The 'The Indigenous People of the Kimberley' is a teaching resource for history studies in years 4, 5, 6, and 9 of the National History Curriculum.
'The Indigenous People of the Kimberley' tells the story of the Aboriginal People of Australia’s Kimberley district, whose history with the land dates back at least 50,000 years to when humans first settled on the Australian continent, and how the invasion of European miners and pastoralists impacted on their lives.
The history of the European settlement of the Kimberley and its effect on the local Indigenous People is a story that very few people are aware of, and with the currant emphasis that is being placed on reconciliation, it is vitally important that people have some understanding of what went on.
This educational resource is designed to tell the basic story of Kimberley Aboriginal People and the impact of european settlement on their land from the prospective of all Australians, in the hope it will inspire students to further investigate and form their own opinions about this important part of Australia’s history.
'The Indigenous People of the Kimberley' consists of 2 stand alone titles, 'The Coming of a New Order' and 'The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry'.
Each title has a 20 minute video documentary on DVD, and a Windows or Macintosh CD-ROM that contains an interactive review, teachers guide and student work sheets.
'The Coming of a New Order' tells how the Kimberley was one of the last areas of productive land in Australia, where Indigenous People lived in their traditional manner, free from the influence of European settlement. It shows how the intrusion of European gold miners and pastoralists, following Alexander Forrest’s 1879 expedition of discovery, brought about a period of change and upheaval to this ancient civilisation, and introduced the Indigenous People to a New Order that was to challenge their very existence.
'The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry' tells of the vital role that the Aboriginal People played in the establishment, and continue to play in the operation of the Kimberley pastoral industry. It tells of their life and work on the stations, their relationships with the European pastoralists, and of their struggle to remain on their land.
Program Rationale by Rodney Rivers (Gooniyandi Language Group).
My name is Rodney Rivers, I am an Aboriginal man who was born and raised in
Australias Kimberley district and I am a member of the Gooniyandi language
My interest in Aboriginal culture led to my working as an ethnic and
aboriginal translator for the Summer Institute of Linguists in Darwin.
As a young man, I worked as a stockman on several Kimberley cattle stations, then began working for the main roads department where I learned to operate heavy earthmoving equipment. I then worked for Argyle Diamonds as an instructor teaching Indigenous People how to operate heavy equipment.
In 2002, I approached Kathern and Dick Adkins of Adkins Productions, and asked if they would be interested in producing a video documentary about the Kimberley Aboriginal people and the important role they played, and continue to play, in the development and operation of the Kimberley cattle industry.
When we began researching for the documentary, it quickly became obvious that the history of the European settlement of the Kimberley and its effect on the local Indigenous People is a story that very few people are aware of. With the currant emphasis that is being placed on reconciliation, it seemed vitally important that people have some understanding of what went on.
In discussions with Admark Education, we decided to produce an educational resource designed to tell the basic story of the European settlement of the Kimberley from the prospective of all Australians, in the hope it will inspire students to further investigate and form their own opinions about this important part of Australias history.
The "Indigenous People of the Kimberley" was produced with the cooperation, support and assistance of the Kimberley Aboriginal People.
In producing the program, we were struck by the almost complete lack of vindictiveness towards European Australians among those Aboriginal people with whom we discussed this project. Almost without exception, the Indigenous People expressed no desires of revenge for the injustices that had been inflicted on their people, and often recognised that, in addition to the atrocities, there were also acts of kindness and benefit as well. They also expressed a deep sense of pride, both men and women alike, in their abilities as stockmen and stockwomen, and in the vital role they played in the establishment and continue to play in the operation of the Kimberley cattle industry. However, they all felt very strongly that for effective reconciliation to occur, the truth of what happened should, and must be told.
With this in mind, we were determined to write and produce the program maintaining that same attitude. The program is intended to tell the basic story of the European settlement of the Kimberley, without bias or accusation, in the hope it will stimulate students to further investigate and form their own opinions about this important part of Australias history, and give them a better understanding of a proud and courageous people and their struggle to control their land and their lives, and provide a more meaningful sense of what reconciliation is about.
To be truly reconciled as Australians, we must go back to know the past, and then the truth will set us all free for a brighter future together.
"Gooniyandi Language Group"
The Kimberley Language Resource Centre (KLRC*) highly recommends the DVD Coming of a New Order for classroom teaching across Australia.
The KLRC has used the DVD in cross-cultural training workshops and shown the DVD to Kimberley Aboriginal People of various ages. The cross-cultural workshops involved several non-Aboriginal teacher participant groups. Other audiences have included Aborininal teaching assistants from schools across the Kimberley and Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing elders.
The Response to the documentary has been extremely positive, even though the content can be confronting.
For non-Aboriginal audiences it provides information they have never been told before. They did not learn about the traumatic and tragic consequences of colonisation when they were at school. The Kimberley Region was the last area of Australia to be colonised, and these experiences are kept in living memory. For non-Aboriginal people working in, or visiting, the Kimberley, this information is crucial to understanding the challenges that still face Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal aduiences have found the content distressing, but at the same time feel it is important all Australians know the history of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal contact and the effects on traditional Aboriginal society.
For young Australians nationwide it tells a story that is repeated all over the country and may lead them to ask more questions about the history of Aboriginal people in their part of the country.
*The KLRC is an Aboriginal community organisation set up to advocate for Kimberley Aboriginal language groups and to support community owned and managed language maintenance projects. The organisation is governed by an Executive Committee of language speakers and language activists representative of the 28 spoken languages from across the region.
The South Australian Aboriginal Education Review Committee gave the following review:
"We were impressed with the production and quality. We believe that it contains historical and educationally valuable film footage and information and is an excellent teaching and learning resource. We have recommended it for the South Australian Curriculum, Standards and Accountability Framework as a resource for Aboriginal Perspectives from the middle to senior years of schooling."
The NSW Department of Education and Training Aboriginal Programs Unit gave the following review:
Your resource does not rely on high-technology production values but rather exclusively on the time honoured narrative presentation style, supported by interesting archival photographic and film material, both of which are used to very good effect. The style and presentation of your resource, whilst fairly traditional, is concise and well paced. Establishing the geographical context of the Kimberley such as its river systems, landform, and the central theme of the connection between the Indigenous people and the land, sets the scene for progressing to the historical context of the Kimberley.
Your treatment of the impact of the influx of white people on the Indigenous people of the Kimberley and the corresponding changes to the land usage imposed by gold mining and pastoralism has been well documented. In addition, the narrative is neither inflammatory nor sensationalised. The black and white archival photographic and moving picture material, which you have utilised, speaks for itself leaving no need to embellish the obvious facts of white invasion.