Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Media Watch, 3 November 2008 - interesting!

Ripped into material used by SBS to promote Rachel Perkins' "excellent documentary series", First Australians.

The reaction of many people who read that document - including me - was stupefaction.

Was it really THAT bad? Did they really write THAT in an official form in the 1950's?
Well, no, they didn't.

The national archive has no record of certificates of exemption issued by the Commonwealth.

But here's a blank exemption form issued by the New South Wales government in the fifties.
Read it all here.

Yet the "documentary" is still referred to as 'excellent'?


Another issue covered is the report of a Yuendumu elder supporting the intervention. I read this and I think I linked a post here to the original article.

Apparently now the elder is denying she said that. A person who was there when the elder spoke with the journalist has said that the elder did say what was reported.

The conclusion, eventually, is that there's a bit of a problem with the elder's understanding of language and there's some nuance and a bit of, er, quoting out of context.

I hope that makes it clear.... here, read it for yourself.


bruce said...

Some speculative translating:

'Lies' means anything 'undermining the tribe'.

Just as 'stolen' means 'removed from the power of the tribe'.

Do aboriginal languages even have a word for objective truth?

kae said...

Funny you should mention that, Bruce, I was just rereading the MW piece on that and pondering the tribal acquaintance with "truth".

I have a friend who is aboriginal (part, and identifies as same). She told me that it's traditional that if someone says they like something of yours, a dress or something, you're supposed to give it to them. That's the cause of a lot of problems in the Territory. You're expected to give everything away. Her ex husband was aboriginal, too (part), and he had rellies always asking for stuff from him because he was in the RAAF and they expected him to share with them.

I find it amazing that a neutral/unbiased translator of the language could be found. There are, after all, about a thousand different aboriginal languages.

I read a really good book, called "The Song Lines". In it the author talked about tribal songs and how things like, for example, maps, were sung. It was fascinating. It was a work of fiction. My mother borrowed it and a friend of hers with aboriginal background/knowledge told her that languages were only known between neighbouring tribes and that the book was factual in that respect. If you travelled you needed to take someone from the tribal area before to translate for you and sing you the way. It was really complicated.

bruce said...

Yeah my son had an aboriginal best friend in primary school. We noticed that his poor mother had to accommodate endless 'cousins' in her tiny city flat whenever they deigned to appear knocking on her door.

In the end 'best friend' counted for nothing and the boy 'went back' to his 'cousins' up north.

But I've seen Pakistanis, Arabs, Africans and Hindus all act similarly, and they all have a very malleable notion of 'truth' which I think is based on/biased towards 'what's good for the tribe'. A handful of Arab, Indian, African, Asian or Aboriginal individuals break free of tribal power, such as Ayan Hirshi Ali. I think Aborigines who do that often have to become anonymous and hide in the city or suburbs away from the 'cousins', who can be very persistent and aggressive in demanding their 'rights'.