Ngintaka Songline tracks in the museum

Ngintaka Songline tracks in the museum Book Section

Museums and the Working Class

  • Author(s): James, Diana
  • Secondary Author(s): Chynoweth, A
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • ISBN: 9781003029519

Abstract: In March 2014, a large group of Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara traditional owners gathered outside the South Australian Museum in Adelaide to protest the proposed closure of the Ngintaka Exhibition. Bad press generated by one powerful dissenting Aboriginal elder threatened to close the exhibition before it opened. However, busloads of traditional owners had travelled thousands of kilometres to open their exhibition; they would not be moved! The ancient parable of the Ngintaka Songline conflict over a special grindstone was dramatically re-enacted in the fight over the exhibition. The powerful Murdoch press chose to exclusively support the dissenting elder whose fame and influence in white circles of power was much greater than the elders from the bush. Issues of power, privilege and class were lost behind a desert storm of false charges. The voices of the senior traditional owners of the exhibition were drowned in the press beat-up of the Storm in the Desert. Stoically, the senior law men and women stood outside the Museum until their voice was heard. Remote Aboriginal people are the working poor in Australia today; they are more often spoken for by others than listened to directly. Museums need to be more aware of disempowered disenfranchised voices in our multi-culturally diverse society and not just listen to the loud voices supported by power and privilege.

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Suggested Citation
James, Diana, 2021, Ngintaka Songline tracks in the museum, Book Section, viewed 30 November 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=26839.

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