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Kuku Thaypan Project Awakens Museum Treasures.

A Cape York indigenous elder from the Laura region has visited the Australian Museum to examine traditional artifacts and explain their significance. Tommy George Snr. travelled to Sydney recently where he recorded his comprehensive knowledge of the origins, uses and stories connected to a number of pieces of the W.E. Roth collection. The information was visually documented with a video camera by the Kuku Thaypan Traditional Knowledge Recording Project and will be linked into their multi-media database.

A Cape York indigenous elder from the Laura region has visited the Australian Museum to examine traditional artifacts and explain their significance. Tommy George Snr. travelled to Sydney recently where he recorded his comprehensive knowledge of the origins, uses and stories connected to a number of pieces of the W.E. Roth collection. The information was visually documented with a video camera by the Kuku Thaypan Traditional Knowledge Recording Project and will be linked into their multi-media database.

"It's good to see these things and talk about where they come from, and how we used them in the old days," said Tommy George. "Some of them I haven't seen for a long time".

The collection was gathered by Dr. Walter Edmund Roth between 1898 and 1904 in Far North Queensland's Cape York Peninsula, where he filled the role of Protector of Aboriginals. It comprises over 2000 artifacts and 308 photographic negatives. It was purchased by the Australian Museum in 1905 for 450. Tommy George's visit was the first time a Cape York elder has been recorded with a video camera interpreting artifacts from the Roth collection.

"It was amazing how Mr. George could pick something up and describe where it was from, how it was made, who used it and what role it played in everyday life," said Project Manager Victor Steffensen. "I would be looking at Roth's notes and what the Elder was saying would match perfectly. Then he would go on and add all the related details and restricted knowledge that Roth never got close to. It's the interconnections and relationships that are important. They provide the real meaning, which is what we are trying to preserve. "

The Kuku Thaypan Traditional Knowledge project, which is part of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, has been gradually constructing a database since 2001. Information is contained in video, audio, still images and text, with links between the various categories.

"Most of the information is gathered out in the bush, so heading down into those quiet storage rooms in the Australian Museum was a bit of a change," said Mr. Steffensen. "For me it really highlighted the fact that, these artifacts might be 100 years old, but the living knowledge is still very much alive and of great value."

Background:

The Kuku Thaypan Traditional Knowledge project is currently working with several Queensland government departments in the areas of fire and protected areas management. It is funded by the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT).

Contacts: Victor Steffensen: Project Manager, Kuku Thaypan Traditional Knowledge - 07 4051 9089. 0437 33 01 32 Barrina South: Aboriginal Project Officer, Division of Anthropology, Australian Museum - 02 9320 6246


For further information

Contact  :  Victor Steffensen
Phone  :  07 4051 9089
Mobile  :  0437 33 01 32


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