Prof Ann McGrath with the map
Original Published Date: 
Friday, June 11, 2021

Full article issued by The Australian National University.

An ARC-supported project at The Australian National University (ANU) shifts from the Australian history told from our colonial beginnings to one told by Aboriginal people, with stories that connect their recent past to the ancient history of their traditional lands.

Under the direction of the ANU Research Centre for Deep History, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Ann McGrath, and mapping consultant, Kim Mahood, worked with Aboriginal Elders associated with the Lake Mungo region to record their family stories.

'The Elders of the Mutthi Mutthi, Nyaampa and Barkintji spoke about how their families were forced to move from mission to mission,' Professor McGrath says.

'A lot of the children were stolen. They worked all over the sheep stations in the region. They often saw ancient footprints and things when they were working. They were drovers, they worked on railways.'

As a historian, Professor McGrath was interested in how to switch away from the colonial narrative of Australia's history, and tell the stories of the country's First Nations people.

Patricia Johnson, a Paakintji Elder, says the map helps her heal.

'I believe it will help all my people too, the same way how I feel,' she says.

The project will have a handover ceremony, with a proposed travelling exhibition through each of the communities where Aboriginal people shared their stories.

Photo credit: 

Professor Ann McGrath with the cultural map. Credit: Jamie Kidston.