Several years ago I was lucky enough to live in a rural Indiginous Community in the Northern Territory.
It was a beautiful region, about 2.5 hours drive from Darwin. There were sloping grassy hills, towering trees and a natural spring that we swam in. Along with a cluster of homes, known as camps, there was a large community meeting space with no walls and a tin roof, a small shop, a garage and a primary school. It was well looked after by community members – the trash was regularly disposed of and grass mown.
A bit of history
The 400 community members came from 5 different tribes, each with its own language. They had all had been relocated to the area when their traditional lands were seized by the government or granted to farmers.
One of the female elders who had had been there the longest told me of the time when the community was run by a Priest. “Much pray and sing,” she giggled. Then came the mango farmer who dolled out sugar, flour and tea in return for farm labour. In more recent times the community has become self-governed.
During the months of my stay I was treated with great kindness. Over time I came to realise that Australia’s First Nations People have many positive traits that our western culture has lost:
- A deep understanding of and respect for nature and the land
- They are not materialistic and, without a second thought, share what little they have with others
- Elders are seen as wise, important individuals to be listened to and learn from
- They don’t crowd their lives with busy-ness. They take their time to see the beauty around them.
It’s time we learned
We could learn a lot from First Australians. We ripped babes from their arms; stole their land and sacred sites; forbade the use of their language; tried to destroy their 50,000 year old culture and are now gaoling members of this ancient race in disproportionate numbers. To their great credit, although battered and scarred, First Australians have emerged proud and strong.
I am so grateful that I had the rare opportunity to experience first-hand how very special our First Nations People truly are. Yes absolutely, BLACK LIVES MATTER!