Students learn indigenous language

CULTURAL PROGRAM: Artworks from the students at Casino West Public School used in the Animals of the Bundjalung Nation publication.
CULTURAL PROGRAM: Artworks from the students at Casino West Public School used in the Animals of the Bundjalung Nation publication.

ANIMALS of the Bundjalung Nation are the subject of a new book featuring artwork by children from Casino West Public School.

The book, devised by the school's cultural liaison officer, Shane Caldwell, was created to preserve and teach Bundjalung language to both indigenous and non-indigenous students.

Chininsa Byers, 10, and Stacey Close, 10, are two of the students whose work appears in the book. Both said they felt proud of their contribution.

The school boasts a strong cultural arts program, which principal Michael Taylor said had built a stronger school community.

“It's for all students,” Mr Taylor said.

“We would like to see it become a permanent part of our curriculum.”

Mr Caldwell said learning about the first occupants of Australia should be compulsory in all schools.

He said the indigenous cultural program run by the school had deepened the student's sense of pride in their culture and strengthened the understanding of non-indigenous students.

“It builds self-esteem,” Mr Caldwell said.

The school's program is for students in years three to six and includes art, drama and dance.

Mr Caldwell, a former dancer, has also assisted the students to form a hip-hop dance group called The Believers.

The 19-member group has performed at schools throughout the region and at NAIDOC Day celebrations in Lismore.

Mr Taylor said the children's response to the dance component of the cultural program had been amazing.

“You should see them, they just get so into it,” Mr Taylor said.

There are now plans to put together a new dance troop focusing on contemporary Aboriginal dance.

Animals of the Bundjalung Nation is a 10-page publication and features the work of Chininsa Byers, Tyson Auld, Tyrone Ruttley, Chelsea Coughran, Stacey Close, Noah Castella, Lincoln Appleton, Joshua McLeod, Zac Smith and Rylee Vidler.

The book was written and edited by Mr Caldwell.

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