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Song Keepers, The (ATOM Study Guide)

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    The Song Keepers tells the extraordinary story of a group of women and men from remote Central Australia who form part of a unique historical legacy.

    When the German missionaries arrived to Central Australia in 1877, they established congregations in local communities and spread their faith not through dominance and subjugation but through a genuine spirit of mutual collaboration and cultural exchange. The Lutheran missionaries understood that oral storytelling played a central role in indigenous culture and therefore decided to translate sacred German hymns into the local indigenous languages.

    This required the methodical, highly laborious task of learning the intricacies and complexities of various indigenous languages, providing the German missionaries with a bank of knowledge any anthropologist would marvel at. Marrying German hymns with indigenous languages fostered a choral movement and love of singing amongst Central Australian indigenous communities in 1877 that continues right up to the present day.

    Despite ebbs and flows in popularity over the years, the choral movement today is known as the Central Australia Aboriginal Women’s Choir and boasts 32 members, which include four generations of women (and a couple of men) with members ranging in age from their 80s to their 20s.

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