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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Gathering of the peoples

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Binnah Pownall, Mount Burrell

The Githabul/Ng’Araakwal tribe of families wish to call a gathering of the peoples. They want to talk with all stakeholders in the area about ‘where to from here’.

The territory of their dreaming tracks extends roughly over the border into Queensland as far west as Warwick, east to Byron Bay, then south of Wollumbini, around past Cawongla, through to south and west of Kyogle and up to out the back of Woodenbong and on to Tenterfield. This excludes the area of the Whian forests and the Nimbin valley and all lands south, which is under the custodianship of the Wiabul (also pronounced as ‘Widjabul’) tribal families of the wider ‘Bundjalung language dialect region’. The Githabul, Ng’Araakwal and Bundjalung tribes are ‘same but different’ peoples. The same in that most – if not all – families are intermarried somewhere down the line, if one looks back far enough. They are different in the bloodlines that they originally came from, when things started. But that’s another story for another time.

The Githabul are different because they were granted Native Title Rights in 2007 (http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/apn-githabul-welcome-the-chance-to-manage/14402/) and got nothing for it (http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/native-title-in-disarray/850024/). All they got was intrusion by corporations wanting to do deals with them. The Native Title process is a ploy to establish a corporation within the tribe, so business deals can proceed and the land can be abused. This has driven the leaders in the tribe to look to the issue of sovereignty as a way of gaining some control of their own lives again – on their own land. The Githabul have sent letters to the Queen and the United Nations, plus the Australian and New South Wales parliaments, stating their sovereign position. A Declaration of Sovereignty was served by the Githabul and other members of the Githabul-based national organisation, the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation (OSTF) on the House of Representatives on Sorry Day, February 13, this year (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/kevin-rudd-led-indigenous-recognition-says-julia-gillard/story-fncvk70o-1226576854903).

They have convened meetings with local politicians of all colours and persuasions. They have had meetings with police area commanders and councillors. The response has been one of deafening silence… no real or positive response has been received from any level of Australian governance to this time. The outcome appears to be heading to international courts. How can one expect a just outcome against the Crown when all the judiciary are under ‘financial joinder’ to the Crown. The judges are paid by the mob they are going after (http://ostf.weebly.com/ostf-declaration-of-sovereignty-and-nationhood.html).

Githabul elders and activists joined the coal seam gas protesters at Doubtful Creek. Or should it be said that the protesters joined with them to defend Githabul territory from destruction and pollution (http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/githabul-elder-arrested-on-land-he-claims-is-their/1744637/) and were politically active around the whole issue of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s plans to develop CSG (http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/the-byron-bay-tent-embassy-has-challenged-the-legi/1626299/).

At the end of 2012, local environment and cultural activists joined together with the Githabul to oppose a proposed quarry (which would help pave the proposed coal seam gasfield roads) on a sacred men’s site at Cedar Point, just south of Kyogle (http://www.echonews.com.au/news/sacred-site-to-become-quarry-quarry-planned-for-sa/1614703/). This is an ongoing battle and over one hundred dedicated people, from all walks of life, attended vigils held throughout last summer into early 2013. Many are still ready to act on behalf of the Githabul, should the quarry proceed, now that the development application has been unjustly approved.

Throughout the Doubtful Creek blockade and Save Cedar Point meetings, simple ceremonies establishing good intention were held. Strong bonds have been made between the Githabul/Ng’Araakwal people and us other lovers of the land. We have proposed having a talk about what ‘treaty’ could mean to us here, and how it would be good to work out ways of strengthening our bond. We have chatted of ‘knowledge exchange techniques’. We could perhaps exchange mechanical, building and information technology skills, hold local Githabul language classes and learn how to apply natural law to everyday life again, and apply it with bush knowledge.

We are called now to step out of the shadow of our past. Our future is wholly in our hands now. It is mainstream news. We cannot trust our government any more. It is clear we need huge social change and we need different processes to be set into place that maintain humanity and sustain the natural systems in perpetuity, based on mutual respect and ‘do no harm’. The future cannot be created from the imbalanced model of the past. We have the opportunity (post 2012) to re-create a system of society that, if based on the natural law ways of the original inhabitants of this land, is relatively (after what we’ve witnessed) incorruptible.


Let us move on now

That means all of us, with all our different and sordid broken family stories. We need to focus all our attention on this beautiful blue watery planet of ours and nothing else.

Will you come and talk with the Githabul /Ng’Araakwal people about our collective future? Hopefully other tribal families will also come from your area if you live outside the Githabul area. We will talk regarding a 1,000-year plan about shelter, food and education and how to establish lasting language classes.

Perhaps it will become a talking ‘caravan’ around the area and beyond…

The meeting is planned for Saturday July 20 at Hanging Rock Hall, Wadeville, from 9am onwards. Bring food for sharing. This is a cultural exchange day for the future.


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