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Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the Map

About Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the Map

We hope the next generation are well educated in regards to Country, that they keep Aboriginal culture alive. When Aboriginal people walk on the land, the land is happy. – Geoffrey Togo, Ngarluma Elder

Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the Map showcases the work of artist Jill Churnside, and is a celebration of Ngarluma people, their way of life, and cultural values. Featuring spectacular paintings and related multimedia, this exhibition celebrates Ngarluma culture and new forms of cartography through digital mapping.

FORM is a recipient of the Google Earth Outreach grants program, which rewards organisations with outstanding mapping ideas to support the technical development of maps. The Google Earth map will be launched at the exhibition opening, which is made possible by an enterprising and inspiring collaboration between FORM and the Ngarluma community in the Pilbara sponsored by the Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Ltd.

Ngarluma cultural values are endangered and the Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the Map explores new digital and creative platforms to document, preserve, and celebrate Ngarluma culture using online tools. As Andrew Dowding, co-creator of the map explains, this project was catalysed by the Ngarluma elders: ‘Ngarluma Ngurra really emerged from my experience working with Ngarluma elders. These elders communicated to me that they would like to create a way to show how they are attached to places and how culture is related to these places in their Country. They wanted to document this information and make it accessible for the next generation.’

The Ngarluma elders made the decision to make this map publically accessible in order to share their cultural values with a non-Ngarluma audience. They hope that this map becomes a model for other Aboriginal communities to utilise Google Earth as a way to present and protect their cultural values.

Ngarluma Country is rich with a vast amount of local knowledge and history. Through online storytelling and an interactive repository for shared memories the map curates Aboriginal forms of creative expression related to country bringing together historic material, photographs, text, audio recordings, and films. Creating a tangible record of the knowledge and memories of Ngarluma elders demonstrates how modern technology can support cultural integrity. The publication for Ngarluma Ngurra is available here.

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