Anangu are passionate about protecting their past, accessing it today and securing it for future generations. Ara Irititja was born of that passion. Today, Anangu are careful to determine how their history and culture are presented to mainstream audiences.
The Ara Irititja archive is a private, uncensored, family and community history. Only Anangu can view Ara Irititja. However, Anangu recognise the need to share their traditional culture and contemporary life with the wider population. In the midst of many social and health challenges they are eager to show their achievements and successes. The Ara Irititja project provides that opportunity. As well as being a much admired community project, it is an extensive knowledge base for educational resources. In 2018 Ara Irititja is looking to develop a limited public version of the archive.
The Ara Irititja project shares its knowledge in many ways. These include:
- helping other organisations to build their own archives using the Keeping Culture KMS software and Ara Irititja team expertise. More than 20 unique projects commenced by separate Indigenous language groups in Australia use the Ara Irititja approach and same software. To learn about the new software see https://www.keepingculture.com/
- helping Anangu and other organisations with picture research and usage for appropriate publications that benefit Aboriginal peoples. Significant publications include:
- Ngangkari Work—Anangu Way: Traditional Healers of Central Australia, NPY Women’s Council (2003). This publication drew extensively from the photographic collection of Ara Irititja;
- Don’t Ask for Stories by Ute Eickelkamp, published by Aboriginal Studies Press (1999);
- Cleared Out by Sue Davenport, Peter Johnson and Yuwali, published by Aboriginal Studies Press (2005). Ara Irititja supplied stills from a very rare 16mm film for this book;
- Student projects by the University of South Australia’s Anangu Tertiary Education Program (AnTEP) at Pukatja SA: History of Ernabella Church (2003) and History of Ernabella School (2006);
- Pitjantjatjara language resource publications by Anangu Education Services.
- Ninu Grandmothers’ Law – The autobiography of Nura Nungalka Ward, a Yankunytjatjara woman from the Central Desert, translated to English from Pitjantjatjara. Published by Magabala Books 2018. This publication drew extensively from the photographic collection of Ara Irititja;
- creating multimedia productions drawing on the resources of the Ara Irititja archive. This has included Ara Winki: Life on the Pitjantjatjara Lands, a culture-rich interactive educational program, which is on permanent display at the Alice Springs (NT) Public Library. Other multimedia productions include:
- Pitjantjatjara Land Rights — remembering: Pinangku Kuliningi (2005), a DVD prepared by Ara Irititja for the SA Government and APY communities;
- Singing Walkabout (2004), Ernabella Aboriginal Choir, remastered CD of the 1966 LP recording. Traditional Presbyterian hymns sung in Pitjantjatjara language.
- Ara Wink No 1 – Our first app, distributed through the Apple store and Google Play with accompanying books used in Anangu schools across the Lands.
- creating a major touring exhibition Ara Irititja: protecting the past, accessing the future – Indigenous memories in a digital age. This multimedia exhibition tells the story of the development, methodology and rationale for the Ara Irititja project. It displays the uniqueness and strengths of life on the APY Lands. The exhibition toured three States from October 2003 to 2005.
- developing and promoting protocols and cultural techniques to assist Anangu to protect their historical and cultural material against unauthorised use. Numerous academic researchers, publishers and institutions approach Ara Irititja seeking advice and to use APY material.
- presenting Ara Irititja and its story at conferences, seminars and workshops.