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Interview 19:49 - 54:17 Play 19:49 - More
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Keith  

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Aboriginal dreaming, song, geology discussions; Australia; Aboriginal dreaming, song, geology discussions  

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Geology discussion; Australia; Geology discussion  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
24 Mar 2000

    Geography
  • Australia
    Northern Territory
    Locality
  • Milingimbi Island
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -12.1   134.91667
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Stereo

LNS #147635

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: Australia -KEITH
Log of DAT #: K-2
Engineer: Manoli Wetherell
Date: May, 2000
ng = not good ok= okay g = good vg = very good
Australia KEITH
17:53 KL: My name is Keith L?, and I'm a chairperson of Milengembe Council. This particular area that we are here at this very moment, this Rocky Point at this area is called? That's the old name for this area here.
AC: Is that a word that translates into English?
KL: It is a word that this particular area was named ever since in those times in the olden days they used to still have that name --? .
AC: Well, maybe first you could tell our listeners about Milengembe and what kind of place it is and the people who live there.
KL: Milengembe is a community situated in the coastal area? ? --Northern Territory. And the population of? living in the island is close up to thousand people.
19:54 AC: Well, you know we are here doing these stories ... Look at that. Is that a fossil in the rock, you think?
KL: Yes.
AC: Ken, look at this. There's a fossil here in this rock. See that?
KL: This one we call ?
KEN: This thing is living, I think.
AC : You think it is?
K& KEN: Yeah.
KEN: It's alive.
KL: It's alive. We call this one bardemer (sp).
AC: Bardemer?
KL: Yeah.
AC: That's pretty hard. What is it?
KL: It's like slug or something, you know, that sticks onto the rock.
AC : Can you get it out?
KL: We sometimes get it and we sometimes boil it and eat it.
AC: It'll be hard to get that thing out of there.
KL: You should use some kind of file or something ... you know??? really hard to try and? that thing and get it out.
AC: Well, one of the things we want to do stories for our radio network about ... about? and about aboriginal people. And one of the things that we're really trying to understand some basic things, and dreaming is one of them, and you were helping us last night. And I wondered if you could kinda do that for us again. And I'd like to talk about the rocks if I could after that.
KL: Yes. Just int the point of the word dreaming, it is known to the Y people of eastern? that when we say the word dreaming that it is something we understand in the past every since the times of our great, great, great ancestral time ... the formation of land ... we understand the term dream time it's like another word, another theme to add that would be the dawn of times, you know. With us as Y people, we understand there is a story, there is a living history that connects with our ancestors and connects with the land, the sea, the nature, the animals and most important of all is the lifestyle of Y people. With dream time within the dream really the word dream comes from the word Ballender (sp). But the people understanding the concept of dreaming is within the heart of Y people and within the minds of Y people. So, believing is what we believe. The footstool, the foundation, of or great, great ancestral beings --the formation of land, everything in conjunction that connects with land, sea, rock, animal --dreaming is a significant pali that represents sites, represents our belief, our myth, and the knowledge in ? that comes from the heart of our ancestral beings. And our belief is very important. We understand there is the force, the power that had been connected from the unforgotten time 'til today in this modern society we are living.
25:09 AC: When you were trying to explain yourselves to the Ballender people and learning their language, do you know why your people settled on the word dream to explain this connection? Why you used that word? What aspect of that word fits in with what you're talking about?
KL: Well, it's just a word that we use --dreaming. It's a word that comes from the Ballenders. The understanding, the concept of dreaming is a word. We only say it because we are taught, you know. But, in sight, in the heart, you know when you get it from the heart, its different story again. We are telling you a story of dream. Dream is not something like I'm sleeping at night and I am dreaming something.
AC: It's not like that!
KL: It's not like that. Dreaming is something that belongs to us, you know? It's inside us, you know? And it was passed on from the times? From our forefathers --the great, great, great ancestors of those times. And there is a connection. The story comes all the way from how it started --the formation, the beginning. But we have to follow the law --the law, what we call, for example? .. We were taught. This is something that we as Y understand when we grew up. So, with Y, dreaming could be anything that relates with the sea, that relates with the land, that relates with the surrounding environment, you know. And also with animals --that connects within? cycle as well.
27:51 AC: The law? You have to obey the law? You mean the Y law?
KL: Yeah. I'm not talking about the Ballender law. I'm not talking about the common Ballender law. I'm talking about traditional law --? customary law, Y law.
AC: What does that law say?
KL: Well, that law says that we're in two parts of the world, comparing the modern western culture, western law. We've got our own law that we've bought up, you know? Y law is a law that we were taught. And we have to insure that with that law we need to stand strong --strong within our cultural foundation, strong with our ceremonial commitments, strong with whatever is important in the lives of Y people. So, our law is a law that had been passed on by our ancestors, and that law is still alive. The law is in our hands. The power is in our hands. No matter we are going forward towards the modern, you know? But we have to show that our law is still there, that it's still existing. 29:48 AC: You mentioned the song cycle as well. When you're talking about dreaming, you said this is also the things --I think the animals are part ofthe song cycle as well. So, how is the dreaming and the song related? What is the part of the song and what is the part of the dreaming?
KL: Well, the relationship between the song and the dreaming has got the interconnection, you know. It does have the interconnection where from that dreaming comes the knowledge. From that dreaming, we have to educate. And within the dreaming, we have to try and sort of express through the song cycle. Dreaming is the foundation. Dreaming is our beliefs, you know? And when you talk about dreaming, that connects with everything. It connects with, as I said first place, land, nature, the sea, whatever you name is still part of it.
AC: It's your beliefs?
KL: Yes.
AC: And those are all tied together --the land and your story and your song?
KL: Yes.
37:42 AC: I'm not quite clear on songs. Your skin group, I'm sorry, is ... you are? or ...
KL: The two --the M? You mean the M?
AC: Yeah, but there are the M? and you are a Doar (sp) or a Yuh ...
KL: Y ooreechuh (sp).
AC: Yooreechuh.
KL: I am Doar.
AC: And within Doar, you are a skin group.
KL: Within Doar, as a skin group, my skin is ?
AC: And would there be certain songs that you would have that other skin groups wouldn't have? Or does everybody share these songs?
KL: I think it doesn't sort of work through the kin. It doesn't work through the kinship. The kinship alone works through our foundation through our sort of married system. With our law, for example, the kinship is there. That gives us a recognition, a reconciliation through that concept, where we recognize each other through the actual skin, you know? The actual kinship. And the M? --? and ? --and the most important stuff, you know the most important aspect in Y law ties in with clan --tribal groups, you know? And that's with the tribal group, that's where that song cycle fits in.
34:10 AC : Does each tribal group have its own song cycle?
KL: Yes.
AC : We were at the school today and the principal gave me an example of a song. She said there's a flag song that her group knows. And it's about this ... I mean this is someone who could tell me through this song --she could tell me the Spanish came here on a great ship. She could tell me what was on the ship. She could tell me what the people did on the ship. She said the people, that for their pastime or recreation, they played cards on the ship. She knew all this about the people who came on this Spanish ship, I guess in the 1600s ...
KL: Yes. Probably the Portuguese.
AC: ... from a song.
KL : Yeah.
AC: She knew all that from a song.
KL: Yeah. It's in the Y song cycle as well --connection with the land, the coastal area, the meeting, you know, the meeting with the Ballenders. Ballenders --the term Ballender is a term the ? and Y refer that to Hollanders, you know --from Holland. So, it's Dutch.
AC: Yeah. And Hollander became Ballender over time.
KL: In that language, Hollander is the Ballender. It went all the way from that? Island? ????, and through trading, eventually the name got to the point where it ended up in ?
36:02 AC: Your people have been here for 40,000 years. So, I guess you know songs that are older than the 1600s.
KL: Yeah, I think there are. As we come to a point of understanding our concept of knowing the song cycle, we can sing. We were taught. We can't make mistakes, you know? It's like my mother giving me milk. And every time I drink milk, I grow with it, you know? And it's the same thing. When you learn, you have to learn right from the start. And you learn the correct way of learning. That help? with the song cycle too. You could be singing, I think, from the sOlmd what you're hearing --the water, salt water sounding, you know. I think you could be singing from the ocean. You'd probably end up in the land now, you know. And you sing about the land. So you could be singing about everything that comes from the ocean, from the sea through your? -¬everything that's related that we understand --Y people understand, you know. There are fish around here which are? And there are fish that goes through the water which are Doar (sp), you know? And we still got the connection with the song lines, the song cycles. So, every land, every tribe has got their own ownership. The water, the salt water, there is a ? and that? belongs to that certain type of tribal group, you know. So, when we talk about song cycles, everything connects with land, the sea and the environment around.
38:58 AC: Do your songs talk about changes in the land --like that grove of --that little forest of mangroves by the village?
KL: Yeah. People sing that, you know. People could sing whatever you see. It's still part of us, you know? We were brought up in the area. That's where that knowledge lies beyond. We have to dig to find that, you know.
AC: To find the knowledge?
KL: Yeah.
AC: Dig where?
KL: I'm just saying you have to search, you know. From us, we know it, you know --right from the start when we grew up. It's not going through, say, a public library and search through some kind of documentation, you know. We got it all ear; this is where our filing cabinet is.
AC: In your head. You're pointing to your head.
KL: Yes. So that's how we learn, you know --informal ways of learning, you know.
40:18 -40:34 AMB: SOUND OF WATER
40:35 AC: I don't know if ... I think it's hard for people who've grown up, my people who've grown up in cities and many things disconnected from the land to understand the? people who've grown up very connected to the land, to really understand the land and what's on it. But, how do you think the Ballender people and the American people --? the Ballender who are Australians who may be, they have to come to their own terms --but how could American people think about your people? And what should they know?
KL: Well, to be honest, we are open, you know. Like people that's researched and people who's interested to come and sort of experience and to study Y no matter whether it's the language, whether it's the song cycle, whether it's knowing the culture, you know, understanding. This is the environment, you know. They have to come consult with people. They have to come and witness, you know, and see a real world in this part of the continent, you know, this part of the country. It's no good just making phone calls, writing a story on Y people without any knowledge, you know. So, like we're here talking --you're from America, you know, and you're talking to me here, a Y person, you know. And this is what, you know, if you wanted to sort of come by your will, your trust, your faith, and meet Y people like myself, you know you are witnessing something.
AC: You should be careful because if you say that over the radio to America, you may find some visitors knocking at your door.
KL: Now, it's just like if you wanted to go through the proper ways, like we don't get any tourists coming up this way, you know. But?? you know, you need permit to enter our country, you know. So, if you wanted to sort of come and find out, there are places like? ?, you know and other communities we've got, you know. You have to approach people, you know. And universities that people come, see and study about Y . But we have to careful also, you know, in that area. It's not allowing someone from the outside to come up to Australia and make their own day here and, you know, say I'm from America. I'm just doing this, this, you know. We are here so that the people need to know right from their heart there are still Y people who still exist in our country, you know. So, you are talking to full-blooded Y here.
44:39 AC: One of the things that strikes me when I come into this community and to meet you, song is so important for the Y people. And you're taking that song and making it --you make it fit into western culture too. You're a singer and you have a band and you go out and play for all kinds of people. What kind do you sing? Y songs? Do you sing all kinds of songs? You take your Y culture out and make it fit in with other cultures. You're still a singer. So, you're still Y , but you fit in.
KL: Yeah. To be honest, I'm a Y myself, you know. I'm standing in the ? foundation, you know. I understand --both in my knowledge of understanding --I understand our concept of what Ballender world's all about, you know. And I've got my own ? and my cultural foundation that I call myself as a Y here, you know. And as we come to a point of talking through contemporary music, ? ? fit with the music and the audience that listens to us. Well, music --I tell you music is the harmony that brings story, the same type of story to the listeners. Politically, we could be singing of our rights of survival. We could be singing for land, to protect our land --land rights for example, you know. Sea rights, you know. And that's another way of telling 'cause when you look at everything here, this is something that we understand that belongs to us, you know.
46:57 AC: This land, this sea.
KL: Yeah. The land and the sea belong to us, you know. And expanding our music to the world and to other places around Australia, we sing it from our heart, you know. We tell them because we understand music is a harmony, music is a communication where people should listen, you know.
AC: We've asked many people as we've gone through Australian what they think it means to be an Australian now. Do you think of yourself as an Australian at all?
KL: As Y ,I think we are original embodiment of this particular country. And we don't see ourselves as Australians if someone out there is talking about Y in the blue --something good for Y ,you know. We have to be realistic, understanding if we're all Australians, we need to show with dignity and pride that we're all Australians, you know. So, from my understanding as a Y ,we've got culture but we're still Australians, you know. We want our Ballender brothers to understand that we are the main embodiment of this particular, and they don't have to try and sort of get us out of this, you know, our country. This is our land, this is our country.
KL: I am Australian¿no matter, you know. They call me, you know I'm an aboriginal. I am a decendent of aboriginal. I've got my aboriginality in my life, in my heart , you know. And I am an Australian. For sure, I will tell tou that all my people, no matter which direction you go --east, west south, north --we're..still
Australians. And we're still the main embodiment of this particular country.
AC: We're sitting on rock here. KL: Yeah. Kunda (sp). AC: Kunda? KL: Yeah. This is kunda. Rock --kunda. AC: Some of the rock is, do you call it ringet? KL: Ringitch (sp). AC: Ringee. Ringee? KL: Yeah, ringitch. AC: Ringitch. Ringitch. Is it a spiritual place? Or a rock that has a spirit in
it? Or a spirit that has become a rock? Ringitch.
KL: Ringitch. With rock, there are all sorts of ring itch --whether it's Doar, whether it's ? but different tribes. Different tribes has got that claim on rock because that's a side that are important in Y culture, you know.
AC: Rocks?
KL: Rocks. And if a person said, a Y person said to the government people, "We're here." And we're Y people, you know. And when they say, "We have got the solid foundation," they mean that they like rock, you know. Nobody could come and knock that rock, you know, because every clan, every tribe, every Y nation in general, they've got claim. And rock is a very important --it's a foundation.
AC: For the land?
KL: For the people, and for the land itself, you know.
51:31 AC: You know, I talked with a geologist in Darwin before I came down here about the land here and the rock .. . and about Australia. I was asking him about all of Australian rock in Australia. And I said, "I'm going up to Milengembe. Tell me about the rock there." He said this rock is much older than a lot of the other rock in Australia.
Uluru is 350 million years old. This rock is a billion years old. It's three times older, he said. So, this is very old rock. And you have this very ... and here you are living your very old culture, very successful long, long time culture living on this old rock. And it seems to me there's harmony there.
KL: Yeah. Harmony. Everything. There is spirit, you know. There is force
of spirit here --strong, you know, that connects with the Y as I said with the nature, the
land and the sea.
52:41 -AMB: LAPPING WAVES OF WATER
52:57 MANOLI How do you say "okay" again?
KL: Uh, mane-mak (sp).
MANOLI Mane ... ?
KL: Mane-mak.
MANOLI Mane-mak.
KL: Yeah. Mane-mak. Yeah. Like many --the spelling is like many ... mock. With M-A-K ... like many and M-A-K at the end. Mane-mock.
AC: Mane-mock. Mane-mock.
MANOL!: Mane-mock. AC: Mane-mock. KL: Mane-mock. AC: Mane-mock. [LAUGHTER] MAN?: Kah-poh (sp). KL: Kah-poh. MANOL!: Gah-poh. MAN: Kah-poh. KL: Kah-poh. This kah-poh ... raping, we call this one. Kah-poh raping. Kah-poh ? we call this one. AC: Kah-poh raping. KL: Kah-poh raping. AC & KL: Fresh water. MANOL!: Yeah. And the sea water ... KL : For drinking. Kah-poh ramarun (sp) is the salt water. MANOL!: Oh.
KL: Not good for drinking. Unless they got that thing ... MANOL!: Unless you're a fish.
54:22 AMBIENCE -SOUND OF OCEAN WAVES -best at 57:49 [Continued by SW]
1:03:10 MANOLI: And now a slightly different perspective on water and rock motif. As soon as we find it.
1:03:30 Chit Chat ng
1:04:20 FX-Slams, short grunt, then sounds like trunk slams.
1 :05: 1 0-SOME GUY-Talking over the sound of the boat? Car? Chatting about scotland. Not really good.
1 :06: 15-AMBI-Starting up motor and moving onward. Chit Chat onward. 1 :07:27-AMBIIFX-Car hom and kids calling from the car.
1 :08:43-FX-Getting out of the car.
1 :09: 15-Chitchat with guitar music in the background

1: 1 0:49-Guitar starts playing, but talk over the chords 1 :13:17-AC: What does a young man do on a Friday Night? What do you do?
Youth: (softly) Just come in here, pray. Like we are touring, some of us. AC: Congratulations (Continued interruptions by background people)
1:14:47 AC-(muffled) What are you practicing? Soccer?
Youth: foottie? AC: Foottie? Youth: Football
AC: Is that the big sport here?
Youth: Yeah. Sport. [Continued Chitchat]
1: 17: 18 Youth: We want to sing the Moses, moses song.
1: 17:31 [MUSIC STARS] There is a guy talking over it to give an introduction.

1:17:58 Stops talking and music takes over. (clapping a few seconds later) Singing.
1:21:35-[Music Stops, one person applause]
1:21:56-Male Voice: (explaining song) When the Israelites were abandoned by the egyptions and moses took the Israelites to the promised land, but that's in their language.
1:22:58- New song, some talking: ^That song there, was composed by Stanley. Was talking about how great God is.
1:26:24- Stanley on guitar only with clapping.
1:28:37- Ends playing with a chord and silence. (Good ending!)
1 :30: 1 0-Another guitar song starts. Some talking over the music. One voice singing, accompanied by the sounds of chatter.
1 :32:06-Silence. 1:43:12-Still no audio. Stopped Logging.

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