ANCIENT Noongar Dreamtime stories, once sealed in the archives of the Battye Library, are set to be released in a collaborative effort to preserve Noongar language and culture.
On December 2, the Humphries Reconciliation Project will launch a collection of books based on stories recorded by Ballardong elder Cliff Humphries between 1995 and a year before his death in 1998.
The first of Mr Humphries’ books, Aalidja Maali Yok Birrla-ngat Kor-iddny (Swan Woman Returns to her River) was illustrated by students from the Perth Waldorf School in Bibra Lake.
Elaine Meyer is a parent at the school and a teacher herself; she and fellow coordinator Patricia Crook suggested to Mr Humphries’ family that it would make a good reconciliation project to involve the students, as well as provide a healing opportunity for the Noongar community.
Mr Humphries’ great grandson Donald Smith helped run workshops for the students, teaching them a Dreaming story which holds significant spiritual value for Noongars and addresses the importance of family in Indigenous culture. The students drew native flora and fauna for the illustrations.
Anthropologist and Indigenous researcher Tim McCabe lived with Mr Humphries and his wife Leticia in Kellerberrin and worked with Ms Meyer to create the Humphries Reconciliation Project.
Dr McCabe said Mr Humphries dream was to bring his and his wife’s language and traditions to his people and all the people of the South West of Western Australia.
With over 1000 copies available, the launch is expected to attract a variety of Noongar language experts. Ms Meyer hopes that their influence can lead to more cultural work within schools.
The launch is being held at the Perth Waldorf School, 14 Gwilliam Drive, Bibra Lake, this Wednesday December 2 at 3.15pm.
by PIP WALLER