Heritage on fire: an investigation of management practices in relation to the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage from burning and bushfires

Author: Alyssa Janaea De Luna

De Luna, Alyssa Janaea, 2021 Heritage on fire: an investigation of management practices in relation to the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage from burning and bushfires, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact copyright@flinders.edu.au with the details.


This research project examined the extent to which management plans contribute to the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage especially from burning and bushfire incidents. Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks from Australia and Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks from the United States were used as case studies to investigate the different protection procedures within each park and to discuss the development of their plans. As such, specific heritage related words were chosen for comparative analysis; to discern any similarities or differences in regimes between these national parks. Using this framework, the management plans were also examined taking into account various heritage discourses in order to understand how colonialism has impacted the development of management plans and on the Traditional Owners of the national parks. The results of this analysis reveal a significant difference in Indigenous heritage protection between Australian national parks, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kakadu National Parks, and United States national parks, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu National Parks both have a detailed protection program for their Indigenous heritage sites including when protecting them from bushfires and burning. Contrastingly, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks still have yet to develop a process that specifically and fully focuses on the protection of Native American heritage. The heritage discourse within all national park management plans was clear, however, with each national park having their own versions of dissonance within both management plans and park management. There are clear distinctions between the aspirations of Indigenous groups and the regulations that park management instill. While Australian national parks have joint management between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups to discuss the options, Native Americans are only considered as stakeholders to be consulted and have no final say in any park discussions. This thesis demonstrates that while the Australian management plans have a well-developed heritage protection program compared to the United States national parks, the discourse and dissonance between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples prevents a thorough and traditional approach to the protection of Indigenous heritage sites.

Keywords: bushfire, wildfire, Aboriginal, cultural, heritage, Indigenous, national park, Uluru, Kakadu, Yosemite, Sequoia, joint management, heritage discourse, colonisation, fire,

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Amy Roberts