The First Inventors features JCU partnership research

    The First Inventors is a ground-breaking 4-part documentary series exploring Indigenous knowledges and technologies across the Australian continent and extending for more than 65,000 years.

    The series follows story lines across the Country and across the skies. It explores how people transformed the continent through management and story. It covers navigation, aeronautics, kinship, memory, trade, communication and much more.

    The First Inventors is presented by Tiwi Islander and Logie-award-winner Rob Collins, with an exciting team of Indigenous investigators including Karlie Noon, Chris Wilson, Ben Abbatangelo and Tui Raven.

    The series is grounded in Country and speaks to how Director Larissa Behrendt so eloquently described as Indigenous knowledges guiding the creation of new knowledges. The series is also a celebration of how Indigenous knowledges come together with Western science in authentic research partnerships, revealing new knowledge and shaping what we know and how it can inform better futures.

    The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) was the principal research partner for the series. Over the last 4 years we’ve been working closely with communities, directors, producers, production companies and TV networks to bring the series to our screens.

    JCU research, researchers and members of The Cairns Institute are featured across the series.

    In Episode 3, partnership research between JCU and Dingaal Traditional Owners on Jiigurru (Lizard Island) is featured across several segments, including an archaeological excavation led by Ariana Lambrides investigating ancient pottery and the use of reef resources and stone arrangements representing Dingaal totems being investigated by Joshua Connelly as part of his PhD research. Mike Kneppers is analysing the shellfish from the excavation as part of his PhD. Sean’s work as part of a team using supercomputers to model the ‘superhighways’ that ancestors used to travel the continent is also featured.

    At this time where Australia is engaging in defining national conversations about voice, truth, and treaty, The First Inventors presents Indigenous-led robustly-researched content that celebrates the complexity, deep knowledges and sophistication of First Nations societies across the country.

    If you missed The First Inventors all episodes are now available for streaming on TenPlay and SBS on Demand.

    Two people talking

    Distinguished Professor Sean Ulm is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures at James Cook University. Dr Ariana Lambrides is an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow at James Cook University. Joshua Connelly and Mike Kneppers are both PhD candidates at James Cook University.

    Images courtesy of Max Bourke and Sean Ulm

    1. The First Inventors title graphic (Network 10/NITV).
    2. The First Inventors filming set in the Northern Territory showing lead presenter Rob Collins and Sean Ulm (Photograph: Max Bourke).
    3. The First Inventors filming set on Jiigurru (Lizard Island) showing Kenneth McLean (Chairperson, Walmbaar Aboriginal Corporation) and Ben Abbatangelo (Investigator), and Max Bourke (Series Producer) (Photograph: Sean Ulm).
    4. The First Inventors filming set showing Ariana sweeping 2cm of dirt to unfold the layers of time (Photograph: Max Bourke)

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