UNCLE MOOGY, MAJOR SUMNER NGARRINDJERI ELDER,
MEDICINE MAN, HEALER, CULTURAL PERFORMER, ARTIST
To say that Uncle Moogy is passionate about water would be an understatement. 2010 saw the worst drought in recorded history on the Australian continent. In Ngarrindjeri country – lower Murray River, western Fleurieu Peninsula and the Coorong of southern Australia – Uncle Moogy witnessed his ancestral home dyeing. To dance the spirit back into the river and back into the people, he united a group of different Indigenous River Nations in a 2300-kilometre pilgrimage. As the pilgrimage came to a close, the drought broke and the wettest season in living memory brought healing floods throughout the basin. This was Ringbalin.Ringbalin is a Ngarrindjeri word meaning gathering of the tribes.
Ringbalin River Country Spirit Ceremony – Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aXRodi4SHY
Combining performing arts – dance and song – with visual arts – woodcarving, weaving and painting – and contemporary art forms – photography and video, it could be described as a multi-arts project that travels along the Murray-Darling River System, from Murra Murra in Queensland through NSW and Victoria to South Australia. Ringbalin is more than that; it connects First Nation communities through the revival of ceremonies and the transfer of cultural knowledge from elders to young people, promoting the position of elders, bringing young Indigenous people in to take part in cultural life and to become aware of their significant connection to the lands and waters. It is the healing of greatest river system on this continent through ancient ceremony of culture and spirit.
Moogy knows teaching people to look at their culture and their past helps them feel the spirit within. Keeping culture alive and passing it on to the next generation is deeply important.
For tens of thousands of years Ngarrindjeri practiced agriculture and raise livestock, but were always deeply connected with the river, relying on it for food and for trade. Women gathered swan eggs and wove mats and baskets from rushes. The people used river red gum trees to make bark canoes for fishing and for river travel.
In 1830s European missionaries intruded, destroying Ngarrindjeri cultural practices, banning ceremonies and the passing on of tribal laws and knowledge, language and stories, music and dance, ways of healing – all things vital to passing on a living culture. The Ngarrindjeri’s lands were stolen; their rights were suppressed and violated.
In 2010, Moogy, working with Change Media documented the making of the first traditional Ngarrindjeri tree bark canoe in Boandik country in over 100 years. The first part of the documentary focused on traditional cultural knowledge of how to care for river red gums, how to remove the bark from the tree, without harming the tree itself and the launch of the canoe. Three generations of Ngarrindjeri watching this historic moment, reclaiming a part of their culture. The documentary Moogy’s Yuki (Moogy’s Bark Canoe) is available online.
A Member of the Order of Australia since 2014 for his services to the Indigenous community for many decades, a member the World Archaeological Congress, a member of the South Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council since 2011, a member of the World Council of Elders, Moogy wants to show to the Australian people that Aboriginal culture is about sharing and working together for the benefit of the whole community. To the best of his abilities, Moogy wants his contributions to public life, in the areas of Aboriginal health, social welfare, youth and cultural heritage, to benefiting everyone.
Uncle Moogy will talk about water as world water, showing through anecdotes, stories and profound cultural knowledge, how, what we do to water here in this country affects water in every part of the world.
Cheryl Buchanan, Guwamu (Kooma)
Publisher, Acclaimed Playwright, Author, Activist, Negotiator, Educator
Cheryl Buchanan, a Guwamu woman from southwest Queensland, was the first Aboriginal woman publisher; she is an acclaimed playwright and author with many published and performed works. Her family describe her as an educator. Cheryl can also be described as a speaker, director, business-person, political activist, teacher, lecturer and negotiator, the founding member of numerous Queensland Aboriginal organisations, including Aboriginal Legal, Medical and Childcare Centre in Brisbane, Black Community School, Black Resource Centre, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Women’s Legal and Advocacy Service.
In 1970 alongside Pastor Don Brady, Denis Walker, and others, Cheryl played a part in forming the Brisbane Tribal Council, which in turn led to the formation of the National Tribal Council.
As an 18-year-old university student, she was one of the nineteen First Nation people to ever visit China. The trip made headlines in Australia, as the group screened a documentary in Peking at the Institute of National Minorities, highlighting the ongoing mistreatment, injustice and racism, by showing footage of the violent clashes between police and First Nation people at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra earlier that year. Cheryl stated at the time, “Five years after the ‘67 referendum not much had happened and we still seemed to be treated as third class citizens in our own country.”
Furthermore, Cheryl is a Director the Northern Murray–Darling Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) a unique organisation that represent under one common cause, 22 Sovereign First Nations in the Northern Murray Darling Basin in Natural Resource and Water Management. The NBAN moto is: “Keeping our water spirits and our connections alive.” Within the Murray Darling Basin there is 46 Sovereign First Nations represented by both NBAN and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN).
The core business of NBAN is cultural and natural resource management; its primary focus: to ensure that aboriginal people and communities are more widely consulted, and genuinely involved in the engagement process of water management issues. Cheryl is a founding member of the National Cultural Flows Planning and Research Committee and was Chairperson of the Kooma Traditional Owners Association from 2004-2012, and Treasurer of the Kooma Traditional Owners Association from 2012-2014 and the Deputy Chair of the First Peoples Water Engagement Council and a member of the Murray–Darling Basin Community Committee.
Cheryl summarises the core issue clearly, “So often, the public debate about water management is framed as a contest between irrigators and the environment. Many Australians may not be aware that the Sovereign First Nations are the traditional custodians of the Basin’s water resources. We have rights, recognised at the international and domestic level, to manage and access these resources.
“We are not trying to take the water away, we are asking for a fair share of the resource that our people nurtured for thousands of years.”
Ringbalin: River Stories, photo taken at Murra Murra Station by Aly Pederick
In 2010 during the worst drought in living memory, Cheryl visited South Australia’s much-loved Coorong National Park – at the mouth of the once mighty Murray – she had a vision of death. Far up stream on her traditional lands the river system was also in a state of misery. Then in April, from the Coorong, the Ngarrindjeri Elder, Major Sumner brought different river tribes together to heal the rivers. The healing started on Aunty Cheryl’s Murra Murra Station east of Cunnamulla; they performed a series of River Country Spirit Ceremonies, dancing and healing the spirit of the land all the way down 2000kms to the Coorong. Filmmakers Ben Pederick and Ali Sanderson (Goodmorningbeautiful Films) followed the traditional owners over a period of several years making the documentary, Ringbalin was shown to a large, eager audience at the Canberra International Film Festival.
Uncle Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves
Warlpiri Law Man
Rain Dreaming, Ngpakurl Wangka Njaku: Talking About Water
Warlpiri elder Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves is a keeper of ngapa jukurrpa (rain dreaming) and senior law man of his country. In Warlpiri language, law is called Tju-Tju, from Tjukurrpawarnu, The Spirit Creator. Law is transmitted through the Pulkapardu, the old men whose white hair is a sign of the wisdom and the knowledge they have gathered over the years. The Pulkapardu are the custodians of the law, the ceremonies and the history of the tribe. It is their responsibility to uphold and keep these strong and to teach the coming generations.
The Milpirri cloud is created by turbulent air rising off the desert. The turbulence is an image of the conflicts between disputing parties. It has become a metaphor for the clash between mainstream and Warlpiri worldviews. [The rain that falls after the storm is a symbol of the resolution that must be achieved after conflict – Yapa (Warlpiri) and Kardiya (non-indigenous people) must work together to understand each other and that from this position of mutual respect that reconciliation can be achieved, and better choices can be made.*]
In October 2017 Kudji Karrilyi – Stand Strong on Country was hosted by the Mudburra people of Elliot and Marlinja Community. During this event, Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves spoke passionately, “Fracking is going to destroy our land, it is going to destroy our jukurrpa dreaming, it’s going to break it. It’s going to take away our rights. White people don’t have jukurrpa; they do not have jukurrpa. They do not know what they are doing. This is how our old men sat and told the story they told the story for a reason. The reason is: to keep us and to keep the story for our children. We have voted for politicians asking them to help us, but it looks like we have voted for the wrong people. They have turned against us. They want to destroy our ngapa (water), ngapa is our life. Some of us have jukurrpa ngapa – water dreaming. It’s not mechanical. It’s not fun. It’s serious. Today, we have got to fight this government. We have got to fight this fracking. We have got to fight it. And we are not going to make it easy for them to get through us. Don’t say yes to them because of the dollar, the dollar won’t get you anywhere.”
This gathering brought clan groups together who share songlines and strong concerns about the Fracking industry, and the potential threat posed by the proposed 6,000 drilling sites, into the underground gas reservoir of the Beetaloo Basin, N.T.
The government has issued permits to three major mining companiesto create gas fields over this area, surrounding the homes of the Mudburra, Jingili and others.
Kudij Karrilyi was attended by representatives of the Warlpiri, Jingili, people from the area of Muckaty, the gulf community of Borroloola, as well as regional towns of Katherine and Tennant Creek.
Grave concerns were voiced about the threat to country and culture with risks including the decimation of songlines, water contamination, major health risks, environmental destruction and the damage of eco systems.
The following is from Falcom Oil and Gas:https://falconoilandgas.com/beetaloo-australia/
“The Beetaloo Sub-basin is located in the Northern Territory, 600 kilometres south of Darwin, close to infrastructure including a highway, a pipeline and a railway, offering transport options to the Australian market and beyond via liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity in Darwin to the north and in Queensland to the east.
“The sparsely populated and remote Beetaloo Sub-basin is a relatively underexplored onshore basin of Proterozoic age within the larger McArthur basin. It has excellent unconventional hydrocarbon potential such as shale gas, shale oil and tight gas.
“Work was previously undertaken by a Rio Tinto Group subsidiary company, Sweetpea Petroleum, Hess Australia and Falcon Australia. Sweetpea drilled the Shenandoah-1 vertical well, which was deepened by Falcon Australia. Hess acquired 3,490 kilometres of 2D seismic data, to date the largest onshore 2D seismic program in Australia [editors emphsis].The seismic database, along with existing well data, provided a solid platform to elaborate and extrapolate a detailed structural and stratigraphic model for the Beetaloo Basin, concluding that the Beetaloo Basin is an active petroleum system.”
21 January 2019 – Rig Contract Signed
On 21 January 2019 Falcon announced that Origin had signed a rig contract with Ensign Australia Pty Ltd. for Rig 963 for the 2019 Stage 2 Beetaloo drilling programme, with an option to extend the contract into 2020.
Subject to relevant approvals, and implementation of the exploration recommendations of the Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in the Northern Territory, the JV will evaluate the potential of the liquids-rich gas fairways in both the Kyalla and Velkerri plays. Exploration and appraisal activities include the drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation of two horizontal wells. Together with the Velkerri B dry gas play discovered in 2016, this allows for the assessment of three plays, enabling the most commercially prospective play to be targeted for Stage 3 drilling during 2020.
As of 21 January 2019 work had already commenced at some well sites, including water bore drilling and water monitoring, with drilling targeted to commence in June 2019.
3 May 2019 – Kyalla 117 N2 Exploration Well EMP Accepted for Assessment
On 3 May 2019, Falcon announced that the Environmental Management Plan (“EMP”) for the Kyalla 117 N2 Exploration well, for the planned 2019 drilling, stimulation, and well testing prepared by Origin on behalf of the JV, has been accepted for assessment by the Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”).
The EMP provides detail on how Origin will ensure the environmental impacts and risks associated with its activities are reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable. The EMP has been prepared with reference to regulatory obligations and relevant Inquiry recommendations that have underpinned the Code of Practice for Petroleum Activities in the Northern Territory.
The N.T. “Intervention” = ‘Northern Territory Emergency Response[artwork by Chips Mackinolty
“The Intervention” – Creative Spirits, https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/northern-territory-emergency-response-intervention]
In August 2006
the Northern Territory government commissioned research into allegations of serious sexual abuse of children in Aboriginal communities. An inquiry was established to find better ways to protect the children[editor’s emphasis]. On 15 June 2007 the commission released its report, called Little Children are Sacred. Less than a fortnight after its publication, on 23 June 2007, the federal government staged a massive intervention in the Northern Territory (site of data collection) sending in army troops. This was referred to as ‘Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER)’. Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people however quickly labeled it ‘the intervention’.
What the “Intervention” changed:
Legislation passed by both major parties (Labour and Liberal)
- removed the permit system for access to Aboriginal land,
- abolished government-funded Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP),
- subjected Aboriginal children to teaching in a language they don’t speak for the first four hours at school,
- quarantined 50% of welfare payments,
- suspended the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA),
- expected Aboriginal people to lease property to the government in return for basic services,
- compulsorily acquired Aboriginal land and
- subjected Aboriginal children to mandatory health checks without consulting their parents, and against the sacred oath of doctors
Critics of the invasion/intervention point out, however, that the word ‘child’ or ‘children’ does not appear once in the hundreds of pages of the NT Emergency Response Act.[Editor’s emphasis]
Because the Act has plenty of references to land, many Aboriginal leaders see the intervention as a land grab to make it easier for mining companies to access Indigenous land, in particular in the N.T.
Source: Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) – “The Intervention” – Creative Spirits, retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/northern-territory-emergency-response-intervention
Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves states unequivocally, “As Yuendumu community leader I have called on the NT Government, and call on you again today, to respect and place the importance of our environmental concerns above the loss of profits that only benefit a handful of multinational corporations who are stealing resources from our land without our permission.
- This country belongs to the people of the Warlpiri nation
- We carry the sacred law and the dreaming as our ancestors taught it to us and as we teach our children. This is our sacred Tjukurpa. It belongs to many people and it is vital for the wellbeing of our country and the health of our people that we keep our stories strong
- It is our sovereign right to protect our land, our water and our people from all harm
- There has been no consultation with the traditional custodians of this country to discuss any form of mining, water use, “fracking” – all of which endanger and contaminate the precious and limited water for our people
- There has been no consent given by the people of this land
- Limiting the water available to the Warlpiri people or forcing First Nation people to use water contaminated because it has become stagnant or polluted through mining or “fracking” practices is an abuse of human rights and tantamount to genocide
- We demand the end of lies about “job creation and better living conditions”; lies that exploit the poverty we are forced to live in, lies used to trick us into giving consent to the gas extraction industry
- We demand the end of blackmail where consultants tell us we can either choose to agree to the terms offered or miss out because the mining and fracking and theft of our country will happen anyway whether we want it or not
We, the people of the Warlpiri Nation
- demand the Northern Territory Government bans fracking once and for all
- demand the protection of all water in the N.T
- demand the full respect of our sovereign rights
Ned Jampijimpa Hargraves, NT fracking inquiry 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D26yyiiigL8
Jurntu is a ceremony that teaches about law and justice. Four themes from the traditional ceremony are: Justice, Respect, Discipline and Responsibility. These themes were matched with songs, stories and metaphors related to traditional Warlpiri artefacts. For example, boomerangs symbolise respect, digging sticks symbolise the search for knowledge and the stone axe is a mark of responsibility. The performance culminates with the songs and dances for the Milky Way. In Warlpiri Law the Milky Way is a symbol of the path or road that a person should follow to be a productive and moral citizen. This Milky Way is also connected with the Emu stories, which stress the importance of teaching, and the Southern Cross stories that outline the essential principles of Warlpiri culture*.
Milpirri – Jurntu 2009 tracksdance.com.au/milpirri-1
Uncle Kevin Buzzacott – Arabunna Nation, Lake Eyre, Cultural Practitioner, Activist, Advocate Storyteller & Educator
Kevin Buzzacott (born 1947) often affectionately and respectfully referred to as Uncle Kev is an Aboriginal elder from the Arabunna nation in northern South Australia. He is also a custodian of the largest body of water in the driest state on the driest continent in the world; this body of water is commonly known as Lake Eyre, 144 km long and 77 km wide, the lowest point in Australia, at approximately 15 m below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, the largest lake in Australia and 18th largest in the world. The Arabunna people hold native title over the lake and surrounding region.
Uncle Kev has campaigned widely for cultural recognition, justice and land rights for Aboriginal people, and has initiated and led numerous campaigns, among them protesting against uranium mining at Olympic Dam, South Australia on Kokatha land and against the exploitation of the water from the Great Artesian Basin. Uncle Kev is a passionate and effective advocate for sustainable water management and for taking responsibility, showing respect for and recognition of the rights, aspirations and traditional knowledge of Australia’s Original people.
He has a higher profile on the world stage than among the general Australian populace. His awards are numerous, for instance, in 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Nuclear Free Award in Ireland and subsequently invited to travel and speak with supporters of Indigenous land rights and concerned citizens across Europe. The Australian Conservation Foundation awarded him the 2007 Peter Rawlinson Award for two decades of work highlighting the impacts of uranium mining and promoting a nuclear free Australia. Travelling tirelessly, talking to groups large and small, about the impacts of uranium mining and the threats posed by the nuclear industry, he has had a profound impact on the lives of many people and has been an inspiration – especially for younger people – fighting for the environment.
Some of Uncle Kev’s achievements include:
He drew attention to and claimed Alexander Downer and Robert Hill’s refusal to pursue World Heritage listing of Lake Eyre amounted to genocide against the Arabunna people (April 1999). Instead Downer and Hill allowed a mining company, BHP Billiton to commence mining operations. The appellant, Buzzacott v Minister for the Environment was heard in the Federal Court of Australia which predictably decided in favour of the Government. Uncle Kev initiated a Peace Walk from Lake Eyre to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and another from the Olympic Dam Uranium Mine to Hiroshima, Japan.
In 2002 he reclaimed his tribes’ Emu and Kangaroo totems used in the Australian Coat of Arms from outside Parliament House, Canberra. He was forcibly arrested three years later at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for theft of the Coat of Arms. This resulted in a lengthy court battle where he served the government with a counter writ on charges of genocide.
In 2003 the Australian Film Commission Indigenous Unit and the Special Broadcasting Service produced a documentary called We of Little Voice in the Australia By Numbers series, which featured Kevin Buzzacott on a journey through northern South Australia to hear the stories of Aboriginal elders who have experienced the effects of the nuclear industry from uranium mining to nuclear testing.
He has given support to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra where he lit the Fire for Justice in 1998. He was also involved in the 2006 Camp Sovereignty at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, called by many indigenous people as the ‘Stolen-wealth Games’.
In Melbourne on 21st of April 2007 a group of non-indigenous and indigenous supporters raised money in support of his efforts to raise awareness about Uranium Mining issues.
‘Sleeping underneath the ground there is an old lizard, Kalta the sleepy lizard.
The lizard ain’t so sleepy any more,
BHP is mining right into that lizard’s body.
Kalta is angry and wants revenge.
Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzcott is calling the
people of the world to help the lizard shut down the mine.
He is calling for the people to come and heal the land in the name of peace and
Justice for the next 10,000 generations to come.
The land, the lizard and the creatures of the earth are summoning everyone who cares to the gates of Roxby Downs.
Come and be involved in the creation of this autonomous zone
for the peace and healing of this land.’
(story told by Uncle Kev, transcribed by Ruth Forsythe; painting, ‘Lizards and Yellowcake’ by Honey Nelson)
Ghillar, Michael Anderson
Water ‘Ownership’ – Water Rights Across Australia
“To every story belongs a song. To every story belongs a dance. To every story belongs a person. To every story belongs a place. And they all connect when we go through the ceremonies.”
Ghillar, Michael Anderson, was taught Euahlayi customs and traditions through his people’s sacred ceremonies. His is involved with connecting the sacred songlines of the ancient traditions of Aboriginal peoples around the world in an attempt to prove that they have a Dreaming that links them to the original creation.
“I was fortunate to have grown up with my family and senior Lawmen and Lawwomen of the Euahlayi and far Western Gomeroi, who secretly handed on ancient knowledge in ceremonies. These men and women were born in the late 1880s and early 1890s, all were taught by their grandparents, who in most cases were the generation who first saw the whitemen come into their Country when they were teenagers. I have been encouraged by our People to share with the broader Euahlayi community and the far western Gomeroi, the Stories of the universe that can be told publicly. I have been doing this though oral presentations and now for a broader audience in the recently premiered film Star Stories of The Dreaming. In these Star Stories I have revealed ancient Stories of the stars, the Blackholes and the creation of the natural world that we all now belong to.”
Ghillar is the National Convenor of the Sovereign Union, a new political movement in Australia that is promoting worldwide the continuing sovereignty of indigenous peoples, a Senior Lawman and Cultural Knowledge Holder for the Euahlayi Nation and Peoples, and, on behalf of his people, the Native Title claimant to Euahlayi traditional lands in north-western New South Wales. He runs a sheep and cattle property on his ancestral lands that cross the New South Wales and Queensland border in the lower Ballone river system. Ghillar has also lectured in Aboriginal studies and Aboriginal politics at several Australian universities, writing and teaching units in Aboriginal studies that were inclusive of traditional Aboriginal society.
For many decades, Ghillar has been a human rights activist. In 1969 he was a leader in the Australian Black Power movement. In 1972 his peers appointed him as the first Aboriginal ambassador to white Australia after he and three comrades established what was later called the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the front lawns of Australia’s parliament house.
[On 27 January at 1.00 am in the morning, four Aboriginal men: Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Tony Coorey, and Bertie Williams arrived in Canberra from Sydney and set up the Aboriginal Tent Embassy by planting a beach umbrella on the lawn of Parliament House (old Parliament House)].
In 1973 Gough Whitlam made arrangements for Ghillar to go to the United States to see firsthand how America was ‘dealing with the causes and outcomes of the 1960s, 1970s racial conflicts’. It enabled Ghillar to be present at the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee – the longest lasting ongoing civil protest in 200 years of U.S. history – and, after the siege to meet with the Wounded Knee leaders at the New York University.
Whitlam further requested that Ghillar spend time with Australia’s mission to the United Nations, under the tutelage of Richard Butler, Australia’s Ambassador to the UN. Ghillar felt inspired by the profound insights into racial conflicts and human rights he gained.
In 1979 he was appointed to the Office of Public Prosecutions in criminal law as an instructing officer (the equivalent of a solicitor) in the state of New South Wales.
Uncle Martin Ballangarry – Gumbaynggirr Elder
Gumbaynggirr Elder, Chair of Bowraville CDAT, Deputy Mayor of the Nambucca Council, Director of the Muurrbay Language Centre.
Uncle Martin Ballangarry is a dancer and musician. He leads an Aboriginal dance group and family band called Jumbaal Dreaming (Carpet-Snake Dreaming) and has performed on many stages along the east coast of Australia. An artist, musician and Aboriginal community leader with a long record of service to numerous organisations including the Bowraville Community Alliance, the Nambucca Valley Reconciliation Group, the Bowraville Aboriginal Medical Service and the Bowraville Local Aboriginal Land Council.
When Charles Perkins and the Freedom Ride came to Bowraville, Uncle Martin was 10 years old and one of the Indigenous people who attended the segregated picture theatre at Bowraville. For attempting to sit in the seats reserved for white patrons, he was escorted from the theatre by Police. In 2009 part of his life story and the old Bowraville theatre seats were featured in the National Museum of Australia’s travelling exhibition From Little Things Big Things Grow. The exhibition traced the fight for Indigenous civil rights in Australia from 1920 to 1970 and toured until November 2011. It told a generally unknown or forgotten story using a combination of photographs, objects – among them the seats – protest material, and the personal memories of these activists of the repercussions they suffered as they brought unwelcome truths to light and fought against disbelief and denial. Source: http://www.nma.gov.au/
Uncle Martin’s leadership was critical when the Bowraville community rallied together to form a Community Drug Action Team. Their mission is to work collaboratively to provide positive health and wellbeing-focused programs that address some of the challenges and trauma caused by the unsolved murders of three children [these murders took place over a period of five months from September 1990 to February 1991 in Bowraville, New South Wales], and trauma caused by the ongoing intergenerational impact of first contact and white settlement.
Since their formation in 2017, CDAT have delivered several different programs such as, establishing sporting pathways – netball girls to participate in the NSW State trials, and starting up junior cricket teams for both girls and boys. To address the challenges faced by women and girls – particularly around alcohol and pregnancy – CDAT offers on-going education and information, providing transport and gym memberships, and delivering a healthy eating /bush tucker initiative. They deliver a ‘Capturing Culture’ program, utilise digital tools such as cameras and phones, to record stories from the community and engage elders and youth in an intergenerational exchange of knowledge. They are also working towards providing a men & boys cultural reconnection program with the aim to engage with parents to work together in order to build skills and strengths and help ensure healthy outcomes for the community.
Uncle Michael (Micklo) Jarrett
Gumbaynggirr Storyteller, Musician & Language Teacher
Uncle Michael Jarrett is a renowned Gumbaynggirr storyteller, passionate about country, culture and teaching the Gumbaynggirr language; he isa well-known for his creativity, his sense of humour, his deep warmth towards people and generosity, often providing ‘Welcome To Country’ ceremonies at regional and community events, as well as leading Indigenous language classes, camps and cultural story-telling.
‘I’m a Gumbaynggirr man from Nambucca Heads. I was born in Macksville. My family lived on Bellwood Reserve, where I spent my childhood attending school and growing up with a lot of my relatives. The majority of my adult life was spent on the Reserve. The old people who spoke Gumbaynggirr language did not speak it to the children, only certain words. My language was non-existent to me through most of my life. In 1997 I decided to attend Gumbaynggirr language classes at Muurrbay Language Centre. At that time, I was an early childhood teacher, and it was so hard learning my mother’s language. The sounds were unfamiliar to my ears and trying to make the sounds with my mouth was even harder. I practised by myself. I asked the teachers ‘How do I say that?’ ‘What does this mean?’ and taught what I learned to students at pre-school.
‘I heard that a course was coming up in Sydney called Masters in Indigenous Languages Education. I enrolled not knowing what to expect, or what I was getting myself into. During the course and finding out about the linguistics of language, Gumbaynggirr started to come alive in me, phonology, syntax, grammar, semantics was like a different language but it made me think of how Gumbaynggirr worked and I loved it.
‘After the course I was very confident about working on my language and using it in everyday situations. It has helped immensely with my work as an educator, giving me new ideas on how to teach. Through it, I changed my style of teaching.
‘Work opportunities are still coming at me, Board of Studies, DET, Muurrbay, TAFE, universities and other language organisations. It has opened up many doors in my Gumbaynggirr language journey across all facets of my life, and has given me back my pride as an Aboriginal man. I am passing on my knowledge and skills to other Aboriginal people so they can feel the way I feel—more connected to my language, my homeland, my people, the spirits of my homeland and most of all to my ancestors.’
In Australia, roughly 90% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages still spoken today are considered endangered. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Damien Webb, Manager of Indigenous Engagement at the State Library of NSW, stated,“Language is at the core of how we remember, express and sustain our cultures and identities. It has a central role in helping us form and nurture bonds with others. Language also helps us process our histories and imagine our futures. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to work with communities and Elders on their languages. We want to do this right, and that means leaving Macquarie Street and going where the lingo is.”
When asked what the highlights of his trip were, Damien, responded, “Standing at the lookout in Nambucca Heads and having Micklo Jarrett talk us through Gumbaynggirr stories of the gaagal (sea) …”
On Tuesday, 24thof July this year, Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel the M/Y Steve Irwin was greeted by a dozen humpback whales, breaching, pecking and tail slapping and a flotilla of boats, kayaks and paddle boarders.
Uncle Micklo headed out to the M/Y Irwin to conduct a beautiful smoking ceremony to ward off bad spirits, to acknowledge ancestors and to pay respects to the land and sea of country, as well to heal and cleanse the crew.
As part of the Puliima 2019, Indigenous Language and Technology Conference, to be held in Darwin 19 – 22 August, Rhonda (Anjilkurri) Radley and Uncle Michael Jarrett will present, Matjarr Djuyal: The Usefulness of Gesture as a Teaching Modality to Learn the Gathang Language; representingWestern Sydney University (NSW). Within Aboriginal Language revitalisation, NSW, Australia, there is a relative lack of research into how to teach language effectively in classroom contexts. The purpose of the study, by an Aboriginal researcher, is to explore the usefulness of gesture as a teaching modality to help preschool learners to learn Gathang Language. The presentation will present the research findings and engage participants in a hands-on activity.
Dale Kerwin, PhD – Worimi man
Dale Kerwin’s book, Aboriginal Dreaming Paths and Trading Routes; The Colonisation of the Australian Economic Landscape published in 2010, explains that the dreaming paths of Aboriginal nations across Australia formed major ceremonial routes along which goods and knowledge flowed. These paths became the trade routes that criss-crossed Australia and transported religion and cultural values. His book is essential reading for all those who seek to have a better knowledge of Australia and its first people, it inscribes Aboriginal people firmly in the body of Australian history.Dale’s current research shows how Aboriginal dreaming stories and communication ways (story ways) traversed Australia along waterways. The surveyors, explorers, drovers of the colonisation period in Australian history followed the same paths post-invasion. Aboriginal knowledge and the names for the traditional walking tracks and travelling routes were overlaid with the ‘new Australian names’, traditions, histories and concepts. The inland water systems became the travelling stock routes for graziers and are known as such today. Aboriginal knowledge of these paths, tracks and roads was suppressed or made subservient when the dominant cultural group renamed these routes, the river systems and the waterways.
“Does Aboriginal knowledge of water-flows and water ways flowing along the main river systems, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Goolwa in South Australia, still survive today? Is this knowledge still remembered as story ways? I wish to explore these questions and to put the existing knowledge, still held by Aboriginal people, back into the historical landscape of Australia by naming the rivers and the dreaming stories, still painted, carved, drawn, and told in oral histories by Aboriginal traditional owners of country.”
Fresh water midden
Knowledge of water flows is important in Native Title and in relation to the Murray/Darling River flows. Stating Aboriginal knowledge of water flows provides a distinct alternative to the dominant narrative of Australian history and delivers crucial rights to Aboriginal Native Title holders for the use of water.
Uncle Chris Tomlins, Arrernte Elder
“I am Peltherre Agnillinga Agkmoura, one of the most ancient names on the planet.”
Uncle Chris Peltherre Tomlins’ mother was a Warlpiri woman; his father was an Arrernte man.“Through my father I claim that Arrente, my sisters go Warlpiri, through my mother. Its through my father that I have that status, especially because my father was born on the country on which he is buried and on which I now live.”
Uncle Chris has been involved in the land rights movement since the early 80s and was instrumental in establishing and running Yipirinya, a bilingual, two-way learning primary school for bush kids in Alice Springs.
“I took my activism skills out of politics and legalities, into the healing and the people movement, the people’s healing.”
Since attending the Aboriginal Tent Embassy as a delegate of the Freedom Summit in 2015, Chris has been travelling the countryside as a voice for Country and an activist of peace, lending his support to many actions, often involving the protection of sacred sites.
“Upon my return to Alice Springs after four years away, we were confronted by an elder who had concerns about a a sacred site that was about to be mined, about an issue going on between a sacred site and a multi-million dollar mining company. and the challenge was between the mining company and the sacred site and thats what we’re here for, to open that up, and to open that up to explain to the mining companies and the rest of the world and most importantly, the people here, of Australia, that our sacred sites are sacred for a reason. And I would like to do a presentation in regard to this situation, and use it as a stepping stone to spiritual healing.
“We want to target the spirituality of the country, we want to do a demonstration, we want to unveil, the unveiling of this Wampere Possum Dreaming and what it means, and its creation time, you know, its the beginning. . . just unveiling that in a small way. . . through just one story, that connects to a lot of other stories.
“These sacred sites are our spiritual connection, they are our stories of creation, before man and woman. They are about Mother Earth and all the animals that were here before us. The truth about our Creator . . . in one little story, emanating out of Barrow Creek, for us all to bear witness to.”
Uncle Chris is a custodian, a peaceful protector of his country and and a passionate activist. Among other things, he supported actions such as ‘Close Pine Gap’, Indigenous Sovereignty, and recognition of the Frontier Wars.
Pine Gap is the extensive US military and intelligence base that occupies Aboriginal lands of the Arrernte people, the original custodians of country. The Arrernte were never asked for their permission to build Pine Gap on their land.
When in 2016 six pacifists were arrested at the US’s Pine Gap military intelligence facility, together with other Elders, he offered a Smoking Ceremony and spoke of the healing power of the smoke, the cleansing powers, but most of all he spoke of its protective powers. He told the peace pilgrims that the smoke would shield their spirit and protect them as they entered the courtroom.
Uncle Chris wrote in a letter: “It’s not only Black Australia that has a sovereignty issue. The Arrernte people have been the custodians and peaceful protectors of their country for thousands of years. Our sovereignty is contained in our songlines, stories and dances, which have been handed down over thousands of years.
“As the lawful custodians we are responsible for what occurs on our land and the harm it brings to the rest of the world. The activity of the facility at Pine Gap has implicated us in criminal military actions, which threatens the dignity of all people, implicates us in war crimes and generates instability and conflict around the globe as a consequence of US imperialism.”
Another focus of Uncle Chris’ work is his push for the recognition of the Frontier Wars. He says the desert pea, as a national symbol, would encourage Australians to remember their long forgotten history. Uncle Chris says the desert pea symbolises a story from deep within our past and parallels one of the most historical stories known to the Western world.
“It’s a story of the past the desert pea, its written in the Bible about Kane and Abel where one brother slayed the other,” he says.
“[It’s] thousands and thousands years old as well where one brother slayed the other and that’s what the desert pea is about, the blood of the earth from our past, the history of the country.”
“To understand that they have a past that’s built on genocide and slaughter its something they can come to terms with and learn about. And that way we can grieve and heal and move forward together. At the moment its all hidden secrets, to heal this country we need to heal the people. And to heal the people, we need to look right back into our past and move together from there.”
Wandianwanderian Murramurrang Tomikin
Uncle Paul Jrumpinjinbah Mcleod
My name is Jrumpinjinbah (crow medicine). I am a direct blood line descendant from my maternal Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother’s Country Wandianwanderian Murramurrang Tomikin within the Bherwerre Dreaming of the Booderee National Park.
My Ancestral homeland is from the Clyde River in the south of New South wales to the Shoalhaven River to the north, between the Budawang ranges and the sea. We call this area in our Language the Northern Murring.
I show respect for my Grannies Jillabino from my father’s clan of the Underthurgetti , Jaithmathang and Yaithmathang First Nations People located in the Eastern Alps of the Great Dividing Range.
My opportunity: Promoting awareness of our traditional culture and working with Local Governments, Traditional owners and Elders, communities and other organisations to better understand, develop and strengthen cross cultural relationships throughout our entire community.
with students from the Australian Studies Centre
Cultural exchange: Promoting awareness of our traditional culture and working with Local Governments, Traditional owners and Elders, communities and other organisations to better understand, develop and strengthen cross cultural relationships throughout our entire community.
Our connection to our culture and country is fundamental to our well being and extends from the past to shape our present and survey our future.
We must ensure that we continue to keep our cultural heritage alive by passing our knowledge, arts, rituals and performances from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages, protecting cultural materials, sacred and significant sites, and objects.
Lewis Walker – Bundjalung Elder & Wahrla-Bal Custodian
Sacred Water & Whale Songlines
Bundjalung Elder and Wahrla-Bal Custodian, Uncle Lewis Walker was born on his country in Tabulam. He belongs to the Wahrla-Bal Bygal clan from west Bundjalung and springs from the Walker family. Poppy Harry Mundine Walker’s Clan are the custodians of the Tabulam area, and highly respected for their cultural knowledge. Uncle Lewis’s people still live very close to the land on Jubullum Community. The Clan’s relationship with Mother Earth is a deep and living reality. Uncle Lewis’s tribal name is Spirit of the Night or Possum Spirit.
His mother, aunties and grandmother taught him language. It was not until the age of 13, on entering the formal school system that Lewis began to learn English. Uncle Lewis is a visual artist, dancer, and musician. His work reflects the country between the rocky outcrops of the east-coast ocean and represents the natural bush and animals from the Rocky River country, around Tabulam.
He is a Keeper of the ancient Songlines of the Whales. “I’m going to tell an old story, an ancient story from way, way back. About a whale, my grandmother, my great-great grandmother, the old ancient white whale, the storyteller. The blue whale is my grandfather, the storyteller of the bottom of the ocean, the songman of the ocean, the caretaker of the ocean. He also gives us visions of who we really are. They sing their songs. As they ride the waves, they dance upon the water, reaching for the stars to give us a vision about who they really are. They are caring for country, like we do; they sing songs, like we do; they dance, like we do. Doesn’t matter what colour you are, we are all individual sprits belonging to the one spirit. We are of the water spirit. We are water people. As they ride the waves and disappear to the bottom of the ocean, they are going down to teach the newborns to be free. Se we’ve got to let them be when they are under that sacred ocean. So, we are all one, we need to protect and care for this sacred ocean and care for the animals. It’s a must for the future – today and tomorrow – it’s in our hands. We are the next caretakers to pass it on from generation to generation.”
His profound understanding of the relationship between the water, the whales, the Earth and humanity and can teach us that all Earth’s creatures are our brothers and sisters. His role, in his traditions and culture, is to be a bridge between the wisdom and way of his people and the global community. He has been chosen to share the essence of the aboriginal ‘creation song’ globally to bring, once again, unity among all people.
Further presenters bios to follow:
Uncle Tony Perkins – Garby Gumbaynggirr Elder costal waters & Clarence River
Aunty Angela Brown – Garby Gumbaynggirr Elder
Alison Williams – Garby Gumbaynggirr Artist
Uncle Gary Williams – Muurrbay Gumbaynggirr Elder
Aunty Maureen McKellar and daughter Upper Murray-Darling Basin
Auntie Beryl Carmichael – Ngiyaampaa Elder
Bunna Laurie – Mirning Elder, Medicin Man & Whale Songlines
Jarmbi Gitdabul – Githabul Custodian
Uncle Athal Compton – Mynjabal Narabal
Gilbert Laure – Yaegl, lower Clarence to the ocean