Aug 30, 2017

What’s in a name? The fundamental politics of restoring indigenous names for country

Knowing the indigenous names for the land we occupy is not about learning history, it is a step towards rehabilitating our national character, writes Chips Mackinolty.

NT Labor government promises

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner

On August 9, 1974, eight years almost to the day after the famous Wave Hill Walk Off, a group of largely Mangarrayi speaking families walked off Elsey Station. Yes, the place of the colonialist pastoral fantasy of We of the Never Never.*

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6 thoughts on “What’s in a name? The fundamental politics of restoring indigenous names for country

  1. mike westerman

    While we’re at it we could stop calling overseas places by other than their local name! Éire, Venecia, Milano, Roma, Krungtep, Singapura, Makassar!

    1. Woopwoop

      OK, we call China Zhongguo.
      What do we then call Chinese, Zhongguoren?
      Incidentally, I would support all the names in the article, except for Darwin. Darwin is a modern city, not a stretch of country. It had no existence before the Balanders came.

    2. AR

      Nation Review tried that in the 70s – it might not be the reason it collapsed but struggling with Zhongguo was a tongue trip too far for even the Left before lattes were invented.
      How about Munchen, and what to do about Aix-la-Chappell/Aachen?
      Do you really wanna be the poseur who sez ‘Paree”.

  2. jmendelssohn

    Language is powerful. Calling places by their right names (including Roma, Milano etc) is a sign of respect. In Australia people are more likely to understand the deep spiritual values of Uluru than that the locals don’t want them to climb Ayers Rock.

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      Yep. Learn the names. Learn the story. What would you rather? 65,000 years of history, or 200?

  3. PaulaM

    Thank you, from an 83 year-old white Australian woman. For years, I’ve hated that Australian places have been named for English and, particularly, American places. Native names might be hard to spell and pronounce, but how much more interesting and unlike any other English speaking country.

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