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The role of information systems in sustaining indigenous communities: The Ieramugadu cultural project

Turk, A. and Trees, K. (1998) The role of information systems in sustaining indigenous communities: The Ieramugadu cultural project. In: 42nd Annual Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, 18 - 25 July 1998, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia


This paper discusses how information technology can be used to help sustain a complex social system. It describes the Ieramugadu Cultural Information System which is being developed with the indigenous community formed by the Ngaluma, Injibandi and Banjima peoples in Roebourne, Western Australia. Research aspects focus on the development and evaluation of innovative procedures for elicitation, analysis, storage and communication of Aboriginal cultural heritage information. It is investigating culturally appropriate information systems design techniques, multimedia approaches, and ways to ensure protection of secret/sacred information. The use of heritage information for education and negotiation is being developed and evaluated. Ethical considerations are also foregrounded.

A broader conceptual framework is needed for the specification of heritage information to match the needs of the complex social system and to facilitate community development. The forms of representation used must be adequate to fully express the underlying cultural concepts. They must be grounded in the fundamental nature of the traditions and needs of the community. Thus, cultural heritage information must express the integrated relationships between:

places - not just an arbitrary configuration of physical locations but an assemblage of places connected by meanings associated with traditional belief systems;

people - the specific group/s of people who possess the meaningful relationship with (and are responsible for) those particular places;

procedures - the laws and customs which link the people to the places and sustain their unique relationship to the land and each other;

presentations - the practices and physical manifestations by which the laws and customs and meaning relations between the people and places are expressed (and hence maintained), such as ceremonies and paintings.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
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