INDIGENOUS ISSUES


GAMES PROGRAMMING FOR INDIGENOUS STUDENTS: on site discussion paper

GameMaker at Gillen, Alice Springs by Kym Urquhart
"The use of GameMaker in the classroom produced a steep learning curve for both teachers and students. The program generated interest and excitement for everyone involved. It was difficult to tell who was most impressed with their creations: the students or the teachers"

Noel Pearson

I really like the Noel Pearson approach (Cape York Institute) to indigenous issues. Here are some of the slogans that scroll across their home page:

"Keep our diverse languages and cultural traditions by excelling in education and digital technologies, the only means of arresting the decline of our ancient and oral traditions"
"Maintain our identity as a people but encourage individual excellence in education and achievement"
"Fight racism but don't let it be our disability"
"Rebuild social, cultural and legal intolerance of substance abuse"
"Our right to take back responsibility"
"We don't have an inalieable right to dependency, we have an inalieable right to a fair share in the real economy"
"Fight victimisation but we won't be the victims"
"Never forget history but engage in the future"

On the Human Right to Misery, Mass Incarceration and Early Death by Noel Pearson
Summary of the Pearson article here

"Much trouble has come from people forgetting the land.."
Nganyinytja
Nganyinytja is an elder of the Pitjantjatjara people of Central Australia. The Australian aboriginal people have lived in harmony with this huge and mainly desert continent for many thousands of years. They know the secrets of the land and they respect and care for it.
"Much trouble has come from people forgetting the land, the spirit. Many people are sick and have lost their spirit. The white government has cut their culture; we grieve for them. But we can all learn and make our spirit strong. My teaching is about opening your spirit, working together to build understanding. Opening our way, opening our hearts to share the spirit of the land with all who want to learn.”
http://www.yoni.com/cronef/nganyinytja.shtml

Thanks Bill for quote: "Keep our diverse languages and cultural traditions by excelling in education and digital technologies, the only means of arresting the decline of our ancient and oral traditions".
I was priveleged to be present at a camping trip and "workshop" on indigenous spirituality held by the Pitjantjatjara elders in conjunction with Greg Snowdon, about 7 years ago. They shared with us, part of the Goanna Man dreaming. I saw first hand how this narrative was intertwined with their land and identity. If I know one thing, it is that I know very little of their culture and issues, it is very dangerous to offer solutions from the comfort of my Melbourne armchair and the last thing I want to do is be condecending. Nevertheless, I'll throw caution to the wind and suggest that game making could be an excellent way to "arrest the decline of our ancient and oral traditions" and to "excell in education and digital technologies" Game making seems well suited to a narrative which is expressed in visual images and song. Maybe its a good way to honour cultural traditions while providing a bridge to school. A task which the kids will find truly authentic and relevant to both cultures in which indigenous kids find themselves. I would like to talk to the elders and see whether they think I am making sense. (tony 9 Oct 06)

Dust Echos


The Dust Echos website published on the ABC is an opportunity to respectfully share the culture of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians are the custodians of important cultural understandings. On many occasions I read that they are gifted with a sacred artistic skill.

"Dust Echoes is one way that we are bringing everyone back to the same campfire - black and white. We are telling our stories to you in a way you can understand, to help you see, hear and know. And we are telling these stories to ourselves, so that we will always remember, with pride, who we are." - quote by Actor-Musician, Tom E. Lewis

It is as if we need to stand with a foot in the past and our minds to the future. Perhaps telling stories about the campfire is a good place to start. (RG 28 Oct 2006)

The Dust Echoes website gives good ideas about what games made by indigenous kids for indigenous kids might look like. There are 3 games on the site:
  • Hive Alive - The sugar bag fly is one of indigenous Australia's most precious creatures. It will lead you to a rich source of food - honey. Pollinate 12 flowers while avoiding predators.
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* The Wagalak Sisters - Make your own indigenous garden by select, point and click. Very relaxing!
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  • Frog Game - Enter a number sequence to help a frog dive into a pond(?)
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See the site for more details of the stories. All 3 games appear to be made in Flash. All could be made by upper primary/lower secondary kids in Game Maker. (Tony 28 Oct 2006; Bill update 2 Nov 2006)