Wadeye and its Living Mythologies (the “Dreamtime”)
From June to September 2013, I spent three months in Wadeye conducting my master’s fieldwork. My time became focused on cultural resource management as an effort to revitalize culture in the present, and the aim of such endeavours was to provide stability for future generations in navigating culture. This theme runs throughout my preliminary fieldwork in Wadeye, as I sought to collect traditional narratives of the mythic “Dreaming” song cycles. One of the goals of my volunteering and fieldwork in this region was to help make history relevant to future generations of Aboriginal Australians by providing them with resources from the local Kanamkek-Yile Ngala museum. In this thesis, I explore how culture as presented in traditional myths and narratives becomes intertwined in the daily lives of Aboriginal Australians. The thesis delves heavily into the process of fieldwork as a way of engendering empathy for the social analysis of myths. The experience of the field, entering into another way of life, is itself central in forming an understanding of how myth and narrative play vital roles in Aboriginal Australian culture. The fieldwork here was largely from the vein of applied anthropology in seeking answers relating to the loss of narratives in the region. The drive here was to find a framework for the successful revitalization of lost stories by visiting cultural sites and reconnecting to experiences of the land. I also explore notions of ethno-poetry as a possible way of tapping into the creative potential of the Aboriginal Australian “Dreamtime.” The aim is thus to engender a larger discussion in cultural resource management by centring the community in deciding its own responses and adaptation strategies in dealing with story revitalization efforts.
“Narrative, Myth and Cultural Resource Management.” MA thesis, University of British Columbia, supervised by Dr. Naomi McPherson, Dr. Roberta Dods, and Dr. Liane Gabora. (Available via UBC ciRcle.)