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The Indigenous Australian knowledge traditions: New ways for old ceremonies – A case study of Aboriginal final mortuary ceremonial practices in the Northern Territory

ABSTRACT

Readers are alerted that the paper refers to Indigenous people who have passed away. The paper presents a detailed case study of ceremonial knowledge frameworks using an Indigenous research methodology based on Mirrwana and Wurrkama philosophy. This approach to case study research ensures the preservation, interpretation and dissemination of ceremonial performances recorded in the Wagait and Daly regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. The research focused on the corpus of Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu ceremonial metadata and was centred on the final mortuary cultural and ceremonial practices of Wali and Wangga ceremonies; the Wangga ceremony is often accompanied by the Lirrga and Djanba ceremonies of the neighbouring regions. The final mortuary ceremonial practices and performances were recorded by a research team from Charles Darwin University in 2007 and 2009. Included in the corpus of metadata were written records made by early anthropologists and missionaries in the Wagait and Daly regions. The results of this approach to Indigenous research are now shared. The Indigenous knowledge about these ceremonies is kept stored safely in several readily accessible repositories whereby it is preserved, thereby extending the power of this knowledge for the benefit of Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia both now and into the future.

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