The process of renaming of a creek with a currently racist name to one of Dja Dja Wurrung language has taken a step forward.
Members of central Victoria's Hepburn Shire community and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, or Djaara, have long campaigned for Jim Crow Creek to be renamed.
In removing the current derogative and offensive name, the renaming of the creek is being proposed in recognition of Aboriginal heritage and to reinstate Dja Dja Wurrung language in the landscape.
Last year, Djaara chief executive Rodney Carter told The Courier it had put forward Larni Barramal Yaluk - 'meaning home or habitat of the Emu Creek' - to be considered as the creek's new name.
The crater at Mount Franklin, or Lalgambook, was called so as it resembles an emu nest. Therefore the country surrounding it was referred to as Larni Barramal as the springs and swamps there provided water to emus, as did the creek.
Mr Carter said the step forward in the proposed renaming was really positive as it meant putting language and therefore people back into the landscape.
"Naming places in our language opens up conversations so when people say that word, it is talking to Country," he said.
"You create a degree of fondness and care of a place."
The term 'Jim Crow' is rooted in racism and racial segregation. It is believed to have come about around 1828 when a white actor from the United States, Thomas Dartmouth, developed a popular blackface minstrel character named Jim Crow. Dartmouth, known as 'Daddy Rice' became a hit on the world stage with his performance of a song and dance routine portraying an enslaved and stereotyped African American.
From there, the term Jim Crow became a racist term referring to 'black people' across the world - later being applied to the 'Jim Crow Laws' in the United States from 1877.
Local historical sources indicate the name was likely first applied to the Mount Franklin/ Lalgambook area by Captain John Hepburn in the 1830s.
The term was widely used across the region to refer to the mountain, the Aboriginal Protectorate at Franklinford, the creek, the goldfields, the district and individual Aboriginal people themselves.
Racially offensive names have been removed from other places, including Mount Jim Crow in Queensland being legally restored to the Darumbal name of Baga in 2018.
Though the issue has been contentious in Hepburn, with many wanting to retain the Jim Crow name.
Hepburn Shire Council has been working with nearby Mount Alexander Shire Council, the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Djaara about the proposed renaming of the creek.
Hepburn mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt, said council was committed to working positively with the traditional owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung, and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members towards reconciliation.
"The history of the term 'Jim Crow' is rooted in racial segregation and racism. We want to learn, acknowledge and move forward together," she said.
"By reinstating a name that reconnects our community with the Dja Dja Wurrung culture and language that spans many thousands of years, we are setting the standard for how we can support the Dja Dja Wurrung Peoples."
According to the council, the current name 'Jim Crow Creek' will be preserved in the state's geographic names register as a historic name so it will remain a part of the region's history.
There are strict protocols that govern the renaming of roads, features and localities, outlined in the naming rules for places in Victoria 2016.
The engagement phase of the project will be hosted from September 30 until November 12, 2021.
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