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Then and now

Key inquiry question #1: 
How have relationships and understandings between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians changed since the 1970 Day of Mourning?

Student activities

Task no. 1

Fifty years of change

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) was a member of the stolen generation. She was an Indigenous rights activist and poet who spoke at the 1970 protests. Look at her photograph in the exhibition, Eight Days in Kamay, here (hers is the first image in the carousel.) Click on the image, and zoom in to read the placard she wears around her neck.

In the online exhibition there is a video of a news segment that appeared on This Day Tonight, on ABC television in 1970. Oodgeroo Noonuccal is one of the activists featured in this segment. Watch it here. Pay attention to both the voiceover and the questions asked by the interviewer. Think about the word choices made by these figures in the interview, and the sorts of attitudes or perspectives these might reveal.  

Answer the following questions: 

  • What do the language choices made in the 1970 interview of Oodgeroo Noonuccal reveal about contemporary attitudes to Indigenous protests over the 200-year anniversary celebrations of the Endeavour’s landing? Justify your answers with examples.  
  • How do the language choices made for the online exhibition, Eight Days in Kamay, compare? Provide examples. 
  • What might this shift in language say about changes to relationships and understandings between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the 50 years since the 1970 protests?  

Task no. 2

Interviewing Noonuccal

Oodgeroo Noonuccal died in 1990.  

Research her life. A good place to start is her entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, here, or her biography by the Queensland University of Technology, here

Imagine Oodgeroo Noonuccal was still alive for the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing, in 2020. You are a journalist who will be given the opportunity to interview this leading activist, poet, environmentalist and educator. If you were only allowed to ask her three questions, write down what you would ask. Then, change roles. Imagine you are Oodgeroo, and, using the knowledge about her life and personality gleaned from your research, write the answers you believe she might have given to the questions posed.