July 2 – 9 July is NAIDOC week in Australia where we celebrate Aboriginal and Islanders Day of Observance.
Growing up in some of the most beautiful Aboriginal pockets of Australia, Indgenous culture has always been a fascination of mine.
When I was a child I was read stories of The Dreamtime and aboriginal art and music has resonated with me into adulthood. So much so that I tracked down my favourite books such as The Rainbow Serpent, and Tiddalick The Frog to name a few.
Today I want to acknowledge our elders past and present, and brag about a couple of our Indigenous people’s achievements.
I was going to say that I’ll start my first entry with the most important Indigenous Australian.
But that seemed harder than anticipated.
Was it Eddie Mabo who is known for campaigning for Aboriginal rights? David Unaipon for his inventions? How about Yothu Yindi for his music?
Lets go back…..really back. 40 to 60 thousand years back.
From our lethal boomerang to the musical wonders of the digeridoo, Aborigines are quite the inventors, artists and sporting legends.
Digeridoo – The world’s oldest wind instrument traditionally a termite hollowed out eucalyptus tree.
Traditionally played by men in ceremony, this is something truly awesome.
A circular breathing technique and clever vocalisation makes this instrument not only hard to play, but so unique in skill and tune.
Aborigines tell a story through digeridoo and incorporate sounds of animals, thunder, water, wind and speech to tell their story. It can be likened to today’s modern and popular beatboxing.
Boomerangs and other weapons, tools and kids toys such as spinning tops are some of Our People’s first inventions.
Plastic – What? Yes that’s right. Aborigines used a special porcupine grass with heat to create a powerful bonding resin used to glue their tools.
Rock art is how Aborigines would tell stories for entertainment, or methods of importance such as messages of warnings, or land management to other tribes that will pass through the area.
Today’s contemporary art is absolutely stunning and the most expensive sold on record was $2.4 million dollars.
Lets fast forward a bit now to 1800s, where you’ll recognise this man from right under your nose. He’s on the fifty dollar note and his name is David Unaipon.
Writer, preacher, advocate and scientist. His most famous invention was the shearing tool we Australians rely on so much for keeping our sheep looking sexy and cool in summer.
Of note, Mr Unaipon conceptualised the helicopter more than two decades before it was invented. His idea stemmed from the rotation blades of the boomerang.
EDDIE MABO – 1936 - 1992
This man is a god in our history books. An advocate of Indigenous land rights, Mr Mabo made a famous speech at the land rights conference in 1981 that gained him recognition and in 1988 he took to the high court (Mabo v Queensland) to recognise native title in Australia.
it was finally passed in 1992. Go Eddie! Read his speech here http://www.mabonativetitle.com/info/doc4.htm
YOTHU YINDI & OTHER ABORIGINAL MUSICIANS
If you’re a child of the 80s, you’ll know who I am talking about. One of Australia’s famous singers, Yothu Yindi is known for his iconic song “Treaty”. Prior to this song’s release in 1991, his band formed to promote Aboriginal youth cultural development. In 1988 as part of the Bicentennial celebrations, on of the vocalists Gurrumul Yunupingu presented (then prime minister) Bob Hawke a statement of Aboriginal policy. Bob Hawke promised a treaty would be concluded with Aboriginal Australians by 1990.
This song made this historic event famous….and fun. It’s a song every Aussie rocks out to and it never gets old.
Other Indigenous Australian musicians include Geoffrey Gurrumul (guitarist) pop singers Jessica Mauboy, Christine Anu, Casey Donovan and hubby and wife team Archi Roach and Ruby Hunter. Very sexy blues chillout sounds. Check them out.
Who cant forget our runner Cathy Freeman, who’s famous green skin suit she wore to the Sydney Olympics (and won) put us on the map again.
Her skin suit inspired the International Space Station to create their own space suit that would bring physiological benefits to the astronauts.
Not to mention inspiring children across Australia with her personal speaking, sports management and the Cathy Freeman Foundation.
Other notable sportsmen include Nova Peris Kneebone (track), Anthony Mundine (boxing), Jason Gillespie (cricket) and a couple of awesome footballers Adam Goodes, Jonathon Thurston, and my personal heart throbs, Sam Thaiday and Greg Inlgis.
By the way did you see this years NRL Indigenous All Stars war dance? Hot!
We all know Ernie Dingo from Crocodile Dundee right? Ever the romantic, I am proud to report that this Aussie sweetheart got to share the first interracial kiss on Australian television with the lovely Cate Blancett in Burned Bridges 1994.
Other famous actors include multi award winner Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsall, and Australia’s top model Samantha Harris with Magnolia Maymuru who is representing Miss World Australia. Go Magnolia!
There is increasing opportunity in the indigenous modelling market. The global audience wants to see the faces of Australia and The Dreamtime Project is a program based on a fashion/modelling platform that teaches young indigenous women confidence, poise, public speaking and all round empowerment. At the moment it is only based in Perth, but I hope to see it travel. http://thedreamtimeproject.com.au/
Is this year's theme for NAIDOC. Get on board and check out some of the events to help preserve and encourage our youth to speak their native tongue and keep our indigenous langauage alive.
Happy NAIDOC week brothers and sisters.
This was just a snippet of some awesome people and inventions.
If you’d like to keep the celebrations going, you can check out NAIDOC week festivals across Australia.
Search your state’s NAIDOC week events here http://www.naidoc.org.au/events-calendar