Last week was Kaurna Language Week – Kaurna being the Aboriginal people of the Adelaide plains area. Nicky, who is becoming a regular in these posts, went on a tour put on during the week, as part of the celebrations, looking at significant sites around town for the Kaurna people. She said it was really interesting and uplifting – and also sad to hear about the ways the old culture has been treated. It is really wonderful though that so much work has been done to preserve the language, and that people are learning and speaking it.
Many of the key places in the city have been given Kaurna names either instead of or as well as English names. Some of the stories that go with the names are important. The word for Victoria Square for example is Tarntanyangga, which means ‘red kangaroo rock place’. The actual rock was down near Festival Centre when Europeans arrived, and it was broken up and quarried to be used for building some of the first buildings for the colony – old parliament house and the original Adelaide gaol for example. It is like a metaphor for destroying and replacing the whole culture.
On the other hand, people’s pride and commitment are what has brought the Kaurna language back from the brink of extinction, and this is really worth celebrating. There are lots of online lessons in the language on you tube. Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UChOOYOnJuEeydJK0QjN_Fpw (there’s a funny and sweet clip for kids about Kaurna greetings that’s worth a look and comes up when you first click onto the link).
There’s also a great piece of public art at the Festival Centre, near the car park entrance, which honours the original people – I’ve put a picture of it below. It’s really good to be able to acknowledge all this – many thanks to Nicky for passing on the information.