to look at and learn about their cultural heritage. How did their grandmother’s and grandfather’s generation live? How did they live as nomadic people, walking around their country, with only camels, donkeys and horses, back in the days without cars? Today is so different, as we all travel around in cars, or on the Bush Bus. Ara Irititja shows the children how Anangu used to live, and how my own grandmother used to live.

(Judy Brumby Utju September 2013)

 

YAMI LESTER

I support Ara Irititja. It is good for keeping Anangu stories safe and protected, and I think it is very, very good. If I had the money I would like to give thousands of dollars to help Ara Irititja keep going, and keep getting Anangu stories. They are doing a very good job. Our Anangu from APY Land never used to want to look at their photos of family members who had passed away. But when Ara Irititja started up, Anangu want to look at photos of their tjamu, mama, ngunytju and kuntili. It is a good thing. They are looking forward to getting photos from Ara Irititja. And Ara Irititja helps the people out really well, really good. That’s why I like to support Ara Irititja, and the people that are working on it. They are gathering materials, and they are very good with the people, and putting the stories away and locking them away safely. Adelaide is not that far, only a phone call away. We can get Ara Irititja wapar and have a listen, and have a look at photos and videos. They keep all of that and look after it. And not only that, but Aboriginal cultural business too, through the anthropologists, from their work with the Land Rights. I think Ara Irititja has got a lot of that already, and that is a good thing. They are keeping it safe on behalf of all Anangu. Palya.

(Yami Lester 28 February 2014.)