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Festival brings cultures together


Brigid Veale
20 September 2012
A meeting of cultures, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across the region and from overseas, will take place in Bellingen on the weekend of September 29 and 30.

The InterNational Indigenous Peoples’ Village ‘Festival of Indigenous Peoples Knowledge and Learning’ is being hosted by the Gumbaynggirr Nation with the support of Southern Cross University. It will include Stories and Songs of the People, showcasing music, art, dance and storytelling.

Johnnie Aseron, International Indigenous Research Liaison in the Southern Cross Business School, has been working with Indigenous communities from Grafton to Kempsey in a pilot project to identify strategies to boost Indigenous participation in education.

One of the key elements of this project has been the development of a community reference group and events where participants can share ideas around key issues such as education, cultural identity and health.

“The simple mission was to create a space within the festival that engendered and allowed for InterNational Indigenous Peoples participation in collaborative cultural expression, exchange of knowledge and sharing of experiences,” Mr Aseron said.

Uncle Larry Kelly, a member of the reference group, said this event would be the biggest cultural gathering of Indigenous people in this region since the 1930s.

“We will have people from the tribal areas along the eastern seaboard and inland and people coming from overseas. There have been lots of sports gatherings and events highlighting song and dance, but this event is a little bit different.

“This is about closing the gap with European people and sharing our culture. A lot of our young Aboriginal people are also missing out and we want to close that gap through education,” Uncle Larry said.

“We have got an Aboriginal committee and people from all around the community are involved to bring this together.”

The event will include films and documentaries that explore the relationships and cultural expression of Australian Aboriginal and InterNational Indigenous Peoples.

Mr Aseron is a Haudenosenee/Lakota Native American from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. He is also a gifted musician, storyteller and artist and will be among the performers at the Festival.

Among the other highlights will be performances by Kevin KickingWoman, who was raised on the Blackfeet Reservation in the Starr School Community in Montana in the United States. Kevin lives and practices his native ceremonies, traditions, singing and dancing.

Galibal, the Wake Up Time Women’s Weaving Group of Casino, will be demonstrating weaving and providing weaving workshops. The HOW (Hands on Weavers) Group from Wagga Wagga will be presenting the objects they make and sharing the story of the revival of traditional weaving practices in their region.

Melbourne based artist and Gumbaynggirr Woman Emma Donavon will also be performing.

The Festival, which is being run with assistance from the Bellingen Global Carnival organisers, is being held on September 29 and 30 at the Bellingen Showgrounds. An open air cinema will be held on Saturday evening.

For information about the event visit

Photo: Emma Donovan will be one of the performers at the Festival of Indigenous Peoples Knowledge and Learning.