Secret language: Rules for the Native Institution, 1819

in ‘Rules & regulations for the management of the Aborigines, or, Black Native Institution of New South Wales, established at Parramatta, on the 18th of January, 1815’
Cultural Narrative: 

There were no official government decrees prohibiting Aboriginal people from speaking language, but there were often harsh repercussions. People had rations withheld, were beaten, and had their children taken from them as punishment for speaking language.


In gathering stories for this exhibition we heard of people talking language to themselves in locked rooms. We heard of siblings travelling long distances so that they could chat with one another. And people remember their grandparents staring up at the stars and speaking in language.


It is through the resourcefulness, bravery and resilience of our Elders that younger generations have the opportunity to make our living languages spoken and heard again.