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Ayeye Atyenhe Akerte - About My Story
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Ayeye Atyenhe Akerte - About My Story
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Ayeye Atyenhe Akerte - About My Story
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Articles
1 July 2020

Ayeye Atyenhe Akerte - About My Story

Our First Nations children need to learn on their land, in their language, from their community.

Written by Carol Turner

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Werte. Arritnye atyenge Carlya. Ayenge apmere Mpartwele aneme. Ayenge Anapipe arenge. Ayenge arelhe Arrernte. That means, “My name is Carol. I live in Alice Springs and I’m from Sandy Bore homeland. I am an Arrernte woman.”

Anwerne apetye nenhe mpwarreke apurtele, four and a half years ago. Ayenge akangkeme anwernele arretyeke. We have been making this film, In My Blood It Runs for four and a half years. I’m so excited to share it with everyone on TV. 

In My Blood It Runs has screened all around the world now. It is about my grandson, Dujuan, and us family at the time when he was 10 years old. The film shows the challenges Dujuan faces in his school and on the streets of Alice Springs. It also shows how Australia’s colonial history is heavy on our children as well as how strong our families and communities are.

The film is important to me because we want to show the world how our young children are mistreated and disrespected around Australia and the world. It’s not fair for us First Nations people to be alienated. We should all be treated equally if we are to live in Australia as one nation. We want to show the world that our culture and language is still strong after colonisation. Australia, it is time now to be honest and tell the truth about our past: that Australia was not “terra nullius” and that we as First Nations people of this country had sophisticated education, government, healing, economic and community systems. 

We need to keep our children strong in cultural way, to teach them about language, plants, animals and the universe like uterne (sun), kwerralye (stars), amirreme (milky way), antyentye (moon), kwerralye bule (morning star), mpwelarre (rainbow), kwatye (water) and kwatye alhekentye (lighting). 

But as Felicity Hayes, Senior Traditional Owner of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and Executive Producer of the film, says, “Our children have to leave their identity at the school gates.”

At school, mainstream work is very hard for our Indigenous students because they do not speak English at home. Everyone speaks language in the communities, and our culture is Arrernte. It is really important that our First Nations children have access to their first languages and cultures. They should be free to speak their language and culture in every class. 

I teach Arrernte in the language centre at a school. The students are really proud to be reading and writing in their language. When we can teach our children in this way they are happier at school and do better with their European studies. I want all of our First Nations children to be proud of themselves and to not have to leave their identity at home.

We have a classroom at the school called Utnenge, which means “spirit,” and it is a room for any students who do not attend school regularly, or who have low literacy and numeracy, or who do not want to attend mainstream classes. Our children need to feel supported and that their Utnenge is always being looked after and that they feel confident. They can’t feel part of the school when their Utnenge isn’t looked after. 

We know that the best way to teach our children is on Country, it has been happening for generations. This is why we need to build a school out on our homelands: Mpweringke Anapipe (Sandy Bore). Our elders have wished for this for a very long time: a school that is led by First Nations people and family members. My grandson Dujuan wished for this while speaking at the United Nations. 

At Children’s Ground, a local Arrernte organisation that’s led by our families, Dujuan’s grandmothers and all our Elders are working to make this happen. Our Elders and families are teaching the younger generation in their first language and culture and creating our own school. Children’s Ground puts Arrernte language and culture at the centre and then integrates western learning. 

We need to keep our children strong in cultural as well as European ways. We want our kids to grow up learning both. I want Dujuan and his brothers and sisters to grow up to be proud as First Nations children but understand the systems of the world.

In the film, my grandson Dujuan says, “If you go to primary school, and then high school then you learn. But… I’m a bush kid. I want to go back to my homeland and live really far away from Alice Springs.” Dujuan now stays with his dad and family in Borroloola on their homelands. I too want to go back to my homeland, take my grandchildren back there. But we don’t have a school in our homeland and the children must go to school in town. 

If we can go back to our homelands and have a school there, our children can learn to read and write in their first language instead of having to leave like I did. We have rights to control and establish our own schools and education systems and to provide teaching in our own language. 

This is the aim of Utyerre Apanpe First Nations Educators Network, which Children’s Ground supported us to create last year. Utyerre Apanpe is a group of First Nations educators from 15 different nations (and hopefully more) who came together to make and lead our own First Nations Education System. We hold knowledge and practices that have been passed down from generation to generation. We hold the future for our next generations. We want our children to go to schools designed by our communities out on our homelands run by our people. Our education has always and will always come from the land, water and hills. 

I hope you all enjoy and learn from the film and can help us in our work to fix the systems so our children are not alienated anymore. 

In My Blood It Runs airs on ABC TV on Sunday 5th July at 9:30 pm and ABCiview. Visit www.inmyblooditruns.com to learn more about Dujuan’s family’s goals for change

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