Historical perspectives: Murrinh ku thepini pumpanpunmat (Netmarluk)

Claudette Bunduck, Janice Crerar, Geraldine Dorward, Ben Van Gelderen

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    The History Wars in Australia started in the 1990's with political recognition and discussion of the unresolved cultural struggle over the nature of the Indigenous dispossession and the place it should assume in Australian self-understanding (Manne, 2009, p.1). The Prime Minister of Australia of the time, Paul Keating, spoke openly about the crimes committed against Indigenous people throughout Australia's history but with government change some of the subsequent leaders, particularly John Howard, challenged this black-armband view of history (Manne, 2009). The History Wars provided the stage against which the Australian Curriculum: History (ACARA, 2014) was written, and tensions remain about what should be taught and in what context, particularly considering the cross-curricular priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and cultures (ACARA, 2014).

    This is the context within which the following essay is written, it was 2016 when a student in Wadeye enrolled in a unit ECU102: History for Schools and a lecturer from Charles Darwin University visited to facilitate learning. In discussion, the student later revealed that she had been apprehensive about the unit, worried that it would take a colonial slant and focus on the landing of the first fleet and early settlement of southern Australia. Instead the lecturer introduced a unit that asked students to critique versions of historical events and consider interpretations from different socio-cultural perspectives.

    The second assignment for the unit required students to read and review Australian historical fiction and comment on how it developed their historical understanding while stimulating some notion of ethics or morality in response to the recorded event or social history (Charles Darwin University, 2016). The following essay is in response to this assignment and based on the book Murrinhku Thepini pumpanpunmat' produced by the local Literacy Production Centre which was illustrated and written in Murrinhpatha. Importantly the book was reviewed and critique considering other text-based resources but also local oral histories so that different versions of events emerged.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)66-70
    Number of pages5
    JournalLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts
    Issue number25
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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