A historical event 175 years in the making took part in Whyalla on Friday, July 19.
This event came in the form of a visit by the director of the Leipzig Lutheran Mission, Reverend Volker Dally, to the Barngarla people of Whyalla.
The significant day was also marked by a number of other special guests including University of Adelaide agriculture scholar Doctor Tony Rathjen, who was instrumental in helping Reverend Dally come to Australia.
University of Adelaide retired scholar of German language and culture and one of the most active volunteers of the Lutheran Church archives of Australia, Doctor Lois Zweck, was also a key addition to the day.
Also attending was University of Adelaide's Gerhard Ruediger, who works extensively with the Kaurna reclamation program.
Other guests also included University of Adelaide postdoctoral fellow Doctor Yao Chunlin and PhD student Jasmin Morley.
Reverend Dally's Leipzig Mission is the successor of the Dresden Lutheran Mission, and was responsible for the first known recordings of the Barngarla language dating back to 1844.
During that time there were four Lutheran Missionaries in South Australia; Clamor Wilhelm Schaermann, Christian Gottlob Teichelmann, Samuel Klose and Eduard Meyer.
These missionaries travelled all throughout the Eyre Peninsula region stopping in Port Lincoln, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Piningi and other areas.
Reverend Dally addressed a gathering of Whyalla Barngarla people at the Gabmididi Manoo (Barngarla for 'Learning Together') Children and Family Centre on the corner of Hincks Avenue and Clutterbuck Street.
The day was jointly organised by key representatives of the Barngarla people including community development coordinator Anita Taylor and University of Adelaide Linguistics and Endangered Languages chair professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann.
Prior to reverend Dally's visit, Professor Zuckermann held a Barngarla language reclamation workshop with a group of Barngarla people from Whyalla and Adelaide.
Reverend Dally expressed his overwhelming happiness at being able to finally meet descendants of those who had lived and worked closely with past members of his own bretheren.
Reverend Dally told the story of the missionaries that visited Barngarla land over 177 years ago, from the point of view of those that have since lost a link with this piece of history.
"When I came into office in 2011, we had our 175 anniversary and I was just in office for two weeks when a group of Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri people told me about this story," reverend Dally said.
"I had found something in the files at the Leipzig mission and was told that as the new director it was my responsibility to look into this.
"But if I look into the official history, you will only find a very short passage that says that these four missionaries came to Australia and after ten years they closed the mission because it was not a successful."
Reverend Dally explained that the mission was looked upon as unsuccessful at the time for reasons that were not apparent all these years later.
The four missionaries were also the only four to be sent forth that did not have a permanent place on the wall of Lutheran missionaries back home in Leipzig.
There were only four blank spots where their pictures ought to be. Continued page 7