Entry 1: Out of Our Comfort Zones

I hope to learn ethically appropriate ways of interacting with Indigenous people, for working within cultural heritage and land management.

I enrolled in this course as I needed more practical experience after finishing my studies in Cultural Heritage. As I do not have a background in archaeology, I needed to gain practical skills in an aspect of this, along with community work and working with Indigenous people. I see these skills are essential to working within environmental and cultural heritage in Australia.

By enrolling in this course, I hope to learn ethically appropriate ways of interacting with Indigenous people, for working within cultural heritage and land management. I see this week as a step in learning how to conduct myself, and culturally sensitive research.

As mentioned earlier, I do not have a background in archaeology, and no doubt, I will be a bit behind in my understanding of this subject and its themes. I will be challenged, probably in ways I cannot yet anticipate. I say this with almost certainty, as I have not done a course like this before. I am a little anxious, yet I am looking forward to working with the Barunga community and Flinders students, being out of my depth and growing as a person and a professional.

I am grateful that the Barunga community are open to this exchange. I wonder what the expectations are of the Barunga community.

Entry 2: Experiences and Challenges

I am also learning about the challenges the Barunga community face. It is complicated. Everything is interconnected.

The first learning, was ASK FIRST. ASK FIRST, underpins respect, the structure and is the starting point for all interactions with community. I had known about this, but I did know who I was to ask and what I was to ask.There have been a few challenges during the week.One challenge is learning the kinship groups. Remembering the skin names and how they relate to multiple others is hard to learn. Incorrect use changes the whole network of relationships and is not acceptable.I am also learning about the challenges the Barunga community face. It is complicated. Everything is interconnected. All changes need to come from within the community, but there are challenges beyond what I understand.Although there is a process of ASK FIRST, I still find myself unsure of what I can ask and how to ask it. Despite this, ASK FIRST gives space to ask questions I might not ask at home, where I would possibly feel more foolish because I didn’t know.

Despite all the challenges, I am learning, building confidence and expanding my world view. I am so grateful that the Barunga community are so forgiving and patient with us and our mistakes.

Entry 3: Take Away Thoughts

I was also refreshed on the different ways of knowing and how they influence my day to day life and wider world view.

The week at Barunga was very intense and I will need time after the course to fully process the experience. Looking back on my first blog post, I was hoping to gain practical experience, to work with Aboriginal people in a community environment and learn how to conduct ethical research. I feel that I have gained experience in all of these aspects. The course has given me confidence in how to respectfully approach working with Aboriginal people, as well as being culturally sensitive. I’ve learned that the workings and structure of the Barunga community is significantly more complicated than I had thought; and that any problems are intertwined.

I was also refreshed on the different ways of knowing and how they influence my day to day life and wider world view. This is something I need to remind myself of more frequently. It is especially important when working with Indigenous people.

Having been part of a community archaeology project at university, it was good to have a second experience to complement previous learnings. The Barunga Field School was an opportunity for ‘on-ground’ learning, as opposed to archival research. This experience helped answer the ‘how to’ questions that I reflected on after the last project.

After this week, I feel more informed about slow archaeology and contemporary issues in the Barunga Community.