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Monday musings on Australian literature: NAIDOC Week 2015

July 6, 2015

Australians will be aware that this week, July 5 to 12, is NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC originally stood for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, the committee that was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week. However, this acronym has now become the name of the week, which suggests just how significant, and well-accepted, this week is now on Australia’s calendar.

The Week aims, as you would expect, “to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”, and in doing so, to encourage all Australians to recognise and better understand indigenous Australians. Each year the week has a theme, and this year it is We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate.

This theme, according to the NAIDOC website

highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea. The theme is an opportunity to pay respects to country; honour those who work tirelessly on preserving land, sea and culture and to share the stories of many sites of significance or sacred places with the nation.

Uluru

Uluru, taken August 2009

The site also tells us that this theme was particularly chosen this year “to highlight and celebrate the  anniversary of the ‘Handback’ of Uluru, one of these sacred sites, to its traditional owners on 26 October 30 years ago”. To that I say, wonderful, as I am visiting Uluru for my third time later this month.

I know my ways of celebrating and supporting indigenous Australian culture are pretty tokenistic in the scheme of things, but in the spirit of this week I thought I’d share with you some of the rather eclectic things I do throughout the year as the opportunities arise:

  • engage with local indigenous culture when I travel, mostly through tours led by indigenous Australians;
  • attend exhibitions featuring indigenous Australian art and culture, ancient, traditional and contemporary;
  • donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation;
  • attend performances by the Bangarra Dance Theatre; and,
  • read Indigenous Australian literature (though I don’t seem to read anywhere near as much as I’d like to).

It’s this last way, of course, that is most appropriate to my blog, so to mark this NAIDOC Week, I’m sharing links to posts written by me, and, with her permission, Lisa Hill (ANZLitLovers), on Indigenous Australian literature:

Some of you will know that Lisa has for the last few years run an Indigenous Literature Week during NAIDOC week but, as she wrote recently, this year she plans to run it to coincide with the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Workshop which will be held in Melbourne next month. Watch out for that.

Meanwhile, Lisa and I hope our links help you discover more about Indigenous Australian culture through literature.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2015 12:16 am

    “Twas indeed fortuitous that I elected to hold ILW later in the year, Sue, because *sigh* I am off to Qld again in the morning and I wouldn’t have been able to support it properly on the blog …

    • July 7, 2015 1:24 am

      Oh dear, Lisa, Hope things aren’t too bad up there. And if you can’t end up holding it in August because of family demands well so be it, eh? I’m sure people would understand.

  2. July 7, 2015 8:31 am

    this is a good reminder to those of us from other parts of the world that if we want to read Australian literature we should be paying attention to native literature also. So easy to overlook that.

  3. maamej permalink
    July 7, 2015 9:36 pm

    Well you may not be reading as much Indigenous literature as you’d like, but you still put me to shame! I don’t think it’s that tokenistic to be count reading because it definitely helps broaden our horizons.

    • July 7, 2015 9:42 pm

      Well thanks maamej … I was hoping it was better to expose myself in the hope of opening up discussion with others than hide in embarrassment. You’ve made me feel I made the right choice!

      • maamej permalink
        July 7, 2015 9:47 pm

        🙂 anything we can do as non indigenous people to increase our understanding is a positive I reckon.

        • July 7, 2015 10:07 pm

          Yes, you’re right of course …

        • maamej permalink
          July 7, 2015 10:11 pm

          But we always feel like we should be doing more … I know that feeling.

  4. John Stokes permalink
    July 9, 2015 12:34 pm

    Something for you in NAIDOC week: “Moon Crossing and Fireflies”, from my sequence “The Bearded Midwife” in the newest manuscript.

    Regards

    John Stokes

    • July 9, 2015 2:17 pm

      Thanks John. Is that poem (which I’m guessing it is) accessible? I see The Bearded Midwife on your website, but nothing about that work.

  5. July 10, 2015 12:45 am

    NAIDOC week! It sure would be nice if we had something similar in the US to recognize and celebrate Native American culture. I love the theme of this year’s celebration. Will you be attending any events?

    • July 10, 2015 12:53 am

      Thanks Stefanie, it is a great idea I think. And I’m sure it has done quite a lot to raise awareness. There aren’t many events in my city, but the indigenous Bangarra Dance Theatre are here this week and we are going to that, as we like to do. Also, the government radio station has done a lot of programming on indigenous subjects this week which has been interesting to listen to.

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