Each week, a new guest hosts the @IndigenousX Twitter account to discuss topics of interest as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. In partnership with IndigenousX, we’re inviting its weekly host to tell us about who they are, what issues they’re passionate about, and what they have in store for us during their upcoming week.
Tell us about yourself – Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
I’m a Garrawa man from Sandridge outstation near Borroloola and I speak my Garrawa language.
I am the lead singer of the Sandridge band, which we started in 1995. Our songs are about our land and we use our traditional language and stories with modern music, a mix of reggae, ska and jazz – whatever can entertain the people.
I work hard to protect our land, which is under attack from mining companies. Our land is too important for us to see it destroyed. We have dreaming sites, sacred sites, songlines which are like our maps, and so many stories. Our people still rely on this land for our food as well: we go hunting, fishing, and we collect all kinds of bush tucker.
What do you plan to talk about this week?
This Saturday we will be getting up early in the morning for a big protest. Our protest is against the destruction of our sacred sites and food sources. At the moment there are a lot of companies trying to explore our on lands. They are looking for oil, gas and other minerals. They want to frack our lands, mine them further and have even been talking about a big pipeline to carry gas, that would cut through our song lines. They would need to widen the road and ruin our sacred sites.
We are already suffering from mining. The MacArthur River mine is not on my traditional country, but it has a big impact by constantly polluting the river that runs down through our land. At the moment we can’t eat the fish from the river due to the pollution. We have to travel 20-30kms to go fishing in a safe place now. This shows why it is so important for all clan groups to work together – decisions on one persons land can impact on others. We all need to get together.
What issue affecting Indigenous people do you think is the most pressing?
I believe that the land is the most important thing for Indigenous people. We need the land for the young generation coming up behind us. We feel pressure coming on our land and so we need to put our foot down. The government and mining companies need to know that we are going to fight to protect it, for future generations both black and white.
Who are your role models and why?
My elders in the community, and my ancestors. When the white people came to this country, we had our own autonomy. We had our own laws and our leaders. Our ancestors went through so much, a history of being treated cruelly, or shot. But our ancestors have kept this culture alive, and now our elders they pass it on to our kids. If we lose that, we are nothing.
What are your hopes for the future?
There are two laws in this country – Aboriginal and the government law. I hope they learn to respect our law. I get a lot of hope from the fact that a lot of white brothers and sisters are fighting with us – this is what I call the real Australia.
Source: The Guardian