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Museum forum asks 'Who You Callin' Urban?'

3 JULY 2007

The National Museum of Australia is celebrating NAIDOC Week with a free public forum exploring Indigenous identity and culture in urban environments. The forum, 'Who You Callin' Urban?' will be held on Friday, July 6.

The program features a range of eminent and engaging speakers including poet Sam Wagan Watson, writer Anita Heiss and writer and theatre director Wesley Enoch.

While more than 70 per cent of Indigenous Australians live in urban areas, to define an Indigenous person as 'urban' can be provocative. The term 'urban' has cultural, political and emotional connotations that sit uncomfortably with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The concept of 'defining' Indigenous people living in urban areas as 'urban' presents challenges due to the many diverse responses to identification; some Indigenous people rebuff the term, some dismiss it and others claim and celebrate it.

In the face of these negative perceptions and challenges, Indigenous Australians living in urban areas, often separated from their traditional lands, have found diverse and innovative ways to assert their identity and remain connected to country and traditions.

The forum is being held in conjunction with 70% Urban, a display exploring the growth of a dynamic urban Indigenous culture across Australia. Featuring work from artists including Ian Abdulla, Lin and Bill Onus, Albert Namatjira and Jack Wherra, the exhibition shows how Indigenous people have drawn on new materials and ideas to assert their identity as a response to increasing urbanisation. The exhibition is on show in the First Australians Gallery, National Museum of Australia until January 31, 2008.

70% Urban provides an opportunity for visitors to gain awareness of the historical context of contemporary issues faced by Indigenous people, particularly those in urban areas. Drawn from the Museum's collection, the display tells stories of Indigenous historical experiences from first contact to present day as Indigenous cultures changed, adapted, and evolved with the urbanisation of Australia.

The free forum 'Who You Callin' Urban?' will be held in the National Museum of Australia's Visions Theatre from 9am-5pm, Friday, July 6.

For further details about the forum and to view the National Museum's full NAIDOC Week program visit www.nma.gov.au

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on
02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au