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Author: Lauren

Aunty Lil: Loving Change Maker

Aunty Lil: Loving Change Maker

I want to acknowledge that I have written and posted this in different parts of Australia, all of which is Aboriginal land. The crown and the government is an illegal occupation of this land and sovereignty was never ceded. I pay my respects to all Elders past, present and emerging.

While spending time in north Queensland I was fortunate enough to meet Aunty Lil, a newly nominated Elder of the Idindji/Ggunddji people. I was honoured to spend time on the sacred land of her family, the land of the Birriah people of the Birri Gabba language nation. I was intrigued to know how she felt about her Eldership and how she feels she can make changes through this opportunity.

As an Elder Aunty Lil holds a lot of wisdom, much of which can’t be shared to the wrong people, or rather must only be shared to the right people. In fact it is an imperative part of Eldership that that knowledge be preserved and handed on through the generations.

Aunty Lil, laughing tells me straight up how surprised she was to have been nominated as an Elder by her senior women Elders in Yarrabah. To be an Elder, to have “the Law sticks bestowed on [you]” is a great responsibility she explains. “I must put the muscle on the skeleton so that the Elder in me becomes and living, breathing person.” A huge part of this responsibility is finding the people who have the gifts of Eldership in their personality and helping them to grow and learn so that they too can one day hold the wisdom that Aunty Lil and other elders hold.

I was overwhelmed with joy when Aunty Lil started explaining to me her philosophies of how to act in this world, they resonated so strongly with me and the things I had been thinking about. “The love of the heart is like the spear of what I am doing and is given through song and dance” she starts explaining “I am an Elder but I see myself as more of a servant.” This service she is giving to her community benefits everyone and has a ripple effect across her country. But as these positive actions transcend social and energetic networks so can negative ones if the intent is not pure; “pure heart love, it protects me in a way, because if you do it for other things it becomes warped and if its warped it can turn around and come back to you as a curse… be careful about what you ask for; be very specific about what you want and ask for the things you need.”

One of my biggest personal thinking points is what strengths does acting with love have over acting just through logic and brain process? I truly think that life is a balancing act and it is always important to keep the heart in focus throughout all the cognitive things, but I wanted to hear what Aunty Lil had to say about this as well. “Like the Buddhists believe, if the chakras are aligned then you can only speak from one spectrum” she begins“and the love spectrum is where I speaks from; that is logical to me because we are all part of the human race and if we have a similar mind set then we only want what’s best for every living person… and this creates a beautiful unifying of a life force.” She goes on “The great minds of 21st century have not seen [this] for a long time or not seen ever. Going back to the big bang theory people and places were separated so people all evolved in a certain way; some people kept closer to this one mind philosophy others sort of went off in other ways.”

Australian history tells a horrifying colonial story of rape, plunder, pillaging and murder- actually outright genocide swept across the continent and the effects are still ongoing today. Aunty Lil explained to me that this mindset that the Europeans came to Australia with was their way of feeling powerful and important. This mindset could be seen as an ‘opponent’ to Aunty Lil’s philosophy of acting through love; “I don’t like it because I’m a product and my peoples land has been moulded by that mindset” she says but then goes onto say that she “still [doesn’t] deny them their humanity, we are all one and I believe that if we move to create this one mindset to loving everybody then we will negate and change that mindset. But that mindset has enslaved the world for a long time but it has to be broken”

This I found this so powerful to hear, after everything that her people have gone through and are still going through due to this illegal and immoral occupation, this wise woman was still telling me that the most important thing that we can do is love one another so that love can prevail over this world. My gosh, imagine if we all could feel this way!

As Aunty Lil continues her journey as an Elder she will have to pass on one of the Law sticks which was entrusted in her. She believes the second Law stick belongs to a younger family member with gifts and personality for eldership who will one day follow in her footsteps. She knows that when the time is right she will feel it and she will know who that right person is when they are ready. She has already given some gifts of song and ceremony: She is teaching others dance. She explains that she can teach family ties but to teach others outside of close family she would have to consult her senior elders.

As Aunty Lil continues her journey through Eldership she will inevitably come across challenges and will learn a great deal while she is teaching others but I have no doubt that she will make changes. Through acting out of love she will change the hearts and minds of others that energy will continue resonating through and through.
“I am more than my circumstance …I don’t see my path as a narrow path, I see my path as big river that’s flowing so many places and if I let myself be taken by the river then so many places I can go!
When you resist that’s when you’re going into that safe little world and thinking no I can’t do this, I can’t do this! But I say go on, just let it flow!… you never know where it might take you… [we] miss out on opportunities sometimes but I always expect the best will come out of a meeting rather than expect the worst”

“I don’t know what belief the world will end at but … consciousness has to change to wrap one mindset around it, sending love through all the nations and making oneness through love. Where I walk it’s not an unattainable thing, it can happen. So if I do my bit and do all my jobs around my Eldership with the right mindset and focus then I’m helping that along and its that power of one again and if each person chooses that then that ripple effect goes out to so many others…
This is just the way it works for me and I share that and I encourage other old persons to do that too.”

I was so thrilled to have been given the chance to have this chat with Aunty Lil, it filled my heart with hope knowing that this loving mindset is still within many of us.

*All photos are credit of Bec Adams and Frontline Action on Coal

Camp Freedom: Against the Stolenwealth.

Camp Freedom: Against the Stolenwealth.

First of all I have to say that I am not of Aboriginal descent. Although I feel that I have a strong passion for Aboriginal culture and way of life I cannot speak as one or write on behalf of and Indigenous community. What I have written is an account of my experience over the last few weeks and what I learned along the way.

The British Commonwealth is an association of 53 member states colonised by the British Empire including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, a number of African nations and many Island nations and other countries around the world. The British, despite claiming Australia to be “Terra Nullus” were not the first people to arrive on any of the lands which they conquered. The tactics they used to take over the land were a different in every situation in every case however it most often included force, murder, oppression, slavery and rape just to name a few.
When Captain Cook and the early “pioneers” first arrived in Australia they immediately refused to acknowledge the Indigenous people, grouping them as “flora and fauna”.

Australia’s First Nation’s People have been here for over 60 thousand years. Before European settlement they had very sophisticated civilisations which included complex agricultural and hunting practices and their own systems of law. The Australian landscape evolved with these systems and the huge loss of culture and knowledge means that the natural environment is no longer being managed and looked after how it has been used to for thousands of years. Life changed dramatically for Aboriginal people when the Europeans arrived; their numbers declined at an astounding rate as they were massacred, enslaved, raped, poisoned and forced off their land. In addition to this was the new diseases brought in such as small pox which they had no immunity to resulting in massive amounts of death sweeping over the land. Prior to settlement, Australia was made up of hundreds of different nations; Indigenous people had a system of nations, and smaller groups within nations which each had a unique language. Over 200 different languages were spoken in Australia prior to settlement. Although some of this knowledge remains there is only a small handful of languages which are still known today.

In the 1880’s the Australian Government implemented an ethnic cleansing regime; they removed Aboriginal children of mixed descent from their families to try and “integrate” them into what they believed was Australian civilised society. Thousands of children were torn away from their parents and taken away to learn Christian values and the white man’s education.

The list of atrocities brought upon Aboriginal people through colonialism goes on and on and is absolutely devastating. Unfortunately there has been only minimal interest from the Australian Government to make any amends. There is still no treaty signed, there is still inadequate (close to no) inclusion of Australia’s true history in the school curriculum, their incarceration and suicide rates are highest of any demographic in the country and what’s more is the Government is still taking away children at an even greater extent to the 1800’s (only justifying it by other means). Any rights to land use they are granted is unstable and government policy dependent, and the enormous amount of racism they receive from the Australian police force and the general public is plain disgusting.

 

Every four years since the 1930 “British Empire Games”, the Commonwealth has brought together its colonised nations in a celebration of the Crown though sports competition in what we now know as the Commonwealth Games. The games have now been held in Australia five times, all of which sparked protest from the Aboriginal Communities. We have just come to the end of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and as someone who participated in this year’s protests I am feeling particularly invigorated to share what I learned and experienced.

The Stolenwealth Games of 2018 claimed to “Respect and celebrate” Indigenous cultures by establishing a “Reconciliation Action Plan”. However when the Indigenous content of the opening ceremony is not even directed by a First Nation’s person it is hard to believe that they were taking these claims seriously at all. Cultural appropriation for tourism and money making; putting Australia on show how the Government wants Australia to look is not “respect” or a “celebration” of culture.

This year a couple hundred people gathered at a camp organised by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance and the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy to demonstrate “our non-acceptance of colonial rule, and the forced oppression of Aboriginal peoples….the imposition of paternalistic, colonial, common law policies that have been designed to retain the disadvantage for Aboriginal people throughout the entire Commonwealth history.” The sovereignty of Australia’s First Nations People has never been ceded, there are no treaties, no truth commission and they have not been given “fair and equal justice” or treatment of any kind from the Commonwealth. A so called “Reconciliation Action Plan” seems like a huge joke of a token gesture to cover up the misdeeds still going on today.

Over the two week course of the Stolenwealth Games we undertook demonstrations, protests and other such actions which included wins such as delaying the relay of the Queen’s Baton, disrupting Prince Charles’ prompt arrival at an important event, delaying various sports events by halting traffic outside Australia Fair shopping centre as well as protesting at the opening ceremony. These were amazing successes which were held as very proud moments, especially when remembering back to the 1982 Brisbane Stolenwealth Games protests where they were unable to walk 100 metres down the road without getting arrested.

Additional protests were also arranged; Channel 7’s Sunrise was being filmed at Surfers Paradise, so we decided to cause a commotion behind them with chanting and banners to be seen and heard behind the hosts. This was in reaction to the events which occurred in March when host Samantha Armytage had introduced a segment with Prue MacSween as “Post Stolen Generation, there’s been a huge move to leave Aboriginal Children where they are, even if they’re being neglected by their own families” to which panellist MacSween stated it was a “no brainer” to remove the kinds and that there was a “conspiracy of silence and fabricated PC outlook that it’s better to leave them in this dangerous environment.” She then went on to say “Don’t worry about the people who decry in handwriting and say, this will be another stolen generation…just like the first stolen generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again”
Sam Armytage said nothing against these horrifying statements during the discussion, so we took to the beach and stood behind them yelling, chanting, holding placards. The presenters sat there trying to smile and talk over the commotion behind them while attempting to keep the remainder of the supportive crowd happy during the very extended add breaks by handing out cheesy photos with autographs. Eventually they stopped broadcasting all together.

As a group, we were also part of a vigil and rally where we stood in solidarity with the Rohinghyan, West Papuan, Tamil and Palestinian people and demanded a sanction of Australia. Camp Freedom joined the Rohinghyan Community, RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees in a “rally against the ongoing illegal occupation of Yugambeh country”, the unfair and inhumane treatment of refugees and “the acts of genocide, dispossession and torture that has been carried out by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in the name of the Crown.”

The intensity of the Authority we experienced was a complete and utter demonstration of the patriarchal, patronising system we live in. However it also showed how scared they are of a little change in the status quo. The Gold Coast was of course crawling with cops for the games; at times there seemed to be more of them than there were civilians on the street! But whenever we would demonstrate we were met with a force of officers double or triple our numbers who did use force and brutality on multiple occasions.

On the last Friday of the games a group of roughly 100 of us were peacefully protesting around Surfers Paradise shopping mall. Hundreds of police officers were following us. To begin with a small group of us were making our way over to the larger group when a file of officers immediately made a beeline straight towards one from our group, Dylan and arrested him on the spot for apparently breaching his ever changing and very unclear bale conditions. The group of us followed them and a number of us, myself included were shoved off the footpath by officers on the way to the paddy wagon. After discussing the arrest we decided it would be best to join the larger group before heading over to the watch house. On our arrival we realised that the group had been led by the police into a narrow walkway. From here they were easily able to make a thick wall of cops and enclose the group, hoping to move them backwards; we were staunch in standing our ground and eventually some of the group were completely surrounded by the police in a tight volatile bunch being pulled and shoved around. One woman in our group (she had recently had a hip replacement) fell to the ground but was trampled as the officer in charge told the wall to keep pushing forwards regardless of the potential injury. The woman was arrested and taken to hospital. Five others were also subsequently arrested and the rest of us retreated while yelling “Too many coppers, not enough justice!”
We ended the protest standing in a park with a ring of police officers kittling us while we waited for our mini bus. During this time the Elders addressed the police over the megaphone; they talked to the genocide, the deaths in custody, the Stolen Generation both previous and new. Some of the women also did ceremony to protect us. The children also yelled out on the megaphone and asked the cops why they wanted to take them away from their parents.
When one young boy (whose mum had just been arrested) said over the megaphone “And if you don’t take our kids then you take our parents, where is my mum?! She’s not here! Where is she?!” I burst into tears. I had been trying to hold my emotions together and be strong like these people but I couldn’t hold these tears back.
When I hear the stories of the things that these people experience every day; the racism and hatred aimed at them, the suicide and oppression, I am amazed at how strong and staunch they remain. The oldest living culture in the world has evolved a resilience greater than any I had imagined.

Many white Australians have racist views of Aboriginal people; they blame them for the life situations that many of them are in. I would challenge any of these white people to go through what their culture went through in Australia’s genocidal history, and to live what they live every day while remaining so strong like these people remain today.

There are many things that this country needs to do to start understanding our true history and to wipe away the racism we seem to live by. Those at Camp Freedom that “seek to notify the assembly of the United Nations, to recognise the unbroken sovereign connection that our peoples have held over their lands, culture, traditions and values” which along with participation from other indigenous cultures in other colonised nations, will form the basis of an International Truth Commission “responsible for the investigative process… of determining the legal validity of colonial common law against our ancient Aboriginal laws, the first laws.”
Once the truth is recognised we must then incorporate this information into the Australian-wide school curriculums. We must teach students what really happened in Australia, instead of a romanticised false version of Australia’s history like we currently teach. Just as students in Germany learn about the Holocaust, we have the responsibility to do the same.

Australia is in fact the only commonwealth country that has not signed treaties with its Indigenous communities… yes, that is very shameful indeed! Treaties in themselves will obviously not fix all problems but treaties which are carefully thought out and have a continuing effect of improvement are a key factor in the building of a fair and equal Australian society.

These things, amongst others will make a huge difference to our country. White people are acting like we have been here forever when we have literally only been here for approximately 1/240 of the time that Aboriginal people have called this country home. It’s time we started respecting this fact!

 

A dance of Sorts

A dance of Sorts

Come, put your feet here; feel the pebbles dance,
He said, “you can feel the pebbles dance”
A sudden change in fate, a change in form; in pattern,
my feet, never to be forgotten from the stone beneath,
a rhythm, vibration, bouncing at my toes,
The dance of rock pools, plunge pools, rain catchers;
The dance of circles, smooth edges, bowls and thirst quenchers.
A dance so quick and chaotic, erratic and  irrational,
and yet lasting an infinity; hundreds, thousands of years of dance, of stirring,
stirring and stirring the bowl,
until the bowl becomes wider and wider,
no end product, no goal, no final pose,
just constant transformation.

Dear Baba Yaga

Dear Baba Yaga

I beg your momentary attention please,
not to anger, scold or something harsher,
I wish to embrace any future be,
my future Baba Yaga.

Show me a wisdom to know the truth;
To know myself and therefore just know.
Guide my conscience- what to do,
let what will in time be shown.

Mother of the forest, knower of life and death,
let me know life and death as one;
An inseparable cycle with no rest,
A skull carries fire- moon to sun.

Teach me suffering, so I may experience joy,
challenge my ways and keep me moving,
flowing, dancing, motion is ploy,
but an eternal presence soothing.

I beg your time only when that time is such,
I will not push or prod or croon,
For I know that “If you know too much,
you’ll become old too soon”

Ode to a Car Driver

Ode to a Car Driver

Car driver, car driver,
be an inconvenience I might,
by making you turn your little wheel,
a small way to the right.

So if it makes you feel better,
then yes, if you please,
take the effort to roll down a window,
and yell something obscene.

But I’ll tell you all that I might,
oh car driver, car driver,
hear as you drive fast past my bike,
is just a sound a bit like “BLEerrr…”