Aboriginal issues; Australia;
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
22 Mar 2000
- -12.45 130.83333
NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Log of DAT #: J-l
Engineer: Manoli Wetherell
Date: March 2000
ng = not good
g = good
vg = very good
ALEX CHADWICK: AC
MANOLI WETHERELL: MW
CAROLYN JENSEN: CJ
GALLAROY YUNIPINGA: GY
1:23 AC: March 22, 2:30 PM. Split track. Pronounce your name and say who you are.
1:58 My name is Gallaroy Yunipinga. I'm the chairman of the (?) Land Council. I was born in northeast (?) on the 30th of 6, 48, someone tells me. Now I'm being interviewed here in my office in Darwin . AC: We have read, and I saw something in the paper that I'll ask you about
later. ... these classified ads in the local paper that say 'this is an official claim to cancel
any native rights on a particular area of land. ' Like govt notices in the paper. But we see
there are victories and there are losses in kind of the land, questions of returning land, and
for an american audience overall, can you kind of tell where things stand with aboriginal
3: 17 GY: the aboriginal people have a long history of struggle for, even to put our feet firmly on the ground. And to fight, to achieve justice for ourselves. To achieve recognition, to achieve respect, and everything else that goes with it. This has been a long term struggle for the indigenous people. I'll narrow this down to the territory because I come from the northern territory environment, and the people that I represent is the people from the northern territory, particularly the indigenous people. Before we ever started talking to the govt, trying to negotiate how things should stand, and what they should accept and what they shouldn't accept, theres a freedom of dialogue between people, particularly govt . Govt feels in aust that abo People are hot a special people, that we should not be treated any more special than anybody else out in the street. We reject that. And since we rejected that, the policy that has been laid down back in the 40s 50s that we should be assimilated into the mainstream ...
AC: could I ask you to hold on a sec? Is that a ... GY: (?) rain ... AC: is this the rain?
GY: gonna rain for a long time . AC: its too loud for this interview. (laughs) does it rain like this a lot? GY: a lot, yeah.
AC: hold on a sec. Do those windows open? GY: no, theyre closed. AC: we're gonna have to wait a couple minutes for this to pass. GY: I hope so. AC: could we have a 10 minute delay? Wait for this to pass, cuz we cant MW: I think its changing already. GY: we don't have a soundproof room. AC: that's all right it'll be quiet again in a sec. MW: lets get some amb from the room for right now, for a minute.
7:12-8:32 ROOM AMB
AC: if you need to do something for 10 minutes we can leave and come back ... GY: wanta do that? AC: yeah, that'd be good.
8:48 MW: rain ambience, x y. 8:49-13:36 RAIN AMB
13:37 MW: we're changing position now on the rain .
14:16 MW: additional rain at the side ofthe building. 14:19-15:24 RAIN AMB
15:25 MW: OK, attempt at rain sound again. 15:28-20:38 RAIN AMB
20:37 MW: transition raining to inside 20:40-21:30 AMB: going inside
21:46 GY: I'd like to go to america myself and find an old lady who did a lot of recording of my father back in the 50s, 40s. Her name was Patricia waterman. (lives where?) california. (like to meet
her?) Met her when I
was a little .. .
AC: do you have copies of the recordings?
GY: she's got a lot of copies of dad's recordings, stories, paintings, singing ...
AC: do you have copies of the recordings?
AC: was she with the Univ?
GY: no. by herself. Her husband was from American Univ. workded with the aust expedition when they first studied aboriginal culture.
AC: 1948. We went to the new abo Gallery down in adelaide. Really nice, opened up this wing, impressive. Lot of pictures from the expeditions up here, and they say that they made a lot of recordings there. I ran into the name of a guy whose name I
just read in your paper. Bill harney? (Yes). Is this the bill harney who was an interpreter back then? How old is he now? GY: bill harney was a white fella.
AC: be amazing if he was still...l thought he was ...
GY: bill harney was an original white who did a lot of damage in southern part of
24:00 AC: Joe cooper that way? GY: not that name. Bill harney. They took other white fellas thru guided tours
and shot at a lot of indigenous people. AC: they shot at them while they were taking them on tour? GY: shot at them, yeah. Shot at 'em. Wiped em right out. AC: how recently was that? GY: in the 30s. AC: people wouuld go on tour and actually shoot at aboriginals? GY: yeah yeah. Guided by people like Bill harney and a couple of police. Either
a police or ordinary white fellas who were given a license to kill off aboriginal people. AC: that was somehting the govt gave licenses for. GY: oh yeah. They were authorized to wipe out (?). theres a lot of stories yu
don't hear. Terrible place. AC: so how do you have that kind of history in living memory? Living memory, I mean there are people alive today who .. .
GY: well abor. people are still talking about those stories. Colodon River is one of the classic places, closer to my place, colodon, there were some massacres there from horseback. This was in the early 40s. that's not long ago. People who operated out of (?) properties on the edge of Arnum land were actually going into arnurn land and shooting at black fellows. Abor. people. Whether they were known to the authorities or
not didn't really matter. There were policies to move one group of black fellas to another, and that community and that tribe to another , and (?) together, so that their children would not have knowledge of their land, their boundaries, their stories, their culture, their laws. This is one way to kill off abor people and now if that policy had gone on to this day, the abor were supposed to have been completely wiped out and mainstreamed. I'm not supposed to walk around looking this dark and speaking language and still throwing spears. And having the knowledge to my land abQut painting and dancing and this. That would have been all destroyed. And that was the aim of the aust govt.
27:41 AC: did they have an actual date, an actual planned schedule? GY: oh yeah. They had a plan and schedule. And they were gonna practice right
up to ... now they still practice but in a different way. AC: you think those policies go on today? GY: oh yes, yes. AC: get rid of the black fella. GY: Yes. I sit here and still fight the same consequences, but not dodging bullets.
AC: what do you dodge now?
GY: and poison waterholes, and dodging politics. But they come back to it the
same way as they did when they were in the form of bullets and poison waterholes and
poison dampers and being chained up and being thrown into the cell and none of your families would hear about you, whether you were coming back or not. We suffer the same way now.
28:47 AC: how do you have
that living history and still talk about reconciliation with the aust govt? what does that mean now?
GY: Reconciliation from one side, it has to be from both sides. It's a ridiculous kind f situation at present when abor people are asked to draw the form of reconciliation from our side, we can do that very successfully. But it cannot be successful enough if the other party is absent. And that's what the problem is with the present reconciliation process. We're now seeing that the opposite party, which is the nonaboriginal party-the so called conquerors and the settlers and the pioneers and whatever else you wanta call them-and the dispossessed, which is us. We're the ones who had to be at the mercy of the newcomer. The westminister law says we must do this we must do that, regardless of the existence of our own law. And therefore we cannot stand on level ground. One stands on higher ground and we gotta look up constantly because these are...the white people are the superiors, they're the conquerors. We are in their mercy. And whatever reconciliation there is, we will get only half or a quarter or none at all. And that is the situation that we find ourselves right now. We now on the tenth year of that process. It started 10 years ago. Now theres hardly nothing exciting to talk about. So abor people are mounting up unfortunately a protest to show the world that we're not happy with it.
31: 17 AC: at the Olympic games you mean?
GY: either that or earlier. Earlier in the next couple of months. We're meeting in sydney..we will be all meeting in sydney and the document is being drawn up stamped and delivered as a sign of good will from both parties, or we don't do that at all. And we tell the world, we tell the olympians, we tell everybody else that aust., the beautiful city for olympics, is not that rosey. You know because they cant deal with their own indigenous people in a good manner. That these people really come from somewhere, ignores other humanities. Unfortunately that the visitors have to see the cruel side, the nasty side, of what aust are made of.
32:30 AC: what did you think when the prime minister said we're gonna to delay this reconciliation, its too complicated, too many hard feelings, we cant settle this by the olympics?
GY: that's a cop out. I mean , yu can find better leaders than howard. He ' s chasing his own tail. And he's got a problem, a personal problem. Right? That is not a leadership kind of quality. A leader must avoid any personal feelings about things. He's bringing his personal things into a public arena.
AC: are you saying that he personally doesn't like ... GY: he doesn't like abor people, that's quite obvious. That's (?). and he's
bringing that up through his prime ministership, throught his leadership. And we don't need that. And we don't need him to draw the line and the document delivered. We can do that without him.
AC: what form would reconciliation take.? What is it that you would like to see?
Should the white aust simply apologize?
GY: Reconciliation got nothing
to do with australians. It had a lot to do with british. See the reconciliation would have been adrawn out deal between the queen and the british govt and the abor people. The aust are only settlers, they were brought here. Whether they were convicts, whether they were settlers, they were a mixture of people. Theres irish, scottish, germans, greeks, italians, who just happened to settle here. Some of them , fair enough, if they feel not guilty about it, well fair enough. They just came because they were invited here. But it was the british who bloody ran amuck in the first kplace, hoisting the flag at sydney cove and said that athis land was gonna belong to the madman king george. Without any consultation with the local people. They obviously put the flag up in front of abor people standing right there , like they were just a visiting audience. In fact they were the traditional honors, they were the sovereigns. There it was, one white man trying to put up a flag and take another sovereign and givin it to another sovereign, which never heard of, didn't even have any clues what this was all about. And the actual sovereign people were watching the hoisting of the flags. They werent giving any oks that capt cook would do this. That was the wrong thing ever.
I think this reconciliation would have gone to england and we would have thrashed it out there and come t some agreement. And if we started getting rid of the queen, well what you do, she's the sovereing, she' s the head of the state. Now you get her out and get the guards out, right, the queen and then the guard whoever that is, and replace them with the indigenous people of aust. We become the head of the state, because this is our land. And that is a simple way of dealing. That's what this reconciliation should be. Not that we 're gonna run the country. I mean we wanta be respected, that this was once our land, only being replaced by a mad king. So now that the daughter of the mad king has been kept out of the head of the state and replaced with whom? Right? And that whom should be the sovereign people of aust. And we are they. We are the indigenous people. And that's how it should be. and all the the other aust should live with that. Not that we gotta be sitting in thrones ... every which way you.turn you see a black fella sitting under a tree and he ' s got his own throne and all that.. . that would be ridiculous.
37:16 AC: but then what is it?
GY: but the respect is very very strong. And it is here at home. You know indigenous people do their own thing. We go hunting, we practice our own laws, we do our own cultural practices and we 're not steppin on somebodys toes. That's what the agreements supposed to be about. They don't come around and railroad abo people about our land and end up not paying us royalties and compensation for damages to our sacred sites, this and that. Our rights are actually enshrined in the constitution of the country. That's how it should be. We are just sitting duck to everything. Legislation or whatever. The next prime minister comes along, he wants to make an amendment to the abo land right act, he want to do this, undertake the veto power of the indigenous people, that any govt development on abo land should be, there should be a legislation put into place so that acquiring of abo land without asking abo people ... this kind of nonsense. We don't have to suffer. We don't have to go thru all this. We are people of the land, the
land is ours. And we don't have to negotiate with govt what this is ... they've taken the best part of our country. Not that we've gotta have every inch of aust and bring it back and claim it ours. I mean we 've already done that in some parts. The native title speaks
loud and clear that every part that anybody wanted to develop and theres a business proposition, well why cant abo people be part of that? I mean its only economically right for somebody else to have ... well eveybodys to share in the wealth of that
development, whatever it is, let it be mining, forestry, fishing, crabbing, farming of water cultures, whatever it is, oil , petroleum .. .
39:52 AC: any development ...
GY: any development on abo land thru the native title. Its negotiable. We must have the rights to negotiate with the developers and get something out of it , whether the wealth of the income, the profit, half-half shares of. .. these kinds of things should be put into place.
AC: is there a great deal of land in aust now which you don't have title to and you think you should have title to?
GY: theres a great deal in the northern territory and elsewhere that gives the abo people the land, the land that has been occupied long time before the native title ... theres a term that vanishes your .... that limits your, makes a stop to, at a certain time, that you're not able to claim. I don't remember what year is the .... and before that idea of title. Now the native title from a certain year you can actually claim , you're eligible to put claims on native title or you have to negotiate with the developers. Or put an idea of claim over it if its vacant. Vacant land. And make it as your native claim of land.
41 :50 AC: so there is ... aust still is a country that has vacant land. GY: yeah. Every land right throughout the continent you are able to claim land
in pockets of areas where its not being wiped out by other claims or other development.
AC: should all vacant land just be declared abo land?
GY: it can be. It can be. But then you got oppositions that have some interests in
those areas who can weigh those interests. And if the developers or the interest holders for that one area argues the best arguments, well you can weigh it, you know? And abo people can give its evidence from cultural side of practice, sacred areas, stories to the land, and weigh it against other interested bodies, group of people. And if our argument is better than theirs, they lose, and we get the entitlement.
43:08 AC: you're an attorney, aren't you? GY: no. I learn. AC: you learned. GY: yeah, I'm a bush lawyer. AC: a bush lawyer? (laffs) how is it here, going into the courts, trying to argue
your interests against competing interests? GY: it can be frustrating. We carry a special land commissioner. Theres two
land commissioners. One studies native title claims, and the other one is the abo land right claims, under the abo land right act, 1976. There are two commissioners. And the others ones can be two or three legal people. Judges that can listen to the kind of claims.
And they make the decision on ... the frustrating part is trying to find our own people . They're two different kind of people. Traditional people have the full knowledge to all the information from real plants to a crack in the rocks to a river a dry river to a wet
driver, adjacent land, low water mark, high water mark, lands of the birds, the nest, what they eat, what they relate to ... and so on. You can tell all that story to the judge while you beat him that he's gonna give you a grant of that land. We've been very very successful .. .I've been so
interested in listening to some of those stories. I mean I got my own land which I could go to a court and say look , but I don't have to. Because my land is already abo land. That gives me the rights , my family the rights, my tribes the right,
2000 years and more thousand years., and a thousand years and a thousand years after.
45 :32 AC: that's among your law? GY: yes, and all the land that I have already , which is only (?) land trust. That
cannot be taken away by
AC: how big is your family? How much land?
GY: its big. My family 's, not my immediate family, not counting that. Its my
tribal family 's, about 600-700 people. It's a lot of people. Plus
little kids we havent counted. And we jointly have a tribal land, as you understand. I mean I don' t have a piece of land to myself. I have to share that piece of land with everybody else. I can go
and live there and run a cattle or hunt on it or sleep on it or run a ceremony on it, but everybody else ... .i don't' claim it as mine. Its ours. So its more of a community thing that
your term of using land. Your term of using land is yours and children and descendants if you stay there. Iftheres some stories connected to it or the deeds
good enuf but it's not deep enuf, its very shallow, its just printed on a white paper with a black inks and maybe your signature on it, theres nothing importa
nt about it, just a thing that youll take it to a white judge and say look theres my deeeds, I mean look, we cant do that. We got ceremonies and
songs, we got a lot more to show for our piece of land than your deeds. Deeds don't compare nothging to our way of presenting
ourselves to a judge. And this is what we have justify. Which is a bit unfortunate. That's the asking. That's what the white
mans law says, we must justify ourselves to be able to get that land back, but that's the white mans
law. White mans law that cannot justify anything else, but to ask too much silly questions.
48:01 AC: if this reconciliation is gonna go thru, is the queen gonna have to come here and say something to you, or is john howard gonna have to come here ...
GY: she's hanging around here now and I think she should ... if some brilliant leadership was shown here, she would be invited to give a reconciliation as the head of the state. And she still is head of the state. I don't see that this will go aw2ay for many many years. This reconciliation document is very very important. It takes a king or a queen to settle it. Not a prime minister. And so if howard is saying that its so complicated, he hasn't even tried. He hasn't even tried. Ive been with the reconciliation for two years and ive seen what this process is all about. I preach recon. everyday. I'd
like to go one way and say chop chop chop. I've got no time for anybody else and everybody else. I look after myself because I'm mad about something, I'm angry about somebody, something, because we cannot achieve anything in the name of recon. This is
what these canberra people are doing, from prime minister on down. But if this coalition govt can say, ok look we 'll stand up to this, and we will fix this up because we don't have kto return to it, this is a different terms, different year, different people, different names, different leadership. And I think people like howard should get out of the system. Only people who 's been, not only rednecks, but people with paternalistic ideas, that kings and queens still walk around the streets saying, bow down, everyone of you that's out in the street, I am the king, I am the queen, I mean these people still think that. And if you're the wrong color get out. That's what they say to us. I mean we 're supposed to be , not waving our flag, but quietly sitting down or out there on the countryside chasing goanas and kangaroos. That' s what they think of us. I mean, we're an embarrassment to aust people.
51: 13 AC: an embarrassment.
GY: yes. In the olympics. I mean if we're out there trying to tell people, they'llput us away. They'll do everything like we 're terrorists. In fact, we are indigenous people trying to tell these visitors the truth about what aust is all about. The white aust is all about. This is the other side of these nice people who greets the champions of the worlld. You knw we want to show them the other side of it.
AC: and what is the other side? \ GY: the ugly side of australians. That aust policy on indigenous people is not up to standard. You look at the military sentence in the northern territory. Every morning yiu pick up the paper , theyre still hammering it. While on the other page the northern territory is explaining that these are not the problems. They hide behind these mobs who vote them in. and the port of darwin is the only people who has brought this military sentencing in, the only section of the community. It's a (?). and I think somebody who wrote it on the page comments, where they write in , that I think that person was right in saying that military sentence is sentence being driven by a mob. Which is only a small group of the community where the chief minister was elected from. And he said one day ah it' s a good idea because my mate (?), you know all his mates who pay big money in the election time for the campaign and all that, they will all come out of the pockets, you know? Its dirty politics.
53:26 AC: let me just ask you one more thing, and that is, we've been cautioned here to try to see as many different communities as we can because we should say that one group is the abo people. But is there a feeling among the abo people about something like recon or land, is there an abo position?
GY: on what?
AC: on recon, on dealing with aus. On the role of the abo people in the future of the country and how things are gonna be?
GY: the document that you'll find is the abo position. And that is that document that is gonna be presented in sydney in march, april march yeah. And that is the position of the, whether that is acceptable to the politicians and the people of aust or not, I really don't know whats happening next.
AC: march, theres not much of march left. I
GY: sorry, may. I'm personally going there to , as a leader , to march up in front with the recon council.
55:05 AC: is it the govt of aust that named you, weren't you chosen as ...
GY: as abo of the year? (yeah) I'm not the abo of the year. I'm the aust of the
year. AC: the aust of the year. GY: yeah. AC: they named you aust of the year. What year was that? GY: 79. 80, I think it was. AC: so, do they listen to the aust of the year? GY: they never listen to us. All the recon people sits around the table , (?) aust of
the year and carries all the big names like (bunch of initials here) and all that kind of, really top, what do you call it, top, VIPs, top class people, we're the ones who write those documents. You cant get more , whatdya call it, qualified people around the table than us. Those people are the top ranking special aust.
AC: well you're a special aust.. GY: well they gave me another name, I'm also listed as the treasure, aust
treasure, one of the hundreds, I'm the hundredth member of the aust treasure. AC: a national treasure? GY: a national treasure, yes. The one hundredth member. Theres only a hundred
of us . ¿AC: and what were you named for? GY: eh?
AC: why did they name you a national treasure? GY: oh I don't know, because maybe I grow a beard much better
than.... nah ... because I'm good looking. AC: yeah! (laffs) GY: I don't know why they .. .I should ask why they gave me that name. AC: you're a nationaL .. GY: no, because I'm an architect to shape and move aust to the future. I'm one
of the architects. I'm one of the persons who builds aust and shapes it. Right? AC: they name you national treasure but they ... GY: national treasure is the people who run aust. who make it happen , make it
tick. Right? I'm the one who makes things move, far as the land rights are concerned. And people say, oh we gotta do this do that, and fix it all up. See? So that's why they call me a ... at least they call me a treasure, call me that because, in the process they call you all sorts of things. Like you know? (laffs) then in the process they settle down and give you a name like that just to make you happy. (laffs) anyway ...
AC: thank you. We've taken up your afternoon, I'm sorry. GY: no I'm all right. I should be going. CJ: does this document have a name that will be presented.
GY: I really don't know what the name is. You just reminded me, I should ring up and bloody ask them.
AC: cuz you're still working on it, it's a document in progress. You must have a
lot to do with it.
GY: I got a lot to do with it. I was a very prominent member of the recon
council. I had a lot to put in, you know? And then they chopped off 20 to 40 million a year, budget, out of (?). when howard came in, and declared that 40 milllion or 20 million will be cut off from the main budget spent by abor people throughout. .. and I said that's not on recon.
AC: that' s the first gesture of recon? (Laffs)
AC: you want recon, you're gonna pay for it.
GY: and I said, naw, that's not on recon. You'll take our budget away. They give you a document and then they cut off their funds. What kind of recon is that?
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