According to Manovich, the database and the narrative are natural enemies, each competing for the same territory of human culture. Aboriginal knowledge traditions depend upon narrative through storytelling and other shared performances. The database objectifies and commodifies distillations of such performances and absorbs them into data structures according to a priori assumptions of metadata categories. It is misleading and dangerous to say that these database contain knowledge, because we lose sight of the embedded, situated, collaborative and performative nature of knowledge. For the assemblages of digital artefacts we find in an archive or database to be useful in the intergenerational transmission of living knowledge traditions, we need to rethink knowledge as performance, and data as artefacts of prior knowledge production episodes. Through the metaphors of environment and journey we can explore ways to refigure the archive as a digital environment available as a resource to support the work of active, creative, collaborative knowledge production.