Get involved in Indigenous Literacy Day
2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and Australia has joined with countries all around the world in a commitment to promote and preserve languages spoken by First Nations and Indigenous communities.
Did you know…
- Of the approximately 6700 languages spoken around the world, 40% are in danger of vanishing – most of which belong to indigenous communities
- There were at least 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken in Australia at the time of European colonisation
- Only 13 traditional Indigenous Australian languages are now learned by children
- More than 90% of traditional Indigenous Australian languages are considered endangered
Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation is working to address the challenge of advancing literacy and highlighting traditional languages in a number of ways. They have:
- Published more than 85 books reflecting up to 18 Indigenous Australian languages
- Supplied more than 350,000 books to 280 remote communities, 40% of which were created by Indigenous authors and illustrators
- Launched several projects to advance Indigenous literacy, including book swaps, community literacy projects and publishing partnerships
Today is Indigenous Literacy Day, and as part of the library’s commitment to emphasising Indigenous perspectives, we are encouraging staff and students who are able to donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). Just $25 can put three or more culturally relevant books in the hands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from remote communities.
In addition to donating to the ILF, you can also celebrate this day and the Year of Indigenous Languages by supporting Indigenous authors. Today, Deakin Research’s Disruptr platform is highlighting the new book Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Deakin academic, Tyson Yunkaporta. A snippet of their review is below.
Excerpt from ‘Indigenous perspective lays out a path to save the planet’:
It may seem like an ambitious title, but Sand Talk: How Aboriginal Thinking Can Save the World, should not be mistaken for being flippant. In fact, Yunkaporta believes the complexity of Indigenous Knowledge is a fitting challenger for the complexity of the sustainability and climate change issues we face.
Our knowledge endures because everybody carries a part of it, no matter how fragmentary. If you want to see the pattern of creation, you talk to everybody and listen carefully. Authentic knowledge processes are easy to verify if you are familiar with that pattern – each part reflects the design of the whole system,” he says.
Yunkaporta is quick to point out that his new book is “not the complete picture. What they’re reading is just a translation of a fragment of the knowledge.” He is hyper-aware that the simple act of writing a book (in English no less) does not align to the oral practices of his Indigenous culture. It is limiting the expression of living, breathing ideas to the rigidity of the page.
Read the full review of Yunkaporta’s new book on the Disruptr blog. You can request Sand Talk from Deakin Library through our catalogue.
Looking for other books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers? Check out these reviews of Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe and Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss, and borrow them from our collection.
- Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, https://www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/indigenous-arts-and-languages/2019-international-year-indigenous-languages, accessed 30 August 2019
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/indigenous-australian-languages, accessed 30 August 2019
- Indigenous Literacy Foundation, https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au, accessed 30 August 2019
- International Year of Indigenous Languages, https://en.iyil2019.org/about, accessed 30 August 2019