NAIDOC- Respect to our Elders

July 9, 2017

On the seventh day of NAIDOC we commemorate the Elders past and present. Aboriginal languages matter… and there are people working hard to keep them alive.

Elders are the keepers and enforcers of Law, stories and culture… and Language. It is because of the Elders that Aboriginal culture is as strong and diverse today.

They hold our history, language and culture. They have lived through the darkest days of Australian history. They hold the key to our songs, stories, art, ceremonies.

Damage has been done to lots of our languages with many going extinct due to European invasion and policies, also from some young Aboriginal people being embarrassed by their language or thinking it was ‘useless’ or second class. You matter, your heritage and culture matter, your language matters.

Your language can be a way to connect with your Elders and to better understand your land and culture. It is a sign of strength. Your language is power- you can talk two way and walk in two worlds. Knowing two or more languages is good for your brain and makes you smarter!

Those of you who speak fluent or functional language know this. Those of us who have lost it can still easily aim to learn a word a week with friends- it can be your own secret language to talk around your teachers or friends! Imagine the look on your family or Elder’s face when you start talking some language around them!

Here is how you can raise awareness and learn more:

  • Ask your teacher to invite a local Elder to be a guest speaker at your school; to share a Dreaming story, a story about their childhood or to teach a lesson on language.
  • Ask your parents or family who the Elders are in your community.
  • Go to your local Aboriginal organisation to have a yarn to find out more about your language and heritage.

Creative Spirit website also gives the following suggestions as ways to pay respect to the Elders in your community:

  • Learn about Aboriginal culture by reading Aboriginal books
  • Resist the urge to propose solutions for Aboriginal issues but rather listen deeply.
  • Ask questions during workshops or cultural events.
  • Avoid stereotypes.
  • Consult, consult, consult- ask.

We can’t wait to share our book with you in 2018 which is told in Standard Australian English with Aboriginal English and Jaru words. Stay tuned!

Do you know of an Elder in your family or town? What is your favourite thing to do with an Elder?

 

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