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Third Annual CASS Reconciliation lecture a success

Members of the ARC Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language, Glen Freeman and the sister group Biliirr at the CASS Reconciliation lecture.

Thursday 8 October 2015

More than 130 people attended a special public lecture at the University House highlighting research into the roles, responsibilities and respect among Ngaanyatjarra people in the western desert of central Australia.
The one hour ‘future directions in Indigenous Research’ lecture, which was followed by an authentic indigenous music performance, showcased work being done by scholars in the ARC Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language.
Their studies include video recordings of verbal arts showing how stories are explained in the red sands using a story teller’s fingers, sticks or wire. And in an example of the interface of new technology and ancient storytelling, researchers showed how Ngaanyatjarra children are telling stories on an iPad painting application.
Local Ngunawal elder, Glen Freeman, provided an animated welcome to country and introduction to his people. ANU Professor Jane Simpson explained how Glen and others are trying to revive the Ngunuwal language by teaching Canberra school children.
Dr Jennifer Green of the University of Melbourne spoke about the importance of “sand stories”, while Dr Inge Kral gave an overview of Ngaanyatjarra region which comprise the borderlands of far eastern Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Ngaanyatjaara woman and ANU scholar, Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis, shared some of her language and how it is changing, such as in the relationships today between young couples and their in-laws.
The lecture was capped by live music from Biliirr (“black cockatoo” in Yuwaalaraay). Nardi Simpson, Lucy Simpson and Jilda Andrews, three sisters originally from Walgett, part of the Yuwaalaraay region of northwestern NSW and southeastern Queensland, sang in English and Yuwaalaraay.

The college’s RAP annual lecture was an initiation by the former Dean Toni Makkai in 2013 as part of the college’s commitment to reconciliation.

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