Shining the spotlight on the story of the Seven Sisters Dreaming during NAIDOC Week and how it is helping revive ancient languages in South Australia.

8 July 2019

The Tjitjiku Inma (For All the Kids to Dance Ceremony) project was initially developed by Pitjantjatjara Elders who were concerned that their stories were in jeopardy as so few children were learning language.

The project spanned the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in remote South Australia over three years from 2012 to 2014, delivered by Carclew, an arts and cultural organisation with a history of working with communities on projects to preserve language and stories of the Dreaming.

With further support from the Indigenous Language and Arts Program in the Department of Communications and the Arts, and in partnership with Lee-Ann Buckskin and Associates, the project is now being taken to another level with Tjitjiku Tjukurpa (the Children's Dreaming) Project.

Children learn the ancient in Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages through songs and dance which accompany stories of the Seven Sisters Dreaming.

The project is delivered by Carclew, an art and cultural organisation that works with communities on projects to preserve language and stories of the Dreaming. The project spans the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Maralinga Tjarutja Lands.

With support from the Indigenous Language and Arts Program in the Department of Communications and the Arts, and in partnership with Lee-Ann Buckskin and Associates, the project is now going to another level.

A group of 30 Anangu children will participate in this year-long program that starts with an 8-day excursion tracking the APY version of the Seven Sisters Songline from Iron Knob through to Amata and ending at the sacred Cave Hill site.

Along the way they will stop to learn traditional songs (Inma), dance and ceremonial body art (walka) from significant cultural custodians.

Children will also learn ancient Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages through the stories of the Seven Sisters Dreaming.

The program builds throughout the year with students creating claymations (clay animations) of the (APY) Seven Sisters story, music and other resources that can be used by teachers in the classroom through an interactive website.

The year culminates with the students working with contemporary music duo Electric Fields to transform the ancient songs of the Seven Sisters into modern contemporary music tracks. They'll perform and record the songs with Electric Fields in an exciting live performance.

Photos courtesy of Carclew.

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