Students at an Islamic school in Melbourne are currently working on a special art project for NAIDOC Week next week. They’re creating a mosaic that tells the story of the shared history between Aboriginal and Muslim people in Australia. Take a look.
These kids are using art to learn about a pretty interesting chapter in Aussie history.
The relationship between Muslim and Indigenous Australians. A bond that actually goes back hundreds of years.
STUDENT 1: In our community we have a lot of mosaic artists. Mosaic is a way to bring people together and connect us and the cultural diversity.
It’s like an Aboriginal painting as well, there’s a story in it. Back in the 1800s, European settlers wanted to explore the interior of Australia but they soon realised their horses wouldn’t quite cut it. So, they turned to the experts of desert exploration, camels. They had to be shipped in from places like Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, along with some expert riders. Those riders became known as the Afghans.
Through their travels they came into contact with Aboriginal people and it sparked a big exchange of skills, knowledge and goods. The Aboriginal people helped the Afghans get a better understanding the Aussie landscape and some even got jobs as guides to help the cameleers get by.
Over the years, Muslim cameleers lived side-by-side with Aboriginal people. The cameleers traded sugar, tea, clothing and metal tools with them. Many became friends and some even got married. Today, there are more than a thousand Indigenous Australian Muslims living around the country.
As for the cameleers, they were eventually phased out in the 1930s as this new invention made desert travel a lot easier. Meanwhile the unemployed camels headed back into the desert to start their new careers as wild animals.
The story of the cameleers is something these guys found out about during a visit to the Islamic Museum of Australia. It meant a lot to them so they decided to share it with others through their mosaic.
STUDENT 1: My favourite part is the cameleers simply because during one of the expeditions the horses couldn’t make it but the camels made it out.
STUDENT 2: It’s got to be Uluru, it’s got to be Uluru – it just looks cool.
But most of all, they say it’s a celebration of the diversity that makes Australia great.
STUDENT 2: The root of Australia is obviously Indigenous Australia so when you’ve got modern Australia which is obviously all this multiculturalism combined with the root of Australia it is like a good representation of what Australia really is today.