NAIDOC Week: celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture

Greetings for the new week.  Did you know that this week is NAIDOC Week (3-10 July 2016)? If not, here is a glimpse taken from the official NAIDOC Week site at http://www.naidoc.org.au/. You can find out much more by going to that link.

 This website tells us that NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

Established in 1938, NAIDOC Week is now an opportunity to proudly acknowledge and celebrate the history, culture and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australian make to our country and our society.

I love the theme for this year, which is ‘Songlines:  The living narrative of our nation’.  I quote from the NAIDOC Week website:

‘For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures.

Dreaming tracks crisscross Australia and trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lores. These dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ as they record the travels of these ancestral spirits who 'sung' the land into life.

These Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups.

Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters.’  (see more at http://www.naidoc.org.au/about/theme-and-host-city)

I also love the image for this year’s NAIDOC Week poster, from a painting by by artist Lani Balzan, called ‘Songlines Tie All Aboriginal People Together’ (see image below).   The description of the painting on the poster describes it as follows: 

‘Dreaming stories are presented as elaborate song cycles (Songlines) that relate to a specific place, group or individual.  Dreamtime ancestors made songlines as part of the creation story to provide a map of the landscape, and represent the relationship between the lands, the seas and the people.  The painting represents all of the songlines coming together to create our nation.  You can see how they criss-cross the lands as they run East, West, North, South and diagonally across the country to track the journeys of our ancestors.’

Evocative and beautiful, don’t you think.

For NAIDOC Week activities in the Blue Mountains, go to our Council’s website at the following link: http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/yourcommunity/communityservices/aboriginalservices/naidocweek

As a white Australian of mixed British and European heritage, my own cultural heritage is not ancient like our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture, and it would be improper of me to even think that other cultures could appropriate such a heritage as Songlines.  Nonetheless, I love the fact that music can flow across time, cultures and the ages, through the folk music traditions, for example, or the great lineage of western art music.  We are blessed with the musical offerings that different cultures across the ages offer to us, that can resonate with us, and remind us of what it is to be human.  How lucky are we.

And now to this week’s featured music. This is a hard one for me tonight when I think about the enormous and ancient Indigenous cultural heritage of the country that I was born in.  My humble offering is the second ‘Hymn to the Mountains’ from my new CD ‘Places with high levels of natural beauty’, my honouring of the place in which I live, the Blue Mountains of Australia.  Which some of you will have heard before, but I like to think the music deserves more than one listening.

And as always, for more details go to http://www.petawilliams.com.au/music_cd_baby/ .

Until next time,

 

Peta

PS Scroll down to the bottom of this web page to play the featured music.

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