Serena Kirby, Denmark Bulletin
A school holiday program involving Indigenous games of mock warfare and dispute settling was hosted at the Denmark Recreation Centre. Jayden Caldwell, a Noongar man from Perth, organised the Institute of Indigenous Wellbeing and Sport-run games.
He was well practised in blending learning with physical activity having worked for the Institute for six years.
A group of 20 local and visiting children learned about the traditional Aboriginal games and played modified versions using softballs. Borna Jokee was one game that is similar to dodgeball.
A Noongar-based game, it was traditionally played with blunted spears thrown at human targets and was designed to teach young Aboriginal children how to dodge spears if threatened when crossing lands of other tribes.
For the Aboriginal children who would throw the spears, it was a chance to practise agility with spears and hunting skills.
Another game Jayden instructed the children on was Chiba, a mock-warfare game used to settle arguments. Traditionally played using a spear and boomerang, the game originated in North Queensland.
“We use every opportunity to integrate Noongar language words into each activity, especially the names of familiar Australian animals,” Jayden said.
“Kids don’t know they’re learning about language and culture while playing highly active games.”
Recreation centre service coordinator Karis Aplin was pleased the Institute had agreed to bring their one-day holiday program to Denmark.
Due to the good response, Karis hoped the Institute would return next summer holidays.
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This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 26 January 2023.