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40 years ago, 40 years since : the Tent Embassy

posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Bronwyn Fredericks
40 Years Ago, 40 Years Since: The Tent Embassy is written as a creative non-fiction poem which moves from autobiographical to biographical and to the collective voice of ‘we’ within the one piece of work. This work attempts to unite hearts and spirits around 2012’s National Aborigines and Islanders Observance Day Committee (NAIDOC) theme of ‘The Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 Years On’. NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia every July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This work explores how exact historical facts and events can be drawn together and used to inspire creative non-fiction text. It contains documented evidence of real people, events, and time frames covering the last forty years. This work does not simply present the facts and events but uses voice to tell the story and show the story. The use of interchangeable voices offer authoritative overtones in regards to the references to policy, the police and government. While other forms of voice offer lightness in relation to the social elements of people within place. This creative work highlights how a first person voice and a collective voice can be used interchangeably within an all new and repetitive verse. This work was created for both text and performance.This work was researched and developed for 2012’s NAIDOC theme. On 26 January 1972, four Aboriginal men named Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Tony Coorey, and Bertie Williams (Koori History Web Site 2012) planted a beach umbrella and formed the site that became the Aboriginal Embassy also called the Tent Embassy. They travelled from Sydney to Canberra to protest with regards to the government’s ‘Aboriginal policy’, Aboriginal infant mortality being 17 times that of other Australians, and the rejection of Land Rights. These young men started a movement which was joined by many others and which still continues. Today, the Tent Embassy remains a powerful symbol of unity and represents one of the most significant movements for Indigenous land rights in Australia. This work was performed live at the opening of the Capricornia Arts Mob’s (CAM) NAIDOC Exhibition on the 02 July 2012 (CQUniversity 2012). It was attended by over 150 people. The author also recorded this work in a theatrically staged performance as if she was sitting at the Tent Embassy in 1972. The recording was established as an installation in the Walter Reid Gallery, Rockhampton, Queensland (2-10 July 2012). The DVD consists of the author's rendition of the poem at the opening of the Capricornia Arts Mob's NAIDOC Exhibition on 2 July 2012.





Australian Association of Writing Programs

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Copyright of all work published in TEXT remains with the authors. For republication, contact the author direct and acknowledge TEXT.

Peer Reviewed

  • No

Open Access

  • Yes

Cultural Warning

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologize for any distress that may occur.

External Author Affiliations

Chancellery; Learning and Teaching Education Research Centre (LTERC);

Era Eligible

  • No

Creative Works Category

  • Textual work

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