Storytelling is an integral component of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander past and present histories. Specific cultural knowledge communicated through stories uphold Indigenous law, teach values, social responsibilities and land management skills, and keep the community safe from harm. Four-part documentary Shadow Trackers expresses the importance that stories have throughout different Australian Indigenous communities.
Shadow Trackers as a series of short documentaries – in conjunction with this ATOM study guide – introduces the idea that not one but multiple knowledges and histories weave the fabric of our shared Australian identity. Students are encouraged to critically analyse different stories and accounts of Indigenous knowledge outside of a western-centric perception of what is. Stories common to a particular culture but not supported by external western sources are often trivialised and classified as myths, fables or 'cultural heritage'. Shadow Trackers increases awareness of Indigenous peoples' histories and different ways of knowing, and encourages students to celebrate Australian diversity.
Shadow Trackers Zac James and Hunter Page-Lochard, two successful young Indigenous actors, embark on a journey interviewing local storytellers and expert elders in an attempt to discover the truth behind the scary stories that petrify us, guide us and teach us life's lessons. Students are introduced to traditional spirits and legends as the Shadow Trackers crisscross the continent, illuminating Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spiritual history and strong cultural knowledge.
Zac and Hunter track ominous creatures and entities such as The Il-Bogan, a bunyip like creature that moves through underground tunnels in the lands of the Mununjali clan, and Ngarrindjeri being the Muldjewangk, a water-creature lurking in the Murray River threatening to snatch young people loitering by the waters edge. They then venture down the Devil Highway, a treacherous passage that taunts the Bunuba people, and finally learn about the Poinciana Woman, Darwin's infamous urban legend who seeks revenge for her pain and suffering in the lands of the Larrakia Nation.
Shadow Trackers is relevant to Year 7–8 studies of English, Geography, and Civics and Citizenship. It is also an excellent resource for addressing the Cross-Curriculum Priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, as well as the following General Capabilities:
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Intercultural Understanding
- Personal and Social Capability
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