Wurdi Youang: Filling in the Gaps all Country
Wurdi Youang: Filling in the Gaps all Country
By Steven & Evan Strong
With Uncle Reg Abrahams and Kosta Srbinoff
This tragic tale will focus on two of the three main culprits. Undeniably there are many to blame and precious few to praise, but of all the participants involved in the wholesale fabrication of the Original history, the academics and media have on the whole much to apologise for, and little to show on the positive ledger. They have, more often than not, entered the fray with a pre-existing agenda and lack the sensitivity and vision to get past their ingrained prejudices. That behaviour has to stop.
Along with quite a few others have lost sight of the elemental truth in this exchange and forgot that Somewhere along the line these two groups, representatives of governments past and present all of Australia is still Original land, no treaty was signed and consent was never given. Then to compound the illegality of this affront, these people go on to the very few crumbs of Original land still remaining without bothering to seek proper permission to enter from the Keepers of the Old Ways, or show the common-sense to follow the lead of an Elder or Custodian once stepping onto country. Whatever happens past that point is a travesty and unworthy of print or discussion.
First up, the Problem With Academics …
Wurdi Youang is a famous archaeological site which is agreed to be the oldest astronomical construction on the planet. At the very least it pre-dates Stonehenge by five thousand years, and although less spectacular, performs the same function in charting solar and lunar events.
It all sounds so positive and seemingly complimented by co-operative gestures. We have no doubt that a few chosen Original representatives were involved and many discussions took place, but did not necessarily go to print. Accredited scientists spent some considerable time charting, cross-matching and debating possibilities in laboratories and rooms before coming to an agreed conclusion and final scientific paper.
But regrettably between the first visit on country and final paper off country so much was lost in translation. First and foremost, the paper should not have been released until it was checked by all local Original Elders and Custodians of Lore and Old Ways, and that must include Uncle Reg. The rules are simple in our case, on any occasion we write about an Original site/artefact, consultation with an Original person knowledgeable in these ancient ways is the beginning process, never an afterthought. Until there is agreement and consent given by all Original people who are connected, that paper should not have been shown anywhere, to anyone. Especially so if this is, as the experts claim, the oldest astronomical site on the planet, then it would seem to be pure common sense to consult every interested party. And since we only came to this site through a request by Elders upset and aggrieved by the paper, its insular approach and narrow focus, this simple courtesy did not occur. If just one Elder, who has the right to speak about this site, has a problem, then that must be addressed and resolved before publication. It wasn’t.
Can’t see the Forest for the Trees
The reason why anything written about an Original site or artefact is doomed to fail if done without proper Original guidance is simple. When non-Original academics are on sacred land or investigating Original archaeology, ninety-nine percent of them are blighted by a chronic inability to look past one aspect, one feature of the ancient story unfolding before them, and completely ignore the big picture. It is an endemic failing that causes so much grief and offence. In this case and location, if going just on the accepted release, this site is an astronomical site solely dedicated to charting positions of the sun and moon.
At another sacred site nearly 1,000 kilometres to the north, where the sun and moon are clearly visible, the experts looked elsewhere in opting for an “unknown object” and the smallest “boomerang” ever made. At the Bulgandry site near Kariong (Central Coast, NSW), the same inability to connect the dots culminated in a rather tragic statement of ignorance when trying to make sense of one interconnected narrative. All of the fifteen figures engraved into a rock platform form one story, that simple observation of cause and effect is undeniable. No less open to challenge is the scattering of signs all along the boardwalk, each is specific to the animal depicted, and nothing else. Be it a “fish,” “eel,” or “kangaroo” there is no reference to what surrounds, just an animal type named and on to the next engraving. The officials appointed to protect and research such sites (NPWS), see nothing interrelated beyond an ensemble of water and land based fauna on display that just happen to be next to each other.
Possibly the most pivotal engraving in this gallery is not the male, but the female. The sanctioned account is of a woman catching or holding a kangaroo. The largest of the four kangaroos/wallabies, symbolises sacred Law and protocol, but with the woman, who is obviously pregnant, in control as she is the Keeper of the Law. What is equally uncontested is that women do not hunt kangaroos: that is men’s business. The signs reek of a narrow focus and total inability to consult with the relevant Original people. The last full-descent Darkinoong Elder, Aunty Beve, challenged the authorities many times over the printing and display of these sanctioned lies, and was stonewalled for her troubles.
The Old Ones told Aunty Beve of a Dreaming story that described a time when the Creation Spirits made their way across the stars on their way to Earth. The eight metre canoe, upon which Biamie/Thoth’s left foot rests directly above and is separated by two centimetres, is deemed to be officially unconnected. Aunty Beve is adamant that it is the vehicle which carried these beings to this planet and that the entire gallery is devoted to that epic journey. Irrespective of whether at Kariong or Wurdi Youang, the official version of events really does seem a case of pick and choose what suits and throw the rest out.
In attempt to present an entire narrative rather than the one sensational snippet chosen at the expense of others, we were invited to the Wurdi Youang site and given a brief overview by Original people who were concerned that this sacred place was grossly understated and in need of another voice and older perspective.
There is so, so much more to this place. Sacred ceremonies were an integral part of the site, and that alone should be recorded and acknowledged. There are specific ways of entering and exiting, and the rocks serve multiple purposes. Uncle Reg asked me to lay behind certain rocks, which traced out ley lines to other peaks. Time after time I would lie down and align another rock to another landform. The stone arrangement at Wurdi Youang is merely part of a grid of sites linked together. Were there rocks on each of those crests, which are symbolic constellations, eclipses, solar and lunar events? Since no reference was made to these features in the paper presented, we can only assume they did not ask, look or thought it irrelevant.
But it doesn’t end there, we have another issue not addressed. What of the women, what was their role and sacred place? It has to be close, but out of earshot. Again an avenue not discussed, but the water-hole less than five hundred metres away should have been the obvious place to start looking and asking the right questions. Knowing that water is women’s business, and this is a permanent supply, it would seem prudent and respectful to at least make a token acknowledgment of the female presence.
Some may say that while these other activities are important, pragmatism and funding lead to a situation where the experts were focused on the astronomical alignments on this occasion, and saw any such omissions as a case of let another academic expand the frames of reference at a later date. That logic is sound as long as the real experts have the final say in how the whole process is conducted from start to finish when on sacred Original ground. It is our belief that when entering such hallowed places, the agenda should be set entirely by Original Elders versed in the Old Ways, end of story. Nothing should be said or done without permission, and because this is rarely done on most occasions the research is flawed and plagued by omissions. Too many breaches in protocol have been made, and we were invited onto country to make this point clear. It follows as a natural consequence that this article will be vetted by the group of Original Elders and custodians who were responsible for us having the privilege of standing beside Uncle Reg on country and we will accept any recommendation without reservation.
The request made, that the whole story, not just the shiny bits, be told as an interconnected narrative of an Original mantra that resonates throughout the country, ‘as on top so below,’ deserves to be met. Whenever we go onto a new site, the first time around the pen and paper are on ‘walkabout,’ they get in the way of taking in the scenery, lay of the land and endless possibilities. Same rules applied when under Uncle Reg’s tutelage, we were too busy listening, looking and thinking backwards to take notes. Next time on site is a different story, but first time around Uncle Reg needed the air cleared and some rules of engagement clearly defined.
The whole process is so disjointed and absent in protocol, Uncle Reg has heard whispers that one line of rocks which run from arc to arc may be the earliest mathematical representation of pi, but in this dribble down effect nothing is concrete. It is as if the Elders are being drip-fed at the leisure of a bevy of academics. This way of disseminating from the top takes so long. Every now and then an occasional academic, Ray Norris is one that Uncle Reg mentioned, does show some respect to the Original custodians and protocol. But this is rare and regrettably the norm is full steam ahead and move aside as we know what we are doing before we get there.
This patronising façade reminded us of two comments Aunty Beve made in relation to archaeologists/anthropologists as a collective and one in particular, Professor A. P. Elkin.
“Yes Boss”, “Whatever you say” …
She told us of so many times when archaeologists appeared unannounced on country fully funded and convinced they knew where and why. According to Aunty Beve, the Elders would adopt the same defensive pose, utter indifference. They would readily agree with whatever the academics proposed in an attempt to expedite proceedings that would lead to an earlier departure. “Yes Boss,” “Whatever you say,” the more they nodded in unison at the appropriate moments the less time wasted. As Aunty Beve made mention of many times, they never asked the right questions.
This inherent inability to ask nothing of use and say little in reply is not restricted to amateurs and provocateurs, but scales all the way up to archaeologists of the calibre of Professor A. P. Elkin. Aunty Beve bailed him up one day and demanded to know why he had mistakenly claimed that ‘message sticks’ actually contained the content to be shared engraved into the wood. The messenger was skilled in linguistics from an early age and had learnt all the neighbouring dialects, the stick was merely a letter of introduction detailing this person’s credentials, tribe, family, totem, etc. Aunty Beve was not specifically criticising Elkin per se, and nor are we as he meant well and it is a pointless exercise, but simply stating how poorly understood things were, and still are.
The eminent group of scholars who researched Wurdi Youang did so with good intentions, but had no appreciation for the finer details and cultural nuances. It has been the same since the Invasion of 1788 and continues on to Kariong and Wurdi Youang. The academics may mistakenly believe they used good science, but in achieving that end they did bad culture as there has been offence caused to protocol and the keepers of the Old Ways.
The upshot of the years of research at Wurdi Youang is that the Australian Original people were the first astronomers. As to what other celestial bodies were included, the Dreaming Stories and ceremonies associated with this site, the relationship to nearby sites/landforms, the roles performed by women, the factors considered in the choosing and placement of individual rocks along with the overlap through the Seven Sisters mythology, none of this was observed or discussed in this paper.
News Ways, Old Days
Our recommendation is simple, apologise profusely and tear up the first paper and start again knowing that the final draft has to be vetted by all the Elders who have a genuine connection to this site. At present all this paper does is partially explain one of many whats, but there are no whys. Why was the path of the sun and moon marked out in rocks at this location? This fundamental opening gambit is such a vital part of an equation which has not been developed, and with a dearth of Dreaming Stories and ceremonies submitted in their paper as a reference point, it seems the only area investigated by the approved experts is far from complete.
The sad part of this litany of omissions is that it is continuous, it started as the anchors dropped and has not let up from that point. Our brief was to present a complaint and make it clear that until it is addressed the Original truths will remain untold and the lies, distortions and half-truths that make up the current version of pre-Cook historical accounts, will persist. Surely since all of the time period before Cook belongs solely to the Original people, it is their story and should be told by them.
But no, even that concession is denied. According to the Dreaming Stories the Original people belong to this land and nowhere else on this planet, that is written into stone and cannot be denied. According to the White-fella version the Original people came from Africa, and that is written into book, text and syllabus and fits so comfortably. If there can be no agreement on the geography in the opening chapter, whatever follows must be equally contradictory. No matter how often the science, Original Lore and common sense may protest, it is so much easier to carry on regardless and maintain the lies.
But this was never meant to be a tale of despair and injustice. A line in the sand has been drawn, from this point on Elders will do as Uncle Reg has done. They will take over and seek out sympathetic researchers who are willing and insistent to be guided by Original principles and Custodians. It will not be a joint-project, as that term has been abused and stretched into so many silent partnerships. The Original Elders will lead and the researchers will heed their call and act as interlocutors.
This is the new way of doing good archaeology, no longer second-class citizens, the Original past belongs to the keepers of the Old Ways who will gladly share, but under their conditions. From now on when walking on sacred ground new rules are in play, and the Old Ways stay. With the academic protocol addressed, we move up the next rung in the ladder to a group who have gone to great lengths to denigrate the Original people, culture and present-day problems, and are ever so quick to sermonise and preach: the media.
From the Media’s Point of View
Fear and loathing is good copy and increases circulation, and that hasn’t changed since Cook came to town and country. Even better when due to the fragrant flaunting of International Law in seizing this land without consent, all authorities needed a sub-human primitive population ignorant of law, rules of settlement or clothes and totally undeserving of ownership of anything. Any paternalistic guidance, no matter how brutal, was just deserts for a people who are so backward and unwheeled.
So with guidance from above actively encouraging denigration and humiliation of anything positive with an Original complexion, from the time of the British Invasion onwards, the media has been a more than willing judge, jury and town crier.
Make no mistake it would be unwise to put all of the outrages taking place down to initial days inspired by ignorant ways, which slowly abated once British law and order took hold. When I was 12 the Australian Government made it mandatory that every household in the country fill out census forms. It was compulsory to answer a standardised set of questions relating to all manner of areas, simply because long and short term plans for every single person residing in the country needed to be made by those in control. Well when saying all human beings an exception was made to their rule, the Original human beings, every one standing still on the day of the census, never made it into the top grade.
Not only did they fail to be registered as any form of Homo sapiens sapiens, they were delegated to the same ranking as kangaroos. So when planning for the future, the Original people were given the same consideration as the 30 odd million kangaroos hopping around the countryside. The reality was that kangaroos had more rights, as neither kangaroo or any Original person were allowed to vote, but all Original people were imprisoned in reserves or missions and needed white permission to leave the confines, while the kangaroos could come and go as they please.
This is not just some sort of pernicious political ploy designed to play legal tricks, but part of the general fabric of the nation’s psyche at that time. When I was in primary school the most respected academic text of that time freely distributed by experts into every school in Australia, made note of the fact that the Original people were the most primitive race of man. And in what only compounds their unworthiness, I remember one sentence they spoke of them lagging behind in progress and lingering in the Stone Age. So, with this book opining as a fact the current approved view of these pitiful beings banished to backlogs of ignorant human endeavour with no chance of movement forward, it seems obvious that these semi-human beings are of no value, barely sapien and plainly undeserving of land ownership.
There was, at that time, literally nothing written extolling any aspect of the Original culture, history or wisdom. That is why the Original people were treated worse than animals, the census only reinforces the reality of 50 years ago. And where was most of this vile racism learnt? It begins in the classroom and is reinforced ad nauseam throughout adult life. Once leaving school the wall of racism persists and can be found in the papers, magazines, radios, television, editorials, books, courts and daily conversations of that time. The reasoning behind this relegation of human status was that it was agreed that the Original people had no right to be any part of the daily life of common folk.
Moving forward but Strolling Backwards
Moving forward thirty odd years to a time where I was teaching at a high school of which I have nothing but good memories, Courallie High. It had a massive percentage of Original students aged from 12 to 18, and on one occasion I was involved in an attempt to bind the community and set a positive example of racial harmony in a country town that has been sorely divided by periods of overt racism, and many good periods as well.
A celebrity touch football match was designed to be the centre-piece of a cultural day with Original and non-Original international and first grade footballers forming one combined team to play a school/community team. Many were still playing in first grade and amongst this elite Original and non-Original ensemble, Ewan McGrady had just won the national award as the best player. Knowing everyone with any knowledge of football was aware of Ewan and many other players, and that they and non-Original players had flown up to Moree from many places to participate in this community event, I naively assumed this would be something positive mainstream media would love to cover.
It only took a couple of phone calls before reality had set in, the responses were nothing short of outrageous. It was either an absolute indifference, which was as good as it got, through to an inquiry as to chances of getting live film of a fight between drunk Originals at a pub that night so as to “maintain balance.” As much as I tried to extol the co-operative endeavours and binding of community it all fell on deaf ears, the best we could get was the promise of filming a liberal dose of blood, fists and alcohol inspired frustration with the possibility of a brief cameo appearance of people smiling and shaking hands.
But all was not lost, realising no current affairs media outlet saw value in this co-operative cross-cultural endeavour, I contacted the Channel 7 Sunday sports show. Once rattling off the names my work was done, that of itself was sufficient for them to send a crew up to the day and put together a 15 minute segment. Of course, their primary interest was the players, past and present greats of the game, but knowing there was no hope that a crew with a non-sports agenda would dig deeper into this good news event, this was the next best result.
What did become crystal clear was that in each rejection, it was overlaid with a not too hard to recognise coat of contempt. Both in delivery and between the lines all of the people I contacted, outside the sport’s crew, were clearly put out with the waste of their time and the trivial nature of what we were offering to share. But that was some time ago, surely we have progressed since then?
December 2012, Five Metres From the Finishing Line
It was a pointless act that is solely my fault, and I alone plead guilty as charged and offer no extenuating circumstances in defense. Yes, once again I made contact with a mainstream media outlet with the ridiculous hope of breaking through the wall, specifically Central Coast ABC Radio. We made contact with a young reporter by the name of Mary Louise Vince. The first phone call was in early November and to my considerable surprise, soon after she was taken on country to view a variety of sites and artefacts located near and around the Kariong Glyphs. Her report on this time viewing the ancient story went to air on the morning of December 12.
It was far more complementary than we could ever expect, not only was it very supportive of the ancient Egyptian credentials of a bounty of nearby supporting evidence, the one minute forty second segment was the second item on the ABC National News, December 12, 2012. It spread everywhere, all relays picked it up. We had phone calls from all over the country alerting us to this favourable coverage. In what seemed to only add to strength of this seminal breakthrough, the accompanying article put up on the official ABC web site was no less enthusiastic.
It all looked so promising, then it just vanished all over, everywhere. A quick check on the inter-net and lo and behold that article, and no other, was also gone without a trace, explanation or apology. That all happened nationally within a space of two hours. Talk about speedy efficiency when in denial, it was awe-inspiring, this story was everywhere then absolutely nowhere.
The reason that this particular article was censored so rapidly through the actions of those in firm control, is all to do with content. What the ABC reporter was sharing with the public is a story of an ancient Egyptian settlement in Australia thousands of years ago which came about through consent and a legal agreement between both parties. Suggestions that the Egyptians came not only as pilgrims seeking knowledge, but also that this was the place the Egyptians learnt of their spirituality, principle Sky-Heroes and even hieroglyphs, is a bitter pill to swallow in official circles. It may sound radical to make any claim proposing that there is convincing evidence of a civilisation thousands of years ago sailing to Australia, but unlike others this reporter was actually on-site. The calibre of Egyptian archaeology she saw was of such high standard, that it led on to an extremely positive report being aired on the radio and an official entry post being made on the approved ABC web site.
Then nothing. A decision to censure was made by the media at the behest of people with way too much power and far too little accountability. In fact a highly respected academic, sympathetic yet anonymous, had been on the case for eighteen months hounding them for an explanation until he did receive the final word on the matter. There would be no explanation or reason given, that was the full official verdict and final word on the matter. This good news, specifically Original in context and steeped in antiquity of a partnership between no less than equals, has been denied public access by the media. Irrespective of who and where directions from above came demanding the truth be repressed, this organisation, our public broadcaster funded by taxpayer’s dollars, owes its allegiance to the public to inform without fear or favour, and failed miserably.
An ancient Egyptian presence in Australia, beginning at around 4,600 years ago and lasting four thousands of years raises two fascinating questions that should be a matter of intense discussion. We are told that this land had no material possessions, no cities, great stores of wealth, buildings, inventions, wheels or even clothes. If so, why come, why risk life and limb to sail so far? Equally, if the Original people had a formal agreement with a recognised Egyptian civilisation that lasted millenniums, that is legal recognition between two nations and automatically calls into question any claim of occupation that follows, especially since the British are the only invading colonising nation in the world that has no treaty, agreement to occupy or right of entry with the Original people.
According to the International Law Britain subscribed to when invading, Egypt still has the right to apply to Original representatives to set up an Embassy at a place of the First Australian’s choosing. As for those who came after this formal arrangement, be it the Spanish, Chinese, Phoenician, Celts or British, they are afterthoughts and must apply for permission to enter and could only be allowed to stay at the discretion of the Original Elders responsible. The presence of any Egyptian anything in this country is another thorn in the side of those who wish to deceive, so the story was axed and will never return.
What About Today, Surely it has got Better?
It has and hasn’t. Make no mistake racism is alive and kicking in Australia, it lurks under the surface with just a touch of the aggressive edge toned down. Low-level racism is very much a part of the Australian landscape, we see it in our daily life and every level of the media. This time around we will again begin with an anecdotal account of a game of tennis in the local neighbourhood of country town, and conclude with the observations of a highly respected lawyer and social commentator which was recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
About four years ago I was playing tennis in a Saturday afternoon competition in a medium-sized country town. It was a warm, cloudless, and all things considered until that point of arrival, a fine day. There was one, well four, ‘flies in the ointment.’ Four courts were being played on, sixteen people were playing doubles, then all play came to halt.
First noticed on Court 4, four Original young men were laughing, almost oblivious to our presence, as they wandered past the courts. Nothing was said on court, but all play ceased. Every set of eyes were focused on these young Original men as they walked past the courts, and they knew it as their voices and laughter was deliberately ramped up. Even though no words were exchanged, it was patently obvious to these intruders they were unwelcome in trespassing within the confines of a hallowed white-fella sanctum.
I have no doubt that this attention for all the wrong reasons inspired one of the four to pick up an old discarded tennis ball laying on the grass. The brazen theft of one used ball was supplemented by a mischievous smile and laughter at double the volume. After they had moved on with their ill-gotten gain in hand the knives came out. There was only one topic on the agenda and no play on court, the theft of a fifty cent ball was an outrage that confirmed many deep-seated prejudices.
What I found more revealing was that no-one gathered the remaining three balls, they were left as they lay and stayed there after play finally did conclude. The offence and disgust voiced had nothing to do with the loss of something no-one wanted, simply because a diluted racism was already present and accounted for well before the ball was repositioned. The reason for the outrage had everything to do with colour and nothing to do with one yellow ball.
With the exception of myself, every response was solely due to sliding degrees of racism. And why should that be a surprise, and I can assure the reader it certainly wasn’t. It may be that the strident edges are worn away, but deep down there is a lower-level of racism that still runs deep throughout the country and all posts in between, which can neither be denied or doubted. Nor is this Saturday afternoon theft of a white-fella trinket a throw-back to darker days that still fester in a few red-necked country towns. No, this is still standard practice, the only accommodation to the passing years and supposedly more enlightened times made is the realisation it is now deemed illegal to be overtly racist. What is more than acceptable are raised eyebrows, a dismissive glance, stares and whispers while torture, murder and burning on the cross is yesterday’s norm, but make no mistake the underlying prejudice has never left the room.
But it would be wise not to take our word for it, for we are rapidly losing patience with this vile response and are obviously biased and very pro-Original. The whole concept of any race being deemed less deserving and should be treated with institutionalised contempt is inexcusable in any setting or location. Whether a snide comment or bullet to the head the motivation remains constant. For the sake of balance and another perspective, we believe it would assist to see how a journalist and lawyer’s analysis of the dire situation facing Original people of today adopts a different approach to us, yet still tells the same appalling story.
A Journalist’s Perspective
Tim Dick wrote an extremely insightful feature article in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 18, 2016 titled “Reconciliation is Still not on the Horizon.” The highlighted sentence that ran as a sub-heading succinctly summed the reality of a desperate situation that just doesn’t seem to get better. He is adamant that “two and a quarter centuries on, too many Indigenous people are still treated abominably.”(1) Of course the term abominable is a very subjective descriptor, but alas, entirely appropriate and needs to be fleshed out.
“Too many have to suffer the faint reek of superiority that permeates attitudes of some non-Aboriginal people, well intentioned or not. Too often white Australia still thinks it knows best for Indigenous people, despite Australian history suggesting the reverse is true. European control resulted in two centuries of disaster for a culture that had lasted millennia without interference. As the Royal Commission found 25 years ago, to eliminate disadvantage, Aboriginal people must have control of their lives and communities.”(2) They have none, there is no national body of Original representatives to speak or advocate on their behalf. The Original people are still marginalised and discriminated against in every way and on every day.
In each example Dick cited, the Original people were the losers. They have the highest rate of incarceration in prisons and juvenile centres of any Indigenous people in the world. In that disgraceful area Australia is the world leader, that is one fact that no-one can deny. When it comes to locking up Original offenders in jail, no other country comes close. As Dick reported, “the rate is 27 times the rest of the community. We’ve gone backwards. Even more shamefully, given our supposed care for children, of all juveniles in custody, 59 percent are Indigenous, despite being about 3 per cent of the population.”(3)
Quite recently, and this plea has been made many times before, the issue of climbing Uluru was the topic of mainstream media attention. Alas nothing changes and no example has been set from above except ignoring the Elder’s requests and encouraging the offence to continue. “We heard of the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, refusing to stop the ritualised disrespect of the continent’s sacred heart.
The government will not close the Uluru climb, surely as offensive as a climb over a cathedral altar would be to Christians, 30 years after Uluru was supposedly returned to the Anangu people.
As is made clear to the visitors-patiently, repeatedly and politely-walking up the rock offends Anangu traditions. You don’t need to walk on Uluru to be profoundly moved by it, just as you don’t need to jump on the altar of St Paul’s to be deeply affected by Christopher Wren’s architectural mastery.
But we still allow the disrespect of its traditional owners.”(4)
The upshot of Dick’s critique, and equally the only path available that will resolve this impasse and outrageous behaviour, is that those in control and responsible for this mess should stand aside and hand the reins and funding back to the people who know best. “Indigenous Australia is still waiting for the rest of us to get out of the road so the first peoples of this continent can determine their own future. Allowing the owners of Uluru to decide how it is treated would be a good start.”(5)
If someone came on to my property without permission and refused to leave I could ring the police and they would be obliged by law to remove the intruder. That’s the law and the way things work in this country, however that law does not apply to not only the Anangu, but all Original people.
The only thing missing from this excellent article setting out the present-day grief still experienced by Original people, was the solution. And there is an immediate option available that will alter the balance and resolve so many problems, but alas, an avenue the media will not cover, discuss or present to the public. To our knowledge this topic and option has never been aired on any mainstream outlet, and we see no reason for that to change.
It all Began in 1901
When the Australian constitution was written which formed the base of Australian politics, the Original people were never included in the main body of statutes. They were mentioned in passing in the introduction, but considered too unworthy to be included in the legislature of the day to day running of the country. That omission, inspired as it was by an overwhelming sense of cultural superiority, would seem to be a curse, and it has been, but there is now emerging an extremely encouraging silver lining.
The Government and media have embarked on a strategy of supposedly remediating this omission by now rewriting passages to include the Original people in the main body of the Australian Constitution. There have been many advertisements in all media outlets extolling the virtues of voting for this change to the Constitution through a national referendum, thus righting the wrongs of the past. The recurring theme of each ad never wavers, let’s fix this illegality up and everything will get better. To that end, many ads feature current Original sportspeople in support of this move. It all looks so positive, but as always, once looking a little deeper the reverse is actually the case and the media is once again up to its old tricks.
There are many Original spokespeople strident in their attacks of this legal and political manoeuvre, and for the best of reasons. In fact every Elder and Keeper of the Old Ways we have met is united in their opposition to this movement and strongly support the notions of standing alone and sovereignty. We also unreservedly endorse this platform, but being a very political issue, it really is outside our jurisdiction, but the point that needs to be made is that one side of this story has many powerful Original voices ready and willing to prosecute their case, but have been willfully denied access by the media. Not once, never on any mainstream media outlet have we heard any Original voice, face or headline in objection.
These very digestible slick ads on TV, with lots of Original faces, have saturated the airwaves without a whisper of dissent. It is as if the media has already chosen one side of the argument and reached a uniform verdict to make sure nothing contrary is seen or heard. Surely not in these ‘enlightened times,’ either way there is nothing but one side of the argument on such an elemental step for the whole Original nation. That is so wrong in any democracy, and this manipulation through stealth is solely due to the media deciding in advance for the Original people. It really is more of the same and is a dismal state of affairs which has never let up since the Invasion.
More of the Same?
The mere idea of repeating the mistakes of the last two and a quarter centuries is ridiculous at every level and only guarantees that things will get course. Until this dreadful situation is resolved everyone in the country goes backwards, but this report was never meant to be a negative diatribe and there is a solution. However, a lot of people are not going to like it, not one little bit. The resolution to a problem that has torn this country apart since the British boats dropped anchor, comes down to the illegal occupation and theft of Original land being acknowledged through a gesture that has no parallel, give it back! The flag was raised illegally and the land was stolen by thieves, it doesn’t matter if they wore uniforms and bore arms, they took what was never theirs and has to be returned to the Original owners.
This is what should happen in an ideal world were real justice prevails, but alas as things stand today we are a long way off that perfect world. In the meantime to facilitate meaningful movement forward, we have put together the second-best option, a five-point back up plan that should be adhered to by all academics and media outlets.
- Do not enter any sacred site, Original land or settlements until you have been welcomed and invited on to country.
- Make it clear, upon guided entry, exactly what your intentions are and what you seek to report and do not deviate in any way from that promise unless getting unanimous agreement.
- Before making one step forward consult with everyone involved, and make the effort to make sure all relevant parties are respected equally.
- Whatever the finished product, be it video, report or paper, it can only be released once it is reviewed and totally endorsed by the relevant Original people. Every suggested change must be complied with, if that is not done the report is not fit for publication.
- Do whatever was promised with due respect and honour the place or community that invited you onto country. And while there, stop looking for problems and pain, this is merely the end-product of untold grief over ten generations caused by non-Original regimes and authorities. The bad news has already been well-publicised ad-nausea, more of the same only deepens the hole and is yesterday’s news. This time around, enough negativity has already been thrown on the carpet, the choice is simple, be positive and truthful or walk away and never say a word or return.
Coming Back Home
Obviously there have been exceptions in the media and with academics on site investigating Original archaeology, there have been and are people who have genuinely tried to report with the best of intentions. But they are such disproportionate minority and can barely be heard amongst the disdain, sensationalism and fear mongering that reaches the general public’s eyes and ears whenever dealing with Original issues.
As it is with almost every Original oral account, this personal response wanders off into the sunset and unexpected avenues, but thankfully is now returning to the point of the exercise. Back to Wurdi Youang and Uncle Reg’s request to put this article together, more importantly the result of the first edit. The report back on our first unedited draft from Uncle Reg and some Elders he consulted was mostly favourable, but they felt it was lacking in one participant/culprit: the media.
No doubt some from the media will not take kindly to the general flavour of the second half of this article, and no doubt do as our critics have and attack our character, motives, my hippy-like appearance, sartorial elegance and stunning hairstyle. However, before they do so they must bear in mind it wasn’t our idea, and nor was it an entry in the first draft. The Elders asked to insert and we are duty-bound to obey, and fortunately the choice of rubbish available on this topic is crammed full to the ceiling and so easy to write about. There is no crusade on our part, we are just doing our job. So don’t shoot the messenger for reporting on your sins, especially since all we are doing is telling the Original truth.
So there it is. Done as requested Uncle Reg. The media is now thrown in with the academics and we fully agree they are equally culpable and deserve to be criticised. Two out of three completed, all that is left is the third part of this tragedy and the major player in this theft, which will lead on to the country being handed back. But that is another story and is not ours, for now we have tried to give a few insights into the behaviour and attitudes of certain sections of the non-Original organisations, communities and people since colonisation and how these denials and injustices have impacted upon Original people.
Nevertheless, that is also yesterday’s news and we have no choice but to move on, and in a quest to improve the tomorrows to come in the most ancient continent in the world, the patronising approach to every Original issue so prevalent in both the media and academic, has to become historic. It must become a relic of the past, beginning today. Every excursion on to a sacred site, Original settlement or land must be driven by respect and Original agendas.
The C.S.I.R.O. went to Wurdi Youang and spent years ruminating over what it meant, then made huge announcements of its incredible age and all sorts of very important functions. Despite this they missed out on most of the story, same with those who came after, it got no better. That is why Uncle Reg turned to us, everyone was so far from the truth or so focused on one truth to the detriment of so many others. Wherever we look nothing seems to change. The ABC National News did a recent coverage of Wurdi Youang broadcasted free to air throughout the nation. It was all about Wurdi Youang, very positive and equally an obviously sympathetic coverage which was on song in featuring an academic making encouraging comments.
Again this all looked so good and a big step forward, until I spoke to Uncle Reg and asked him about the sense of relief he must have felt in finding an archaeologist in tune with the Original way of looking at this as an interconnected narrative spread across the countryside set on many layers. Yes, she had more than met with his approval, but alas, he laughed at the idea she was an archaeologist, no an anthropologist was her chosen vocation. Still no good news on that front.
With no-one else prepared to promote Uncle Reg’s site and his concerns, we have picked up the baton ignored by others through presenting an anecdotal and factual blend how bad things were said and done, along with ways of mending those wounds.
The good news is that all the damage and suffering of the past can be wiped clean in an instant. Once the right choice is made the rest is simple, and on this occasion begins with one final plea to scholars, the media and all others involved in this sad tale that could still be righted whenever standing on sacred ground: for God’s sake, show some respect.
(1) Tim Dick, 2016 (Mon. April 18th). “Reconciliation is still not on the horizon”, Sydney Morning Herald, (Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd: Pyrmont, N.S.W.) 16 (n).
(2) Ibid. 17 (n).
(3) Ibid. 16 (n).
(5) Ibid. 17 (n).