Place Names Katanning explored the stories behind Noongar placenames through a Noongar-led community arts project involving large and small scale puppets, visual art works, videos and a recorded narration.
The project began in 2018 with a collaboration with CAN, the Katanning Noongar Leadership Group and Moodjar Consultancy. Len Collard of Moodjar Consultancy worked with Elders and community from the Great Southern towns of Katanning, Tambellup, Gnowangerup and Badgebup to begin the decoding of Noongar placenames.They undertook a process of collating, recollecting and remembering cultural knowledge to put back together the story of Mulka and Djinda. The story starts 26 kms south east of Wiluna and comes all the way down to Katanning. It is a story deeply embedded in boodja and it holds the meaning behind Katanning and surrounding towns, teaching us that these place names are more than words but form part of a greater, significant Noongar story.
Under the guidance of puppeteer Karen Hethey and community artist Natalie Scholtz a collection of puppets were created to facilitate the storytelling and share a version of the story to the public for Harmony Day. As the community prepared and excitement grew towards the event, COVID-19 concerns were escalating and at the last minute, the celebrations were cancelled. In response, a fast-paced shift to a pop-up exhibition in the main street meant Katanning Place Names participants could still feel the power of the project and share it with their community.
“This is probably the most important story of the Noongar Nation and it’s being told so that it can be handed down for our future generations.”
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