Investigation of social values is essential to understanding relationships between people and place, particularly in Indigenous cultural heritage management. The value of long-term ethnographic studies is well recognised, however, such approaches are generally not possible in many heritage studies due to time or other constraints. Qualitative research methods have considerable potential in this space, yet few have systematically applied them to understanding Indigenous peoples’ relationships with place. This paper reports on a qualitative study with Alngith people from north-eastern Australia. It begins by exploring the embodied, experiential nature of Alngith peoples’ conception of Country and their emphasis on four interrelated themes: Respect, Care, Interaction and Closeness when describing relationships to Country. We suggest that Alngith people-to-place relationships are underwritten by these ideals and are central to local expectations for respectful, inclusive heritage practices. The results also reveal new perspectives and pathways for Aboriginal communities, and heritage managers dissatisfied with the constraints of ‘traditional’ cultural heritage assessment frameworks that emphasise archaeological methods and values. The paper further demonstrates how qualitative research methodologies can assist heritage managers to move beyond the limitations of surveys and quantitative studies and develop a deeper understanding of Indigenous values, concepts and aspirations (social values).
McNaughton, Darlene, Michael Morrison, and Cassie Schill. 2016. ‘“My Country Is like My Mother…”: Respect, Care, Interaction and Closeness as Principles for Undertaking Cultural Heritage Assessments’. International Journal of Heritage Studies 22 (6): 415–33. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2016.1165277.