Keeping Ancestral Voices Alive
Open daily 10am-5pm
Welcome to Yankunytjatjara Wangka!, the second exhibition in our annual Keeping Ancestral Voices Alive series.
Launched as part of Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, the exhibition showcases original artwork by Coober Pedy-based Yankunytjatjara artist Myra Kumantjara that illustrates the language of her community.
An increasing number of Australia’s Indigenous languages are undergoing revival and maintenance by dedicated communities of speakers and learners across the country. Just under half of the 47 languages of South Australia are undergoing some form of revival or maintenance. Yankunytjajara is one of the stronger languages. While it is spoken across Australia, its traditional homeland is the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjajtara Lands in north-western South Australia and across the border in the wider region surrounding Uluru.
In 2021, the South Australian Museum, the Mobile Language Team (University of Adelaide), and Aboriginal communities from across South Australia came together to develop the Aboriginal Living Languages South Australia Cooperative (ALLSA). This project seeks to unlock South Australian Museum collections to creator communities and to facilitate the creation of new cultural works, including online language learning activities, storytelling, visual art and exhibitions. Crucially, ALLSA aims to increase access to language resources for communities, schools and families and to promote SA’s rich language heritage.
Keeping Ancestral Voices Alive is at the forefront of South Australia’s response to the UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-32. Following the first exhibition in the series Arabana Yanhi! Tanganekald Yan! in October 2022, this latest installment continues to celebrate and share how Aboriginal communities are continuing to maintain, transmit and teach their languages across communities and country.
The exhibition is a partnership between the South Australian Museum, the University of Adelaide’s Mobile Language Team, and Iwantja Artists
Myra Kumantjara is a Yankunytjatjara woman who grew up in Iwantja (Indulkana) Community on the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, and currently works between Coober Pedy, Iwantja and Oodnadatta. As an Aṉangu Education Worker herself, Myra has a strong passion and desire to create resources that help Aṉangu live and work between two languages. Designed as educational flashcards, Myra’s artworks illustrate important pieces of life and Country, including waru (fire), Nyii-nyii (zebra finch), tjiwa munu tjungaṟi (grinding stones) and mangaṯa (quandong).
Image: Myra Kumantjara, courtesy Mobile Language Team