Transcontinental News Story Published 29 July 2009 – ‘Shamed’ by in-fighting
Marvyn McKenzie Snr made the call after a fight between two of his nephews, resulting in one being hospitalised.
Mr McKenzie said this sort of behaviour set back past achievements of the Region’s Elders and gave Aboriginal People a bad name among the greater community.
‘Sometimes I am ashamed to call myself Aboriginal, especially at times when I hear of Aboriginal People and Families fighting other Aboriginal Families, especially some of youth and some of our elders who sohuld know better’ he said.
‘What are they doing (by fighting) is dividing us as a Community, as a People, and making it hard for us to achieve our social goals, political goals and health goals.
‘The (Aboriginal) Flag should be the one that unites us; respect our differences, but we have got to recognise the ones that unites us.’
Mr McKenzie said the behaviour ‘undid’ the work of Aboriginal Elders from various language groups in the 1960s, negotiating peace with one another in Port Augusta.
‘Many people in Port Augusta have forgotten that when the migration of Aboriginal people from far flung Aboriginal missions and reserves began to occur our Elder Lawmen got together firstly to make it culturally right to enter onto the lands and waters of Port Augusta and to establish rules of conduct, relationships and behaviour towards one another,’ he said.
‘Most of the Elder Lawmen have now passed on but that does not mean that the unwritten sacred agreements and laws they made for us all have, these old laws and agreements must still apply to us all today, otherwise we dishonour them and ourselves.’
He also expressed concern over “gang” behaviour where people held on to arguements they were not directly involved in.
‘My message is this: don’t gang up. If someone does something to them or says something to them, it is not to you. So its their problem, not yours,’ he said.
‘Otherwise the problem just grows and gets bigger and bigger…and it becomes generational, when really we should be working togetherlike our Elders did.’
According to Mr McKenzie, Elders also need to teach younger generations about their past, including the peace treaty and traditiona laws regarding fights.
‘If our kids are fighting or arguing, we Elders should not get involved other than to say, ‘If you going to fight each other then let it be a fair and square fight and once the fight is over, that’s it, end of story and the fight or argument is not to be brought up again,’ he said.
According to Mr McKenzie, under traditional law, fights had to be kept clean and fair and should end with the last punch.
‘If they are the ground, you don’t kick them – that was our traditional way, our culture,’ he said.
‘If you did kick them while they were on the ground, you had broken our law and were punished severly.’
‘If the person kicked (should have been knocked) me down – fairly – I’d buy them a beer and the fight was finished and never brought up again.’