On a walk I came across this note in the dirt, it reads…. Welcome to paakantji land, the land where my ancestors was born and land where I now live and was born as a strong paakantji women…. Like much of Aboriginal culture, language was handed down through spoken stories. The language was never written. This means today there can often be many variations in spelling. For the example the word Paarkamdji is also spelt Barkandji and Baarkintji. Sadly in the early years of the missions first people would often be forbidden to speak their native tongue and could be punished if overheard speaking language, I was even told by one elder that his grandmother was threatened with jail if she continued to speak that “mumbo jumbo”. This along with the stolen generation and loss of cultural practices has resulted in many languages disappearing. Of 250 known indigenous languages only 20 are still in use today. In Wilcannia only two elders are fluent in Barkandji language although I hear many words still being used mixed in with English and Aboriginal English. The local school does have a traditional language and culture department in efforts to restore language and traditions but more needs to be done all across Australia to ensure the preservation of language. It is often said that when an elder passes we are losing an encyclopedia of knowledge. Indigenous language conserves a richness of human stories and history while connecting its people to their cultural identity. Photo by @_justine_muller for @everydayaustralia 6.10.15 #everydayeverywhere #nsw
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