on de-registering the Burrup Peninsula as a First Nations Sacred Site

Ongoing stolen generations, extreme rates of suicide, closures to communities, the list goes on… and now this. The situation in Corporate-controlled White Australia just gets worse and worse for First Nations Peoples.

I just learned that a few days ago the WA government de-registered the Burrup Peninsula as a First Nations Sacred Site. [source: Robin Chapple; Senator Siewert]. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the rock art there when I was a visiting artist to Australia in 2005. It seriously blew my mind, revealing itself from the rocks like a magic eye picture.

Burrup Peninsula Rock Art 2005

Burrup Peninsula Rock Art 2005

According to the WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Peter Collier, “for a place to be considered a sacred site, it must show it was devoted to religious use rather than just be a place of mythological story, song or belief.” [source: abcnews]

First Nations culture is not ‘just mythology’, it is alive and well – or rather, as alive and well as can be expected for a nation undergoing repeated genocide[1] attempts. These sites are not just tourist spots or remnants of past memories. They are a fundamental part of the rich tapestry of cultural identity, social and belief systems which make up the Lore of the Land – past, present and future.

The more I learn about this nation (the Original nation now proven as the oldest civilisation in the world, not the brutally colonised version) the more I am coming to see it as a fascinatingly complex decentralised network of nodes. Over 400 tribes existed in harmony across this vast country before invasion. There were no wars, no rape, no abuse, no drug addiction and no greed for thousands of years before white man settled here. These ancient tribes (even now in their horrifically diminished numbers) maintain connection to country, lore and each other through a complex system of shared-ownership, the “Dreaming”.

“A Dreaming” is a story owned by different tribes and their members that explains the creation of life, people and animals. A Dreaming story is passed on protectively as it is owned and is a form of “intellectual property“. In the modern context, an Aborigine cannot relate, or paint someone else’s dreaming or creation story without prior permission of the Dreaming’s owner. [source: Wikipedia]

The dreamings can be stories, geographic sites, animals, etc, and as such are shared across all nations, with one tribe taking responsibility as the traditional owner, and another tribe acting as a custodian for it. The tribe who acts as custodian has with it the right to share that story, but I have recently learned that there’s another part of the story which only the owners hold. This relationship – between caretaker and owner – provides a physical and spiritual connection to country resulting in a deep respect between tribes, often across vast geographic distances[2].

The dreamings are not churches with dwindling attendances to be closed down to build a new car park, and they are certainly not ours to define by our white-supremacist ideals. Their existence far transcends Churchian idolatry, rocking up every week just to ‘be seen to be’ in one’s Sunday Best. Aside from the obvious racism (would our Christian leaders dream of deconsecrating even one of their almost-always empty Churches or Cathedrals?! Imagine the furore!) this once again smacks of our inherent arrogance and entitlement. We don’t understand their ways; we are threatened by increasingly public revelations of historical truths; our corporate buddies want access to the riches buried underground[3]; let’s shut them down, wipe them from the land as we have wiped them from our memories.

Mining companies blotting the ancient landscape

Mining companies blotting the ancient landscape

This decision shows, yet again, how inhumane this Government is. Australia is not alone in this, the same disgusting treatment of Indigenous populations and lands continues around the globe, with Neoliberalism consistently placing profit over humanness. How on earth did we let ourselves end up with a system where Governments (made of individuals who seemingly have no spirituality within themselves) get to dictate everyone else’s spiritual systems (aka #lifestylechoice)? And worse still, Governments who are meagre puppets to their soulless corporate masters.

As @Jinjirri says: "Worse than ISIS"

As @Jinjirri says: “Worse than ISIS”

No. No more. This has to stop. I wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with First Nations Peoples here and around the world, fighting to protect their culture, identity and lives. I’ll be at the Tent Embassy in Canberra (where I’ve been for the past week or so) if anyone wants to come along to sit by the sacred fire to listen, learn and help in the continuing battle to wage peace against these despicable criminals.

#SOSblakAustralia #FrontierWars #WagingPeace #LifestyleChoice

1. The UN definition of genocide: “Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

2. As an aside, this model of shared ownership/responsibility makes me yet again grieve for the loss of The Commons (a system which never made it over with the settlers, as Enclosure had well and truly taken over by then).

3. In this case, gypsum: “In a statement, the DAA said the site was reconsidered after receiving an application by Perangery Pastoral Company to extract gypsum from the salt lake.” [source: abcnews]. Wonder if they’ll build a new White Church with this sacred gypsum…