Tasmanian Aboriginal language recording added to UNESCO

10th Feb 2017

The only sound recordings of  the last known fluent speaker of any of the original Tasmanian Aboriginal languages have been included as a part of  the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register

The words and songs recorded  between 1899 and 1903 provide a unique insight into Tasmanian Aboriginal society, culture and spiritual life.

The recordings will now sit alongside other significant historical items such as the Mabo case manuscript,  First World War diaries and the 1906 film The Story of the Kelly Gang.

The National Film and Sound Archive Australia's indigenous connections manager Tasha Lamb said the wax cylinder recordings are important to all Aboriginal people as well as  non-indigenous Australians.

NFSA Senior Sound Curator Rod Butler told CAAMA Radio the recordings not only give insight into Aboriginal culture in Tasmania but is also a reminder of the effects of colonisation.

Daisy Allan a language worker at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) who described the recordings as iconic, says the recordings continue to have a profound impact on the Aboriginal people in the state.

The wax recordings continue to play vital role to the TAC's Language Retrieval Program, to develop a composite Tasmanian Aboriginal Language.

Photo - The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia / Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery