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Original culture a key part of history

Date

Sally Pryor Centenary Reporter

Robyn Archer.

Robyn Archer. Photo: Rohan Thomson

When Canberra was named as Australia's capital 100 years ago, the area's Aborigines, who had been here for thousands of years, were notably absent.

But, a century on, the same can't be said of the official program for Canberra's centenary year, which includes a huge array of work from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Launching the Centenary's Indigenous Cultural Program on Tuesday, creative director of the centenary Robyn Archer said it been at the forefront of her thinking as she and her team began planning the year's events.

"When the event of creating a capital for a very new, fresh, young democracy came about, there was little consideration for indigenous people, either at a national level or here in this land," she said.

She said Canberra had been the site of many decisive moments in the struggle for indigenous rights, such as the 1992 Mabo decision in the High Court and the Rudd government's official apology in 2008, but "very few times do people acknowledge Canberra in the same breath as a local indigenous context, and this was an opportunity to change those perceptions".

The nationwide program encompasses more than 60 events and 400 participants from more than 50 locations around the country, and includes dance, theatre, visual art and cultural tours of significant sites around the Canberra region.

The program kicks off with an indigenous showcase at the National Multicultural Festival from February 9-10 in Civic.

Fans at the one-day international at Manuka Oval on Wednesday can swap 20¢ coins for the 2013 Centenary of Canberra 20¢ circulating coin both inside and outside the gates.

More than 9500 coins were swapped at the Prime Minister's XI match last Tuesday.

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