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Faith
Faith Baisden
I WAS at the opening of an exhibition last month that was a great example of community based language work hitting the right marks. The Gunggari Language Exhibition -`Munmurra Bar-roo' from the Central western Queensland town of Mitchell, originated from work that first began around twenty years ago. That was when Aboriginal people from the town started to go into the local schools to teach their culture and language to the children.

Mitchell is a town with a past history of segregation and discrimination to match any in Australia. But Gunggari people in the town, including Irene Ryder, who was a major contributor to the exhibition, long ago took up an attitude of quiet but unshakable determination, that her people and their culture weren't going to be overlooked in their own country.

The list of achievements of the Gunggari people is too long for this column, but it's perhaps summed up in the details of the current language exhibition.
 
This project was funded jointly by Mitchell's Booringa Shire Council, and the ATSILI program. It was opened last year at a function at the Mitchell Shire Hall, with the Mayor and Gunggari Elders sharing the official duties.

The crowd included local business people, Council, education, Aboriginal and white community members from around the State as well as a film crew preparing a documentary on the story of the Gunggari people.

The opening I mentioned at the start of the column, however, happened just last month, when the exhibition from the little town of Mitchell went on display at the Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba, the largest regional city in Queensland.

On the day, I met a group of school teachers who were in Mitchell nearly twenty years ago when all this work was just kicking off. They had come along to congratulate Irene and the Gunggari people, and to see where the cultural work is heading.

Something tells me they'll be meeting a lot more regularly if they want to keep track of where things go from here.