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New books to reinvigorate Indigenous language

By Margaret Paul for ABC Indigenous
It's hoped a new book being launched today will help Aboriginal children from far-west New South Wales learn their traditional language.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is in Menindee today, and Wilcannia tomorrow, launching two Paakantyi picture books for young children.

The books, Lenny and the Big Red Malka and No Tharlta on the Bus, have been written and illustrated by Faith Baisden, with input from the head of the Paatantyi Language Circle, Murray Butcher.

Debra Dank from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation said it's a fun way of teaching young children their own language.

Read the full article.

Compensation for lost languages

By Verity Edwards for The Australian

Israeli-born Ghil'ad Zuckermann, a professor of linguistics and endangered languages at Adelaide University, said of the 250 known Aboriginal languages, only 15 were widely spoken or used by all age groups within a community.

``Nearly 95 per cent of Aboriginal languages are either dead or about to die,'' Professor Zuckermann said. ``These languages were killed by colonisation. There were many cases where the languages weren't allowed to be spoken or children were taken away, and other reasons.''

Professor Zuckermann, an Australian Research Council Discovery Fellow, said a person's cultural connection to their language was more significant than their connection to the land and compensation for lost languages should take precedence over native title payments.

``Why not have native tongue title? Why is it that Aboriginal people get compensated for loss of land and not loss of language?'' he said. ``In my opinion, your language is much more important. If you want to bean count, you could quantify a language at $100 million or so.''

Read the full article.

Indigenous Literacy

Jeanie Adams of Black Ink Press in Townsville, Northern Queensland, talks about some of the reasons for low literacy among many indigenous Australians.

‘As an indigenous teenager here in Townsville said “what have books got to do with us sir, books are for whitefellas”. And if you are black and you live in the bush and you speak your own language or Aboriginal English, but every time you open a book it is about white kids living in the city using sophisticated English, where do you fit in?’

Ockham’s Razor, on Radio National. Listen to the interview.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair set for big 2012

AAP , © The Cairns Post

Sister act: Deline and Naurita Briscoe from The Briscoe Sisters, performing at the CIAF Opening Party.


Art lovers from around Australia – and even some from across the world – will soon converge on Cairns for the fourth annual program of indigenous visual art, dance and music.

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), Australia’s premier indigenous art fair, is a celebration of the beauty and diversity of Queensland indigenous art and culture.

This year’s opening night program includes the 30-member Lockhart River Kawandji-Wimpa Dancers from the Cape York community and a unique musical performance sung in traditional language from The Briscoe Sisters and Torres Strait Island Choir.

Read the full article.

Parkes Wiradjuri group to feature in ABC documentary

Faith Baisden and Suzi Taylor (ABC Open) during the filming session in Parkes, with members of local schools who sang their song. Photo from the Parkes Champion Post.

Members of the Parkes Wiradjuri Languages Group welcomed Suzi Taylor from ABC Open Albury, and Faith Baisden from the Eastern States Aboriginal languages group, to a special sitting held at the Parkes Public School.

Suzy and Faith were in Parkes to film a documentary and promotional video, highlighting the exceptional work of groups such as the local Parkes Wiradjuri team in bringing Aboriginal languages to life within their communities.

Read more: Parkes Wiradjuri group to feature in ABC documentary

Molonglo, Canberra's newest suburbs

David Sharaz in the Canberra Times.

Canberra's new suburb is located in the Molonglo Valley, has an Aboriginal name.

"The name 'Molonglo', believed to mean, 'the sound of thunder' in local Aboriginal language, was chosen to underline the cultural and heritage significance of the area."

Read more..

The ears of the nation turn to Tasmania to save a language - introducing "Tassie black fella talk"

The ears of the nation have unexpectedly turned to Tasmania in an effort to save a language.

A Federal Government hearing has recently heard that many Aboriginal languages are in danger of extinction with just 20 to 30 considered ''viable''.

More than 250 languages were spoken in 1788 but the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies was able to identify only 145 languages in 2005. Of those, 110 were classified as ''severely and critically endangered''.

The standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs has been told it could cost $90 million to save the languages under threat.

But Tasmania has been leading the way with the teaching of palawa kani, that translates to “Tassie black fella talk”.

936 Breakfast was joined by Aboriginal Children Centre’s Alison Overeem who attended the standing committee hearing in Canberra to outline what we have been teaching Aboriginal children since the early 1990s.

The committee wanted to know how Tasmania was leading the way in saving its native languages.

From ya (hello) to wulika (goodbye), palawa kani is a reconstruction of around 12 Tasmanian Aboriginal languages and is taught to young children at the ACC that is located at Risdon Cove.

Risdon Cove was the site of the first British settlement in Tasmania in 1804. It was handed back to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community under the 1995 Aboriginal Lands Act.

Listen again to the work being done in Tasmania to teach palawa kani and find out what our word of the day - nayri mapali.

Read the article by Ryk Goddard or listen to the audio from the ABC local website

Meeting in Cairns

Eastern States Aboriginal Language Group members met in cairns this week. The group had a two day meeting the first day of which was held in conjunction with the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee, the North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Language Centre and staff from the Office of the Arts who administer the Indigenous Languages Support funding pool.

Read more: Meeting in Cairns

Indigenous LOTE program saves dying language

Speaking to one another is something we take for granted but for some people their language is slowly dying.

The community of Woorabinda, 200 kilometres west of Rockhampton, is paving a new way for education with their Indigenous LOTE program.

The program is teaching primary school students the Ghungalu dialect.

Chairman of the Woorabinda LOTE Program Shemmie Leisha is a Ghungalu descendent and one of only six Australians who can speak his family’s language.

“I see us as the Ghungalu’s leading the way for other language groups because Woorabinda is made up of 52 different language groups,” he says.

Read and/or listen to the full ABC article by Alice Roberts

Program opens creative opportunities

Singer-songwriter Gina Williams, art curator Carly Lane and visual artist and community development worker Ron Bradfield are among 14 national finalists in Accelerate, a British Council program to improve Aboriginal representation at senior levels in the creative sector.

Five participants will spend a month in Britain later this year.

An Accelerate winner from last year, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company artistic director Kyle Morrison said the program had led to a performance of Shakespearean sonnets in Noongar language at the Globe Theatre during the cultural festival for the London Olympics. "It was the first time an Australian Aboriginal language was performed on the historic Globe stage, the first time any of Shakespeare's work had been translated into Noongar and the first time Aboriginal actors performed on the Globe stage," Morrison said. Read the full article by Stephen Bevis Arts Editor, The West Australian

Yugambeh descendants unite for corroboree

Jack Houghton for the Gold Coast Bulletin.

JENNY Graham lived a very different life from most.

Growing up as an Aboriginal woman in the early 1900s had its complications, but none more challenging than choosing between her children and her culture.

Mrs Graham was forced to hide her culture from her children to avoid police taking them from her.

'She knew all of the songs and languages of the Yugambeh people but could not pass it down to her children,' Rory O'Connor said.

Read the full article

Indigenous languages in threat of extinction

Bianca Hall for the Canberra Times.

A number of Aboriginal languages are in danger of extinction, a parliamentary committee was told this week, with just 20 to 30 considered viable.

In 1788, it is estimated, more than 250 languages were spoken. By 2005, when the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies did a national survey of languages, it identified just 145 languages. Of those, 110 were classified as ''severely and critically endangered'', meaning they were spoken by small groups of people who were mostly older than 40.

The standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on languages, which met on Thursday, was told it could cost $90 million to save languages under threat. Read more

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