In order to create room for additional iron ore mining in the area, a 46,000-year-old holy Aboriginal site in Western Australia has recently been destroyed.
A spokeswoman for the mining corporation Rio Tinto informed ABC News on May 26 that a blast with exploded explosives last weekend damaged the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 rock shelter caves, two locations of enormous cultural and historical significance.
On the west Hamersley Plateau, two ancient shelters were discovered about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north-west of Mount Tom Price. Ngaarda Media claims that prior archaeological research demonstrates that Aboriginal people initially lived in the caves around 46,000 years ago, making them some of the oldest inhabited caves on the plateau.
A great trove of important items, including tools and sacred objects, dating back as far as 28,000 years ago was discovered during an excavation of the shelters in 2014. The cave’s discovery of a 4,000-year-old human hair lock was the most remarkable of all. The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people, the current traditional owners of the land, are descended directly from the people who lived in these caves thousands of years ago, according to genetic study of the hair.
The destruction of the caverns is an unthinkable blow given the significance of legacy in the culture of the PKKP people.
“It is awful. And it’s quite upsetting to learn that the ancient sites have been destroyed and that the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people have a close relationship to that location. According to Burchell Hayes, a director of PKKP Aboriginal Corporation and a member of the Kurrama Land Committee, there is where our ancestors once lived in that region.
“It’s incredibly, really difficult to accept that — it’s gone.” “.
According to the 1972 Aboriginal Heritage Act, which was written to favor mining opportunities, permission for the demolition was given by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in 2013. The Act, which is now 48 years old, has drawn flak for being out of date and insensitive to Aboriginal issues. According to the Act, the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee must be consulted before beginning any operation that would harm or destroy an Aboriginal site. A right of appeal against a committee decision does not exist, however, nor is it mandated by law that an Indigenous person serve on the committee.
The global mining corporation that caused the damage, Rito Tinto, has justified its conduct. The business released a statement, as reported by AFP: “2013 saw the granting of ministerial approval for Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 4 mine that would affect the Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 rock shelters. Under the terms of the agreement, Rio Tinto has cooperatively worked with the PKKP people on a variety of heritage-related issues, and has, if possible, adapted its activities to prevent historical effects and to safeguard locations having special cultural significance to the group.”
In an effort to avoid scenarios like this from happening again, the Aboriginal Heritage Act of 1972 is currently being reviewed.
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