Kaurna people inhabited a narrow corridor of land along the eastern shore of South Australia, from Cape Jervis in the south to Crystal Brook in the north, Mount Lofty Ranges in the east to St Vincent Gulf in the west.
All UniSA campuses (except Whyalla which is in Barngarla country) are located in the heart of Kaurna land. The Underdale, City West and City East campuses lie in the vicinity of Karrawirra Parri (red gum forest river), the River Torrens, which was the heartland for the Kaurna people. The Kaurna name Karrawirra Parri was officially recognised by the SA State Government under its Dual Naming legislation in November 2001.
Across the river is Piltawodli (brush tailed possum home), the site of the Native Location, where a school was established by German missionaries, Teichelmann & Schrmann, in 1839. Kaurna children were taught to read and write in their own language.
It was at Piltawodli that aspects of Kaurna culture and much of the Kaurna language were recorded. In fact, almost everything that we now know of the Kaurna language was recorded from Kaurna men, who built huts and lived on-site, by European observers who lived at Piltawodli or frequented the Location .
UniSA was the first Australian university to adopt a Statement of Reconciliation. This commitment to reconciliation has seen it use many Kaurna phrases and words. For example, the Yungondi Building at the City West campus which houses the Council Room and Chancellery. The word yungondi, means 'to give, to impart'. The phrase 'warra yungondi' (lit. word give) means to inform.
The Kaurna people are not the only Indigenous group that the University has recognised. The Unaipon School, a multi-disciplinary school offering programs in Aboriginal Studies, Aboriginal Affairs Administration and Australian Studies, is named in honour of two Ngarrindjeri men, David Unaipon, the Aboriginal inventor and author who appears on the $50 note, and his father James Unaipon, the first Aboriginal teacher in South Australia.
Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara from the northwest of South Australia also plays a central role in the life of the University. Pitjantjatjara was the first Australian Indigenous language to be taught in a tertiary institution and has been taught continuously in this institution since the 1960s.
UniSA also offers the innovative Anangu Teacher Education Training Program (AnTEP) which operates with these language groups.