Back in August of 2019, Pauline Hanson decided she’d travel
to the NT to climb Uluru, regardless of what Anangu people wanted. In a great
form of irony, Hanson got stuck and had to be rescued, swiftly changing her
mind and agreeing with the Uluru climb closure, albeit for ‘safety reasons’. She
still couldn’t care less about Anangu, or any Indigenous mobs’ culture.
Throughout the week that followed she was the recipient of a bit of backlash in
media and on social media. One of her responses during one of her interviews
following the controversy was “I don’t see the cultural sensitivity; I just
don’t get it”. But the fact is, she doesn’t need to get it. She doesn’t need to
‘see’ the cultural sensitivity, like a Christian doesn’t need to see ‘God’ to
believe in him.
She just needs to accept that it exists.
In My Blood It Runs is a documentary about Dujuan, a
young Aboriginal boy from the Arrernte/Garrwa mobs, living in Alice Springs. Dujuan
is struggling to learn western culture. English isn’t his first language, he
doesn’t feel comfortable at school, he stares from a distance and wonders why
he can’t live on ‘the good side of town’.
While from a western perspective, Dujuan probably seems
illiterate, unruly and even rude. From an Indigenous perspective, he’s actually
quite knowledgeable. For one, Dujuan is a healer, taking pain away from his
Elders and feeling it in himself and making natural bush medicines. He’s
learning his language, which was almost lost, learning more words than even his
father and uncles know.
In My Blood It Runs delves into the differences
between Indigenous culture and western society, especially for youths, laying
it all out on the table in black and white for everyone to see. School, for
example, teaches Dujuan about western society, but very little about his own,
and what he’s taught is often whitewashed, learning his Indigenous culture at
home. It must be confusing and surely mentally exhausting. According to an Educational
Psychologist from Sydney University, data shows that ‘in countries where more
time is spent on homework, students score lower on standardised tests’ and that
‘inundating children with hours of homework each night is detrimental, there is
little benefit for most students until high school’.
Dujuan is learning western society at school, and his
‘homework’ so to speak, after school, is learning Arrernte culture. It’s no
wonder he’s struggling. Western society needs to combine a western Education
intimately with Indigenous culture, if it is to be a widescale success for
In My Blood It runs also explores the relationships
that Dujuan has with his family. His mother and grandmother want him down in
Alice Springs for better access to services, but his father lives up North on
his own country. Dujuan is a good kid, getting up to the same things
non-Indigenous kids get up to, getting around town with his mates, not doing
what he’s told. Realistically, it’s very adolescent behaviour, no matter the
colour or the child’s skin, but with 100%
of incarcerated kids in the Northern Territory being Indigenous (at the
time of filming), any of that behaviour would be very concerning to Dujuans
mother, who just wants the best for her son. Even if it means going to live up
North with his father, to learn his father’s culture.
Dujuan is a joy to see on screen, his wide and innocent grin
and absolute treasure. But the weight of the Arrernte culture, Garrwa culture
and western society are all on this 10-year old boys shoulders, and it could
prove too much to bear.
Maya Newell, who directed Gayby Baby in 2015, has crafted, in collaboration with Carol,
Megan, James and Dujuan, a beautifully shot, important and educational
documentary. It’s as intimate as it is instrumental to giving people a snippet
of understanding into how important Indigenous culture still is to Indigenous
kids. Regardless of whether people like Pauline Hanson can see it or not.
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