This digital archive was built upon the Content Management System (CMS) for Indigenous contents Mukurtu [MOOK-oo-too]. Mukurtu was built with Indigenous communities across the world to manage and share digital cultural heritage and is managed by the Centre for Digital Curation at Washington State University, USA.
There is a growing body of scholarship in library and archival studies that acknowledge that digital infrastructures used in the library and archival fields are built upon western traditions and hence perpetuate the same colonial power structures. That is, Mukurtu was chosen for this project as it is a grassroots initiative aiming to empower communities to manage, share, and exchange their digital heritage in culturally relevant and ethically-minded ways.
I came to appreciate the Mukurtu CMS as it has been adopted by a number of different communities in Australia and internationally as a tool for this collaboration and community engagement. The Mukurtu team at Washington State University (USA) where the code is based, consults with communities and organisations to identify new features, improvements and to provide feedback on long- and short-term development. In Australia (NSW), the Indigenous Archives and Data Stewardship at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (University of Technology Sydney, UTS) connects with communities to gather feedback on the system through the NSW Australian Mukurtu Hub (a partnership between UTS, Washington State University and the State Library of NSW).
Mukurtu has also some distinctive features which differ from most part of libraries, museums and archival catalogues. Some key features in Mukurtu include:
- ‘Cultural Protocols’, which allow users to determine fine-grained levels of access to digital heritage materials based on communities needs and values,
- ‘Community Records’, which provide space for response, multiple cultural narratives, traditional knowledge, and diverse sets of protocols, and
- ‘Traditional Knowledge Labels’, which allow Indigenous communities to label the third party owned or public domain materials with added information about access, use, circulation and attribution.
More information on the story, development and functionalities of Mukurtu CMS is available on Mukurtu.org.