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Archive for the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’ Category

Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya! A Kaurna Learner’s Guide, by Rob Amery and Jane Simpson

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 17, 2014


Kulurdu Marni NgathaityaNaa marni?

That’s a Kaurna translation of a contemporary greeting now used in Pitjantjatjara and other Aboriginal languages, and it’s my introduction to learning the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains in South Australia.

It’s long been a concern of mine that although I can fudge my way around in Europe with a smattering of languages, I don’t even know how to say thank you in any of the indigenous languages of my own country. There is no better way to understand another’s culture than to learn a bit of their language, and that is why I am so delighted that Wakefield Press has sent me this book.

It is a beautiful, enticing, brightly-coloured book on glossy paper with lots of illustrations to complement the lessons, but it begins in a way that no other ‘teach yourself a language’ text does. In the preface there are 23 profiles of the people who contributed to this book, making the salient point that like nearly all Aboriginal languages the Kaurna language has been put at risk by a combination of factors arising from the colonisation of the continent by the British. In different ways and coming from different starting points, these profiles confirm what I already knew from talking to award-winning indigenous author Kim Scott, that the resurrection of these languages is difficult when so many indigenous Australians – whose birthright these languages are – were severed from their families, their culture and their language under Stolen Generation policies. That is why a book like this is so important.

Languages have all kinds of embedded cultural codes: Kaurna is a bit like Indonesian in that in some contexts what is said changes according to how many people are being spoken to, and how. For example, in Indonesian, unlike in English, the word ‘we’ can be inclusive of the people being addressed (kita), and exclusive of them (kami). In Kaurna the traditional ‘where are you going?’ greeting varies according to whether you are speaking to one person, two, or more than two. This distinction bothered me in choosing the contemporary greeting Naa marni? because I am not sure of the etiquette for addressing the readers of blogs! I assume that most people are reading this as individuals, but I expect that it will be read in toto by many, certainly more than two. In the end I went with more than two, but I am not confident that I am correct. It’s always, always better to learn a language from a native speaker who can help out with thorny issues like this …

My next stumble came with the word ‘thank you’. The text explains that Aboriginal languages didn’t have words for thanking people because in pre-colonial times people did things for others either because they were obliged to under kinship rules or because they wanted to. Indigenous Australians don’t expect to be thanked; what is more likely is an expression of affection such as Ngaityo yungandalya (My brother!) or Ngaityu yakanantalya (My sister!) Ngaityalya (My dear!) can be used for anyone regardless of age, gender or relationship to the speaker. This last form is an example of the way indigenous languages have adapted to contemporary needs. The suffix -alya on the end, is explained in a little grammar box on the side of the text: it expresses endearment. How nice to have a language grammar which expresses endearment! The only equivalent I can think of in English is adding -kin/s to the end of a word, as in lambkin, or using it to add to the name of my grandniece, as in Poppykins. I have a feeling that my use of this suffix -kin betrays either my age or my origins!

Look how much I’ve learned simply by exploring how to say ‘hello‘ and ‘thank you’! Even if I never ever get a chance to use this language, this book is invaluable. But I’m going to have a go with these chapters to guide me:

  • Tirntu-irntu Warrarna / useful Introductory Utterances
  • Nari Taakanthi / Names and Naming
  • Warrarna Tirkanthi: Kaurna Warra Tirkanthi / Learning Languages: Learning Kaurna (this section includes pronunciation)

I’m intrigued by the two long sections about Talking about Space and Time, because I already know from teaching indigenous children that their concepts about this are entirely different to ours, and I’m also keen to explore the differences between Talking with Children, and Talking with Elders.

The book is designed for people who are teaching Kaurna and assumes no knowledge of the language or even the culture: apart from the easy-to-understand lessons which are based on a communicative approach there are posters at the back (which can also be ordered from the creators).

The blurb at the back of the book sums it up better than I ever could:

Awakening a sleeping beauty tongue is a remarkable achievement of ethical, aesthetic and utilitarian significance. This textbook is an exquisite contribution to Revivalistics, a new field emerging in the wake of greater concern about intangible heritage, intellectual sovereignty, human wellbeing and social justice.

Professor Ghil’ad Zuckerman, chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages, University of Adelaide.

Marni padni! (Go well!)

Cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers

Authors: Rob Amery and Jane Simpson
Title: Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya! A Kaurna Learner’s Guide
Publisher: Wakefield Press, 2013
ISBN: 9781743052341

Availability

Fishpond: Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya!: A Kaurna Learner’s Guide
Or direct from Wakefield Press.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

HTAV Primary Teachers’ Conference: Workshop#2: Vincent Lingiari: Aboriginal Land Rights

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 26, 2013


This session was blogged live, so apologies for typos, omissions, errors of interpretation and US spelling imposed by my software. It was presented by Amanda Carmichael and Marcus Mulcahy from Carrum PS.

The session began with footage from a 1960s Peter Luck ABC TV doco explaining the Wave Hill Aboriginal Land Rights issue.  It was chastening to watch it, knowing how things have turned out.  All these years later, there is still so much wrong to redress…

Education about these issues is one way to change attitudes, and Amanda and Marcus are on a mission to encourage knowledge and understanding.   They showed us various film resources to use, but noted that teachers need to do a lot of work on visual literacy with their students.  These were excellent background resources for teachers who don’t know much about the topic.  However, and maybe I’m selling my students short, I have to say that some of these films would be unlikely to keep my students’ attention for long, especially the students who are EAL and not very fluent in English.  These kids find voiceovers difficult because there are no visual cues to help them separate words and process long sentences.  The ones with sub-titles were the best, I think, and yes, teachers would need to do a lot of work on visual literacy.

Apropos the keynote address from this morning, it would have been good if they had begun this presentation with some explanation of how the topic fits into the Australian curriculum.  I can see how it addresses the Aboriginal History and Culture Priority, and also skills such as developing empathy, recognising other perspectives and so on, but I had to quickly scour the ACARA website to know which level the content of this topic is for.

The Year 6 work samples published by ACARA give some idea how this topic fits into the curriculum.

(To be fair, the presenters had MAC/PC technological issues so they couldn’t share their PowerPoint, so maybe they had intended to address this).

There are more resources to explore at Marcus’s website: Gurindji66.org  His sister Brenda Croft is doing a PhD about this and he recommends keeping an eye out for her name for future resources.

It is important also to use, as a lead-in to the topic, the Ted Egan song, Poor Bugger Me and From Little Things Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly.

Macmillan have also published the story of Vincent Lingiari in their Stories from Australia’s History series.  See Fishpond.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Curriculum, Australian History, Conferences Attended, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Learning and teaching, Professional Development | Tagged: | Comments Off on HTAV Primary Teachers’ Conference: Workshop#2: Vincent Lingiari: Aboriginal Land Rights

2013 HTAV Primary Teachers Conference Keynote address #2

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 26, 2013


Once again I am blogging this live, so I apologise in advance for typos, errors of omission or misinterpretation, and for the American spelling imposed by the software I’m using. 

Genevieve Grieves, curator at the Melbourne Museum began with the story of a forthcoming Melbourne Museum exhibition called First Peoples, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. (I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the name of her country).  The other presenters were Amanda Reynolds and Rosemary Wrench from Melbourne Museum.

The presentation focussed on how the exhibition was created i.e. the process.  Curators’ job was to listen to Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

Focus:

  • Using Aboriginal voices and languages
  • Curriculum
  • A collaborative voice
  • Victoria

The exhibition includes the ‘harder stories’ i.e. frontier violence.

The entrance includes welcoming message sticks: if you touch them you hear indigenous people from different parts of Victoria saying welcome in different languages. 

Victorian iconography – less familiar to most than iconography from desert areas e.g. dot point paintings – includes

  • cloaks – including rare examples
  • baskets and shields – people can touch them and learn how they were made.
  • an immersive experience using Bunjil the eagle

Aboriginal history and culture involves 2000 generations of stories, which are tracks back through time to when Aboriginal people lived with mega-fauna, and which explores knowledge coming from science and from storytelling by Aboriginal elders.  Elders used observation and ingenuity the way that scientists do, and visitors are encouraged to look at images of tracks, signs, rock art etc. to interpret it.  Some artifacts were made especially for the exhibition using traditional methods, and the modules are set up to be immersive.  Community narrators explain the complex concepts involved in reading country and knowing the interconnected nature of knowledge.   Visitors can also explore how knowledge is passed on, because Aboriginal lore isn’t passed on by specialists, everyone is a teacher.

Much of this presentation involved images, video and sound from the exhibition so I’m not doing a very good job of sharing how interesting it was.  I’ll try to give a sense of the different modules:

  • The exhibition covers old ways, and early encounters with ‘Strangers from the Ccean’ (and the sadness that befell people at that time) which includes artifacts of explorers such as George Bass.  There is a memorial to people who lost their lives too, and there are stories from oral history about what happened, e.g. kidnapping by sealers. Some of this will be confronting but it is felt that people are ready for this now. 
  • Then there is Our Shared History with modules called e.g. Treaty and Tanderum, i.e. two laws side by side,comparing Batman’s infamous treaty with laws as represented by message sticks. 
  • There is Call to Fight which includes massacres and battles but also indigenous service.  The key concept here is that Australia has many battlefields. 
  • Burdens to Bear covers oral history stories sharing personal stories about how their lives were affected by various pieces of legislation controlling Aboriginal lives. 
  • Standing Strong is another model about protest movements, land rights struggles and so on. 
  • Working Hard explores Aboriginal contributions to the modern economy as well as the traditional work ethic. 
  • Coming Together explores NAIDOC Week and other modern ways of celebrating culture, continuing stories, celebrations and knowledge.

The Many Nations component of the exhibition includes showcases of objects from the 19th century and contemporary objects from all over Victoria.  This covers

  • Keeping places – beautiful handmade pieces
  • Animal creations – creation stories, animals that bring good luck, items never displayed before
  • Marking identity – timbers, shields etc
  • Working Country – tools and so on
  • Celebrating Culture – body ornamentation, musical instruments, clothing including fibres, feathers and bones etc.

These showcases also include objects that show ways in which children are included:

  • mother and daughter digging sticks
  • child-sized shields

and there’s an activity table for 4-9 year-olds, with games and puzzles etc. for children to engage with.  There’s also a showcase called Toy Stories, with toys to look at.  (Do check out my review of Bush Toys, Aboriginal Children at Play, by Claudia Haagen, I hope there’s an exhibition catalogue for First Peoples too?)

Perhaps there will be a virtual exhibition as well, I hope so, because not all children can visit the museum, for one reason or another.

The final part of this presentation was about the Generations part of the exhibition, with stories from indigenous people from all over Victoria, of all age groups.  Every time you walk into the Deep Listening Space you get a different multimedia experience, where you are invited to ‘listen with your head and your heart’.

This is the kind of exhibition that teachers really need to attend because it will give us lots of ideas about how to introduce Aboriginal perspectives across all kinds of history topics.  Learning about Aboriginal culture and history is a core responsibility for all teachers of history and although it’s a long journey with no endpoint, we have an obligation to keep learning.  I’ll be visiting this exhibition during school holidays as part of my own professional development.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Curriculum, Australian History, Conferences Attended, Learning and teaching, Professional Development | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on 2013 HTAV Primary Teachers Conference Keynote address #2

2013 Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 19, 2013


As in 2012, my companion blog ANZ LitLovers is hosting Indigenous Literature Week during NAIDOC week (7-14 July 2013), and readers of this blog are also invited to join.

You are welcome to contribute in any way that helps to promote reading indigenous literature.  On the ANZ LitLovers blog, the focus is on literary fiction and the occasional memoir, but readers can contribute reviews of any kind of book, as long as it’s by an indigenous author.  AS you can see from the sign up page you can contribute your review on your own blog, on a GoodReads or Library Thing page, or with a comment on the reviews page.

I will also set up a dedicated Reviews page on this blog so that all the reviews of children’s books are together where teachers can find them.

There’s a reading list for contributors wanting to read adult books at ANZ LitLovers and Emma from My Book Corner has kindly shared her list of indigenous literature resources for those who want to read children’s books.

So, please, join in.  Through the new Australian Curriculum cross-cultural Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Priority, every teacher is a teacher of Aboriginal history and culture, and most of us need to learn more about Australia’s First People.

I’m hoping that this will be an imitative that grows and grows, and all teachers will read at least one book by an Aboriginal author each year, maybe more!

PS Oh, and feel free to share teaching activities to go with the books you read:)

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Indigenous Teaching Resources | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on 2013 Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers

Book review: Bush Toys, Aboriginal Children at Play, by Claudia Haagen

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 16, 2013


Bush ToysA little while ago I posted about my curiosity as to whether or not there was a concept of ‘toys’ in nomadic lifestyles so I was very pleased yesterday when I stumbled across a whole book devoted to the topic.  The Bayside Library Service at Sandringham deserves to be congratulated because it’s the only library in metropolitan Melbourne that I’ve ever been in, that has a dedicated section of books about indigenous issues.  Amongst the treasures there, which include fiction and non-fiction books by indigenous authors; reference books; and books about indigenous issues by non-indigenous authors such as Dr Henry Reynolds and Dr Lyndall Ryan; I found Bush Toys, Aboriginal Children at Play, by Claudia Haagen, which was written for the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, to document their collection of artefacts.

It is a scholarly work, and unfortunately the photographs are really too small to use with classes at school, but it is a very useful book for teachers interested in extending their background knowledge about the lifestyles of Aboriginal children.  The new Australian Curriculum includes three cross-curriculum ‘priorities’, one of which is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, and (as I said in my previous post) one of the science topics includes Year 2 students identifying toys from different cultures that use the forces of push or pull.  This book shows me that Aboriginal children did indeed have toys and games like that, and a wealth of others besides.

The Contents page gives an indication of the book’s scope:

  1. First Toys: rattles and rings
  2. About camp: playing house; story games; drawing sticks for tracks and other sand games; dolls
  3. Bush tucker: bags and baskets; fire sticks and digging sticks; fishing gear
  4. Hunting and fighting games: spears and spear games; parrying games and mock fights; disc rolling and spearing; shields; missiles and mud balls; spearthrowers; boomerangs; other weapons (bow and arrow; stone axes; throwing sticks; darts; shanghais)
  5. Playing with sound: bullroarers; percussion toys; strings and whistles
  6. Water play: mud balls and mud slides; canoes; rafts
  7. Community play: ball games (composite balls; football; throwing and pursuit games); hockey; bowling or ‘jeu de boules’; spinning games; playing sticks; skipping; marbles; ‘board games’; airborne and returning toys; fireworks
  8. Other toys: hoops, tick-cat and quoits; whimsical toys and other figures; driving toys (trucks, rollers and trailers).

As you can see from the list, there are toys and games which  may derive from contact with European children, but the collection is diverse, gathered from museums around Australia.  It necessarily reflects records of Aboriginal societies constructed by Europeans over time, so the collection is incomplete and is filtered through European eyes.  Any games that were associated with secret ceremonies would never have been revealed to European observers either.  Not only that, but interest in the lives of children is a fairly recent topic of research and much of what is available has survived only by chance.  This is especially so because many games were played without equipment (you only have to think of hide-and-seek or chasey) and most toys were ephemeral.  They were often thrown away when the game was over; and if they were made from plants they soon degraded when exposed to the elements.   In general, Aboriginal cultures did not focus on ‘keeping’ or ‘owning’ or ‘treasuring’ toys.  Things were shared communally and left behind without regret when the community moved on.

But what is common to all of these toys and games – and probably universally to toys and games from hunter-gatherer and pre-industrial societies all over the world – is the concept of ‘transformation’ – that is, taking an object from its environment and giving it a new purpose, for the purpose of play.

As in European societies, as ‘adults in preparation’, children played with miniature versions of adult artefacts, often gendered : little canoes, shields, hunting weapons and fishing gear for the boys, while the girls had tiny versions of equipment needed to ‘play house’: they had cute dolls made of grass and string, painted with clay and of course they had mini coolamon to carry them in.  For mimicking food-gathering they had digging sticks, bags and baskets (which put me in mind of those miniature supermarket trolleys we see today), and the book has a photo of kids who’d built a mini shelter to construct their little imaginary world – complete with a play fire pit to cook food.

Girls played skipping games ‘before ever they saw the white man’s skipping-rope used’ (p.87) and Daisy Bates saw boys playing with marbles with a species of nut.  They had slingshots too, and balls made of pandanus leaves, while both genders had toys for running, jumping and throwing, for messing about and for making a noise.   Story games were used to teach unique aspects of their culture: there was a leaf game in which girls rearranged groupings of gum leaves to learn kinship relationships and the ‘right behaviour’ that goes with them.

I have just bought a copy of this book from Fishpond to use at school  (see the link below), but something the Australian Museum could very usefully do would be to set up a virtual exhibition that could be accessed by school children across Australia, using the photographic collection that they already have and curating it online with kid-friendly captions.

Author: Claudia Haagen
Title: Bush Toys, Aboriginal Children at Play
Publisher: National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 1994
ISBN: 0855752459
Source: Bayside Library Service

Availability

Fishpond: Bush Toys: Aboriginal Children at Play

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Book Review: Bakir and Bi, by Jillian Boyd and Tori-Jay Mordey

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 15, 2013


Bakir and BiAnother book to add to our collection of indigenous materials at school!  Bakir and Bi by Jillian Boyd and Tori-Jay Mordey, is a small-sized hardback picture book, a little bit smaller than A5.  I mention the size because it so perfectly suits the intimate feel of this book, which is beautifully illustrated with line drawings, in sepia, teal, and black-and-white.

What’s so special about it to me, is that it’s the first story book that I’ve come across from the Torres Straits.   This is the blurb from the publisher’s website:

Bakir (rock) and Mar (storm bird) live on a remote island called Egur with their two young children. While fishing on the beach Bakir comes across a very special pelican (Bakir’s totem is a pelican) named Bi.   A famine occurs, and life on the island is no longer harmonious. One day Bakir and Bi disappear and Mar and the children are forced to make the journey to another island by canoe … and so begins the adventure.

Bakir and Bi is based on a Torres Strait Islander creation story, but aspects of it are rather dark, making it perhaps more suitable for older children.  In the beginning island life is lush and food is plentiful, but when the famine strikes families turn against each other.  The family has to hide Bi (their pelican) otherwise he would be eaten by the other islanders who are starving.  Bakir has already warned his family that they may need to leave the island one day, but when it is time for Bi (the pelican) to leave because he has outgrown his hideout, Bakir disappears along with the bird, leaving his family to fend for themselves.  They then have a perilous journey across the sea to a new island, and Lusik is almost lost at sea.  When they finally reach safety, they are not reunited with Bakir: he has become a rock to guide and watch over them instead.

I think that older children would enjoy discussing the supernatural elements of the story, but could also tease out the ideas behind Bakir following his destiny.  They could also explore the Kedawar tribe’s belief that a person grows to become their name: the children could find out the meaning of their own names and decide whether their names suit their personality or achievements.  (My own name means ‘devoted to God’ which is not particularly apt for a non-believer LOL!) And while the book shows people needing to find a new home because of famine, it could also be used to discuss the impact of global warming on island communities and what Australia’s role might be in offering a home to displaced communities as the water levels rise.

Born and raised on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits, Jillian Boyd was the winner of the 2012 State Library of Queensland black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship.  The illustrations by her niece, 18-year-old Tori-Jay Mordey are very impressive.  This young artist has a rare talent, especially for depicting facial expressions and emotion, and the colour scheme is gorgeous.

Visit ABC Splash for more ideas about getting indigenous voices into the classroom.

Authors: Jillian Boyd and Tori-Jay Mordey
Title: Bakir and Bi
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781921248863
Source: Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books
Availability

Fishpond: Bakir and Bi
Or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Comments Off on Book Review: Bakir and Bi, by Jillian Boyd and Tori-Jay Mordey

Aboriginal Perspectives Resources (with thanks to Anita Heiss)

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 27, 2013


As teachers know, the new Australian Curriculum includes three cross-curriculum ‘priorities’, one of which is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.  One of the science topics includes Year 2 students identifying toys from different cultures that use the forces of push or pull, and this made me wonder about traditional Aboriginal games and whether there was a concept of a ‘toy’ in nomadic lifestyles.  I’ve read a few memoirs and a quite a few children’s books by ATSI authors but I don’t recall any of them referring to this topic at all.

My Australian Story: Who am I?Keen to include Aboriginal perspectives on this topic if possible, I contacted Dr Anita Heiss who is Adjunct Professor at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Many teachers will also know her as the author of My Australian Story: Who am I?

Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal LiteratureBut she also co-edited the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature which I recommend as an introduction to the diversity of indigenous writing  – see my review at ANZ LitLovers  – and she is also the author of these entertaining novels: Manhattan Dreaming, Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, and Paris Dreaming.  These popular novels are about sharing the highs and lows of being an urban Aboriginal woman but pitched at a mainstream audience.  Read more about the rationale for these ‘chick-lit’ novels here.

Manhattan Dreaming Not Meeting Mr Right Avoiding Mr Right Paris Dreaming

Am I Black Enough for You?Her most recent book is Am I Black Enough for You? which as the book blurb says is a rejoinder to racist remarks made about ‘being too ‘fair-skinned’ to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to  Anita’s involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue. This book is on my TBR and I will be reviewing it on the ANZ LitLovers blog when I’ve read it.

Anyway, Anita generously gave her time to reply to my query with some suggested sites:

Yulunga, Traditional Indigenous Games is an ‘activity resource of over 100 traditional Indigenous games created to provide all Australians with an opportunity to learn about, appreciate and experience aspects of Indigenous culture’.   It’s available as a CD-ROM.  Order it here.

There are tips and advice about teachers self-educating about indigenous history and culture at The Critical Classroom.   It’s not about doing formal professional development (though that’s a good idea if you can access it), it’s about reading indigenous literature, listening to indigenous music, using social media and viewing indigenous music. I’d add checking out indigenous art wherever you can access it, and if you’re in Melbourne, keeping an eye out for relevant events at the Wheeler Centre or the NGV at Federation Square.   If you’re keen to read indigenous literature, you might want to join in Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers, I’m hosting it there each year during NAIDOC Week.  (If you don’t know where to begin, I’ve also reviewed some lovely books about indigenous art, mostly published by Wakefield Press, and UQP who sponsor the David Unaipon Award and are great supporters of indigenous writing have also sent me some interesting memoirs.  Check the Indigenous Writing Category in the ANZ LitLovers RHS menu to see what’s available there.)

The Critical Classroom has all kinds of useful resources including this game: Birrguu Matya: A Wiradjuri board game.   Links for where to buy it are here and if you ‘like’ The Critical Classroom at Facebook you can keep in touch with all kinds of stuff.

If you know of any additional resources or bloggers who’re working on this too, please share what you know in the comments below.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Curriculum, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Learning and teaching, Resources to share | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Aboriginal Perspectives Resources (with thanks to Anita Heiss)

Book review: The Little Corroboree Frog, by Tracey Holton-Ramirez and Angela Ramirez

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 16, 2013


The Little Corroboree FrogMagabala Books have sent me another lovely little picture book on the theme of conservation and caring for country.

Sisters Tracey Holton-Ramirez and Angela Ramirez are descended from the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia, a place that most Australians associate with massive mining projects.  However this little book with its striking full colour illustrations is not about the Pilbara, it’s about a critically endangered frog found only in the snowy alpine regions of the Kosciuszko National Park in NSW.

Jet the Corroboree Frog wakes up from hibernation and sets about the serious business of attracting the attention of the girl frogs, and he gets lucky: ‘Bindi liked Jet’s croak the best, and before long she had laid more than twenty eggs in a mossy nest at the edge of the pond’. But things don’t go well and when the pond starts to dry up, Grandma Frog explains that it’s because ‘every year the summers are getting hotter…and the humans are not looking after our country.’

The book is pitched at young children so it has an optimistic message about doing what you can: a boy and his father arrive in a 4WD, and when the boy realises that the frogs need some help he and his father clean up the rubbish and set off home discussing what more they can do.

At the back of the book there are some facts about the Corroboree Frog and its habitat, some websites to visit, and a page about the authors.  The Little Corroboree Frog is their first collaboration and I hope we will see more of their stunning artwork in future books.

We’ll use it at my school in the Year 1 & 2 unit about Australian Animals.

The Little Corroboree Frog is due for release in March, and you can pre-order it from the links below.

Authors: Tracey Holton-Ramirez and Angela Ramirez
Title: The Little Corroboree Frog
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781921248818
Source: Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Availability: The Little Corroboree Frog
Or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Book review: The Little Corroboree Frog, by Tracey Holton-Ramirez and Angela Ramirez

Book Review: Spinifex Mouse by Norma MacDonald

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 28, 2012


Spinifex mouseHere’s another delightful book from indigenous publishers, Magabala Books.   It’s due for release in early February.

Certain to appeal to small children and just perfect for units of work about Australian animals, Spinifex Mouse is about a cheeky little spinifex-hopping mouse from the Pilbara region of Western Australia.  Like all youngsters Cheeky likes to explore his world, but danger in the desert comes not just from predators on the ground but also in the sky.  Skilfully controlled tension rises as Cheeky’s aerobatic exploits become more and more risky and his taste for exploration takes him further away from safety.

Exquisitely illustrated with delicate water colours by Norma MacDonald from the Yamatji people of the Gascoyne Region and the Nyungar people of South West WA, the book is a gentle reminder to listen to the wisdom of the elders and not to be greedy.

Like all good books about Aboriginal history and culture, the book acknowledges information about the indigenous origins of the author.

Magabala is a non-profit publishing house based in Broome that aims to ‘promote, preserve and publish Indigenous Australian culture’.

Author: Norma MacDonald
Title: Spinifex Mouse
Publisher: Magabala Books 2012
ISBN:9781921248801
Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Highly recommended.

Availability:
Fishpond: Spinifex Mouse or direct from Magabala Books.

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review: Spinifex Mouse by Norma MacDonald

Book Review: Bubbay, A Christmas Adventure by Josie Wowolla Boyle and Fern Martins

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 11, 2012


Magabala Books is a W.A. publishing house that aims to promote, preserve and publish Indigenous Australian culture.  One of their forthcoming picture book titles is an interesting fusion of  Aboriginal and non-indigenous spiritual beliefs:

Bubbay, a young boy with no family lives alone in the outback herding his goats and camping out independently of any adult support.  As Christmas looms he longs to celebrate it and wishes also for a family.  A Christmas tree magically appears in the desert but it sets him a quest which looks impossible – until the magical old Grandma Gubarlee arrives to lend a hand.  He achieves his quest, and gets his dearest wish as well.

So it’s a lovely story with a happy ending that evokes reconciliation, but it doesn’t gloss over the social dysfunction that derives from land dispossession and the Stolen Generation policies.  Non-indigenous children will have questions about this which will need to be discussed with sensitivity.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and the hardback book is produced on quality paper.

Like all good books about Aboriginal history and culture, the book acknowledges all the contributors and includes information about the indigenous origins of the authors.

Magabala Books have also just launched a literacy series of little books for take-home reading called Deadly Reads for Deadly Readers (Saltwater Series).  They are simple graded texts with gorgeous colourful illustrations featuring indigenous children and art styles.  For more information see their website.

Authors: Josie Wowolla Boyle and Fern Martins
Title: Bubbay, A Christmas Adventure
Publisher: Magabala Books 2012
ISBN: 9781921248726
Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Availability:
Fishpond Bubbay: A Christmas Adventure or direct from Magabala Books

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