Killing our totems”: Indigenous children’s multimodal messages of connection to Country

Mills, Kathy A. (2016) Killing our totems”: Indigenous children’s multimodal messages of connection to Country. In AARE Annual Conference, 28 November - 2 December 2016, Melbourne, Vic.


Language and literacy practices are deeply interconnected with the epistemologies and ontologies of cultures (Mills, 2015; Mills et al 2016). Language and how it is used and taught is not value neutral; rather, it is integral to one’s view of knowledge, identity and beliefs (Mills, 2016; Mills & Park, 20015). Yet many white educators are not familiar with the cultural funds of knowledge that Indigenous young people bring to their textual practices. This presentation explores Indigenous children’s multimodal messages of belonging, identity, and ecological connections to Country. It draws on qualitative data from participatory research with an Indigenous Australian school community conducted over three years to develop ways to multimodal and digital literacy that embed vital historically and culturally valued knowledge and beliefs.

This multimodal analysis of micro-documentaries focuses on the Indigenous students’ ecological connections to place, specifically, belonging to Country and beliefs about totem animals (Click link to view example film. The short documentaries were directed, scripted, performed, and filmed by Indigenous primary school students from Years One and Five. The film created by the year one class demonstrates Indigenous historical, cultural, and sacred connections to Moogerah Dam in South East Queensland. In the year five films, students explain how the negligent disposal of ghost nets or discarded fishing nets disrupt Indigenous spiritual connection to sea turtles – totem animals – that are meaninglessly captured and killed. Together, these multimodal movies created by children at school provide a springboard for understanding the epistemologies of Indigenous Australians and the multifaceted entanglement with place, identity, spirit, kinship and the natural world.

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ID Code: 98789
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: multimodal literacy, Indigenous literacy, place, curriculum, pedagogy, Indigenous epistemology, Indigenous worldview, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, connections to Country, belonging to Country, Indigenous land ownership, video making, film making, new literacy practices, multiliteracies, Indigenous totems, multimodal design
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE ESL and TESOL) (130204)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: 2016 Kathy A. Mills
Copyright Statement: Kathy Mills is copyright owner. This symposium and paper abstract is not for reproduction.
Deposited On: 27 Sep 2016 02:23
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2016 16:33

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