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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

First Nations dance for people, land, trauma, justice, children and the creator

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On Sunday thousands of Indigenous people from across Australia stood on their country and joined in a Nation Dance, a first nations people’s group dance in a show of support for unity between all Indigenous Nations.

The dance was inspired by the Message Stick Walker, Gooreng Gooreng/Wakka Wakka man, Alwyn Doolan. 

In May 2018, Doolan began one of the most extensive walks Australia has ever known, from the northern tip of eastern Australia, through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, and back up to Canberra to arrive on May 18 (election day), with a formal Welcome to Country ceremony by Ngunnawal Elders at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, on the lawns of Parliament House.

Jarjums were encouraged to dance on Sunday.

Throughout his journey, which he called the Message Stick Walk, he met with communities and Traditional Owners and talked about the importance of healing and treaty negotiations. The Message Stick is an ancient communication tool that has been utilised in Aboriginal culture for millennia.

Message Sticks symbolise communication, each Stick telling a story. In traditional culture, certain individuals would be given the task of delivering messages to other tribes, relating to trading, sorry business or creating partnerships.

The three Message Sticks Alwyn Doolan delivered to Canberra specifically represent three stages of Australia’s story: creation, colonisation and healing.

For the first time in history a call was sent out to all First Nations People to dance on country as one in time.

In Lismore a group of over 50 Indigenous people came together to celebrate the dance.

Sarah Bolt.

Sarah Bolt, is an artist, dancer and teacher and an active Indigenous community member in Lismore who is a strong advocate for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women.

Ms Bolt says that Indigenous dancers from the Northern Rivers joined the Lismore mob on Sunday.

The sisters from Bunyarra and brother Dhinawan came and danced with us,’ she said. ‘The dance performance included community members from other clans from Casino, and Yaegl, Wiradjuri and Widjabul dancers.

The concept for the event was that Nation Dance would encompass many traditional dances from many nations sharing together – for the first time in history to dance as one in time to:

Dance for our people

Dance for our land

Dance for our trauma

Dance for our justice

Dance for our children

Dance for our creator.


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