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Analysis and Comment (33)

‘Non-Indigenous Australian’ is one of the most multicultural ethnic identities in human history. Leigh Griffiths

Non-Indigenous Australians have to reconcile their needs

We know there will soon be a referendum on recognising Australia’s original inhabitants in the constitution – so what’s at stake? The answer is crucial for the policy approach we now call Aboriginal Reconciliation…
Inuit women carrying their kids in traditional hooded parkas. Indigenous midwifery programs have expanded across Canada and are linked to excellent health outcomes. Spencer/Flickr

Birthing on Country could deliver healthier babies and communities

Tony Abbott spent most of this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. In the final of our Abbott in…
Leader of the pack: Djalu Gurruwiwi of the Galpu clan leads younger performers at the 2013 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land. AAP Image/Youthu Yindi Foundation

Listen to your elders: inviting Aboriginal parents back to school

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Djapana – sunset – at Bawaka in North-East Arnhem Land. Sarah Wright

Welcome to my Country: seeing the true beauty of life in Bawaka

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
In The Boys Home, artist Zanny Begg worked with boys in juvenile detention. This image is from a project titled Rooms. Photo documentation by Alex Wisser. The Boys Home

The Boys Home: making art in a juvenile detention centre

I entered the secretive world of a maximum-security prison for children in Sydney’s Western suburbs for four months earlier this year. My passport into this highly restrictive world was an artist residency…
Aboriginal people are confident of their good traditional governance practices. yaruman5

Indigenous Australia in the era of ‘good governance’

Northern Australia is by no means exempt from the constant buzz around governance which has been a feature of Australian public life for the last decade. That’s particularly so in the area of Indigenous…
Gavin Jones, the founder of the Deadly Awards, in 2011. Paul Miller/AAP Image

Gavin Jones – may he rest in peace and his legacy live on

Like many of us I am still in shock regarding news of the passing on the weekend of Deadly Vibe founder Gavin Jones at the age of 47. Launched in 1995 the magazine and media company had, in my opinion…
Brave New Clan presents the “X-factor” us mob see among ourselves all the time to a wider audience. Foxtel 2014

Indigenous Australia is deadly – and Leah Purcell shows it

Urban skyline, as seen from inside a medium-density apartment block, opens Australian director Leah Purcell’s Who We Are: Brave New Clan (2014), which was broadcast on Foxtel’s Bio Channel last night…
Without ceremony, the lives of many Aboriginal Australians would be greatly impoverished. Rusty Stewart

Aboriginal ceremonies are not ‘bullshit’

Tarmac gives way to dirt on the road out to ceremony, where more than a hundred participants from Australia’s eastern states will gather over a public holiday long weekend for the serious business of performing…
Are Australian policymakers trapped in a monolingual mindset? Katie Tegtmeyer

Muting Indigenous language support only widens the gap

Indigenous languages are under attack yet again. The federal budget, released on May 13, includes a substantial reduction of A$9.5 million over four years for the Indigenous Languages Support Programme…
Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi, 2013, Wardilyka Jukurrpa (Bush Turkey, Ardeotis Australis Dreaming) synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 200.0 x 300.0 cm. © the artist, courtesy of Warnayaka Art Centre Lajamanu, and Vivien Anderson Gallery Melbourne

Clever women: three Warlpiri artists, now in Melbourne

This unconventional review of an exhibition, Jinjilngali, Kurlukuku Minpiya, Yirdingali, now on show at the Vivien Anderson Gallery in Melbourne, also constitutes a tribute to three Warlpiri women artists…
Carly Sheppard is performing in Melbourne as part of Next Wave. Gregory Lorenzutti

White Face – some notes from a fair-skinned Aboriginal

Carly Sheppard’s latest work, White Face playing as part of Melbourne’s Next Wave festival this week, is a contemporary performance addressing personal experiences as a fair-skinned Aboriginal person based…
Australian Indigenous performance traditions are a unique expression of what it is to be human. Tali Caspi

We’ve lost 98% of Indigenous music traditions – who cares?

Australian Indigenous performance traditions, among the oldest in the world, are also among the most endangered. According to a Statement on Indigenous Australian Music and Dance endorsed in 2011 by the…
Nura Rupert, Australia, c.1933. Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, Mamu (Spooky spirits) 2006, Ernabella, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on linen 92x122cm. Ed and Sue Tweddell Fund for South Australian Contemporary Art 2006. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide © Nura Rupert, courtesy of Ernabella Arts

‘Dreamings’ and place – Aboriginal monsters and their meanings

A rich inventory of monstrous figures exists throughout Aboriginal Australia. The specific form that their wickedness takes depends to a considerable extent on their location. In the Australian Central…
Aboriginal Mimi ‘trickster’ spirits are genderless. Making Camp at 'Forest, Cunningham's Gap, 1856', 2009, pigmented inks on 310gsm Huhnemuble German Etching Paper, edition of 5, 29.5 x 42 cm (paper size). Courtesy of the artist, Troy-Anthony Baylis

The art of seeing Aboriginal Australia’s queer potential

Since European contact Aboriginal people, such as myself, have been constructed as “straight”. This cultural default has contributed to the difficulty of proving so-called “real accounts” of sexual and…
Desert Designs showcase their unique aesthetic in Sydney this week. Ryan Kitching

A hot new model at the Australian Indigenous Fashion Week

It’s not difficult to find reference to Indigenous ethnographic designs in contemporary Australia. Motifs from Adelaide’s Balarinji Design Studios coat Qantas' Boeing fleet and elders wore Victorian possum…
The resources housed in the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages include educational materials for children. Fiona Morrison/Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

Some vital signs for Aboriginal languages

Attitudes and policies relating to Australian Indigenous languages are in a state of flux. The Northern Territory government is reportedly again aiming to banish Aboriginal languages from the classroom…
Linda Namiyal Bopirri, 1990, Yolngu Matha, Dhuwa moiety, (Liyagalawumirr), Guruwara, Ramingining, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Birds on Oyster Bank, (‘Oyster Dreaming’, ‘Wayanaka’), Acrylic and Natural Pigments on Canvas, 122x122 cm. © the artist's estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd; Burkhardt-Felder Collection, Switzerland

Location, location, location: two contrasting Dreaming narratives

Location, location, location. The real estate agents’ hollow, hackneyed mantra takes on real purchase when applied to the distribution of Dreamings and Dreaming narratives across this continent and its…
Shorty Jangala Robertson, 2011, Warlpiri, ‘Ngapa Jukurrpa’ (Water Dreaming) – Pirlinyanu, 76 x 76 cm. Copyright the artist; Warlukurlangu Artists, Yuendumu.

‘Dreamings’ and dreaming narratives: what’s the relationship?

To imagine what “Australia” was like B.C. (“Before Cook”, or before colonisation), one needs to envision the entire landmass of this island/continent and most of its surrounding islands and waters as crisscrossed…
George Liwukan Bukulaptji, 1990, Yolngu, Galiwin'ku, (Elcho Island), Octopus Dreaming, Garumara, acrylic with natural pigments on canvas, 76x152cm. © the artist's estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd; Burkhardt-Felder Collection, Switzerland

‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’: who dreamed up these terms?

We’re all, it seems, familiar with the terms “Dreamtime” and “The Dreaming” in relation to Aboriginal Australian culture, but – as I noted in the first part of this series – such terms are grossly inadequate…
Black Diggers tells the stories of young Indigenous soldiers who fought in the first world war. How did their stories get forgotten? Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival

Indigenous soldiers remembered: the research behind Black Diggers

In August 2012, I was invited by the Sydney Festival to work with Wesley Enoch, Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company, to assist in developing Black Diggers, currently playing as part of the…
Rosie Tasman Napurrurla, Warlpiri 2002, Ngurlu Jukurrpa (‘Grass Seed; Bush Grain Dreaming’), line etching on Hahnemuhle paper. Warnayaka Art Centre, Lajamanu, and Aboriginal Art Prints Network, Sydney

‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’ – an introduction

In 2002, Jeannie Herbert Nungarrayi, formerly a Warlpiri teacher at the Lajamanu School in the Tanami Desert of the Northern Territory, where I worked for many years first as a linguist and then as school…
Many remote communities have been cut off from the internet, missing out on services and skills others take for granted. yaruman5/flickr

Getting remote Indigenous communities online

Most remote Australian Indigenous communities have little or no access to digital technology. Last year, three internet-enabled terminals were installed as a trial in the remote communities of Burraluba…
Two golden records, on their way out of our solar system, carry Australian Aboriginal music – but what’s the real story behind the recording? x-ray delta one

Beyond the morning star: the real tale of Voyagers' Aboriginal music

Earlier this year, NASA spacecraft Voyager 1 left our solar system after a 35-year journey, carrying with it a golden record containing sounds, images and music from Earth. Its sister craft, Voyager 2…
Torres Strait Islanders use constellations, such as the shark ‘Baidam’ pictured here, for practical purposes. Brian Robinson

A shark in the stars: astronomy and culture in the Torres Strait

Technology has, without doubt, expanded our understanding of space. The Voyager 1 space probe is on the brink of leaving our solar system. Massive telescopes have discovered blasts of fast radio bursts…
If funding for Aboriginal artists and organisations is cut, performers like The Black Arm Band will not receive adequate support. IFACCA

Indigenous cultural policy: Creative Australia or creative accounting?

Like many others, I was pleasantly surprised by the government’s announcement last month of A$54 million in funding for Indigenous languages as part of the national cultural policy – Creative Australia…
Dugongs rely on seagrass for food - damage to grass beds is a bigger threat to the species than Indigenous hunting. sandwichgirl/Flickr

Banning Indigenous hunting won’t help dugongs

In the 1990s some international animal rights and environment organisations instigated a concerted campaign to stop the hunting of pilot whales by Faroese people living in the northeast Atlantic. The thousand-year-old…
Understanding the stingray’s significance can help us understand opposition to James Price Point gas plans. Joy VanBuhler

Beware the stingray: Indigenous heritage and WA’s gas plans

For overwhelming economic, social, cultural and environmental reasons the LNG precinct proposed for Walmadany (James Price Point) should not be built…In sum, such a project is against the national interest…
It’s time to look seriously at changing our constitution. An apology is not enough. AAP/Dave Hunt

Indigenous Australians the key to a strong Constitution

There is unfinished business in Australia, and it’s time to start a serious conversation about resolving it. We need to talk about the planned referendum on Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution…
An Arakwal man performs the welcome to country ceremony in Byron Bay. It’s a sight which will be less common now in Victoria. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Welcome to country. Please show some respect

The recent decision by Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu to drop the protocol for government ministers to “acknowledge country” and thereby recognise Indigenous Australian custodianship does not sit well…

Research and News (1)