NAIDOC week: languages matter
2017 NAIDOC Week was celebrated from 2 to 9 July. The theme was ‘Our Languages Matter’, which aimed to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.
Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent at first European contact in the late eighteen century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so the total number of named varieties would have run to many hundreds. Today, only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and, as Elders pass on, many are at risk of being lost.
National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair, Anne Martin, said the 2017 theme was incredibly important.
“Languages are the breath of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the theme will raise awareness of the status and importance of Indigenous languages across the country,” Ms Martin said.
Contributed by Cheryl Davis, Director Indigenous Engagement