Arabana Kids Learn Language On-Country

The Mobile Language Team in partnership with the Arabana community recently held an On-Country Arabana language camp for kids, teens and adults. The camp, the first of its kind for the Arabana community, was a great success, with about 60 Arabana people, including 25 children and teens, able to attend, learn and speak language across three days and four nights.

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The camp was held on traditional lands, based at remote Finniss Spings and was led by four speakers of the language, all of whom have been engaged with Arabana language revival work for many years. The activities organised for the attendees included trips to see a traditional well, a rock carving site and to learn the names and stories of significant features of the land. Back at camp, the children were shown traditional carving techniques by one of the Camp Leaders, while a group of boys helped to cook 30 kangaroo tails, which they did with great enthusiasm! At night, the elders regaled the group with stories from life at Finniss Springs when it was still a functioning station, including some spooky tales and camp songs. After the camp, everyone left with big smiles on their faces.

One attendee said the highlight of the camp was getting the chance to spend time with family, who all live in different towns across Australia. One Camp Leader said that he met his four year old great-granddaughter for the first time while at the camp. The children were quick to pick up words of Arabana, often saying 'Arru! Hello!' to each other in the mornings, and perfectly repeating words heard while with the speakers. The adults said they remember more language when they are back on-country than when they are in town. This was a great learning experience for all involved, and it is hoped that Arabana language camps will be able to be run every year. 

The MLT has organised another Arabana language camp in June 7-10. For Arabana community who are interested to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible to Eleanor (eleanor.mccall@adelaide.edu.au). Places are limited. 

The Arabana online learning page is currently under construction, for a draft version of the learning page including learning videos please contact Eleanor. 

Will Fisher