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Monday, 17 January 2011

Canning Stock Route exhibition

The Canning Stock Route exhibition at the national Museum here in Canberra is finishing up its run on Australia Day. If you can get out there do it. It is an engaging and powerful recovery of history and mapping of geography from the point of view of the Aboriginal people in the region stretching from Wiluna to Halls Creek..

What it demonstrates powerfully is that geography and mapping is not culture neutral. The "white fella" map of the stock route took no account of the lines of language and cultural responsibility that were critical to the Indigenous geography of the region. There is a wonderful painting of one region that takes the form of a "western' map and overlays it with a pointers account of the ecological niches across the region as understood by those whose home it was and who closely the plant and animal patterns of life.

The story of the encounter with the stock route was a major project in historical and cultural documentation using Aboriginal artists and film makers from the communities along the length of the stock route to paint and narrate their stories of encounter and the impact that it had had on them. Some of the paintings were made by artists who had been part of the last communities to engage with the European invasion as late as 1956.

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