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Kowanyama celebrates with arts festival

Kowanyama’s inaugural arts and cultural festival Ngethn o’ means “we are here” in the Yir Yoront language of the Mitchell River delta lands in remote West Cape York.

Running from 1 to 6 July, Ngethn o' includes film nights, contemporary art and traditional craft exhibitions, workshops, ceremony and dance.

Historical and cultural objects, including images representing first contact in the region – featuring early explorers, sandalwood cutters, settler pastoralists and Native Police – will be exhibited during the festival. 

These items come from a collection of over 12,000 objects which has received $10,000 from Arts Queensland to undertake a needs analysis towards its conservation, care and storage. 

A highlight of the festival is a traditional opening ceremony for the Mitchell River Wommera (Woomera) Collection, acquired by Kowanyama from the 1880s Atherton Family Collection.

Young people in the community are participating in cultural activities and helping create a digital media presence for the festival.

Ngethn o' is part of a broader Kowanyama Cultural Program that began in 2002 to maintain the heritage of ancestors and their children, and to plan and develop a future culture and research centre. 

Ngethn o’ has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the Arts Queensland Backing Indigenous Arts initiative.

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