Territory Stories

Alice Springs news



Alice Springs news


Alice Springs news; NewspaperNT




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This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Community newspspers; Australia, Central; Alice Springs (N.T.); Newspapers

Publisher name

Erwin Chlanda

Place of publication

Alice Springs


v. 17 issue 18

File type



Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

Copyright owner

Erwin Chlanda



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

Its always a pleasure to run into Margaret Kemarre Turner OAM, or MK as she has become known: theres a smile, a warm touch on the arm, sometimes a hug, and a genuinely inquiring, How are you?. She extends this warmth to a very wide circle of people, a seeming one woman force for black-white friendship in Alice. This spirit infuses her newly published book, Iwenhe Tyerrtye what it means to be an Aboriginal person (IAD Press). As you read you understand that it is fired by an experience of life lived to the full, in all its sadnesses and joys, unshakably rooted in the Land from which she arose. The book is first and foremost for Arrernte kids. Theres an urgency to this: over and over again MK (pictured with Ken Lechtleitner, who launched her book) comments on the lack of instruction for todays children in their traditional ways, including their language. For her, this is calamitous because without that knowledge of land and kin and the ways of conducting themselves that flow from these relationships, Aboriginal people cannot know who they are. There is no such thing as myself for urrperle mape, she says, because we are so connected to one another. So the book lays out in Arrernte (with reflection and analysis of the meaning of many words) and in English the way those connections work so that Arrernte kids will learn. But this record, enhanced by MKs own artwork, is also there for other Aboriginal people and for non-Aboriginal people as well, with the deep recognition that it is only dialogue that will take us into a shared constructive future. Such a dialogue goes beyond good will. MK is interested in deep understanding and the hard work that goes with that: ... its really hard to describe to others the picture that weve got in our head. If they cant see that good picture, then theres no answer. Sometimes non-Aboriginal people go away with no answer then, and were left with no answer as well. The answers, it seems, cant be neatly summed up. Instead they are infused through layer after layer of explanation, digression, repetition, story, faithfully recorded and translated. This oral account offers a halting read even if after a while you slip into its rhythm. I do question the publishers decision to efface the voice and the writing and editing skills of the person, Barry Donald Perrurle (pictured), to whom MK told all this. At times I particularly wanted some scene-setting and contextualising as well as some of the to and fro of the dialogue that must have taken place between them. Occasionally you get a glimpse of it look here nephew, outside this window but then the ghost recedes. It would certainly have been a different book. As it is, there are many wonderful passages such as this poetic eloquence when MK talks about What Land Means: The sun shoots its rays into the Land and the people and brings it all to life ... it reflects back onto the Land, filling everything there with its light ... the sky lies on the Land, the sky is from the Land ... the night falls on the land and sleeps there and brings out the spirit of the Creation and its Stories. It is reassuring to learn from her that this deep connection to the Land is not eroded by building over it, even by wearing it out: Never mind the surface, the part that looks worn out, she says the beauty is whats inside. And still now, she says later, there is no piece of land, anywhere in Australia, that doesnt have someone [an Indigenous person] to speak on its behalf. It doesnt matter how built over it is. MK also offers insights into contemporary life, like this one: Trying to break away from your relationships as an Aboriginal person, to achieve something in a good job or something like that, well, youre the same person always, and you can never really change anything ... You might think it can achieve something for yourself, but it wouldnt ... If youre that Aboriginal person from that land, you cant be different, theres no way that you can change, not really change deep down. This a fraught area for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike and its where I would have appreciated a departure from the oral account to explore it further. Reservations aside, this book is a rich and often uplifting experience for all who, like MK, want to hold together: We cant have blaming business today, now. We cant do that, because were living together ... Two cultures can hold each other very strong. 26 years as a race mum. By CHRISANNE WALSH.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

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