Didgeridon’t

Girls’ empowerment hits a cultural snag down under, when The Daring Book for Girls offers instructions for playing a traditional aboridginal instrument that run counter to … aboridginal tradition. Once you get into the role (like, I suppose, my own) of gathering interesting and appreciative bits from other cultures, you’re going to eventually wind up offending those you’re trying to celebrate—and finding out that sometimes they offend you a bit too.

Rose said the didgeridoo, an integral part of many Aboriginal rituals, was “definitely a men’s business ceremonial tool”. The book, originally published in the US, sent out the message that Aboriginal culture was tokenistic, he said. His comments were echoed by indigenous author and chair of the Australian Society of Authors Anita Heiss who said the book’s writers would not have included the offending chapter if “they actually spoke to an indigenous person”.

“It’s cultural ignorance and it’s a slap in the face to indigenous people and to indigenous writers who are actually writing in the field,” she said.

The Australian edition replaces much of the original US content with material such as the rules for netball and a guide to surfing.

The didgeridoo chapter reads: “Playing a didgeridoo appears deceptively simple, until you’ve got a ‘didge’ on your lips and no sound comes out. But a few easy instructions and you’ll be playing like a seasoned pro”.


Originally published at culture-making.com.

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