AIATSIS encourages cultural institutions to implement the Tandanya-Adelaide Declaration and decolonise their archives.
The Tandanya-Adelaide Declaration was prepared by the International Council of Archives' Expert Group on Indigenous Matters and launched in October 2019.
The Declaration calls on the jurisdictional archives of the world to acknowledge and adopt the themes and commitments of the Declaration for immediate action. These commitments are:
Acknowledging there are Indigenous cognitive frameworks to understand ideas of history, memory, heritage, and cultural identity. These co-exist, often unacknowledged, with the institutional knowledge authorities embedded in colonial institutions of heritage and culture. Public archives in colonial jurisdictions must inform their archival practices with a perspective of reciprocal respect, a respectful engagement across imperial and Indigenous worldviews. The respectful braiding of these knowledge authorities begins the work to decolonise state-sanctioned, institutional houses of memory.
Property and ownership
Understanding that there is a need for state-sanctioned archival institutions to recognize Indigenous ownership of Indigenous traditional knowledge, cultural expression, knowledge, and intellectual property.
Recognition and identity
Understanding that the 500-year history of the colonial encounter has been an Indigenous struggle for recognition. The common representation of Indigenous peoples in colonial archival institutions is a product of forced assimilation and cognitive erasure of Indigenous culture and identity. Indigenous peoples have the right to be recognized in archival representational systems (e.g., in the arrangement and description of archives) as holding unique kinship, identity and cultures as distinct peoples.
Research and access
Recognising research and access to archival records is a socially mediated process and a conceptual site of conflict between European and Indigenous ways of knowing.
Recognising self-determination as noted in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.’ (International Council on Archives Expert Group on Indigenous Matters, 2019).
We embrace the opportunity to show leadership to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities are central to understanding, accessing, and caring for the AIATSIS Collection.
We strongly encourage cultural institutions to embed the Tandanya Adelaide Declaration themes and commitments by providing time, space, and opportunities to create and build reciprocal relationships with Indigenous people and communities that are based on respect. Valuing, incorporating, and amplifying Indigenous knowledge, philosophies, methods, rights, expression, perspectives, and interpretations.
Recognising and challenging colonial ideologies and practices.
Analysing, discussing, improving, and creating culturally appropriate frameworks, policies, processes, and services in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.
Engaging in, contributing to, and applying knowledge, research, and best practice, in collaboration with First Nations stakeholders, academics and industry peers.