A special 50 cent coin was launched by the Royal Australian Mint in Adelaide on Tuesday, featuring a design that incorporates 14 translations for ‘coin’ from some of the diverse First Nations languages in Australia.
The coin was developed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to commemorate 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Kaurna man, Jack Buckskin, has been instrumental in revitalising the Kaurna dialect and helped source the word “Pirrki”, which appears on the coin.
Mr Buckskin told NITV News that the initiative was important because “language is a gateway to culture”.
“You get a better understand of what your environment is, the knowledges that go with our language and the magic that goes with understanding how we see the world,” Mr Buckskin said.
“You can’t really have that spiritual connection in English, because our ancestors didn’t speak English, so the best way for us to connect ourselves with the spiritual world is through language,” he said.
“This is going to be a national coin, but it’s a representation of some of our languages and it shows the diversity of our people as well,” he said.
Mr Buckskin said the Kaurna people use the same words as the Wirangu people from the Far West Coast of South Australia, such as “Barnda”, which means “limestone” or “rock”.
Chief Executive of the Royal Australian Mint, Ross MacDiarmid said the “coins are a celebration of Australia’s unique and diverse Indigenous languages,” and he hoped they would serve as a reminder of just how important it is to “preserve, protect and revitalise Indigenous languages in Australia.”