Indigenous clam story snares prize


Students and staff at Shepherdson College create a digital resource as part of the Living Archive Digital Story Competition

Students and staff at Shepherdson College create a digital resource as part of the Living Archive Digital Story Competition

The next generation of Indigenous storytellers has reinvigorated stories in traditional languages using the latest in technology and taken home a cash prize for their depiction of a story about three clams named Ḏiŋ’, Ḏaŋ’, and Ḏoŋ’.

The “Living Archive Digital Story Competition” was run though the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University’s “Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages” project, which has built a digital archive of endangered literature with the language-owning communities.

Project manager CDU linguist Cathy Bow said the competition had encouraged people to engage with the archive to create digital resources based on books in the archive.

“Many people who look at our archive enjoy seeing the stories, and often ask if they can listen to the stories,” Ms Bow said. “While there are some audio files, we don’t have the capacity to record or digitise audio and video files so we’re always looking for ways to add multimedia recordings.”

Ms Bow said individuals, schools and organisations were invited to use their creativity to create an entry using any combination of text, image and audio based on a book or text already in the archive, with the permission of people who “own” the story. 

“There were so many creative entries, when the judges’ scores were added up, we found that we had a tie for first place,” she said. “And surprisingly, both entries were for the same story – a delightful tale of three clams, called ‘Ḏiŋ’ Ḏaŋ’ ga Ḏoŋ’.”

Both from the remote Indigenous community of Galiwinku, the Families as First Teachers (FaFT) Playgroup and Ellemor 8 class at Shepherdson College will share the $1000 prize pool for their multimedia entries.

The FaFT Playgroup used craft to create an underwater world including jellyfish, fish, octopus and seaweed, using paper plates for the dhalimbu (clams). They then filmed the story using iphonesParents also wrote a song and created an animation.

To create their digital story, Ellemor 8 at Shepherdson College created puppets for a play, building a set and props, and learning their lines to tell the story. They performed the play at an assembly to share the story with the other classes and filmed the performance to share online. They also created an animated film using Flash software.

The “Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages” is funded by the Australian Research Council and contains more than 2500 books in over 40 Indigenous languages from 30 communities, and includes traditional stories, language instruction, histories, songs, experience stories, ethno-scientific texts and others. 

To view the winning entries visit W:

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