[-0-] CELEBRATING BLAK HISTORY MONTH

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised this article may contain images and references to the deceased. 

#4 July 2011

Magabala Books

In September 1984 a traditional song and dance festival was held at Ngumpan, near Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It was attended by more than two hundred people from communities throughout the region. The meeting voted for the establishment of a Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). This meeting developed three main aims of KALACC and it was the third aim “Providing protection to traditional storytellers and artists in matters of copyright and publication”, that led to the establishment of Magabala Books. 

Releasing its first title in 1987, Mayi – Some Bushfruits of the West Kimberley by Merrilee Lands it was followed by Wandering Girl, an autobiography by Glenyse Ward. This book sold out within ten days of the launch and continued to be a bestseller for over a decade. Both were milestone moments for the publisher that has since released over one hundred titles from a range of genres and publishing books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over Australia. 

Magabala is the Nyul Nyul, Nyangumarta, Karrajari and Yawuru traditional language word for the bush banana found on the west Kimberley coast. As the fruit hardens and dries, it prepares for the dispersal of its many seeds with their spectacular parasol-shaped aerofoils. Magabala Books views it’s publishing in much the same way, by spreading the seeds of culture. 

Based in Broome, Western Australia, Magabala Books is one of the remotest publishing houses in the world. It is also the oldest independent Indigenous publishing house in Australia. 

Would you like to read more about this Great Moment in Blakistory …
· http://www.magabalabooks.com/

Source: Sam Cook

[-0-] CELEBRATING BLAK HISTORY MONTH

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised this article may contain images and references to the deceased. 

#5 July 2011

Damian Smith

Damian Smith, (1973 – ) Born New South Wales, Damian was raised in government housing by a widowed, single mother in the Industrial city of Newcastle. As one of six children, his interest in performance came through chance when at the age of ten, his mother was given tickets to the ballet. It was here that his love began. His natural ability was impressive and under the tutelage of Robin Hicks, he began to train free of charge. Being teased and bullied did not deter him and it was not long before he received a scholarship to perform at the McDonald College School of Arts, creating a safe space to explore and hone his craft with likeminded peers. 

With a dream to have lessons with Baryshnikov, Damian was supported to attend and audition for the School of American Ballet. On the strength of his first audition, he was signed up and began his international pathway through the arts. He was almost 17. 

After dancing with Ballet du Nord, he joined San Francisco Ballet in 1996. He was promoted to soloist in 1998 and to principal dancer in 2001 at the age of 27. Preparing for his inevitable retirement, Damian returned to Australia to present International Stars of Ballet in Noosa, Queensland. Through his remarkable journey hopes to be seen as a role model for Indigenous children.

Would you like to read more about this Great Moment in Blakistory …
· http://www.sfballet.org/about/company/dancers/view.asp?id=12340020
· http://www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s3064647.htm

Source: Sam Cook

[-0-] CELEBRATING BLAK HISTORY MONTH

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised this article may contain images and references to the deceased. 

#3 July 2011

Torres Strait Islander Railway Workers

The modernization of Australia and its foundation of vital mining and economic pathways, owes a significant debt to the blood, sweat and song Torres Strait Islander community. Officially permitted to travel to mainland Australia in 1947 Torres Strait Islander workers were primarily sought to fill the labour shortage in the agricultural industry. In the 1960s, many men, moved to the mainland to support their families. It was here they found employment building railways to mines in Mount Isa and Weipa in Queensland, and in the Pilbara and Port Hedland regions of Western Australia. 

The work was tough and so was being away from family and country. Some Torres Strait Islanders would never return to their homelands. One of the noted rail gangs was led by Father Elemo Tapim. Comprised mostly of Eastern Torres Strait Islanders, they began work constructing the massive Queensland and Western Australian inland rail system. In doing this they documented every mile in a remarkable collection of songs in the Meriam language. The songs created by the Eastern Torres Strait Islanders also act as a roadmap for future generations – figuratively and literally inadvertently mapping the tracklines from outback Queensland and remote Western Australia in song.

To this day, one Torres Strait Islander railroad gang holds the world record for laying track by hand. On the 8 May 1968 they laid 7¼ miles of track in 12 hours. This took 910 tons of rail and 13,000 sleepers. 

Would you like to read more about this Great Moment in Blakistory …
· http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2007/05/23/1930521.htm
· http://railwaysongs.blogspot.com/2009/02/torres.html
· http://aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/island-fettlers/clip2/?nojs

Source: Sam Cook

July [-0-] CELEBRATING BLAK HISTORY MONTH

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised this article may contain images and references to the deceased.

#1 July 2011

Australian Aborigines Progressive Association

The Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA) – Originally formed in 1924 by Fred Maynard, a prolific member of the Australian Chapter of the Colored Progressive Association (1903-08). The AAPA was launched in April 1925 with a conference at St David’s Hall in Surry Hills NSW. It operated out of Addison’s Hall at 460 Crown Street, Surry Hills.

The AAPA held four major landmark conferences, amongst the many other undertakings Their activities culminated in a petition addressed to Jack Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, in May 1927, which called for the restitution of Aboriginal land. Their members had also written an appeal to King George V, which contested the power of the Aborigines Protection Board to withdraw Aboriginal control of reserves on the grounds that they had been granted by Queen Victoria.

The association grew to have eleven branches throughout New South Wales and over 500 active members. However the broad reach and vocal approach of the organisation alerted the Aborigines Protection Board to the threat that it posed. They set about a campaign to discredit the leaders of the association, attacking the credibility of Fred Maynard through a series of public statements. The association was also subject to frequent police harassment. Due to this harassment, by the end of 1927, the AAPA had been dissolved.

Today, the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association is recognised as the first United politically organised Aboriginal activist group in Australia.

Would you like to read more about this Great Moment in Blakistory …
· http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/australian_aborigines_progressive_association
· asset0.aiatsis.gov.au:1801/webclient/DeliveryManager?&pid=18787