“I always felt my spirit was strong in nature, and connected to wilderness in particular. As a young woman I was drawn to explore the wild places of the world, trekking solo through the Himalayas; sea kayaking in Alaska, Canada and Antarctica; and led a Kokoda Trail expedition before it became popular. I qualified in outdoor leadership in Alaska and founded an eco-tourism business in Australia. I created and led WomenTrek, a 3 month relay through South Australia to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote and wrote a masters thesis on the impact of wilderness experiences for women from the experience of over 800 women and girls who participated.
I have known I was a descendent of Afghani Camel Drivers intermarriage with Australian Aboriginals from an early age. My mother comes from the stolen generation era. She was brought up by a married couple, and never knew who her father was. A distant cousin studying the family tree was able to tell her that she was, as he put it, “a quarter” Aboriginal, Afghani, Scottish and Irish. We did not think to ask anymore at the time and now wish we had. But this information explained everything!
The internal drive to know more got stronger as I grew older. There was no denying the power of that Aboriginal ‘drop of blood,’ Kimberley Law Woman – Aunty Peggy spoke to me about.
She said, “if you have one drop of blood that is Aboriginal then you are Aboriginal.” Her words have echoed throughout the rest of my life. I found myself sitting with Law/Lore Women all over Australia, and the more I learned the stronger I felt my calling to be a Spirit Woman. I have received initiations and been given teachings wherever I went, and most importantly from the highest authority who holds the Women’s Aboriginal Law Staff. We are all born from woman you see.
When my Senior Law elder passed, I stepped up in seniority. I was recently initiated by Byamee himself. There is no higher in our traditional culture. He is our creator spirit, the Rainbow Serpent, in the form of a wedge-tail eagle. I walk with the ancestors of every country now, and my spirit soars in the most natural of places. My own lineage comes through Wilcannia, Broken Hill and northern Flinders Ranges. My spirit was welcomed back home to Adnyamathanha country in 2012, to the rock people of the second oldest place in the world where dinosaurs once roamed. We have always been here.
I did not grow up in community and so I do not hold specific knowledge of Adnyamathanha cultural lore. I was given Grandmother Lore to teach, natural lore that does not belong to any one place. I pay my respects to all the elders past, present and emerging of Adnyamathanha and of all places on this sacred land and waters of Australia.
The young people who are connected naturally to the land, the animals, the whales and the birds inspire me, who know that we must change the way we interact with our environment and are doing something about it. They care, they really do. We should all take care of our planet. She is our Mother who provides everything for us that we need. Those who have invented ways to clean up our oceans, for example, and create sources of power for their villages at minimum cost are inspirational. They deserve our support and our praise.
The old people inspire me, those that hold the truth and integrity of our aboriginal law/lore and who have not betrayed the ancestors or our land, our culture or each other. Over 60,000 years of knowledge is written in the land and the land holds our memories, all of it. We are the land, and the land is us. The old people know this. They have been the custodians of this land since the dawn of creation, the Dreamtime. They know how everything works together in symbiotic relationship. They know. I have been given sacred knowledge to teach others so we can all live in good health and in harmony with the land and each other, to not forget who we truly are. The ancestors are watching over us.
There are 3 issues I feel are most important.
- The truth of our history, what happened to Aboriginal people, the countless massacres and the removal of our children from their loving families. This destroyed our communities and broke the spirit of our First people. Telling the truth is a step towards healing. It’s the reason Australia Day is the wrong date to celebrate.
- The suicide of our young people. We lose at least one person every week to suicide. There must be a future worth living for and a place of spirit, of country for every person to call home.
- Lateral violence in aboriginal communities is shocking. It’s a direct impact of colonisation. Traditionally we were a ‘caring and sharing’ people; now we seem to want to hurt each other because of the deep-seated lack of power aboriginal people have experienced.