A shared connectedness and understanding between Indigenous peoples of the world underpins the University of Tasmania Indigenous Cultural Exchange Program, now in its fifth year.
The Cultural Exchange was jointly founded by University of Tasmania Pro-Vice Chancellor (Aboriginal Research and Leadership) Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter in partnership with Dr Chad Hamill at the Office of Native American Initiative, Northern Arizona University.
This year’s delegates include First Nation Canadian and communications student Kailee Duncan, a first-time visitor to lutruwita/Tasmania.
Kailee has spent the last couple of days sharing life stories, histories and traditional foods with Aboriginal University of Tasmania students, Riawunna Centre staff and Tasmanian Aboriginal elders. She already feels inspired, empowered and connected to Tasmania.
“I’m at the beginning of my journey about learning my culture and my language so I’ve been loving hearing other people speak their languages – it’s making me want to dive in and share who I am,” she said.
“When Indigenous people come together it ignites a fire and everyone gets inspired. It’s just so nice to be with a group of Indigenous people who have the same values… for the earth and for the people.”
Kailee is among 13 Native American and First Nation students and staff who are participating in this year’s Indigenous Cultural Exchange program. The exchange happens every six months in the host country’s winter.
In February this year, University of Tasmania music student Jalen Sutcliffe experienced similarities of worldviews and cultural traditions when he and other Tasmanian delegates spent time with Native American peoples in Arizona.
“To meet other indigenous people from around the world was amazing. Their history is very similar, so I could definitely connect with them,” Jalen said.
Today and tomorrow, delegates and hosts are spending time with the Aboriginal Elder’s Council in Launceston, where they will continue sharing stories, cultural traditions and life experiences.
Accompanying the students is Native American scholar and musician Dr Chad Hamill (pictured), who is presenting this year’s Japanangka errol West Lecture, which celebrates indigenous perspectives and the life and work of Aboriginal scholar Japanangka errol West.
A crowd of 100 experienced Dr Hamill’s powerful songs on Tuesday in Hobart, introduced by Vice Chancellor Professor Rufus Black. A second free performance will be hosted at the Newnham campus this evening, 25 July at 6pm.