Due to my encounter and continuous work with the Shire and specifically Elaine Labuschagne, the Heritage Manager, I was able to meet with two women of the Kuwarra language group and part of Wongatha nation - Geraldine and Luxie Hogarth.
Geraldine Hogarth was given an OBE in 2016 for her long-term work in hearing health and language work within her community. This was a ‘happy accident’ as the Shire had planned to put together an exhibition, highlighting Geraldine’s award. However, due to unforeseen circumstances this had been delayed and not yet happened. So, I suggested that that I could help, which helped me to meet and get to know Geraldine and Luxie, her mother as well as Auntie Gay- another elder from the Laverton community.
I worked with Elaine, Geraldine and Luxie organising hours of interviews (week 3-4) that I transcribed and made a selection from, which supported Geraldine’s explanation around her health work, her family history and information of the area and their community at large. This was edited with Geraldine, Elanie and Geraldine’s old teacher Margee. This was then made into a public display in honour of her work, which she wanted to share with the whole community (declaring without her community she wouldn’t have been able to do the work, so the OBE therefore belong to all, not just her). Geraldine is also adamant that it’s about sharing and inspiring, to bring the past forth to strengthen peoples understanding of difference in cultures, about belonging and education.
My last week in Leonora was occupied with working in the Shire office creating a display with images, and texts (from interviews I conducted). The display opened on the 11th November 2016 at the Shire office. It was a celebration of recognition, not just to her work but also to the wider community. That morning a lot of tears were shed. A relative of Geraldine asked me if I couldn’t come to Menzies where she lived, and work on her family history too. I replied that I would love too, but am returning to Europe in a few days. I also said that I was just a tool in this instance, the work was Geraldine’s and Luxie’s, not mine. And I like that. That I can be a tool, a resource to heighten awareness of something I find incredibly important; the impact of colonialism, hidden or rather histories not brought forth as a cause of colonialism, but also an acknowledgement of other knowledge and how that knowledge has survived outside the mechanism of Western science and academia. How learning can take place and what knowledge actually is, and how this knowledge should be included, not excluded. We see things differently through different cultures. There is an inherent understanding of being in landscape and knowing of that land, learnt over thousands of years throughout different Aboriginal communities. And their knowledge was used a lot by white people arriving, especially finding water and gold, nickel etc. and often high jacked by some ‘explorer’.
It’s a display that can inform tourists, visitors and the community about her work and the research into Aboriginal people’s varying language groups (particularly the Wongatha nation and Kuwarra speakers). It creates an open awareness and insight locally and beyond that highlights and celebrates Aboriginal people’s knowledge, work, and different languages across the area of Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Leonora and Cosmo Newbury. This is work made by Geraldine and Luxie developed and researched with the Goldfields Aboriginal Language Centre. Link here.