Amelia Turner (on language)

“Our language is sacred to us. Every Aboriginal language is sacred for those who speak it. Words are given to us by the land and those words are sacred. What does it mean to an Aboriginal culture? The land needs words, the land speaks for us and we use the language for this. Words make things happen—make us alive. Words come not only from our land but also from our ancestors. Knowledge comes from Akerre, my own language and sacred language. Language is ownership; language is used to talk about the land. Language is what we see in people. Language is what we know of people—we know of him or her. If they speak my sacred language, I must be related to their kinships. Language is how people identify themselves. Being you is to know your language. It is rooted in your relationship from creation—in your kinship that cycles from then and there, onwards and onwards. It is like that root from the tree. Language is a community—a group of people. Not only do you speak that language but generations upon generations of your families have also spoken it. The language recognises and identifies you, who you are and what is you. Sacred language does have its own language.”
(Amelia Turner, Arrernte elder)

Language is one of the four pillars of Kurdiji – the others being law, kinship and ceremony. Together these pillars create the home within – a centre of stability and resilience for Aboriginal people. Warlpiri elders are disseminating the central ideas of Kurdiji through a new suicide prevention app. Kurdiji 1.0 is crowdfunding at http://www.kurdijiproject.com please donate if you can and share the campaign.

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(photograph of Jerry Jangala by Judith Crispin)

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