My story Watershed is a deep time impression of Melbourne. I collaborated with Boonwurrung Elder N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs and the story is informed by Boonwurrung cultural heritage concerning sea level rise. Facilitated by Arts House Melbourne I spent twelve months writing Watershed while consulting with N’arwee’t. Aunty Carolyn and I are very proud of it and allowed Assemble Papers to publish it ahead of an audio version being premiered at Arts House in April 2021.
I am disappointed that an important line about permissions was removed from Watershed without my knowledge, before the edition went to print. This line was removed after the proofing process. The permissions statement should have read:
Boonwurrung words and history from ‘The Journey Cycles of the Boonwurrung’ by N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs. Permission to share and discuss Boonwurrung cultural heritage granted by N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs.
When it was printed the second line was inexplicably removed. “Permission to share and discuss Boonwurrung cultural heritage granted by N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs” does not appear in the print edition and initially did not appear on the online edition.
It was my design and intention that the statement about being granted permission appear immediately after the story. It lets the reader know that the story is culturally safe and protocol has been followed.
Indigenous intellectual property and the importance of stating your cultural permissions is a widely discussed topic around First Nations voices in the Arts. Australia Council for the Arts has published pages and pages on the topic of Indigenous story protocol. I met with Assemble Papers prior to agreeing to the publishing of Watershed and talked at length with them about story protocol.
Writing should not be altered after the proofing process without consultation. Removing lines about cultural permission should raise alarm bells at any point in the editorial process and at any level of a magazine.
I welcome Assemble Papers’ swift action to recall copies and correct them with a sticker. I recommend that Assemble Papers take closer notice of the beliefs and values that inform how mob share stories in public.
On behalf of the whole Assemble Papers team, I extend my sincerest apology to Cassie Lynch, N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs and Arts House Melbourne for the accidental omission of the following permission line in Cassie Lynch’s story Watershed, printed on pages 24 – 25, in Assemble Papers 13 Mind the Gap: “Permission to share and discuss Boonwurrung cultural heritage granted by N’arwee’t Carolyn Briggs.” I also apologise to any readers who have read the story without the appropriate permission line included and have felt any hurt. Alongside this apology, we are taking this action to swiftly correct the omission.
We are recalling all issues of Assemble Papers 13 Mind the Gap so we can correct the permission line. If you have a copy please send your postage address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will send you the correct permissions to apply.
Sophie Rzepecky (Editor, Assemble Papers)