Learning about the Other in Indigenous Studies

Eora to Alice: the story of a journey by Leonie Dennis, 1999.

Eora to Alice: the story of a journey by Leonie Dennis, 1999.

I was contacted by the Powerhouse Museum about a project for Indigenous Literacy Day this year, where students from Glebe Public School visited the Yinalung Yenu: Women’s Journey Exhibition. Students looked at the important role that women play in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life. Further they were instructed to

write and illustrate a personal narrative about a woman who has been important in their own lives, highlighting her journey and what she has in common with the women in the exhibition

The second component in this instruction is important and is what I want to draw your attention to. We must assist students to use the stories of others to find the connections within their own lives. Rather than just study the life of another person, that is, study an OTHER, students make connection by exploring the life of a person within their own lives. In teaching Indigenous Studies, it is a constant challenge to encourage enquiry that doesn’t make the OTHER an exotic, a shiny object, something interesting, different, not normal.

I think the Powerhouse’s education program has worked to create an approach that is meaningful. You can access their Yinalung Yenu Women’s Journey Teachers’ Exhibition Notes.

Image Credit: Powerhouse Museum