The first Barngarla delegation to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Canberra, was held on February 11 to 15, 2013.
The four Whyalla Barngarla delegates were Jeanita and Dawn Taylor, Dawneen Saunders and Malika Carter.
These delegates were joined by three Barngarla delegates from Port Augusta and four from Port Lincoln.
With national Sorry Day approaching on Sunday, May 26, the delegates recalled the importance of the trip.
The purpose of the trip was to empower the Barngarla language reclamation and to mark the fifth anniversary of Sorry Day.
Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann arranged the trip in order to give the Barngarla delegates a unique experience and a chance to see how government is implementing policy to benefit indigenous groups
AIATSIS funded most of the excursion in order to have the Barngarla people as guests for a week long stay in February.
For most, the trip was the first time they were able to see Australia’s capital city and the good work being done by AIATSIS.
As part of the trip, AIATSIS uncovered archival material of Barngarla people from the area dating back to more than 50 years ago including photos, and even a recording of a Barngarla man speaking the Barngarla tongue.
“I wanted to introduce them to other Aboriginal communities who have been empowered linguistically by the revival of their language,” Professor Zuckermann said.
Stan Grant, Ray Kelly and Jaky Troy were just some of the Aboriginal people that the Barngarla delegation was privy to meeting.
Others were Aboriginal peoples from Canberra, rural New South Wales and the Snowy Mountain areas.
Professor Zuckermann also introduced the Barngarla delegates to linguists having some connection to the Eyre Peninsula.
One such linguist was Doctor Luise Hercus, who recorded Mooni Davis saying Barngarla words in 1960.
Zuckermann brought a CD of this recording to the Hincks Avenue and Clutterbuck Street, Gabmididi Manoo (Barngarla for ‘Learning Together’) Children and Family Centre.
“It’s a low-quality recording, but you can hear Barngarla,” Professor Zuckermann said.
Professor Zuckermann’s idea for the trip was to reconnect the Barngarla people with their language, and to connect them to linguistically-active Aboriginal people
“It was good that the fifth anniversary of the Sorry Speech by Kevin Rudd was being celebrated,” Professor Zuckermann said.
“It was a very emotional trip, in which the Barngarla members were a united people in public, coming together from Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln.”
Professor Zuckermann recalled Jeanita Taylor was very keen to take a photo with Kevin Rudd.
Noticing this, Mr Rudd walked right up to her and took a special photo with her exclusively, rewarding the young lady for her tenacity.
In his own words saying ‘let’s take a selfie together’.