Language is more than words..

Part One of an Interview with Nyunggai Warren Mundine, January 28, 2014

In his Australia Day speech Nyunggai Warren Mundine called for the revival of the concept of a treaty negotiated with all Australian Indigenous peoples.

The following day in this interview published for the first time, he calls for a renaissance and revival of Indigenous language.

In this interview Mundine talks of his own personal journey back to his own language, country and culture and its importance for young people. Prime Minister Abbott has written the revival of Indigenous language and culture into the charter of the Indigenous Advisory Council and Mundine says it is a benchmark that he will use to measure the performance of the council over the next few years. For Mundine reviving language and culture is the key to building self esteem and confidence in young people so that they can go on to further education, training and jobs.

On Australia Day Mundine said: “Sometimes people call for a treaty between Australia and its First Peoples as one amorphous group. I don’t think that could ever work. There are no individuals who speak for Indigenous people as a whole. A treaty would have to be between Australia and the individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribal groups; an agreement between Australia, and each Indigenous group – nation to nation. And of course each could choose whether to sign onto the treaty or not. An Indigenous nation who signed on to a treaty would receive formal recognition as a nation and the traditional owners of a defined area of land and sea. In doing so, their native title would be recognized and concluded. At the same time, each Indigenous nation who signs onto a treaty would formally recognize Australia and its right to exist. An Indigenous nation who signs a treaty must be prepared to draw a line in the history and allow Australia as a whole to move on from a clean slate”.

The Australia Day speech is available at this link:

This interview is divided into two parts. The first is about Mundine’s vision of language and cultural revival. The second part (to be published later today) is about the tough budgetary situation of the Federal government and the problems and opportunities this creates.

The interview is available as a free download for 2 hours from 11pm AEST 30 Jan to working papers subscribers.