This morning I gave the Kaurna Acknowledgement at the beginning of a gathering of educators. I researched it to make it unique and I hope it came across well. Here is what I said and the images I used…
My name is Karen Butler. I work in the Digital Learning and Communication Team
At the beginning of this year the team working within Australian Curriculum in Aboriginal Education issued a challenge to learn more about Aboriginal students, from historical and contemporary perspectives. Since then I have taken this challenge to heart and have looked to improve my personal understandings of pedagogy and content knowledge that puts Aboriginal learners at the centre of my work. As such I am deeply privileged to have been asked to provide the acknowledgement for today’s meeting.
I took this responsibility and the initial challenge and considered four perspectives. I’d like to share those with you if you’ll indulge me.
The first is language. I’ve discovered the Kuarna language is rich and complex. Pronunciation is tricky. There are many more complex versions of acknowledgement – but I was not that brave – so I am going to attempt to make this simple acknolwedgement in Kuarna. Apologies if I get it wrong, I mean no disrespect.
Kaurna miyurna, Kaurna yarta, ngadlu tampinthi. (I listened to the MP3s on this site over and over for this)
Translated this means
We recognise Kaurna people and their land
I also discovered a great series of videos by Jack Buckskin teaching some common saying. One of those
Wanti meaning “where to”
and Naa meaning “you all” you mob.
Where are you going. It may be timely to consider this – where are we going? What are we hoping to achieve and how are Aboriginal students featuring in the centre.
The second perspective is History, looking back in order to look forward. As many of you may know the image on the left is of a Kuarna shield housed in the South Australian Museum. It is also featured in the Changing Worlds resource by the Outreach.
The Kaurna Shield, or wokali as it is known in the Kaurna language, is a bark shield that was used by the original people of the Adelaide Plains.
Research suggests that this wokali shield is more than 150 years old, and was used in ritual combat by a Kaurna man of the Adelaide Plains.
The sign on the right is a contemporary reworking of this shield into a symbol used by the Adelaide City Council in the CBD and Park Land’s as signage, along with a plaque on the Adelaide Town Hall, which acknowledges the Kaurna people’s original custodianship.
So I invite you to do battle with the obstacles that hinder us and use our collegiality as a shield to allow us the protection to grow and learn.
The Kaurna are the original people of Adelaide and the Adelaide Plains. The area in which we are meeting today and the surrounds were called Tarntanya (red kangaroo place) by the Kaurna – According to History SA we are meeting in the heart of Kaurna country which before 1836 was an open grassy plain with patches of trees and shrubs, the result of hundreds of generations of skillful land management.
As I’ve discovered the Kaurna spoke a complex language which reflected their sophisticated culture and deep knowledge of the environment. The Kaurna people valued learning. Learning about culture and environment began in childhood and continued into adulthood – and this gaining of knowledge was recognised as the basis of an individual’s authority.
This is valuable learning for me. I have a lot more to learn. I hope it is useful for you today to hold in mind the importance of our work in developing ourselves and all learners.
Finally, I was reminded about the importance of contemporary Aboriginal Culture when I was reading some work by preservice students who sought to include Aborignal perspectives by always using traditional examples from the past. And I felt that we sometimes neglect to remember that the Kuarna ways are as important today as they were thousands of years ago. That we should not relegate to the past, that which is powerful for today.
Lewis O’Brien a well known Kuarna man, went into the government archives when he was a young man, and was able to confirm family stories about his great-great grandmother Kudnartu and details passed down orally through almost a century. He explained in 1990:
‘I thought for a long time that I was a Narrunga person but I found out, through tracing history, that there were some survivors of the Kaurna – including myself – and now there’s probably a thousand of us Kaurna descendants who can trace their ancestry back to a number of Aboriginal women who had children. It pleased me to think that we were survivors and that we are still here and still doing things’ O’Brien 1990
Let’s acknowledge the present. Lets keep doing things that create a culture of thriving rather than just surviving.
And I return to Wanti Naa
Where are you going. Where are we going.
What challenge will you take up today?
And finally let me formally make the acknowledgement in English.
Today we are privileged to be meeting on the country of Kaurna people
We recognise Kaurna as the Traditional Owners and
Custodians of the Adelaide Plains
We recognise the significance for Kaurna people of:
* their cultural and spiritual relationship with the land, sea,
waterways and sky
* their rich cultural heritage and beliefs
and we recognise the continuing importance of this to Kaurna people living today
and we ask that their ancestors walk with us to achieve clarity for “Wanti Naa“.
Kaurna miyurna, Kaurna yarta, ngadlu tampinthi.