This morning i had a quick chat to old B - my cousin, or 'magarra' - cuz i hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks. She was sitting next to her sister, old G. They told me they were going to paint me black. 'What for?' i asked. 'To make you into a blackfella so you won't go away', old B joked. That was pretty flattering. I must be doing something right here.
Meanwhile, some other whitefellas (munanga) aren't giving Aboriginal people a fair deal at all. Mr John Howard is who I'm referring to. I'm so scared about what's gonna happen when the Howard government has power in both houses. Today I heard that they're considering changes to the Land Rights Act so that Aboriginal land owners automatically have to grant leases for people to use their land. I can't even begin to express how the thought of this government pushing through a change like that makes me feel... talk about blood boiling. That John Howard scares the shit out of me. First he got rid of ATSIC which no one minded too much... now they're messing with CDEP (the work-for-the-dole-type-scheme that provides the bulk of employment on communities)... they brought in the retarded Indigenous Advisory Council or whatever it is, which is made up of ppl that the government puts there... now they're messing with land rights and i've heard that changes to Land Councils are on the cards too. It's so wrong. I am exposed to the effects of past attempts to destroy Aboriginal people, their culture and languages every single day in so many ways and the thought that John Howard wants to make things even worse is totally abhorrent.
I can happily rant on about this more later.
But back to my day. With no bush court, I was back at Language Centre working with my CDEP team. my Baba G - the other Baba G - got me cranky for no real reason. I'm down on him at the moment. Mostly because I haven't appreciated his humbugging lately. I can deal with humbug if it's within reason... like if i feel like that person has been doing or will do stuff for me, but when I feel like it's too one-way i get shitty and don't appreciate being asked to do stuff for them. Sounds selfish I know, but I'd much rather spend my energy doing things for people who deserve it and who are willing to help me out if I need help with something. haha... i sound like a selfish brat.
On the positive side, me and my Mami R and Baba A worked well today. We sat down and recorded some Rembarrnga so soon we'll have a little cd to go with the little book they made. They also got me to write down more stories for more materials. That was good. After that, JBJ and Mami N and my old Dedi, D, and me went out to get more paperbark. That was great. I've now got a rather large pile of paperbark sheets sitting out the back. Tomorrow we'll be digging holes in the backyard and maybe going to get timber. Today, we went east, to where to old mission used to be. Ngukurr used to be a christian mission, set up in 1908 down the river, at the place we went to today. Old D grew up there so he was telling lots of good stories along the way and JBJ had his own to tell too. Mami N, who is really sick at the moment, but too stubborn and determined to stop doing stuff, came and she helped me dig up a vine called Ngurrudin which is a bush banana - a bush tucker. We took it back to the Language Centre and planted it. I hope it grows!
It's funny tho, cruising round with Old D and JBJ telling stories from the old days and talking about animals and dreamings and stuff, I can never start to build romantic notions of what Aboriginal people are like because next thing they're talking about DVD players and the pope's funeral.
Did you know that horses, buffalo and cows eat paperbark? They spoiled half the trees we went to!