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New exhibition challenges South Australia’s history books - Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka (Truth-Telling Together)

Thursday 5 December 2019

South Australia’s founding document will be on public view at Glenelg’s Bay Discovery Centre as part of a new, permanent exhibition which challenges the taught history of our state.

The rarely-seen Letters Patent, which dates back to 1836, will be on public display for the opening day of the exhibition on Monday 9 December before it is returned to the State Records of South Australia vault.

This invaluable piece of South Australia’s history is a key element of the new exhibition at Glenelg’s Bay Discovery Centre titled Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka which translates to Truth-Telling Together.

Curated by the City of Holdfast Bay and elders from the Kaurna Nation, the exhibition tells the true history of South Australia, opening an honest discussion about South Australia’s colonisation. It examines the words of the Letters Patent, which include recognition of “Aboriginal Natives” to occupy and live within the lands of the Province of South Australia.

“This is about getting the broader community to understand the Letters Patent exist in the first place. It’s about education and learning the true history of their state. Hopefully from there we can begin to move forward,” said Kaurna Elder Merle Simpson.

“Whether people’s feelings about South Australia’s true history are positive or negative, it still needs to be discussed.”

The exhibition has been designed to showcase both European and Kaurna perspectives of historical events in South Australia, running parallel and alongside each other.

However the exhibition’s description challenges the widely-accepted view of South Australia’s settlement. It also comes with a warning that some of the content within the exhibition may be considered confrontational and includes words to describe Aboriginal people that are today considered inappropriate.

“History shows that we must understand the truths of the past to avoid repeating the wrongs of the past,” the exhibition’s description says.

“In 1836 in South Australia, land was appropriated by the British without treaty or compensation. This was despite clear instruction from the British Monarch that the Aboriginal population were to be recognised under the rule of law.

“Aboriginal Australians have long called for an inclusive process of truth-telling about this history.

“Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka explores these truths. Truths that must be shared to be understood.”

Senior Kaurna Elder Lynette Crocker added: “This has been about giving a platform to Aboriginal people to explore the stories of the past but also their aspirations for the future.”

As part of the exhibition, viewers are asked to consider the following questions:

• Have you ever wondered why Aboriginal Australians can’t ‘just get over it’?

• Can there be more than one truth?

City of Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson said she was proud of the effort and collaboration between council and representatives from the Kaurna Nation to bring this exhibition to life.

“Council works alongside the Kaurna Nation Cultural Heritage Association to provide a range of projects across Holdfast Bay that promote Kaurna culture,” Mayor Wilson said.

“This exhibition challenges what South Australians think we know about our history.

“Truth-telling about past injustices have long been used as a starting point for coming to terms with a period of conflict, upheaval or injustice. This exhibition also encourages all sides to forge ahead in a reconciled and peaceful way.”

Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka (Truth-Telling Together) is open to the public from Monday 9 December at the Bay Discovery Centre, Moseley Square, Glenelg.

Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka (Truth-Telling Together)

Bay Discovery Centre, Moseley Square, Glenelg

From Monday 9 December 2019

10am to 4pm daily

Gold coin donation