Met up with Ernie Dingo when he visited us to give us an inspirational speech…what a day
Met up with Ernie Dingo when he visited us to give us an inspirational speech…what a day
“A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do you know that his (or her) future will not be equal to our present?”
Some Elders often believe they should receive automatic immediate respect from their Youth just because of their old age.
Such Elders have forgotten that respect must first be earned by their words, actions and deeds, and not solely dependent on their age.
Respect is earned and must be returned to our Youth.
How can our Youth respect us Elders if we do not first show and demonstrate our respect for them and each other.
One day our Youth will become our Elders so it is very important that we Elders set an example for them to follow.
J.B. Priestly once said:
There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age–I missed it coming and going.
One of the main foundation cornerstone for building Respect for other People in your life begins within your own Heart, Mind and Spirit, for before you can even begin building Respect for others You must first learn to Respect Yourself.
John Herschel once said:
Self-respect is the cornerstone of all virtue.
Confucius also once said:
Respect yourself and others will respect you.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said:
“If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
We Elders today have a great responsibility upon our shoulder to nurture and teach our Youth Respect so that one day our Youth may one day themselves become good Elders to their Youth.
Our Youth are not just our Future
What is on me mind…..hmmmmm
Having worked within all levels of urban, regional, and remote Aboriginal Affairs for 28 years, since I was aged 16 years old, mainly here in Port Augusta, and often at the grass root level, I have seen and done it all, well most of it anyway, as both worker and sometimes even the clientele.
I know fully that working for and with our Peoples it can become very hard and difficult job at times because it demands long hours, time away from family, no time to visit your ancient lands if you live and work away from it, and a lot of personal stress and heartache for there is often much pain and hurt out there in our community.
Such community work with our people often goes unrewarded or recognised by others, but most of us do not worry about such personal honour or glory – just a simple Thank You often suffices or the silent fruitful and postive outcomes we see and achieve later on in some of our peoples lives.
Some times you will be often knocked flat by the very People You are trying to help, by Your own Family and even white fellas – but never give up, when knocked flat to the ground, pick yourself up from the ground, dust yourself off, and go into the fray again and again.
But do not burn yourself out – always have an outlet and periods of rest and relaxation away from it all and recharge your batteries – for if you cannot look after yourself how can you ever hope to look after others…
I live away from my Ancient Lands and Waters, lucky to be descended from three or more Aboriginal Language Groups so I can claim and visit a few, rather than just one, always say to people ‘Born and Raised in Port Augusta, especially Ummeewarra Reserve when segregation was still the political vogue, But Not My Country.
So I try my hardest to make time to go back to Country – to visit my Ancient Lands, Waters and Family.
I recently made this quote up mainly for my Grandfather’s mob, Adnyamathanha Yura of the Northern Flinders Ranges, but it could also be relevant to others:
Those who lose our Mudha (general traditions) are lost in the thorny wilderness of the Utnyu (corpse, Europeans) and they must return to our Yarta (Lands), take off their shoes so that their bare feet can touch our Yarta so that the Spiritual Engery of our Yarta can once again flow through them and they can be renewed. They must wash their face in the Awi (waters) of our Yarta so that their physical self can also be cleansed.
If you live and work away from your Ancient Lands and Water then simply make similiar connections to the Lands and Waters you may live and work on, or simply sit yourself under an unshaded tree at Sunrise or early morning light, close your eyes, and listen – listen to the wind as it rustles through the leaves and feel it flow through and around you. Listen to the first sounds and calls of the birds as they awake and sing to the dawning of a new day – Let the morning rays of Yundu (the sun) energise you by turning your face upwards towards it with closed eyes – and just be be still and silent.
I do this every morning now and it refreshes and empowers me for the day ahead.
A second but still relevant thought I think….
You know every NAIDOC Day here in Port Augusta I try to always be there with my camera to capture for all time the moments and memories of the day, especially, the Award Ceremony and their Recipiants, but after I take such Award shots I then often look around the crowd for other shots to take, and what do I see?
I see many of our unsung community heros sitting and standing admidst the crowded sea of faces, especially some of our old Elders, many now in their wheel chairs or with their walking canes, who had to fight for our Aboriginal Rights at a time when it was not so politically, socially or legally acceptable to do so.
I see some of our young people sitting or standing nearby some of our Elderly unsung Heroes, and think to myself, little do they know they are nearby some of the Giants of our community – the ones who did the hard yakka and work to ensure we, they, can now sit and stand in this public place to celebrate and march down the streets where we were once not permitted to even walk, let alone march, because they knocked and tore down the physical and invisible political walls that once segregated and oppressed our Peoples.
One day some of us may become like these, our Elders, but we should always feel honoured for we will be joining a long list of many of our unsung genuine respected Aboriginal Heroes and Giants.
I personally believe that the often accepted Australian Aboriginal Mother Earth Theory, Concept and Belief is an introduced or borrowed doctrine and belief from other Peoples of the World and has no foundation or basis within our Ancient Australian Aboriginal Culture and Peoples.
What do you think?
The Land is my mother, my mother is the land.
Land is the starting point to where it all began.
It is like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where I will go.
The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity.
We don’t have boundaries like fences, as farmers do. We have spiritual connections.
To Indigenous people land is not just something that they can own or trade. Land has a spiritual value.”
I have a lot of issues and concerns about some of the above statements and I personally no longer believe some of them to be true beliefs and statements from both an Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura Mudha (laws, customs, traditions etc) and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Cultural Perspective, Belief and Ancient Traditions.
For the purpose of this note I will mainly address my concerns and issues about The Land is My Mother, My Mother is the Land statement from an Adnyamathanha Yura cultural perspective, and will address some of the others in later notes
If any of my Ngarrindjeri Family Members know of any such Ngarrindjeri story or belief that we Ngarrindjeri believe the land is our mother, then please enlighten me.
The simple question I got is this:
“Who said this?”
Because for the life of me I cannot find or identify who actually said these often quoted words and beliefs.
Did an Australian Aboriginal truly say these words and believe that the Earth is Our Mother or was it said or even, as per usual, misunderstood and mistranslated by whitefellas?
Do some of my fellow Australian Aboriginal people actually believe in the Mother Earth Theory and Belief or is it something that has been introduced into our Peoples Cultural Collective Consciousness by some outsiders, that is whitefellas?
I really do believe that the land is our mother belief is actually an introduced or borrowed belief and concept from outside of Australia because many other People in the World had/have this belief in their cultures, but I personally believe we Australian Aboriginal Peoples had no such belief or concept that the land is our mother.
But I am to first to say, that I will freely stand up to be publicly rebuked and corrected if some of my Fellow Australian Aboriginals do actually believe in this belief and concept that the land is indeed their mother
If some of our fellow Australian Aboriginals do indeed have this Ancient Belief within their Culture can you then help me by identifying which Aboriginal Language Group they are?
Do any of you know? If so, then please enlighten me by letting me know or sending such information and answers to me?
The reasons why I must question and even debunk the ‘Land is Our Mother’ Theory and Belief are as follows:
Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura Mudha Aboriginal Cultural Perspective, Belief and Ancient Traditions
No where in our Ancient Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura Mudha can I find any proof or foundation for the theory and belief that the Land is Our Mother.
We have no such word, cultural concept or belief that the land is our mother in our Yura Ngawarla Language.
The Yura Ngawarla Word we have for Mother is Ngami meaning ‘Mother’s Breast’.
The Yura Ngawarla Word we have for Earth is Yurra meaning ‘dirt, earth’.
I have recently noted in a newer 2000 Adnyamathanha Yura Ngawarla Dictionary that the Ancient word Yarta is now being translated as the only word meaning ‘dirt, Earth’ and that the much more ancient word of Yurra is no longer even listed or mentioned now.
The Ancient Yura Ngawarla word Yurra is listed and mentioned in the Yura Ngawarla Dictionary that was done by John McIntee and Aunty Pearl McKenzie (nee Wilton) in 1992, which they had started compiling at least twenty years earlier in the 1970’s, a time when many of our Elder Lawmen and Women were still living then, and some who even helped and advised them.
Yarta is translated as meaning ‘country, place, ground, land, dirt’ and now also being translated as ‘earth’.
I have also noted that the word Yura is still being translated as meaning Aboriginal Man/people whereas, and I suppose this may well now be just my own individual personal translation and belief, I often translate the word Yura as meaning ‘of the earth, People’.
There is also a Yura Ngawarla word Yarta Naku- which means ‘to be born’.
The reason why I translate Yura as meaning ‘of the Earth’ and not man is that Yura Ngawarla word for man is ‘Miru’, but this Ancient word for man is hardly ever used now days, and in it’s place the word Yura has now become the more common place and accepted Yura Ngawarla word that now means Aboriginal Man/people.
But I am becoming sidetracked again…so back to the topic and issue at hand, but in a way still relevant to what I have said about the word Yurra and Yura….
Now if we Adnyamathanha Yura believed that the land is our mother then you would think we would have at least a word in our Yura Ngawarla language for it, dont you?
Well truth be told we have no such word, concept or belief in our Adnyamathanha Yura Mudha nor do we have any such story or belief in our Ancient Nguthuna (the Creation Period Time of our ancestral Spirit Beings, Whitefella English words I hate: dreaming, dreamtime)
I have noted that the in the 2000 Adnyamathanha Yurra Dictionary that this Yura Ngawarla word Nguthuna is now also being defined as meaning ‘God’, thus the introduced religion of Christianity is also beginning to affect even how we translate some of our Ancient words now days.
Language (and Culture) is a funny thing because it is actually a living breathing entity for we people speak it – words are added, words are discarded, outside influences creep in or translated in a different ways and meanings than previous earlier translations
Back to the issue at hand….
We have no such word or concept that the land is our mother in our Ancient Yura Nguthuna stories, teachings or traditions.
In the past six years in researching our Adnyamathanha Yura stories, culture and beliefs at no time have I heard or comes across any such Nguthuna story or belief that either clearly states or alludes to that the land is our mother.
If any of my Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura Ngankini know of one then please let me know?
Now I want to address this statement: Land is the starting point to where it all began
Do we Adnyamathanha Yura believe that the land is the starting point to where it all began?
No we do not believe in this, well at least I don’t. Why not?
Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura believe that the starting point and end point of our life is as follows:
We Adnyamathanha Yura believe our Life Cycle is Spiritual – Physical – Spiritual.
We Adnyamathanha Yura peoples of the Northern Flinders Ranges have a very strong connection to the heavenly bodies above us as our life cycle is Spiritual – Physical – Spiritual…and out the end of our life we return to our heavenly abode which we call Wikurtanha.
Wikurtanha (Adnyamathanha Yura ancient concept of Heaven) and Muri – our first Spiritual Existence
Our Spiritual existence begins in Wikurtanha, our ancient concept of heaven, where we are created by our two spiritual Ngami (Mothers) known as the Maudlangami. The two Maudlangami are the source of all life and like us they are Ararru and Mathari and they each produce us as spirit children of their own moeity and kinship totems, and in this spiritual existence we are called Muri.
As Muri we are then told by our Maudlangami to come down to the world beneath to find a suitable Ngami (Mother) to be physically born to. As Muri we are always on the look-out for pleasent faced and kindly Ngami and whilst we are looking for such Ngami we spend our days seeking food from the gum blossoms andat night we fall asleep under the loose bark of tree trunks, and this goes on until we find a suitable Ngami…then we are born physically into the World.
Yarta (land, world) – Our Physical Existence
When we are physically born into the world we then become known as Yura which means ‘of the Earth’ as the word Yura is derived from the word ‘yurra’ which means ‘dirt,earth’.
As we are born physically into the Yarta (Land, world) we are given birth order names to signify our order of birth and we are also given a totem name as well as another additional name that today is often called a nick name, in order to differentiate us from others who may also bear the same birth order names as ourselves.
Our ‘nick names’ may be based on our appearence or a personal characteristic we may show or have, or something we have done or which has happened to us.
Wannapi – our return to our Spiritual Existence
When we die our physical body is placed within a Warlikari (grave) and three days later our Wannapi (Spirit) rises up from the Warlikari and we return to our Spiritual existence and travel back to reside once again in Wikurtanha from whence we first came.
The colour of our Wannapi is white.
Our Wannapi Spiritual journey back to Wikurtanha is via the Vukarnawi (water of the dead) which is the side long view of Wali Vari (lit ‘wriggling creek’; the Milky Way Galaxy) and which flows into Wildu Manta-awi (Wedge-tail Eagle Feet/Claw, Southern Cross).
It is here in Vukarnawi that our Wannapi is captured by the Wildu Mant-awi and our Wannapi is then dipped and cleansed by it in the awi (water) of Vurkanawi in order to wash away any pollution we may have picked up and brought with us from the Yarta (Land. World). Once cleased the Wildu Manta-awi then drags us through to Wikurtanha where we join up with all our Wardumathanha Ngakini (Ancestral Family).
Unlike the heaven of Christianity our Wannapi can travel to and from Wikurtanha so that we may check up on our peoples and descendants every now and then.
Now no where in this life cycle were we ever told that the land is our mother or that the land is the starting point to where it all began.
Well I stop here as a lot of information, as per usual, for you to read and contemplate on, but in closing I again make the statement:
I personally believe that the often accepted Australian Aboriginal Mother Earth Theory, Concept and Belief is an introduced or borrowed doctrine and belief from other Peoples of the World and has no foundation or basis within our Ancient australian Aboriginal Culture and Peoples.
What do you think?
Everything I am about to say here is based purely on my own personal research, understanding and interpretation of our Ancient Stories and Beliefs, therefore, I encourage and expect you to always check what I say is true or not, for I may well be wrong and I am always prepared to be rebuked or corrected, I especially ask my Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura Ngankini to check and verify.
Like I always say that within our Peoples there are People who are both younger and older than me who know much more than I will ever hope to learn in my lifetime.
Mandya and Urdlu Wilpena Pound © 2008 Walha Udi Marvyn McKenzie Snr
In the ancient of days, before there were two opposite moiety totem groups of Ararru Vukurra Milana (Northwind Mob) and Mathari Varpa Milana (Southwind Mob) there was only one – and it was Ararru Vukurra Milana.
Now some of my Mathari Yura Ngankini may well disagree me about this belief and may say “How do you know it was not firstly only Mathari?”
Thus, I beg you to bear with me for a little while as I try to explain this personal and cultural belief.
This one totem wind group can be clearly seen in some of our Ancient stories, our Yarta Wandatha (the telling and teaching of stories that connects a person to our Ancestral Land) of our Ancient Nguthuna.
Nguthuna is the Yura Ngawarla (lit Earth Language) term and name we use for the period when many of our Ancestral Creation Spirit Beings who either travelled over or settled upon the land.
The Nguthuna is known by the Utnyu (corpse, White People) as the ‘Dreamtime or Dreaming’ but these Utnyu terms and concepts are still not sufficient enought to truly explain what we Aboriginal People mean we when talk and recall this Ancient period of time and events.
Each Aboriginal Language Groups have their own Ancient words for this period of time and event: for example the Pitjantjatjara people use the term Tjukurpa, the Arrernte refer to it as Aldjerinya.
Whilst the Yura Ngawarla word Nguthuna is the word for what I often refer to the Ancient of Days, we Adnyamathanha Ararru Mathari Yura also have an additional word we use for the past, present and future events and it is called Mudha (our laws, customs and traditions, kinship and marriage system lanuage, dance, stories, songs etc).
Got sidetracked there a bit but that is because it is important to explain the above cultural information and words not only to Yura but also to other people so they may at least get some knowledge and understanding of these two connected but very different and cultural concepts and belief systems of Nguthuna and Mudha.
So where was I…ahh..yes..This one totem wind group can be clearly seen in some of our Ancient stories, our Yarta Wandatha of our Ancient Nguthuna….
Take for example one of our most well known story, well least by our Mob, the Ancient Nguthuna story of Mandya and Urdlu, which is the main story we have of the creation of the Flinders Ranges. In English the Mandya (sounds like mundja) is called Euro or Common Wallaroo and Urdlu (sounds like Oodloo) is the Red Kangaroo and before they became two different species of animals they were once of the same species.
This same species belief can be seen in their Utnyu scientific Latin names for them. Mandya is called Macropus robustus and Urdlu is called Macropus rufus – thus both are descended from a common ancestor which for the purpose of this story we shall call Macropus.
Wardu (a long time ago),
Mandya and Urdlu Macropus were Brothers, of the same species and both were Ararru, who lived together and hunted together, always sharing with each other what they each found seperately or together. They use to travel around together in the same flat, featureless country looking for their favourite food Ngarndi Wari (the root of the Native Pear, Bush Banana) and sharing the food with each other when either one or the other found some or did not find some.
One day when Urdlu and Mandya were looking for Ngarndi Wari in separate locations Urdlu found a good area where there was a lot of Ngarndi Wari, whilst Mandya was searching in places where he could find only a little, if any at all.
At first Urdlu shared the Ngarndi Wari he had found with Mandya but as time went on he felt Mandya was not pulling his own weight in finding his own Ngarndi Wari and therefore not really contributing at all. So Urdlu decided to no longer share the Ngarndi Wari with Mandya anymore and decided to keep his food source a secret from Mandya.
After a while poor Mandya was getting thinner and thinner because he could not find any Ngarndi Wari at all when he went out. Each evening Mandya would look over to his friend Urdlu and notice that he was getting fatter and fatter.
One day, after nearing the point of starvation, Mandya went to Urdlu and asked his friend to give him some Ngarndi Wari as he was very, very hungry. Mandya said ‘Please Vurlka (old man), give me some Mai (non-meat food in general as opposed to Vaarlu – meat in general) as I am very hungry and weak.
Urdlu felt sorry for Mandya and said to him ‘OK! There is some Ngarndi Wari in my bag over there. Help yourself, you can have that.’
Mandya then went to the bag and began to eat the Ngarndi Wari that he found in it. As Mandya was eating the Ngarndi Wari he looked over to Urdlu and said ‘Hmmm! This is really good tasting Ngarndi Wari. Where did you find it? Urdlu with a wave of his said ‘Oh, I found it over there somewhere.’
Urdlu did not want to tell Mandya where his source of Ngarndi Wari was and Mandya realised that his friend Urdlu was keeping his source a secret from him. So Mandya decided that he would try to find the source of the Urdlu’s Ngarndi Wari himself.
That night the two went to sleep dreaming and scheming. Urdlu dreamt of how he could prevent Mandya from finding his secret source of Ngarndi Wari. Mandya dreamt of how he could find Urdlu’s secret source of Ngarndi Wari.
The next morning Urdlu was the first to wake up and like most other mornings he was feeling a bit thirsty so he went to look for some Awi (water) to drink. Mandya was also secretly awake, waiting to see what Urdlu would do and which direction he would go. Mandya realised that Urdlu was not going to his secret source of Ngarndi Wari but was instead searching for Awi as he usually did in the mornings. This then was his best opportunity to find Urdlu secret source of Ngarndi Wari as he knew that Urdlu would be busy looking for Awi.
Mandya began to walk around the campsite looking for Urdlu incoming tracks to the camp and while there were many, Mandya soon found one that was well worn and frequently used.
Mandya soon followed Urdlu tracks, slowly and steadily, as he noted that at times Urdlu tried to disguise or hide his tracks.
Eventually Mandya did indeed find Urdlu’s secret source of Ngarndi Wari.
He begun to dig out a big heap of the Ngarndi Wari and began to eat and feast on them. He stayed there digging and digging without looking up. Back at the campsite, Urdlu returned back from looking for Awi and noticed that Mandya was no longer in the camp. Urdlu then notice the tracks of Mandya has they circled the camp and realised that Mandya has set off to find his secret source of Ngarndi Wari.
When Urdlu arrived at his secret source of Ngarndi Wari he saw that Mandya notice that had dug up a lot of his Ngarndi Wari. Mandya was still so busy digging and eating the Ngarndi Wari that he did not notice the arrival of Urdlu.
Urdlu was very angry at Mandya and said to him ‘Why did you come to my hole and dig up all my Ngarndi Wari? Mandya replied ‘Because I am starving and you were very mean in not sharing this plentiful source of Ngarndi Wari with me.’ Mandya then just went back to digging and eating the Ngarndi Wari.
This made Urdlu very, very angry and next minute he attacked Mandya and they began to have a big fight with each other. During the fight Mandya grabbed Urdlu’s arms and began to pull and stretch them out. He then grabs his fingers and legs also and stretched them out as well, until they go very long.
This made Urdlu very angry so Urdlu pressed Mandya’s fingers and his legs making them short. He then pressed Mandya’s back and chest. Urdlu then thrashed him and they then separated, going in different directions to tend their wounds.
Mandya went off and up to a place called Vadaardlanha (Paralana Hot Springs) and settled down to tend his wounds. Mandya can still been seen sitting there today as he became a mountain peak that we now called Thudupinha (Thudu being an old word for the Mandya).
When Mandya settled down to sleep for the night he noticed an uncomfortable hurt at his hip. Mandya got up and saw that he had a sore that he had missed out on cleaning and that in the sore was a little stone. Mandya took out the little stone and he blew on it. In a flash he saw hills come up from the plains, so he blew on it again and more hills began to rise up from the plains.
Meanwhile, Urdlu had gone off and down to a placed called Varaarta to tend to his wounds and as he travelled he moved the flat plains that contained his Ngarndi Wari with him.
Urdlu was lying at the flat when he looked up and saw all the hills rising up from the plain and moving down towards him. Urdlu said to himself, ‘Hey! What going on here? What is that Vurlka up to now? Why is he making all these hills, if he keeps it up I will have no place to live at all and I will lose all my Ngarndi Wari.
Urdlu then rose up and with a big sweep of his new long tail he pushed the hills back to where they remain today. You can see where this happened at a place called Vardna-wartathinha (Prism Hill) and near by there is a big flat where no grass ever grows and it is called Urdlurunha-vitana (lit translation ‘kangaroo’s flat’) and it is now called Moro Flat.
At this time Urdlu also made Munda (Lake Frome) so that he would have a permanent supply of Awi. He made this fresh water Awi so would no longer needed to waste any time looking for Awi anymore, have more time to look for Ngarndi Wari and to keep an eye on Mandya.
Mandya saw Urdlu make Munda and he was very jealous so one night he went down to Munda when Urdlu was asleep and salted the whole of Munda. This is why today Urdlu can no longer drink from Munda today and explains why Munda is now a permanent salt lake.
After Mandya went back into the newly created hills and Urdlu stayed on the big plain that he moved along with him. Each now live separately from each other and look differently from each other as a result of the big fight. Where once they were brothers and hunted together they now keep to themselves and remain in their own countries that they made for themselves.
Mandya turned himself into a spirit and is now called Thudupinha. You can still see him today sitting up their near Vadaardlanha. Below him the ground is all red because it was here that he had bled and tended his wounds after his big fight with Urdlu. This place is called Mandya Arti (which means ‘Mandya’s Blood’) and is today known as Mount Freeling.
Because Mandya settled in the North he remained Ararru and therefore is a totem animal for all Ararru.
Because Urdlu settled in the South he changed into Mathari and therefore is the totem animal for all Mathari.
Now some of you may say to me:
You have still not explained or answered why you think that there was once only one totem before there was two, and why you believe that it was the Ararru Mob that was the first totem and not the Mathari Mob? Where in this story does this even say this?
Reread the story and answer for yourself the following two simple questions:
When Mandya and Urdlu fought each other, for this was when the division occurred: Who was the first one to be changed through their fighting – Mandya or Urdlu?
Who was the one who first made creative changes to the flat featureless landscape – Mandya or Urdlu?
There are other important lessons and secrets contained within this story and I will reveal some of them on another day as I think I said enough for you to think about and reflect on.