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Aboriginal Australian Music and Storytelling Come to MLS Libraries

In the late eighteenth century, there existed between 350 and 750 different languages and dialects among the Aborigines, the earliest indigenes peoples of Australia and Tasmania.  Today, only 200 of those languages are still spoken, and all but 20 are likely to die out soon.

The Wardaman language, spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia is one of those on the endangered list.

Hear a native speaker of Wardaman perform music and tell stories of his culture at a series of programs coming to selected Metropolitan Library System locations in October.  “Aboriginal Australia – Stories, Music & Images” promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for people of all ages.

“Yidumduma Bill Harney,” said Dana Morrow, MLS Director of Outreach Services, “is an Elder and Senior Custodian of the Wardaman people and Australian storyteller.  He and musician Paul Taylor will tour together performing and teaching the cultural richness of Aboriginal Australia.

“Their multi-media performances feature stories, music and images from the Wardaman people.”

Yidumduma Bill Harney of the Wardaman people was born on Willeroo Station circa 1936. He is a famous painter, storyteller, and maker of didjeridu. His mother raised Bill during an era of Australian history when Aborigines faced genocidal and ethnocidal policies imposed on them by government and private citizenry. As a child Bill Harney witnessed incidents of cattle station owners poisoning Aborigines and welfare officers forcibly removing Aboriginal children of mixed-heritage from their parents. His sister, Dulcie, was one of these "Stolen Children".

 “Audiences will have a rare opportunity to learn authentic Aboriginal folk stories and hear the music from one of the last living Elders of the Aboriginal people,” Morrow added. “It is Yidumduma’s desire that as many as possible hear about his people.”

“Aboriginal Australia – Stories, Music & Images” will be presented seven times between October 5 and October 10.

Sunday, October 5, at the Downtown Library, from 2:00 to 3:00pm

Monday, October 6, at the Belle Isle Library, from 7:00 to 8:00pm

Tuesday, October 7, at the Bethany Library, from 6:30 to 7:30pm

Wednesday, October 8, at The Village Library, from 10:30 to 11:30am

Wednesday, October 8, at the Del City Library, from 6:30 to 7:30pm

Thursday, October 9, at the Edmond Library, from 7:00 to 8:00pm

Friday, October 10, at the Warr Acres Library, from 4:00 to 5:00pm

For more information about this and other library programs, visit the MLS website at www.metrolibrary.org.  The program is suitable for all ages and free of charge, but seating is limited.

Co-sponsors are Friends of the Metropolitan Library, Oklahoma Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts.

The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 12 libraries and five extension libraries.  Libraries include Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres.  Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City.  You can also reach us at www.metrolibrary.org