September 02, 2013

Indigenous languages in the election

I know everyone's sick of the election but don't worry - this little post is more about language than the 'leckshun. I wrote a post on Fully (sic) last week about how hardly any election candidates use languages other than English and that this makes election time duller than it should be.

When it comes to Aboriginal candidates there are at least three in the NT who speak an Aboriginal language fluently and aren't afraid to do so publicly. It's pretty cool that at least for us in the NT, it's not English-English-English for the whole election campaign.

The first is Rosalie Kunoth-Monks who's a Senate candidate for the Australian First Nation's party. From Utopia, she used to be the mayor of the Barkly Shire and was the star of Australia’s first colour feature film, Jedda, Rosalie didn’t learn English until she started school. Her first language(s) are Arrernte and Alyawarr. Normally, running for a small party like First Nation's would mean she doesn't have much of a chance, but ABC's election guru Antony Green points out that with Labor's vote falling and everyone preferencing First Nations above Labor and the Greens, Rosalie might just sneak the 2nd NT Senate spot. That would make her the first Federal politician to have an Aboriginal language as their first language! Here's a video of her campaigning in her mother tongue and English:


Rosalie Kunoth Monks from CAAMA on Vimeo.

If you're interested in knowing more about her amazing life, check her out being interviewed by Andrew Denton on the Elders program. 

The next language-speaking candidate is Ken Lechleitner who's also with the Australian First Nation's party, but he's running for the House of Representatives. Ken is from the Alice Springs area and speaks Arrernte, Anmatyerr, Warlpiri and English. CAAMA also has a video of him campaigning in Arrernte (I think!) and English:



And lastly, Warren H Williams is running for the Senate for the Greens party. He ran last time too and helped the Greens get 13.6% of the NT Senate vote. Warren is from Hermannsburg and speaks Arrernte fluently. The Greens look like they're the only party to explicitly support Aboriginal languages and bilingual education, outlined in a press release today that quotes Warren as saying:
"The Greens support our right to speak, use and revitalise Indigenous languages and our right to speak and learn our languages in schools. These programs should be properly funded to give our kids a good education, and to support healthy lives and jobs in the bush."
Here's an old video of him speaking Arrernte while walking about Tamworth NSW, where he's previously won a Golden Guitar award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Hope you like the vids. It's so great that Aboriginal languages are trying to forge their way into Canberra! Good luck in the election!

P.S. Hope I didn't miss anyone - if I did please let me know in the comments!

No comments: