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Un Magazine 12.1

Angkentye arle akngerrele

Beth Sometimes and Lorrayne Gorey

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19/22

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Lorrayne Gorey and Amelia Turner hosting the ‘Fifty-Words-Challenge’ at Apmere angkentye-kenhe Photograph by Beth Sometimes

Lowlee
Can we just talk like now and you can record or … ?
Beth
Yeah, yeah, yeah, OK I’m recording now
Lowlee
Ye, kele.
Beth
Ye, ka …
Lowlee
Werte!
Beth
(laughs) Werte! Ayenge Arrernte akweke ware akaltye-irre … ke, no — how do I say it in the past tense?
Lowlee
Ke
Beth
ke, akaltye-irreke, akweke ware, ke unte arrernteke akaltye anthurre!
Lowlee
Nthakenhe unte interreme? Arrernte angkeme?
Beth
Iwehne ‘Interreme’?
Lowlee
interreme = think

Beth
So what was Apmere angkentye-kenhe about?
Lowlee
First of all I was glad that someone come up with the idea and that was you. And Beth: I was really happy myself for … because we don’t have anything like that for Arrernte people, we never did. And I really wanted to know if we can keep Apmere angkentye-kenhe going in the future or … you know, especially … other people has their community centre and their things in …languages from other places, but us in Arrernte country in Alice Springs, there is nothing like that here in Central Australia. You know to teach our kids and show them … culture and things that they can listen, and learn in videos and recordings …
Beth
Ye. You know my idea for Apmere angkentye-kenhe — well it wasn’t called Apmere angkentye-kenhe because you gave it that name first, but before it was called that, before you were around to give it that name, my idea was really about settlers and visitors in Mparntwe, in Alice Springs and what they don’t know about where they are — about angkentye, about language and wondering why people come here and they don’t have to learn. It’s not something they have to do. Only very few people do that.
Lowlee
Ye. Ye. But some people who’s been living in Alice Springs for a really long time — it was good to see them to come and bring their children too. Like to the fifty-word challenge. Good to see them come along to Apmere angkentye-kenhe.
Beth
Ye. It really shifted when we started working together, because y’know you and other people like Amelia, and MK mape were like ‘No, we think this project can also work for our kids!’
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
That was a surprise to me because I thought maybe there’s already other things looking after that work — and there are — a bit, especially Children’s Ground you know, but language work is not really being supported in big ways.
Lowlee
Nobody gets their kids to speak Arrernte properly anymore! You know sometimes when they speak wrong we have to correct them all the time! That’s why we want something to keep the language strong and… alive. I’d like to see Apmere angkentye-kenhe grow and become something big for Alice Springs’ people. You know there’s Arrernte teachers but they just doing it for schools and whitefella mape and all that — there’s no place like you know, just teach your kids in open for no pay and no anything you know just do … you don’t have time at home and there’s place that they can just go and learn, go in there with the family and sit with your kids, show them and teach them.
Lowlee
What made you come up with this idea, kweye?

Beth: Umm … well, because I was thinking a lot about what I learned when learning language with Pitjantjatjara people – it’s an intimate way of knowing, and understanding what’s going on for people, and understanding land, and understanding y’know, what’s moving people, what’s moving in this land and then also it helped me also understand more about colonisation and more about the huge impact I think that white people coming here has had on this land and people and how that still works today, in a kind of … lived way. Not just reading about it but living it with people. And then I thought, Oh, I’ve been living here in Mparntwe in Arrernte country but I don’t speak or understand Arrernte and why can so many people live here on this country and not learn? So I thought, we’ve got lots to learn from each other …

Lowlee
Ye! Not only … I mean Arrernte people learning English — adults, you know, not only kids.

Beth: And also I think … because, you know, I think that the question of who holds the power really in this country ‘Australia’ is something that is always just behind everything that everyone’s saying, about language about culture about land you know — who’s got the power to make decisions about those things and define how things are — and I think it’s easier to talk about language than it is to talk about power — but some of the things that we’re looking at through Apmere angkentye-kenhe are really talking about power. We’re talking about language, some of it really is just about language, but some of it is also about power. They’re hard conversations to have well. So maybe through language we can talk about value and whose knowledge we’re valuing and how does knowledge come … what form does knowledge come to people in?

I was wondering if you could explain a bit more about what you said … you know when we were talking about what ‘decolonisation’ meant and we were talking about how it could be countries that are ‘decolonised’ or it could be minds … and you said like teaching me Arrernte, I was wondering if you could tell me more what you were thinking about that?

Lowlee
Ye. You know like today’s kids they wanna be somebody else — other peoples from other places. Walk like them, talk like them. They dress like them. They wanna be them. Kweye? You know, like my kids the other day, you know, watching TV too much and they’re trying to be like them

Delores Furber, Margaret Scobie, Veronica Turber, Amelia Turner and Margaret Kemarre Turner watching Arrernte cartoons in Apmere angkentye-kenhe. Photograph by Beth Sometimes

Beth
Ah yeah, there’s so much outside
influence. So how do you feel like it’s under Arrernte people’s control to hold on to an Arrernte way of being in the world? That seems to be something the group talk about a lot is like — you have to depend on what outside
people choose to support?
Lowlee
Ye. You know everything is already inside … And we have to hold on to everything all the time, our knowledge and everything. But something else is always trying to, you know, cover it up and make us forget about it … it’s really hard, but we really have to do it … nobody don’t ever go back home and teach their kids, teach them culture language anymore, properly, so that we can use it, nobody can do that — not much.
Beth
Ye — from what I can see, people have to be quite reliant on who will support you to do different things you know?
Lowlee
Ye like Centrelink or …
Beth
Ye or different government programs. Like when the government shut down Irrkelantye and made the kids go to mainstream schools and you didn’t have much power to change that.
Lowlee
Ye we don’t have any power to do anything like what we want — can’t even get our kids out of the school to take them, can’t even have them for a week or so to … teach them …
Beth
Mmm … So I started thinking when we were making Apmere angkentye-kenhe, what do I want? And what do this group of Arrernte people I’m working with — like unte — want? How are those things the same, and how are those things different, you know? My idea was about shifting what whitefellas understand or don’t understand — because that is my, you know, responsibility in some ways, or something I can think about — but for Arrernte people, it’s like for you to think about what it is you want to do or make for your people you know? So when I was listening in our meetings to what you all wanted to do and thinking about what I wanted to do, and I started to think about whether it was possible to think in a way like, ‘what does language, what does angkentye want?’ You know? To think of it … as something that can want or need something … MK talks about angkentye as part of people, and part of land, but … how do you think about that?
Lowlee
Language is from the Land arratye. And the people are from the Land. They’re both come from the Land. Ye. …
Beth
Or you could think, how does language hold you? Angkentye ngwinhe. Arrernte.
Lowlee
Language is like … my identity too … language is like, who you are you know? Really without language you might feel like nobody. Language is everything you know. Language and song. Dance. Words mean more than just words. You know those circles they make? In painting? Like that. A circle inside. Then a bigger one outside, and then another one outside, another one, another one … you know? Language does a lot of things like, with language you can connect to neighbouring countries, the next lands, with language you can understand each other — songs, some story – this language that language, different kind of language, you know all the kids they picked up their own language, you know? The modern language …
Beth
If you were imagining this magazine that we’re writing this thing for … what do you think it would be or mean to put angkentye Arrernte in that magazine? Like how does that sit there?
Lowlee
Yekwe! Who would read it? Who would understand it?
Beth
Ye. I’m wondering about that too.
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
I’m wondering does it do something? Can it do something by being unreadable you know? Can it make somebody think, oh, there’s something there but I don’t understand it you know?
Lowlee
Ye …
Beth
But there’s lots of languages. Not just apmere nhenhele. How do I say ‘lots of languages’?
Lowlee
Atningke. Angkentye atningke. A-t-n-i-n-g-k-e. Or mape. We oughta go camping. No English camp! (laughs).
Beth
Aye! (laughing) Arratye! Good idea … Did you have other questions for me?
Lowlee
What do you think of us getting together, to do this project?
Beth
Well… at first I was really nervous … really shy.
Lowlee
(laughing) Ye!
Beth
… around Arrernte map. ’Cause, you
know … I feel a bit more confident with Pitjantjatjara people ’cause I know that language but then I felt more … shy …

Alison Ferber, Peter Coco Wallace and Lorrayne Gorey recording an audio walk as part of Apmere angkentye-kenhe at Mpweringke/Burt Creek outstation. Photograph by Beth Sometimes

Lowlee
Aiiii!
Beth
And then when everybody started coming to those meetings I felt really humble like, oh my God they trust me somehow!
Lowlee
Ye (laughing)
Beth
And so I thought, okay, I have to work really hard to make all these ideas happen you know?
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
Because I felt really … like a sense of responsibility to that trust.
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
Then we worked really hard, like making that audio tour and … all those meetings … it was a big blur, I was really tired working all the time! But then when we opened up the shed and Arrernte people and non-Arrernte people were saying really great things — then …
Lowlee
Ye mwerre!
Beth
Ye I thought: Mwerre! Also sometimes along the way it was hard. For me you know? Things are hard here in Alice Springs.
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
And collaborating across difference … you know sometimes like, some of you are living in … your lives are hard! Being a white person in this country — well things are easier for me in many ways but also I’m far from my family … I’m thinking about all those things. What about you?
Lowlee
Ye. You know I think that at home, I sit down and write Arrernte myself. Sitting around and thinking I can recognise you know all the things that I’ve learnt … I think to myself, why am I sitting here, what am I gonna do with the things I’ve learnt? Like reading in Arrernte and writing in Arrernte? What am I gonna do? Am I just gonna sit at home?
Beth
Mmm ...
Lowlee
And then thought you know … like when we said we wanted to do everything in Arrernte, I thought to myself ‘Hey everything’s gonna be done in Arrernte here!’ Alright, I may as well just come and I thought to myself, ‘This is somebody doing something you know for Arrernte people, and we can do something together.’ Try writing things and you know, people gotta come and look and see that we can do things like reading language, writing Arrernte ye.
Beth
Kind of like, creating value …
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
… in the broader community, creating value around language I guess – valuing knowledge.
Lowlee
Ye.
Beth
Yeah, I guess that’s kind of what it’s about.
Lowlee
Ye! Kweye? Kele? We finished?

Apmere angkentye-kenhe mpwaretyenhe apmere Mparntwe-nge Arrernte mapeke. Artist mape apurte-irretyenhe tyerrtye Arrernte mapenge angkentye Arrernte rlterrke atnyenetyeke imernemele tyerrtye apmere arrpenhe-arenye mapeke alke. Apmere angkentye-kenhe is a social project made in collaboration by artists and Arrernte people, valuing Central/Eastern Arrernte as the first language of Mparntwe Alice Springs and examining the potential of language exchange to affect relationships with place and power relations locally.

Lorrayne Gorey is an Arrernte mother, grandmother, educator, translator and artist who is passionate about putting language and culture first in teaching Arrernte children. She currently works as one of the core team of Children’s Ground and was a core project advisor and artist on Apmere Angkentye-kenhe in 2017.

Beth Sometimes is a pakeha Mparntwe Alice Springs based artist and translator who works with people in various ways around what language needs and what it can do. She is closely involved with Watch This Space ARI and also makes zines, installations, sound work, occasional performances and pots.