13.8 C
Byron Shire
June 20, 2024

Here & Now 177 Standing together

Latest News

Murwillumbah Hospital celebrates 120 years

A community campaign for a hospital in Murwillumbah led, in 1899, to two committees and a Board of Trustees being formed, and the selection of a 15-acre site. The hospital itself opened in May 1904.

Other News

Budding young musicians hit the stage at Byron Farmers Market

There will be a special appearance at Byron Farmers Market tomorrow morning! Along with the freshest locally-grown produce, the...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: PFAS-ed Off

Whenever a cloudy day hits Mullumbimby we all know it’s only a matter of time before someone’s on a community Facebook group warning people about chemtrails. I’ve sat in a Meet the Candidates and heard an audience member ask an MP what they are going to do about chemtrails and watched them squirm.

Wilsons Creek Public School scoops NSW Landcare award

Wilsons Creek Public School was honoured with the Woolworths Junior Landcare Award on June 3 at the NSW Landcare Awards.

Labor announces its councillor ticket for Byron Shire

Labor councillor, Asren Pugh, and South Golden Beach local, Janet Swain will head the Byron Shire Labor team to contest the Byron Shire Council elections on September 14.

Inequity underpins solar-battery rebates

Over 3.2 million Australian households now have solar systems, and NSW leads, with a million systems (rooftop, heated pool or hot water).

Contradicted council

Local government elections are scheduled for 14 September 2024 and ‘Team Cadwallader’ of Ballina Shire Council have scored an...

here-now-177-picS Sorrensen

Uki. Thursday, 12.10pm

The little girl, ceremonial paint on her face, feathers around her arms, looks up at the people beside her to see what they’re doing – and flaps her arms like a bird flying. She is flying energetically when, on a cue from the didgeridoo, the other dancers stop flapping, form a circle and, arms outstretched, glide on the wind.

The little girl is momentarily confused, her arms frozen mid-flap. A woman, also painted and feathered, gently nudges the girl into the circle and shows her how to glide: arms out, leaning from side to side. The girl copies the woman, holds out her arms, leans from side to side, and soars. It’s fun. She laughs.

I like that about Aboriginal dancing – the kids are always involved. They learn through participation, by copying. This makes adults responsible.

It’s the dance of the sea eagle. The Aboriginal dancers are in a small park in the centre of Uki, where the smell of burnt eucalyptus leaves hangs in the air.

Before the dance by this Murwillumbah-based dance troupe, there was a smoking ceremony. While the barefooted, t-shirted celebrant built a fire on an old palm leaf sheath – it’s uncool to leave burn marks on the park grass – he reminded the crowd (and me) of our connection to land, of our obligations to it. He reminded us of the ancestors, of the wisdom that has brought us to here and now: We are the land.

The crowd, black and white, old and young, listened as grey clouds bunched above us. And then we walked through the tangy smoke, sharing that experience with generations that have gone before us.

The Great Sioux Nation, which encompassed much of what is now North and South Dakota in the US, also has a smoking ceremony, but the Sioux use sage, not eucalyptus. Like us, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is having a smoking ceremony today. They have gathered on Sioux land to protect it against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protecting the land is their obligation. They learned that as children from the adults and ancestors.

When I was a child I never learnt to protect the land.

The Standing Rock Sioux are not standing alone. The protest has attracted indigenous people from all over North America. It is the biggest gathering of Native American tribes since Chief Sitting Bull (spiritual leader of the Sioux) was shot more than a hundred years ago.

And there are modern tribes gathering there too: post-punks from Germany, hippies from Canada, Indigenous-rights groups from Central America, and white Americans from the suburbs.

And now this diverse mob in Uki, united in smoke, stands with them too.

Wisdom, whether it’s through Western science or Indigenous knowledge, points to the same reality: We are the land.

The dancers stop circling, and form two lines. The little girl runs to a line and stands next to a young man. He crouches into some knee-flexing dance steps. She does too. He stamps his feet into the couch grass. She does too.

Indigenous cultures around the world share wisdom this way, directly from adults to children. It keeps the adults honest, the wisdom uncorrupted.

Imagine if all adults, everywhere, had their children beside them as they went about their business. Would they show their children how to push oil pipelines through sacred sites and water catchments? Would they show their children how to mine coal in a climate-changing world? Would they show their children how to sell bombs to dictators, clear forests, exploit the desperate?

The dance finishes. The crowd applauds.

Indigenous people around the world are helping us remember that we are the land, and we have obligations.

The little girl claps, and then flies, arms flapping, to her mother.

 

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

5 COMMENTS

  1. “When I was a child I never learnt to protect the land.”

    Neither did I . . . but it’s never too late to learn! The best bit of advice I’d give to any future farmer or landholder: “Look after the land and it will look after you.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Iron Gates L&EC appeal hearing comes to an end:  decision reserved – Part I

The long-standing, controversial Iron Gates case came to an end in the Land & Environment Court (L&EC) last Friday after a two-week Hearing commencing at Evans Head on 3 June and finishing in the Court in Sydney on 14 June. 

Supporting women’s mental health in Ballina

Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and one in five women compared to one in eight men suffer from mental ill health or disorder.

Lismore’s Freedom of Entry Parade

Lismore is set to host a Freedom of Entry Parade by the 41st Battalion, a time-honoured tradition dating back to medieval times

Inequity underpins solar-battery rebates

Over 3.2 million Australian households now have solar systems, and NSW leads, with a million systems (rooftop, heated pool or hot water).