9. EVTV: Television at Ernabella
[Elders watching TV]
Ernabella is a community on the Pitjantjatjara lands that has become a centre for maintaining traditional culture, strengthening the elders’ sacred knowledge and their unique connection to the country.
Ernabella Video Television started as a video project in 1984. Since that time we’ve produced over 80 edited programmes, and we sell those locally, and all over the country, and we’re continually adding to that stock. We have hundreds of hours of traditional dance particularly, and football, all sorts of subject areas in our video library…
The committee was originally formed with Ernabella residents only, to establish the broadcasting hours and policies. They were all older people, and it’s under their direction that we began recording traditional dreaming stories on site.
As the committee said a long time ago, if we watch satellite TV continuously, we will forget Aboriginal things. Then they might not bother with Aboriginal TV programmes. But it’s good…they like Imparja and watch the news, and it’s good they’re seeing it.
It was amusing when we first got Imparja broadcasting, and it was actually a committee member who came racing to me one Monday and said “Why didn’t you broadcast on the weekend. I wanted to watch the football!’, and I pointed out ‘Well, that was actually your committee’s policy…’ And he said ‘Well, that was alright back then when…but now we’ve got the football, we want to watch it!’. So, it was just like that, overnight policy changed according to public demand.
I record women’s secret ceremonies in the bush. We bring back the footage and put it in a separate cupboard. We don’t make copies or edit that footage. It’s for private viewing in the studio only…we can’t make programmes with it.
I’ve been learning video for 7 years now. I will always do this type of work. I’ve been trying very hard and I’m not giving it up.