Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts and Science)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr. Melissa Marshall

Second Supervisor

Dr. Freya Higgins-Desbiolles

Third Supervisor

Dr. Jeff Corntassel


This research explores the intersections between Indigenous-led tourism and resurgence among Indigenous communities. Resurgence is understood as practices promoting connections with culture, Country (i.e. Indigenous lands and waterways), and community. The research utilises a comparative case study approach to specifically analyse the experience of Karajarri Traditional Owners (TOs) of the saltwater Kimberley region of northwestern Australia. Comparative examples are drawn from Indigenous-led tourism development by other coastal Kimberley Aboriginal tourism leaders, as well as from the author’s own Tribal Nation, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, United States.

The conceptual framework for this work is derived from the following concepts from Indigenous resurgence discourses: (1) grounded normativity, or traditional, place-based values; (2) ‘everyday acts’ of resurgence of cultural lifeways in the spheres of permissions, governance and economy-making; and (3) Indigenous internationalism. The latter offers the opportunity for the comparative lens for bringing the Karajarri case into a yarning, or dialogue with Cherokee and other Indigenous-led tourism models.

The research employed an Aboriginal Participatory Action Research approach that prioritises Indigenous perspectives, relationality and collaboration with participants as co-researchers. Research methods included semi-structured interviews, participant observation and policy analysis. This study brings forth different voices, perspectives and experiences with Karajarri-led tourism from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal co-researchers alike. Focus is specifically on the relationships between traditional values, everyday cultural lifeways and tourism models conducive to goals.

The research findings demonstrate that for the Karajarri case, tourism engagement supports a resurgence approach to Indigenous-led tourism. Specifically, through Karajarri shaping of tourism’s deliberate intersections with traditional values, permissions, governance and economy-making, new spaces are created for resurgence to take place. At the same time, the viability and strength of resurgence through tourism is also tested and shaped by the context of settler-colonial domination and interventions. These tensions and dynamics reveal the possibilities and limits to resurgence through Indigenous-led tourism in both the saltwater Kimberley and Oklahoma Indian Country. Ultimately, this study emphasises the centrality of Indigenous resurgence to Indigenous wellbeing, self-determination and futures, and asserts that Indigenous-led tourism can support and even create new spaces for these endeavours.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025

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