The ICA Programme Commission established the Expert Group on Indigenous Matters (EGIM) at the ICA conference held in Adelaide, Australia in October 2019. The EGIM was an idea that had gradually gained support in the ICA since the publication of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on 13 September 2007. The EGIM was the international archival response to UNDRIP’s call for recognizing the materials of Indigenous identity in our cultural institutions. An ad hoc committee of Indigenous representatives from across the globe held regular meetings by phone in early 2019 in preparation of the ICA conference. This committee decided on several important issues vital to the effective functions of the EGIM. It also designed the terms of reference to structure the group’s efforts.
In preparation for the Indigenous Summit held as part of the ICA, the members of the ad hoc committee agreed upon a set of long-term goals. Important goals included:
- Indigenization of archival descriptions and subject headings;
- An archival approach to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- Policy for the preservation and accessibility of indigenous languages within archival materials;
- Strategies for safeguarding Indigenous oral history;
- the role of archives in supporting communities’ initiatives for reparation and reclamation.
The ad hoc committee framed these goals in a formal ICA Declaration. The completed document titled, Tandanya – Adelaide Declaration, was presented in ceremony to the Attorney General of South Australia on 25 October 2019 as part of the Indigenous Matters Summit of the ICA. The Declaration sets out some principal interpretive parameters for designing and managing the relationship between Settler authorities – cultural, legal, and political – and Indigenous communities on vital issues of social memory.
To date, the Declaration has been well received and appears to be serving its purpose as a platform to build the archival elements of the UNDRIPs recommendations. The Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities (CAARA) published an official endorsement in October 2020: https://www.caara.org.au/index.php/news/; National archival authorities in Canada will soon publish a similar public endorsement. UNDRIP has been translated into many of the UNESCO member nation languages.