A shared history of conquest

Overview

Australian Aboriginal tribe finds many links to Diné

WINDOW ROCK

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie Bill Nicholson, Damien Nicholson, Dharna Nicholson-Bux, and Mandy Nicholson catch a glimpse of the inside of a Navajo male Hogan in Window Rock last Wednesday.

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Bill Nicholson, Damien Nicholson, Dharna Nicholson-Bux, and Mandy Nicholson catch a glimpse of the inside of a Navajo male Hogan in Window Rock last Wednesday.

“The sun never sets on the British Empire” has a new meaning for two Native cultures from different parts of the world.

The Australian First Nations tribe Wurundjeri (whoo-rund-jeri) lives in the South Eastern state of Victoria. The Wurundjeri’s ancestral land is now home to Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne.

A delegation of Wurundjeri visited the Navajo Nation last week to learn something about Diné history and how the Navajos have managed to preserve their language and culture. When they visited the Navajo Times, reporters also learned a lot about them.

The Wurundjeri aboriginal tribe’s mission (reservation) has a very similar story to that of the Navajo Nation. In the mid-19th Century, the British Empire came to Australia, rounded up the Native people, sent the children to re-education schools (we call them boarding schools) and did their best to wipe clean the culture of the Wurundjeri and other Native Australians.

“To destroy a culture, you have to do two things: Wipe out the language and take the children,” said Bill Nicholson, elder and education manager of the Wurundjeri tribe’s Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council, Inc.

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