“Our time is running out”

indigenous-art-gallery-exhibition

I want to share something it was said by David Mowaljarlai, Ngarinyin Lawman. (Australian Elder) I kept a transcript of his talk from some 20 years ago.

I hope it’s not dry or unrelated to you the reader.  I think through the sharing of other cultures you will see more clearly your own, and how much the past is repeating today.

 David’s people set up a Bush university in Australia for people to learn directly from them, these are the words he’s spoke introducing the school.

We old people in the Law, there’s not many of us left now. We’re all dying off, or been killed off by alcohol and disease and heartbreak because we’re still not in our country, our proper place.

 Our gift will give you your meaning, your belonging.  We have to give it to your now before the time runs out.  For a long, long time we have been trying to give our gift to you but we are always blocked.

 We’re blocked by media because they don’t know how to talk to us.  We’re blocked by university people because they lock up our knowledge.  All our evidence has been locked up in universities and museums.  Doctoral people write down our evidence in languages that are too hard for anybody to understand.  They’ve written it up so that the meaning is lost.  Our gift is not just systems on paper.  It is the experience of life. 

 We’re blocked by politicians who are frightened we might lock them out of their power over us.  Their fear stops them from listening to us properly, Lawmen to Lawmen.

 We’re blocked by Gardia law because the rules of law shut up our mouths and only let us speak through Gardia lawyers in courtrooms in cities.  Our gift is lost this way because lawyers have to obey Gardia thinking. 

 We’re blocked by Gardia economic development because their mineral wealth is in our country and they don’t want to be stopped from getting it out.  And pastoralists who let their cattle run all over our sacred space, cutting up the country with their hooves, spoiling our sacred waters, killing off our animals, our totems, our identity.  This cattle mob block us from our Law sites, our paintings, where we camp and do our ceremony.  They take Gardia tourists to our sites without our permission  – without knowing sacred meaning.

 We old people want to tell you this.  We want to give your our gift so you can belong properly in this country and not be afraid.  We want you to fill up your emptiness with meaning so you can respect us and our country.  We’ve been trying for a long time. This is what we want to before our time is up.

 We want to teach our young people their meaning, their belonging so they stop getting lost to emptiness and alcohol.  We want to teach Gardia young people so they stop killing themselves and getting lost too.

 We want to teach all Australians about their belonging in this country so they stop destroying their meaning before it its too late. They’re ignorant of what they’re doing because they don’t know.  They can’t understand how to relate to land, and how land looks after them if they don’t learn these things.  We want to teach them that respect.

 We want to leave you our heritage.  Not in university papers that nobody reads or understands.  We want to teach you in our country so you experience what we know.

 We can’t do this while Gardia keep making laws and protests and arguments to keep us out of our proper place. They just run us out of time doing this.  We know what we want to do, and we know we have to start our important work now before its too late and we’re dead gone.  Everybody will suffer, really suffer if we die before we can give you our gift…….

 We Ngarinyin have a vision for our country and it is our gift.  Bush university is one of the big ideas we want to start. 

 Already we have filmed a lot of our sacred places and our ceremony so after we’re gone our children and you have that evidence.  We have already started taking people from the cities and overseas into our country for them to get their meaning. 

 We want to develop our own communications station in our country so everybody can talk to us directly, not through somebody else.  There are people in American, and Germany and Canada trying to contact us to learn from us.  We want to teach them.

 Our story is being written up in art. This is starting to go out to all the world. We’ve been broadcasting our radio for everyone to hear. We’re speaking at places where Gardia come to listen at seminars and conferences.  We’re talking everywhere to tell people about Ngarinyin culture, Ngarinyin stories, Ngarinyin meaning.  Gardia are really enjoying filling up with these stories.

 We’re doing all this so we can start up our Bush University.  White people are crying out to learn about our culture, and we cry because we’re blocked from teaching.

 …The country is not going anywhere.  The minerals are not going anywhere.  The paintings are not going anywhere. There’s plenty of time left for them.  Only we are going somewhere.  Our time is running out.

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