The overview of this learning area invites students to “examine historical perspectives from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewpoint” (ACARA, 2015). Specific concepts that are identified refer to Indigenous peoples prior to colonisation by the British, which can be explored through stories in the Living Archive such as Gun-guwarr, in which an old man recalls history from the first people who arrived in Australia: “Their skin was black. We now call them Aborigines from Australia. We were here yesterday, today and will be here forever” (Pascoe, 1995), and traditional practices which pre-date western colonisation. Another comprehensive history is Ŋayi Balŋaṉa Mawurrku (Marika, 1989), a transcription of a song detailing the creation story of the Yirrkala area, and Djäwa (1979) on the lands around Milingimbi. Such stories invite students to compare historical traditions from Western and Indigenous perspectives, giving an alternative voice to that which often dominates the text books.

The specific Year 9 content descriptions invite students to investigate “the extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples” (ACARA, 2015), which can be explored through early mission interactions at Haasts Bluff (Ferguson, 1987), the impact of the British on the Tiwi Islands (Waya Awarra Naki Awujunguwaparrami, 1985), and working on cattle stations (Campion, 1994). A series in Warlpiri entitled Nyurruwiyi manu Jalangu-jalangu (“Then and now stories”) includes comparisons of traditional and modern life in areas such as hunting and funerals. Stories of massacres told from Indigenous perspectives, such as A True Bad Story (Yunupingu, 1981), and the story of the Coniston massacre (Japangardi, 1978), are also available. Stories familiar to non-Indigenous teachers and students can be read from an Indigenous perspective, such as the story of Lasseter’s Reef (Stevens, 1982, see also Ross, 1999 for a different version), and Indigenous experiences of World War II, for example the rescue of an American pilot (Wandjuk, n.d.), and the bombing of the Tiwi Islands (Kerinaiua, 1986b) and of Milingimbi (Djoma, 1974). The latter book describes the Yolngu response when they heard the Japanese were attacking: “they collected their spears—shovel spears, stone knives and cane spears—for we really didn’t understand; we thought it would be like when Aborigines fight” and names those killed and injured. Such stories add an interesting dimension to general teaching about issues such as exploration, colonisation and conflict.

Taken from Bow, C. (2016). Using authentic language resources to incorporate Indigenous knowledges across the Australian Curriculum. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 20, 20–39. Available from http://www.cdu.edu.au/northern-institute/lcj/10.18793/LCJ2016.20.03