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Painted Stories: Linking country, art and culture for language revival

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Title: Painted Stories: Linking country, art and culture for language revival
Authors: Ashmore, Louise
Allain, Gina
Issue Date: 04 Mar 2017
Description: The relationships between connections to country and wellbeing and between First Nation language and wellbeing have been described in the Australian Indigenous context (Ganesharajah 2009, Biddle & Swee 2012, Trzepacz, Guerin & Thomas 2014). This paper considers the role of art in the creative transmission of cultural and linguistic knowledge. Based on case studies from Queensland, Australia, it explores the potential for combining art therapy and language documentation methods in reconnecting community, country and language in First Nation language revival work. Aurukun is a remote community on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, Australia, where the majority of Wik-Ngathan, Wik-Ngatharr/Wik-Alken and Wik-Mungkan speakers reside. The Paman dialect group consisting of Wik-Ngathan and Wik- Ngatharr/Wik-Alken is highly endangered by language shift to another First Nation language Wik-Mungkan, as well as English. Wik-Mungkan is the first language of children at Aurukun, but is coming under increasing pressure from English. Notions of wellbeing and the relationship with country, language and creative practices will be explored through two case studies. The projects were developed in response to the concerns of community members that a lack of access to country had resulted in disruption in the inter-generational transmission of linguistic and cultural knowledge in terms of specific vocabulary, mythological narratives, land management and traditional knowledge systems. Younger people referred to unease at visiting country without this knowledge. The first case-study outlines a recovery project at a crucial stage of language loss with the aim of reinvigorating traditional language use in domains at risk of language shift through an on-country immersion camp program and the digital repatriation of archival linguistic and cultural records. This involved groups of speakers, community language workers, rangers, artists and linguists working together to foster creative opportunities for intergenerational transmission of linguistic and cultural knowledge, on country and at Aurukun, to support important cultural, social and health goals. The second case study, the Painted Stories project, explores the benefits of using similar methods when return to country is not possible, by creating a quiet and therapeutic space for people to develop their language and painting skills together, to creatively record and transmit their cultural and linguistic knowledge about country and stories between generations through innovative expression (painting, digital story-telling, collaborative work). The paper will be presented by members of the endangered language community (Wik-Ngathan and Wik-Alken), the art therapist and the linguist. References Biddle, N., & Swee, H. (2012). The relationship between wellbeing and Indigenous land, language and culture in Australia. Australian Geographer, 43(3), 215–232. Ganesharajah, C. (2009). Indigenous Health and Wellbeing: The importance of country. Native Title Research Report No. 1/2009. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Trzepacz, D., Guerin, B. & Thomas, J. (2014). Indigenous Country as a context for mental and physical health: Yarning with the Nukunu Community. The Australian Community Psychologist. Vol. 26. No. 2. 2014. (pp. 38–53).
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/42047
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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