Dual place naming

A park in Kununurra has just received official dual place name status despite opposition from the local shire president. You can read the original news article here.

I really wonder how much this shire president understands about Aboriginal culture if he is opposed to one park being dual named. The whole situation reminded me of the issues that Nick Reid spoke about in his lecture ‘Traditional Aboriginal Languages vs the monolingual mindset‘. The shire president’s attitude towards dual naming echoes the negative attitude of John Laws in the radio clip in Nick’s lecture, a monolingual mindset indeed. Fortunately it looks like the Kununurra area is well organised as far as language work goes with their own language and culture centre Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gering. The MDWg website is well organised and explains their aims, achievements, current work and available services well. You can even watch a short video about Traditional weather knowledge and traditional seasonal calendar-very interesting.

Another good news story is this one, about Fraser Island receiving official dual place naming as well. In this story it is very obvious how much dual place naming can mean to Traditional Owners. Despite this, the Fraser Island Association President says “I don’t have a problem with a dual name as long as Fraser Island isn’t at some stage replaced completely”. Surely it is obvious that eventual complete name replacement would mean people still associate a name with the place? Elder Mary Wilkinson has the foresight to predict that total name replacement will occur eventually, just as it has for Uluru.


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