Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Northern Territory commits to changing racist place names

ABC news

by Stephanie Zillman

The Northern Territory has declared it will follow Queensland's lead and rename a number of landmarks with racist names.

The NT place names register reveals one entry for a N***** Creek, and eight entries for places with the term 'blackgin'.
Adjunct research fellow in history at the University of Queensland Jonathan Richards said he was surprised but delighted at the renaming push.
"Names like n***** and gin, as well as all the 'murdering creeks' and 'skull holes', they're really offensive and I don't think most Australians would enjoy being talked about in those ways," Dr Richards said.
Dr Richards said the case for changing the names was "simple and straightforward".
"I really don't buy this argument that we've got to keep [them because of] our history," he said.
"I think certainly there are statues and place names that it's fine to keep, but I think people really need to stop and think, 'How would they feel?'
"You wouldn't for a minute have a statue of an enemy, yet Aboriginal people are constantly being told to get over it."
Dr Richards said he believed Australians in general had a problem with facing up to colonial history.
"At this stage, people are terrified that they're going to lose their backyard, when of course the reality is nothing like it — Aboriginal people have no such ambition," he said.
"So that's still the biggest problem that we face — getting Australians to actually accept the truth of our own nation's history."

Aboriginal place names could replace current descriptions

The best known example of a place name successfully changed to its Indigenous designation is Uluru, previously known by its colonial name Ayers Rock.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has publicly committed to more historical signage that includes both frontier history and original Aboriginal language place names.
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He told the ABC he made it clear to the place names committee that there were a number of sites that needed their names changed.
"The body of work we've asked the place names committee will look at that, and I think there are some obvious ones that will be fixed up," Mr Gunner said.
"But I think it's really important to take a deep breath, work through all these things in a way that provides proper meaning and recognition of those languages that were here long before [white people]."
Mr Gunner said he believed many of the social issues confronting the NT in part stemmed from a continued lack of inclusion of Aboriginal culture in mainstream society.
"It's very clear to me that we don't have a proper inclusion of the first people in our very basic culture. And I want to work on that," he said.
He said that was likely to involve using Aboriginal names for places alongside their well-known counterparts, and did not rule out changing some places back to their original names.
"So that might happen. It's very much part of what could be considered," he said.

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