The method of story-telling as a means of sharing knowledge is common across many indigenous races all over the world. These stories take many different shapes. The knowledge might passed down orally in different languages, via totems, kinship ties, dance, songs, ceremonies, rituals and symbolic art. In each culture the roles of men, women and children in immediate and extended family groups have different responsibilities, not just in maintaining a functioning societal group, but also in story-telling.
And in Australia, with just roughly 3% of the population today being Aboriginal, it is easy to see how their culture has become so misunderstood and marginalised in our modern society.
As a 30 something white female, I confess I grew up mostly unenthusiastic about our Indigenous culture. The school curriculum taught us narratives of a heroic Captain Cook who sailed to Botany Bay and “discovered” our land girt by sea. It did not elaborate on the violence and the misunderstandings on both sides of the Aboriginal and the white Colonials that caused too many deaths in the fight for land ownership. We were taught very basic Aboriginal stories, and like a society who is happy to accept animals as commodities without regard for their intense suffering, the violence and loss the Aboriginal people suffered was not given much weight. It was whitewashed. The depth of this suffering was not acknowledged by parts of our government until the end of the century. Their displacement and loss of land, their fight for their loved ones and their culture did not become apparent to me until I was much older.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is a narrative about a misunderstanding, as is our history with many cultures. It is not a surprise then, that the Logan area, known for its diversity, has been as misunderstood and marginalised also.
There are many reasons why Logan has continued to harbour a bad reputation over the years. In the late 60s and 70s, Queensland Housing Commission acquired large amounts of land in Kingston and Woodridge to build public housing, leading to a low socio-economic demographic in these areas and those around them. This reduced cost of living has attracted a population of refugees and then in recent years, racial tensions have had a hand in bringing in negative media attention.
When we interviewed people at the last Eats and Beats at the Kingston Butter Factory (listen to it on the podcast), one resident who had moved here from Mt Druitt said, “Not coming from here I got pretty jack of people saying “oh Logan, Logan, this that and the other,”… People being denigrated by that, and in that way by the media and by the people, it creates a culture.”
After the racial tensions erupted in Logan, Mabel Park State High School Principal Mike O’Connor said “I think the community is a strong one and I don’t think the message is being shared as much as it should be.” Likewise motivational speaker Stephen Dale said, “If you are told those negative things enough, you will start to believe them.”10 However, the success of the Gotta Love Logan movement shows the strength our community embodies.
Whether Logan’s history with misunderstanding is linked to our diversity or not, we have a unique opportunity here to eradicate the preconceptions and re-educate people about diversity through a celebration of local arts and culture. Music is a great example of this – it’s a universal language and is an important part of different cultures as is spoken word. We have a responsibility to teach the next generation that the narrative between white, indigenous and multi-cultural Australia has not come to an end, there is so much more to celebrate.
If you participate in any cultural activities or art practises, we want to hear about it! Please share in the comments below, you never know – you might point someone looking in the right direction.