“A memorial site not just for people to go to one time… it’s a high school, children will go there every day… it’s a living community memorial.”
Youk Chhang describing the future Sleuk Rith Institute, a Major memorial complex designed for phnom penh, cambodia.
At the end of October 2016, Brook Andrew (chief investigator) and Professor Marcia Langton (mentor) visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Through a residency opportunity at Sa Sa Art Projects, supported by Asialink and Creative Victoria, Brook and Marcia connected with artists, academics and community leaders in order to learn more about the memorialisation and impact of the genocide of 1975 and 1979 under the Khmer Rouge regime.
They conducted interviews with: Youk Chhang, the Executive Director of the Document Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) and founder of the Sleuk Rith Institute; Ang Choulean, Professor in anthropology and archeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts; Erin Gleeson, curator and scholar of contemporary art from Cambodia; and artists Maline Yim and Dara Kong. These interviews will form part of the project’s archive.
They also visited the Tuol Sleng Musuem (site of the S-21 Prison), the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, Bophana Audiovisual Research Centre, the Document Centre of Cambodia and the White Building, a vibrant residential complex and home of Sa Sa Art Projects.
Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, October 2016. Photographs by Brook Andrew.
In June 2017, Jessica Neath (Research Assistant) attended the annual ceremony at the Myall Creek Massacre memorial near Bingara, New South Wales and met with some of the members of the Friends of Myall Creek, the committee who manage the memorial and annual ceremony.
The memorial remembers the Aboriginal people, at least 28, who were brutally murdered by a gang of stockmen in 1838, close to the memorial site. The memorial stone was erected in 2000, by a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, following the sharing of memories of this event by descendants in an act of truth telling towards reconciliation.
The Friends of Myall Creek remind us that the “Myall Creek Massacre was only one of the countless massacres of the Frontier Wars right across Australia.” Yet Myall Creek is unique because it was “the only time those responsible were arrested, charged and hung for the crime.” This evidential process now speaks to the broader history of frontier massacres, the murder of thousands of first peoples, which shaped the emergence of the modern Australian nation, indicating the memorial’s national significance. The committee are currently raising funds to build an education and cultural centre adjacent to the memorial site. Please visit the Friends of Myall Creek page to make a donation.
"Healing is part of what our people have been [doing] since… I don’t want to use the word “conquered”, but… We lost our way of land, life. We just had to get up and live the day, you know. Sitting Bull, when the government hunted him down, they used tribal police to kill him; but he used to always tell his people, even though he knew that they were against the wall, he’d tell his people, “Let’s see what kind of world we can build for our children.” This is how we’re taught back home; never quit. But when you get down to Sand Creek, you’re going to feel what we’re talking to you about, their spirituality."
Mr. Gail ridgley, Northern Arapaho Tribe, discussing the significance of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
At the end of October 2017, Brook Andrew (Chief Investigator) and Jessica Neath (Research Assistant) visited Denver, Colorado to meet with, and interview, Mr. Gail Ridgely and Mr. Anthony “Al” Addison, from the Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation. Both senior men work with the United States National Parks Service, along with representatives from Southern Arapaho, Northern and Southern Cheyenne tribes, to develop the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. Opened in 2007, the site honours the hundreds killed in 1864 and pays respects to their descendants. It is the only national park in the United States dedicated to remembering a massacre.
They also visited the Sand Creek site, located approximately 180 miles southeast of Denver and met with Superintendent Alexa Roberts, and Tribal Liaison Karen Wilde.