Pride in culture

Smithton Primary School students participating in the Indigenous and Proud project, including (back from left) Nahani Stafford, 11, Jaxon Swan, 11, Kelsey Williams, 11, (front) Cooper Bryan, 9, Emily Tuxworth, 8, and Eligh Lambert, 10, are welcoming community members to view their progress as part of Art About Town month. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Mural. A collaborative project which links cultural identity and history is being celebrated throughout Art About Town month.

The Indigenous and Proud project was launched by Smithton Primary School and Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation in June to coincide with National Reconciliation Week.

The first of five elements of the Indigenous and Proud project is a student driven mural.

A garden to educate students on traditional bush foods, medicines and textile design, a totemic visual and the inclusion of a cultural heritage education space will be introduced in the coming years as part of the project. As well as professional staff and volunteer development learning.

The project looks to educate students on Indigenous Australian history and strengthen cultural identity.

So far, the group has completed the first of four murals which will line the school’s entry foyer. The mural will depict Circular Head in the past and present, and include events that have transpired within the region.

The first mural, a scene of the Duck River viewed through a tangle of trees and native bush, was completed at the end of last term. The second scene is of Rocky Cape where the story of Walyer is told.

Walyer was an Aboriginal member of the Emu Bay tribe who was stolen by a rival tribe during her childhood and sold to European settlers. She later escaped to rebel and lead various raids against European settlers.

Alongside local artist Frances Joyce, the project’s core group of students Jaxon Swan, Nahani Stafford, Cooper Jenkins, Emma Fraser, Dillon Grey, Ryder Marthick, Kelsey Williams and Jorja Alderson researched Walyer to piece together her story in drawing and sand story form. The group then shared their findings with the school during an assembly.

The group, who has been actively involved throughout the entire process, welcome students from all grades to be a part of the project and contribute to the creation of the mural.

“Once groups of kids come in it is hard to stop them, everyone gets involved,” says Ms Joyce.

“It’s important to have that ownership over this project.”

Ms Joyce says the conversations that have been had as a result of the project demonstrate that many students are connecting with their Aboriginal heritage.

“All this conversation that is happening, they’re asking questions and saying, well how did the traditional woven baskets look, where did they hunt?

“It’s opened the conversation right up. I’ve found it’s one of the best ways for students to learn.”

Smithton Primary School is inviting community members to view the Indigenous and Proud project and creation process during an open day on Wednesday (September 13) from 12.30 to 2.30pm as part of Art About Town month.

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