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Voices (2023, 41:33 mins) occupy the Belvedere Ghost. The people of the Queenstowns – artists, Elders, miners, loggers, writers – recount memories and stories, yarning on the meaning of place, the dilemmas of development, the call for recognition and justice.


0:00:00.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): in Kaurna language

0:00:14.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): On behalf of the Kaurna people, I welcome you all to Kaurna country, and I do this as ambassador of the Adelaide Plains people. My brothers, my sisters, let’s walk together in harmony, I tell you. 

0:00:28.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): We give a welcome because that’s what we did in the old days. We welcomed people into our Country. We’d have to stand like that, with our hands outstretched. And I know I went to Pitjantjatjara, and me aunt told me, ‘Stand like that and then someone will come to you.’ And they did. And really, what the statement is made in Pitjantjatjara is that you’d say to the Pitjantjatjara man, (Kaurna language) ‘Excuse me, can I come from over here over to you?’ And he’d say, ‘Pitja, come.’ So we welcomed people into our Country for centuries. And it’s a long-held practice because we had borders, they were set for thousands of years, and so you had to seek permission to come into Country. And I know once that we had a message stick, and it’s in the old records, from the Ngadjuri people. They said to the Kaurna, ‘Can we visit the sea and go through your country to the sea?’ And they sent the message stick back and said, ‘Yes, follow the Broughton River down to the sea and that’d be okay.’ So you see? People asked permission, there was a lot of protocol.

0:01:40.6 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): And this really follows what people do around the world. You have to have a visa to visit certain countries, to be allowed entry. They have to know all about you because you don’t let strangers in without knowing something about them. Otherwise, who are they, and what are they going to do? And then you wanna find out what they’re going to do. Are they going to visit? Are they going to work? Are they going to just be a tourist? And so it’s a common practice around the world. It’s just that we did it for centuries, long before most people, I think, because we had set borders.

0:02:11.9 Adam Thompson (Pakana): A lot of information has been lost, we know a lot of the Aboriginal names of places in Tasmania but unfortunately, we don’t have one specifically for Queenstown, and maybe there never was one for that specific place. I mean the township of Queenstown has been built for a certain need. The white people moved in there, they were looking for minerals, and then when they were discovered, a township was created, and expanded because of all of the money and things that was being created. And people just flooded in there because of the prosperity.

0:02:52.8 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): Queenstown really would be called kura Yarta Puulti. It’s near Port Adelaide. It’s a part of the Port Adelaide setting. It’s south of Port Adelaide, and that’s what it would be to us in our language. It’d be kura Yarta Puulti. Near Port Adelaide.

0:03:51.4 Aunty Theresa Sainty (Truwulway): Pakana mana mapali makara lumi paywuta manta

Muyini + Rrumitina pumili Palawa – raytji pama

kuntana rukiri pumili rruni – rruni-mana-mapali Lutruwita

minanya, laymina, minanya kitina

truwala – truwala paliti kunanyi

manina mapali mapali

My people have been here since the beginning of time. When Muyini and Rrumitina created Palawa, the first black man. After which the ground was cut to make the islands, like our island, Lutruwita, Tasmania. The rivers, lagoons, streams and other waterways. The mountains, including our sacred kunanyi, and all things within land and sea country. 

So there wasn’t any…there was not enough of any one of the original languages of Lutruwita to be able to revive one language. And ideally, that would have been East, North-East language because that’s where we’re all from. That’s our ancestral homeland. But there was just not enough, and so Palawa kani is a composite language, like English and any other language, really, or a lot of other languages. 

What a wonderful way of honouring the Old People who are no longer here. Their languages that have not been spoken since the last of those old fellas were taken from Country, and were moved to Wybalenna. So what better way to honour those Old People and that knowledge and their languages than to bring a particular word back into use? 

And we assert, we assert our language sovereignty every time we speak our language.

0:05:43.4 Dominic Guerrera (Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri): Thank you for gathering unlawfully on my land. It’s often said that as Aboriginal people, we live within two worlds. This is not true. We live in a state of colonisation. I was invited by a white person to come here today and welcome you to my country but that won’t be happening because, to be frank, you’re not welcome. You’ve overstayed your self-imposed welcome and we’re fed up with you and your colony. We’re fed up with your destructive and murdering ways. We’ve had enough. It’s gone on for too long that even the land is rejecting you.

If our lives matter, and they do, then your presence is no longer needed because no matter what scenario of reconciliation or cohabitation is proposed, we are the ones who are always paying the heavy cost, and it’s usually with our lives. If we all bleed the same colour, then why is it us who are always the ones bleeding? And I’m sick of bleeding. How about instead of Country, we welcome you to the poverty and the disparity of wealth, the instability that can echo through our lives because of your disruption. I wholeheartedly welcome you to dying 10 years younger or trying on a spit hood, suffocating as police cuff and slide you into a paddy hearse. Please feel welcome to all the diseases, infections, chronic illnesses, disabilities and injuries brought on by your racism, not because of our race. They’re here waiting for you, come collect them. Acknowledge the privilege of being able to gather in public spaces uninterrupted by the colony or its forces because when white people drink in parklands, it’s called a festival. When Aboriginal people drink in parklands, they call the cops. This disruption of our gatherings is a deliberate attempt to sever our connection to land and with each other. It’s time to imagine and bring forth a future that doesn’t centre this continent on white lies, and until then you are unwelcome.

0:08:24.3 Adam Thompson (Pakana): But then suddenly there’s this massive interruption of Aboriginal culture, of Palawa culture, during the invasion period, and part of that invasion is the renaming of places. I mean that’s happened all over the world. It’s part of that taking ownership of something. You’re going to rename it. And our community now, the current modern Aboriginal community, we’ve been implementing these names back into the land through a variety of ways. And I guess one of the first ones was… Well, because a lot of our culture’s been lost and a lot of our language has been lost from the minds and memories of our community, we had to bring all of our knowledge together, which involved talking to Elders and people in the community and gathering up all of that communal and community history and knowledge and names and then I guess scour the history books and the primary’s records to try and bring it all together and then apply a process of linguistics to it because some of the people that recorded our language, some of the white people, they’re like Cockney English.

0:09:48.2 Adam Thompson (Pakana): And so the way that they heard those names being spoken by our tribal people and the way that they wrote them down is based on their interpretation and the way they hear it. And so we can’t just take these words from a book and just try and say it. So there’s been a process of linguistics that’s been applied to it too, so that in the re-spelling of that word in English, it’s done in a way that the way you pronounce it is how it would’ve been said by the tribal people.

0:10:28.3 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): See Yarta Puulti is land of sleep, and sleep meant death because the fish died when, we had neap tides, and so that’s when the tides get still, and then there’s no wind and the gases come off the ocean bed and from the mangrove and kill the fish. They gas them. And see, a woman studied that and she took three months to work that out, why the fish were dying in the port. And then you see that the Old People must have known that for centuries, that’s why they gave it the name. That’s where all the fish will die. And so see, these are surprising things that you find out. Aren’t they? About history and how tides can play a part in your life and you don’t realise it. It’s next door to you, and how many people watch that and notice those things? Our people today watch everything.

0:11:22.6 Theresa Sainty (Truwulway): The place words of proper names for any of their country, any part of our country, were born from Country and so they have always been there and they have been spoken by the people who had always been there for many, many thousands of generation, until invasion and colonisation heavily impacted on everything.  Completely changed their way of life.

0:12:00.1 Aunty Pat Waria Read (Ngadjuri, Narungga, Peramangk): Yeah, but settlement took away those sites. And so the freshwater springs that we had, the middens and the burial sites, because in them day, we would bury them in the sandhill. Well, this whole place, Port Adelaide was covered in sandhills, and yet they… I don’t know if they ever acknowledged or found those skeletons of our people in those fields, because we weren’t told about any of that, if they did or not find them. And so that’s really sad, that they never thought that the person who was in that sandhill belonged to somebody. And they belong to us, the Aboriginal community here in Port Adelaide. If you look at some of those buildings, old buildings around Port Adelaide, you could see that they’re sandstone building. So some of the buildings here in Port Adelaide, some, they’re made with that sandstone and the stone that they collected from the quarry where they built Parliament House with. So we always said that those areas, like Parliament House, is actually built on a site, that site is where Aboriginal people used to dance, sing, and talk about our laws and justice for our people. Well, of course it’s gotta be parliament house. Isn’t it? So white fellows don’t think that our spirit don’t lead and guide them in the things they do. Well, I tell you, it does.

0:13:51.6 Adam Thompson (Pakana): When I went on the train tour that goes from Queenstown, all the way down to near Strahan, and I was interested because I thought, ‘Hmm it’s going to be interesting to see what Aboriginal history they talk about.’ And as we got down, there was no mention of anything Aboriginal, until one point, they were talking about how inhospitable the landscape is and how difficult it was for the pioneer white people to put this train track in. And even when they first come to the Queenstown area, how difficult it was to get in there and get supplies in and out. And they made a mention of, ‘It was so inhospitable that even Aborigines never lived here.’ And they’re basing that on this view, this window of time when Europeans first come in there. And their observations looking through a colonial settler lens at the landscape and seeing, I guess, concentrations of Aboriginal people living on the coast and living off the abundant marine resources there and seeing these huge like mountains, these middens that are so big and so extensive that you can actually see how long the people have been in that landscape.

0:14:12.0 Adam Thompson (Pakana): You can see, like when you hear words like, ‘People have been here for tens of thousands of years, 40 thousands of years, it’s difficult to comprehend. You go to parts of the west coast on the coastline and look at the middens and you can see that. Like you go, ‘Wow, okay, this is amazing.’ It’s almost unbelievable to the eye just to see how big these deposits of shellfish are, these middens, it’s crazy.But there’s certainly historical records of places close to there, where they’ve been known ochre deposits that have been utilised by the Old People. And when you’re looking at the landscape there now, it’s very bare. Like around, around the township, it’s beautiful, it is. There’s this beautiful rainforest, it’s very typical Tasmanian West Coast vegetation. We’ve got a dark green foliage, tall trees, quite thickly vegetated. And the area is topographically, it’s really hilly, basically, there’s lots of valleys and rivers and it’s very harsh, very rocky and it’s really beautiful.

0:16:26.7 Adam Thompson (Pakana): But where the mining has affected is the vegetation around the town. I think it’s the fallout from all of the deposits coming out of the furnaces. And it’s just stripped the vegetation back to bare, complete bare. And it used to be called a moonscape because it was just… If you look at historic photos of Queenstown, it’s just completely bare. But now it’s starting to grow back and people are actively trying to revegetate it as well. And then some people don’t like that because that moonscape look is so typically Queenstown and it’s attracted visitors from all around Tasmania and interstate to come there and look at this like moonscape that’s been created from the mining. Some of the locals want to keep it that way because that’s what they’ve always known, and they like that as an attraction and that’s what defines their town in a way but then other people want to see it be rehabilitated and back to its more natural state.

0:17:46.8 Graeme Mee: Oh the smelter, well, it had to happen in those days. There was no government handouts, people had to work to get a quid. I’m sorry, if you had to sacrifice the chook that was laying the egg to have a square meal, the chook went into the oven, and that’s what happened those days, and we weren’t educated or knew any different really. We thought out of sight, out of mind. I’ll say that honestly. And we weren’t… We didn’t handle things well in those days but it wasn’t expected of us and we weren’t educated. They were doing things like it all over the world in a way, but Mt Lyell done that with the river and that’s why RGC sold the mine, they thought they were going to be up to clean the whole river up. ’94, they finished, RGC, Rennison Goldfields. So environmentally, yeah, it’s just been in its tracks. Fire has destroyed a lot. The sulphur from the mines has destroyed a lot. Wood was fuel.

0:18:54.0 Graeme Mee: Now they don’t want you to cut down a blade of grass. Well, those people don’t want you to cut a blade of grass, they’ve got the best-manicured lawns in Australia or the world. I can go take you to them, the environmentalists and see what they’re doing around their properties. I can tell you they’re not environmentalists. It’s a job, it’s a quid. It’s like occupational health and safety. When that started up, great thing, but people jumped into it because it was a job and they could get a quid out of it. People went into parliament on the green because they’d get a pension after two terms.

0:19:28.0 Anthony Coulson: Well, put yourself in place here in 1982, it was the epicentre of greeny hate. And if you was a 12-year-old, which a lot of my school year was at the time, well, you’re not going to stand in the main street, put your hand up and say, ‘Oh, no dams’, because you’re just going to get flogged, basically. So we didn’t do that, we ducked for cover and didn’t express ourselves in that way. But you had to to survive here because even people coming in from out of town, if they weren’t known, they’d be viewed with suspicion. If you had a beard or something, well, you was going to get challenged. That’s just the kinda place it was. So yeah, it was difficult. So Queenstown had this rule that was considered a place you just don’t go there. The people didn’t visit Queenstown, they just drove on through and tried not to look sideways because it had this reputation of being a dark, forbidding place that you would be challenged. And if you felt any way in tune with the environment or opposed to the Franklin Dam or… You just didn’t go to Queenstown because unfortunately, a lot of the schoolteachers and a lot of that kinda profession did feel that way because they grew up through the Pedder campaign, and now they’re the schoolteachers and they’re teaching us. So that and a lot of spending time in the environment and getting quite attached to it was… Our generation was the first generation that did feel differently to our forebears.

0:21:09.5 Anthony Coulson: So the schoolteachers… When the decision came from the high court that there wasn’t going to be dams, the schoolteachers were warned that they should move out of town and just be scarce for a few days because of the retributions. And we saw that with the Lea Tree. The Lea Tree is a beautiful big old Huon Pine by the Gordon River. And it was one of the favourite places during the blockade for the protesters, they would go there and be around this majestic old thing looking over the river. And when the decision was made, ‘No Dams’, and it would become a National Park World Heritage Area, some of the HEC (Hydro Electric Commission) workers went down there and bored holes in it and cut the pieces out of it and tossed it in diesel and set it on fire and painted on it, ‘F U green Cs.’ It was pretty demonstrative. It was a bit of a horror.

0:22:12.7 Raymond Arnold: Dumped in there, several busloads of us on a hot afternoon. There was quite a crowd outside the big wire fence. And there was stuff coming over the fence at us. And every now and again, some policemen would come and collect a group of the sort of, arrestees and march them over to the courthouse across the road, which was like running another sort of gauntlet. This went on all afternoon, into the evening. I remember just sitting in the dust, with some of my colleagues, new colleagues. Eventually about 10 o’clock or 11 the system broke down. The courthouse, there was probably 150 of us or 120 or .. the courthouse couldn’t deal with it so they just handed us all a photocopied sheet saying: You’ve been charged da-da-da-dah. You’ll be called at some later date for a magistrate. And then, so about by midnight we were sort of climbing back on a bus to come back to Hobart. So it was pretty solid, (—). Because I was with people I didn’t feel it and I think I also felt a solidarity. I never felt as much solidarity then as I did with that group. We were in a vanguard of a new sort of world, a new society.

0:23:57.1 Graeme Mee: I could tell you a lot of people that’s made a lot of money out of being, say a Green, and if you go to their house, they got open fires, they got a wood stack, they got timber everywhere, they got, they got, they got. Then they come out of their house and come to the city and preach against cutting a tree down. And that’s what they are using. Like I said, mining, okay, what’s yours is mined, no matter it’s a car, microphone, wedding ring, eyelets in a shoe, it’s mined. And these people come in wearing all this stuff, and say let’s shut the mines down. Where were they educated? I don’t know where they’re educated. They never went to school. Home educated? I don’t know. And this is what it’s all about. I’m not saying let’s just willy-nilly tear the place apart, let’s do things better every day.

0:25:04.6 Graeme Mee: As for Queenstown, yes, in those days it was fuel used and of course, the smeltering, the sulphur, it never killed off the undergrowth, it stunted it. Because nothing’s been planted, it’s come back. Gormanston Hill, first of all grows a tussock that turns into a peat that feeds the plants, and those plants have been laying dormant in that soil all this time, and here they are. I mean, everything’s pleasing to the eye.

0:25:40.1 Anthony Coulson: Yes, I firmly believe that Mount Lyell Mine will reopen one day. Copper, gold, silver, I mean copper, it’s quite deep, so someone will do the economy and the mathematics and I’m sure it will. But the one big thing that we need to keep in mind, if the Mount Lyell Mine reopens, some of the revenues from that mine need to be channelled into cleaning up the mess. A modern mining activity at Mount Lyell will comply with world best practice and it won’t pollute. What we’ve got is a legacy, we’ve got millions of tons of dumped sulphide rock from old open-pit mining activities, and because that’s broken sulphide rock exposed to atmosphere, the reaction takes place and our magic rain that we get then forms an acid mine drainage, and that’s what’s wrong with the Queen River.

0:26:35.6 Anthony Coulson: Now, in the real early days, being such a high-sulphide mine was a big advantage because it helped the smelter works. They used the sulphur and the sulphide in the rock to combust and make the smelter a success, which was quite innovative, and that in itself put sulphur fumes into the atmosphere and created the acid rain. And Queenstown had this reputation of ‘the denuded rock landscape’ for such a long time because of that. But in the modern day, there’s no need for that because a simple rehab will deny those rocks contact with atmosphere, and it can’t pollute. And our modern mine will do that but we need to go back, fix the old problems and then go forward. We all need elements. We all need copper. We love all our mod cons and there’s nothing wrong with that but we don’t have to trash the environment anymore to get those things.

0:27:31.5 Helena Demczuk: Oh, it’s changed in leaps and bounds, and the pivotal point there is the deaths of the mine in 2013, ’14, when two miners died before Christmas, and then one afterwards, and then the repercussions around that in terms of people feeling guilty around that. And so the town was grieving. It was palpable, you could breathe it in. I think in a small town or community like Queenstown, anything that happens, you’re part of it whether you’re not intrinsically related to that person, but somehow it’ll affect you because you’ll know someone who knows that person or you’ll just see and hear and feel how people are feeling. So I think that was a pivotal moment, where people were leaving. There was still mourning their loss, we thought we would be the only people living here because it was really depressed. No mining, mining went into closure, the coronial inquest was happening, no one knew what future would come of it. And then, I’m not quite sure how it started, but somehow this art community started to pop up around it. They kind of realised, going back to Hobart, they’d have to find somewhere to live, somewhere to rent studio space, and Hobart was filling in. MONA had taken that over with people wanting to move to Hobart. Some of those people moved here, so there’s a new cohort of you now younger-age people and artists moving into Queenstown. And some of their friends came in because they were here, which tends to happen. So I suppose the 2018 festival, we were seeing this change coming, suddenly it was brightening up, people moving in. The beginning of house prices going up but potential.

And even our street felt like it was a New York kind of groovy place to be. Forget the ghetto and evolving art space. So yeah, there was a buzz, and people still talk about that buzz and that shift from mining to art being the centric thing. So it’s now art mining, once that was turned, people went, ‘Oh yes.’ To some extent, mining has actually been good. While it’s been resting, it’s allowed for something else to happen in the community, tourism was building. We have Roam Wild and doing tours. The arts always elevate a community, coffee shops bookshops, other activities coming around it. I suppose that’s a change from 2013 to ’14, but prior to that, mining was the centric aspect of what was going on here, so you’d see high vis everywhere, you’d see really expensive cars.

0:30:28.7 Graeme Mee: The miner would come down on a pay on Friday night, they’d go shopping there with their wives, they’d buy a few drinks and take it home, they’d have fish and chips, the kids would have a few dollars to go and buy something outta the shop. Now, I was told here a little bit of a while ago, it was an art town, and I was stressed, an art town? Well, it so happens I’m sponsoring art today. At that function, I went to it for a while, then I went back to the local football ground. See, ‘cause I was on duty there. I asked at a later date how much art was sold. $250 worth of art was sold at that function. The football club turned over $12,000 in three days. So I suppose it’s a football town, not an art town, a football town. They come with a clean shirt and a $5 note and they don’t change either one.

0:31:18.8 Helena Demczuk: If there’s a situation here, like a stabbing or a house on fire, it’s a payback system, the town almost blew up because of a vendetta. It’s like it’s happening here, it’s happening across the road, it’s two blocks down, it’s affected someone you know or someone you’ve spoken to. But in a city, it’ll be in another suburb. It’ll be across the other end of town. So it’s there but it’s so far away from you that you have no kind of relationship to it. But here everything is relation, you are related to it in some ways. There’s so much, life is happening in front of you. It’s full-on engaged life and you’re just navigating this field, if you like. It’s quite exciting, it’s an exciting place to be, I think.

0:32:10.8 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): Churches, they’re talking about decolonising the Bible and things like that, which I think is a good thing to do. See, because people have gotta wake up what they’ve done to people. See a lot of people don’t know what they did to aboriginal people but I did, I knew because I’d read the memo. Because they said, ‘We’ll not make the mistakes we made in America.’ And seeing what they did, they made a lot of laws to govern us. They said the children belong to the State, and so they could collect you anytime they like, and they did, they did that to me when I was 12. My mother went to hospital and there was no one looking after us, so they said ‘uncared for.’ And we went to court, and next minute we were fostered out, seven of us. We were all fostered out all over. We didn’t come back together again until… The younger brother, because I only said quite accidentally, because she went to Spain, the woman said to her, ‘You are the seventh child.’ She said, ‘No, I’m not, I’m sixth.’ And I said to Judy, ‘I know you’re the seventh because we had an older sister that died early.’ She said, ‘I didn’t know then.’ I said ‘No.’ And she said earlier… Well, I said, ‘I remembered.’ And so anyway, we were all fostered out and we got together 40 years later. So it looks like, I just mentioned that casually again, I said, ‘We had a younger… ‘ ‘Say what?’ And then over there, I say, ‘His name was Graham.’ And she found him, and she found him in a few months because she looked up the electoral roll. All the Grahams, she rang all the Grahams, which was rather interesting because I knew his name.

0:33:38.8 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): So, ‘Your name Graham? ‘No.’ She hung up and then after two months she found him and she rang him and we got together. And he was unhappy, he said, ‘Who are you? Where are you coming from?’. So you see all these oddities they’ve done to you. I’ve had that little experience about then growing up on a mission and learning all the things we did. I mean when you think of Aboriginal society, it was just unbelievable, and a lot of people don’t even know that. They think we’re just these funny little people that wandered around, but I think they were far ahead of the field. And I think a lot of people understand that underneath in their psyche. Because you look at it, we were first in the world to run conferences.

0:34:20.2 Aunty Theresa Sainty (Truwulway): In the 21st Century, I know many or most, if not all Indigenous communities around the world are struggling with, particularly with the young ones, with the advent of technology and video games, and then you’ve got life that happens and education, or this colonial education, of course, that’s been imposed on us. And I often wonder, ‘Where are we heading? Where are our people heading? Where are our communities right around the country heading?’ We seem to be moving further and further away from being guided by those Old People and that deep knowledge, that deep knowledge of time. And then I also think, ‘Well, actually all is not lost unless we choose to allow it to be lost because in the same way that language can be revitalised, cultural practices can be revitalised’.

0:35:44.8 Aunty Theresa Sainty (Truwulway): Ningi Manina, Mother Earth, has such a powerful regenerative… I’m not sure how to describe it and so it does not take an awful long time for her to heal herself.

0:36:11.9 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): How does that culture last 60,000? Well, I think you start by educating people first because you have to be highly educated, you have to be an independent person and manage your own affairs, which is a really a great philosophy. Whereas modern society’s on dependency, and that’s what one steps creates for most, but don’t solve the problem of understanding theoreticals. You want to do the practical first and then the theory, and make sense of it. Whereas it shows you the limitations, and people must’ve known these sort of facets. And so I think we’ve gotta stop this, I think we’ve gotta bring about change. And I think everyone’s waking up because they wanna teach Kaurna language now because, see, when you look at it, we’ve got concepts in Kaurna that’s not in English, which that’s tells you something. Doesn’t it?

0:37:04.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): And I should tell you about the concept, and it’s called ninthi. 

0:37:09.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): See, this just shows you the difference between words and concepts. See, in English, they’ve got words to describe it, and so words can describe, but then where’s the concept? And the concept is, you’ve gotta have a thing like ninthi.

0:37:24.4 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): Because ninthi means becoming or transformed into. It’s an ecocative (sic in Kaurna language) verb. It’s really a suffix. And if I said, ‘We’re in ninthi. I mean it’s transformed into a forest, well, becoming a forest. And so I can do that with anything. I can say…

in Kaurna language

0:37:41.9 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): ‘Becoming one.’ I can say…

in Kaurna language

0:37:44.0 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): ‘Becoming an elder.’ See, I can use it as a concept and do it, whereas you can’t do it in English. Which is rather interesting.

You see, they’d see that occurring, and they saw we had like four tides in a day, two low tides and two high tides. And see, they’d say, ‘What nature trying to tell us?’ Think of twice, think of two things. And so that’s why the world had duality, and they cut it out, they went to singularity. But singularity limits you. That’s what they do in unlimited thinking. See, they know about it because you listen to what they’d say, and they knew about duality. And see, duality is what we’ve got to bring back. When you do duality, it learns you to think properly because it lets you go like this, ‘What are they saying? What do they do?’ It comes together as the truth. Isn’t it? But it’s not, it’s a lie. See, two steps. Yet practical theoretical makes sense in the world, whereas if you just do high school, you do theoretical. It doesn’t make sense because a lot of people can’t do theoretical, it’s too difficult. I think the world did that in the beginning but then they switched to mono thinking and one step because it’s directional and you learn to obey orders and you don’t think much. When you look at Kaurna, we were obsessed with education because our people educated males for 30 years, then we had five initiations, so really they… And some of our people learnt 20 languages. So they really took it to great depths.

0:39:22.5 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): And see, when you run conferences, you have to be highly skilled and highly knowledgeable, you have to know languages to welcome people in and talk to sometimes to learn some of their languages. But then they’d develop a sign language, and the sign language would be the universal language because everyone can understand the same sign, which makes it interesting. And so they did the whole bit, so they had sign language. And one chap told me once, he said, ‘There’s more signs in Aboriginal languages than in most sign languages.’ And even Australian LAN systems want to incorporate some of the Aboriginal signs in their language. It shows you that we have signs that are very meaningful. And so you see it’s a very good sign system because we can do it with one hand. We can say ‘kangaroo’, and he’d say, ‘That’s the one.’ And so when he’s on the ridge, you can do it without words. It’s useful for hunting, you don’t need any words, you just use signs.

0:40:14.6 Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien (Kaurna): So you see, we did the two steps again. And that showed in the house I lived on the mission. My aunt, she spoke and talked a lot but my uncle didn’t say much and he just did signs to me but he’s teaching at hunting school, so no words, just directions by pointing and moving his fingers. And so you’re learning these two steps, talking and not talking. And we can deal with signs, so it’s very interesting. See, two steps again, talking and not talking.

0:40:50.4 Aunty Pat Waria Read (Ngadjuri, Narungga, Peramangk): So there are lots of hurts and sadness when it comes to well-being. That importance for both communities, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, to understand that there has to be a place of respect and understanding. And understanding that spiritual connection to the land because that spiritual connection makes Aboriginal people who they are. They gives us the identity, they gives us the strength and the wisdom, and they gives us the rules, the way in which we live with each other and work with each other.