Yolŋu Studies Livestream Lecture Series

Lecture 31: Close the gap by educating Governments

Lecture link: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/2047566/events/1840804/videos/59784509

[Watched in the College of Law, Room G021, ANU, 6pm Wednesday, August 20th 2014]

In this lecture Ṉäkarrma explains how the Balanda Government's concept of land tenure (e.g. through instruments like the 99 year lease) differs from the Yolŋu relationship with land and Yolŋu interpretation of land tenure. The refusal of the Balanda Government to acknowledge or attempt to understand a different concept of land tenure is the cause of many problems.

DISCLAIMER: at the present time these quotes may not be completely accurate, they are reminders of what we felt were important points in the lecture. In time we hope that we can correct them and more fully complete the transcription. If you have any issues or corrections that you would like to offer, please contact us at bookings@allianceaustrale.org

"This all happens through participation... Normally there are no questions in Yolŋu culture, we just watch and participate: watch your mum, watch your parents... and young people learn... what is eatable... they start to learn that there's a Dhuwa or a Yirritja"
"It is not like that. When we give away a land, it is not just me and it is not just these people... (these elders of the clan)... doesn't only belong to you... there are other clans... nearby ... who are connected through the songs and ceremonies ... they are linked from one clan to another who has the same ... ancestral creator. So when I make a decision, its not just me or my clan. Arnhem Land is all joined closely together... all have power, all have a link"
"The one clan doesn't own it, they look after it because another clan sings about it..."
"When we are giving away a bit of country like this, its not just your own ... 'that's my grandmother's country'... we are linked with that country."
"The body of the country is the same as the body of a human being."
"There is more to this land that just making money"
"We have the ability to trade something with this land, but we do it spiritually."
"That is not in our culture. We are the body in images... Within that waterhole there is me... but its not through making big money... When we are taken away from country its like taking the body away from these rocks"
"When the Macassans first came here, there might have been a fight ..."
"You take the land away from me... you're taking the source within my blood system... its just very very impossible."
"...they're saying 'don't leave me'. Yolŋu have never left this community to go and live on another man's land."
"You can look after my country but everything there belongs to me. The spirits of my fathers do not leave, they are connected... "
"The Government has come in and they want us to sign a 99 year lease... 99 year lease to me is just like saying... "
"In Yolŋu culture... Yolŋu rom comes from the land. ... I don't ask for [a piece of land], you don't come and ask for a piece of land, you get it through sweats, you get it through working hard, you get it through participating ... If the Government wants to get a piece of land you must show that ... They pulled all the houses ... the place is now more crowded ... it is worse than when the intervention came through ... the Government doesn't get the land from us... and yet they keep coming back. 99 year lease... still trying to take land without proving ... and we are saying that there is no proof, they have never shown any patience. Let us sit together and talk diplomatically. They forget that there is a government in our community."
"The stories tell that you can never seperate Yolŋu and land."
"You need to sit down and listen. No giving orders. You don't come and ask."
"What Nigel Scullion is talking about is what can happen, but deep inside, why don't he just spit it out and say: 'I want to take your land, I want to make something out of this country, I want to split you apart, I want to take the human life out of those rocks and just kill you all' - because that's what he's wanting to do. When you take land out of me - that's killing my people."
"I made a statement on ABC... after I spoke to some people at Oenpelli after they came to see them about the 99 year lease. People are frustrated, people are being pushed around. They signed up for further meetings... just holding back things ... wait till they actually make up their mind ... wait till they get a further understanding ... that was the understanding they signed the paper yesterday, but Nigel Scullion is saying the everybody was happy, that they were all going ahead to develop something ... everybody was happy, signing up ... but these people are related to me as well and are related to everybody around Arnhem Land ... every eye from around here is watching that place called Gumbalanya [Oenpelli]... and we can all see that the Government is getting worse and worse. Its just killing our people ... taking the land off us, killing us. So we need to stop that and talk diplomatically. Sit down together and talk together and sort things out properly. Not a one day picnic at Gumbalanya and go back and tell his cabinet that everything went successful. It didn't go successful yesterday because everybody is very angry and upset and cross after that ... meeting yesterday. So they are all full of lies. They are all full of greed in their eyes wanting to take over our country, pushing, pushing, pushing all the time."
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