About the Indigenous collection
Image: Spear (2015). Courtesy Arenamedia. NFSA ID:1463007
For over 100 years, the stories of Australia’s First Peoples – about family, ancestors, traditions and ways of living – have been captured in sound recordings, moving images and other audiovisual media.
The NFSA holds and preserves more than 25,000 works that document the unique place that First Peoples occupy within Australian society, and the diversity of their cultural and creative expressions.
The Indigenous collection spans a century’s worth of audiovisual technology, from nitrate film and wax cylinders to digital formats. It includes:
- moving image - feature films, documentaries, commercial and community television, ethnographic recordings and home movies
- recorded sound - ethnographic recordings, commercial recordings, community radio, oral histories and spoken word performances
- documents and artefacts - posters, scripts, equipment, scrapbooks and photographs.
Collections like those held by the NFSA are storehouses of information about family, ancestors, traditions and ways of living that may have been lost or are in the process of being rebuilt.
The NFSA is Australia’s living archive. The concept of a living past resonates deeply with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who belong to the world’s oldest living cultures.
The concept of a living archive is the foundation for a strong, ongoing collaboration between the NFSA and the First Peoples of Australia. It recognises the complexity of past collection practices and the ways we continue to come to terms with them, and the significance of those collections to the cultural maintenance and revival taking place in Indigenous communities today.
The NFSA recognises these deep emotional resonances when collaborating with Indigenous people, both within and outside of the organisation.
As a custodian of over 25,000 audiovisual works on the stories of Australia’s First Peoples, the NFSA works in partnership with communities, cultural knowledge holders, artists, filmmakers and musicians in respectfully managing and promoting these important cultural materials.
This approach promotes the important role that audiovisual collections play in assisting First Peoples communities in cultural maintenance and exploring opportunities to drive new forms of cultural and creative expression.
Download collection guide: Recordings by Indigenous Artists (1899–1998)