Looking for the hungry man; First language narratives, ethical issues, and culturally responsive knowledge production in Anangu schools

Year: 2021

Author: Osborne, Sam

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Readily available versions of Australian colonial history lean heavily on the written accounts and valorisation of European actors. For Anangu (Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara) students living in the tristate area where Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory meet, these historical accounts invisibilise the identities, histories and rich local knowledges that inform alternative accounts. The Producing Anangu Histories project aims to locate, record and produce Anangu accounts of early interactions with colonialism as a means to producing authentic and culturally responsive education resources. A key text being developed is a first language transcript of an interview with a senior Pitjantjatjara man, Billy Wara Mervin, as he recounts an epic journey he undertook in 1931 in an attempt to locate and give food to gold explorer Harold Lasseter. The narrative covers 28 sites along the more than 400 km journey where abundant food resources where accessed. By the time they arrived at Tjunti in the Northern Territory, they discover that Lasseter had starved to death. This is a nationally significant text sitting within a university collection but unless the text is produced, this firsthand oral account of history will remain inaudible.This process traverses ethical issues in producing historical first language narratives as bilingual resources for schools including considerations of voice, representation and intellectual property rights. Meticulous processes of colloboration and translation are required to ensure the integrity of the oral history is upheld and demonstrated appropriately. This historical account is a metaphor of the importance of culturally responsive pedagogies, where local knowledge production can strengthen the language, identity, and voice of students and offers opportunities for rethinking the construction of the story of our nation. This work has benefit to all Australians and students and is a relevant case study of university and community collaborations towards authentic knowledge production.