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'Stories of the Tanganekald' - new book celebrates Ngarrindjeri cultural heritage

Rhiannon Clarke -

Inspired by the late Ngarrindjeri Elder Milerum (Clarence Long), Stories of the Tanganekald delves into the ancient stories that have been passed down through generations.

The book serves as an educational tool for the South Australian community, especially the youth of the Ngarrindjeri Nation.

Jacob Stengle (Karumapuli), a descendant of Milerum, has contributed his artwork to reinterpret the stories, songs, and language documented by his grandfather. 

During the 1930s, Milerum collaborated with the South Australian Museum and Dr Norman Tindale, a prominent anthropologist, to preserve the cultural legacy of his people.

Acutely aware of the decline of traditional Tanganekald practices, Milerum documented his ancestral knowledge through songs, language, stories, and cultural artefacts that are now integral to the South Australian Museum's collections. 

Apart from the physical book, children have the opportunity to engage with Milerum's stories and songs through the Aboriginal Living Languages South Australia online platform, a valuable resource developed by the Mobile Language Team in partnership with the South Australian Museum.

The most recent release originated from the 2021 showcase Arabana Yanhi! Tanganekald Yan!, marking the debut of the Keeping Ancestral Voices Alive series by the South Australian Museum and Mobile Language Team. 

This initiative aims to revitalise, preserve, and honour the diverse language and cultural heritage of Australia. Visitors are encouraged to set aside English and fully engage in the First Nations language and traditions presented by the Mobile Language Team and the South Australian Museum.

Family and Community History Consultant at the South Australian Museum and a descendant of Milerum, Ali Abdullah-Highfold, hopes the Ngarrindjeri community will feel more connected to their cultural heritage. 

“Projects like this continue the process of getting valuable stories and language back to our Ngarrindjeri community,” he said. 

“This is all part of the continued sharing of knowledge and dreaming stories that sits at the centre of our sense of belonging and community.”

The Mobile Language Team and the South Australian Museum have undertaken the task of preserving and revitalising indigenous languages as part of their response to the UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032. 

Manager of the Mobile Language Team, Paul Monaghan said Stories of the Tanganekald is a great learning resource. 

“While it's a book you can hold in your hands, the QR codes make it a ticket to a rich world of language, stories, songs and culture," he said.

The Tanganekald stories, along with other language revival projects, are a testament to their commitment. It is important to acknowledge the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, the primary cultural authority for Tanganekald, for granting permission and providing support.

Additionally, the involvement of the descendants of Milerum has been instrumental in making these stories possible.

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