Sarah Eccles is a Wadawurrung woman and our South East Aboriginal Partnership Officer.
We're gathered around the fire at Oura Oura, with the billy boiling ready to share stories and learn of the cultural connections and heritage within the Liffey Valley of central northern Lutruwita (Tasmania).
A young Aboriginal girl steps forward to confidently and warmly welcome us to country in the Palawa Kani language. It grounds us and reminds us of the many generations of people, for whom this has been a traditional gathering place, walking the makuminya’s Aboriginal pathways throughout the Kooparoona Niara (Great western tiers) to come together with their neighbouring tribes to look after this country before us.
I am moved by the pride that radiates from both her and her mother as the welcome is shared in language.
It was a significant and symbolic experience that reminded me of the importance of working with the local community to understand and manage the cultural landscapes Bush Heritage properties are within. It reaffirmed the importance of language in describing and encoding culture both within the landscape and the relationships we have culturally to each other.
I was impressed by the work and resilience of the Tasmanian community in re-awakening and reviving their language and reminded that Tasmanian Aboriginal culture is strong and being passed on!
Tasmanian Aboriginal community members involved in the Aboriginal cultural heritage values assessments across the Bush Heritage managed properties in the Liffey Valley have put together a short video on this work.
Palawa kani is the revived form of the original Tasmanian Aboriginal languages. It incorporates authentic elements of the original languages remembered by Tasmanian Aborigines from the 19th to the 21st centuries. It also draws on an extensive body of historical and linguistic research.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) has had a language revival program since the mid-1990s. Its also advocated for dual language place names for many places in Tasmania.