Monday, October 22, 2012

Indigenous meeting brings people together

Desert meets the rivers Desert meets the rivers

A group of around 30 Aboriginal women from remote South Australia have left the Mildura region after ten days of cultural exchange.

The women, from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands, travelled from the remote corner of north-east South Australia to meet in Dareton, in south west New South Wales.
The event was called 'Desert Meets River', and was aimed at re-educating local Aboriginal people around cultural and spiritual stories that connect both parts of the country.

Chairman of the Kulka community and member of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) executive council, Millyika Paddy, says the event was about sharing the knowledge held by a very traditional group of women with local Aboriginal people.

Speaking through a translator, Ms Paddy says the Aboriginal community in Dareton have been forced to forget a lot of their traditional laws and culture.

"It is hard for people here, because they have forgotten a lot. And they haven't been able to learn from their grandparents, the grandparents were not allowed to pass on that knowledge. And all that they've been able to learn is white fella law."

"It's difficult for people here, and that's why we want to come and help them, and support them as Aboriginal people."

She says the community has been responsive to their dances.

"They're listening to what we have to say and they're learning, and what we are saying is that the law from our country comes down through here too," she says.

One of the key stories they came to teach is called the Seven Sisters dreaming, which Ms Paddy says is a shared law between the communities.

"Us ladies, we danced that dreaming at the opening of the Olympic Games, and we're going to dance that dreaming at the centenary of Canberra next year, and we're dancing that same dreaming here in Mildura, because this is an important place."

A long-term resident of Namatjira Avenue, where most of the dancing has taken place, John Handy says the teachings have been a highlight for him.

"This is one of the best things that will happen. All around Australia, I've heard that they go from one town to another trying to unite us all as one lot of people and know the same story," says Mr Andy.

"We all one people, no matter where we come from or what part of the land, Australia, we all one people," says Mr Andy.

Mr Andy says locals have been slow to come around to the idea of the educational meeting in Dareton, but trusts that more will get involved in the future.

"We've just got to get more information out to them to let them know this is what will be happening every year," he says.

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