In this chapter, I first analyze the company’s rehabilitation practices in relation to a changing social and regulatory environment. Drawing on materials dating from the 1960s to the present, I demonstrate that rehabilitation practices are not simply technical in nature, but also socially and politically contingent. I pay special attention to recent assertions by RTAW that their current rehabilitation practices align with Traditional Owners’ values relating to the Aboriginal English concept of “Country” (the territory, and system of ecological and spiritual relationships, to which an individual or group is connected) and describe how the company negotiates the statutory and ideological paradigms that it uses to define and perform rehabilitation statutory and ideological paradigms that it uses to define and perform rehabilitation success. Second, I describe Alngith people’s future aspirations for their land. Incertain contexts, Alngith people strongly advocate for rehabilitation to re-create the pre-mining ecosystem, yet in other circumstances they express their desire to create alternative land uses not necessarily dependent on the return of native species. This contradiction illustrates that Alngith evaluations of rehabilitation success are also politically contingent. Ultimately, this chapter suggests that paying close attention to the multiple ways that Indigenous peoples wish to use landscapes is critical; discrepancies in how Indigenous speakers vocalize their aspirations highlight the dangers ofuncritically conflating cultural values with ecological values.
Cohen, T. (2017). Bringing country back? Indigenous aspirations and ecological values in Australian mine-site rehabilitation. In K. Jalbert, A. Willow, D. C. & Stephanie Paladino (Eds.), ExtrACTION: Impacts, Engagements, and Alternative Futures (pp. 137-150). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.