Perth Waldorf School
Special Reconciliation Project
In 1995, precious video recordings were made of one of the last fluent Noongar speakers in the world, Elder Cliff Humphries, sharing ancient Noongar Dreamtime stories interwoven with song. His collection of historic materials formed part of the Bennell v State of WA (2006) case securing native title for the Noongar nation. The collection has remained in restricted access archive in the Battye Library of West Australian History—until now.
Working with the students at the Perth Waldorf School in an unprecedented Noongar reconciliation project, the family of Elder Humphries has begun the process of having these stories beautifully illustrated and published to share with the Noongar and wider community.
The first of these stories, Aalidja Maali Yok Birrla-ngat Kor-iddny (Swan Woman Returns to her River) will be shared with the community at a historic book launch at the Perth Waldorf School next month. It is a rich story filled with spiritual meaning and deep morals. The launch will feature the archival recording, so the community can watch Elder Cliff Humphries tell the story as they read along.
The book itself contains a QR code linking readers to the archival recording, so Noongar language teachers and students can learn the correct pronunciation of the Noongar elements of the story, as well as the correct melody and rhythm of the Noongar songs.
With support from local government and community donors, a thousand copies of the book can now be printed and distributed across Noongar country, Australia and overseas. We hope to see a copy in every school library, and hold a vision of the story and, in time the rest of of Elder Humphries’ collection, being taught in classrooms all across Noongar boodja as part of a revival of Noongar language and literature through our schools.
Below is the book launch invitation, which has been promoted in the local newspaper here: https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2020/11/27/a-dream-come-true/