Links to previous posts in this series
What It Means to Be Indigenous: An Introduction
What It Means To Be Indigenous: Part I - Bob Randall Defines Kanyini
“Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group…”-- Wikipedia
According to Bob Randall, when Christianity was introduced to his people, the oppressors purposely went about undermining the Aborigine belief system. The people were then classified as savage, uncivilized and not even worth having around. They were classified as animals that could be shot. When the Europeans first arrived, it wasn’t even wrong to kill an Aborigine person. In fact, these invaders made it seem like killing off the native peoples was the right and justifiable.
“You didn’t see it was your own greed that was pushing you to make right wrong. The rightness was for you to come and learn with me why the trees were the way they were, why the rivers were clean and running, overloaded… with all the food you needed. It was there. Now, the belief system that kept that was my line to my Tjukurrpa…”
The introduction of Christianity, sliced away the concept of Tjukurrpa, the belief that everything is one and everything is connected. With that snip, the Aborigine people were left with only three out four concepts to connect them to Kanyini.
Soon after, the Europeans decided that they wanted the land. They didn’t bother to ask who owned the land. They didn’t care that the land was owned by the native people standing right in front of them. They didn’t attempt to negotiate or share it. Instead, they used the term, Terra nullius, "land belonging to no one" (or "no man’s land"), to justify taking what didn’t belong to them. This second snip separated the Aborigine people from their land; therefore, their number two responsibility for Kanyini was cut. Now they were left with two.
“I got Walytja yet. I got my family. I’m still with my family. We’re kind of starving together because our land’s been taking and we weren’t allowed to hunt anymore because someone put fences around our hunting places. And they were starting to kill our mob (our people) for so-called trespassing on my own land.”
The Europeans employed their existing laws in the new territory.
“That Killing Time… it was painful. That’s what we called it. The first killing came to the trees on the foreshores.”
When the invaders brought in their horses, cattle and sheep to the land, it disturbed the existing environment. As a result, the native species stayed away from their traditional watering holes. This had a devastating impact on the Aborigine people because their hunting skills had been developed from animals going to a regular feeding place, a regular drinking place. This made them easy to kill. In order to survive, the native people began to avail themselves of the introduced species. From that period, they were allegedly breaking the law rather than taking from their land what was rightfully theirs.
“Then came the murders. Our mothers, grandmother, daughters… murdered and raped. So many men fought. So many men died. Many elders, many men, lost. Instantly, thousands of years of wisdom gone. Customs, our laws… forbidden… and forgotten. We had to live in your world. Broken. All of our food sources were gone.”
With the emus and kangaroos driven from the country, the Aborigines took sheep, goats and cattle from the farmers and for that the native peoples were slaughtered. Even today, it’s incomprehensible that human beings would value livestock over other human beings.
“The wrongness against the rightness of the way my people lived— on our land, remember. You have to accept the emotions that come out. It could be anger, it could be sadness. But that’s the way it is.”
In Central Australia where Randall lives, the massacre sites of the Pitjatjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, and Luritja people can be found.
“…there are so many sites where my people were massacred by yours. Don’t you think our people have minds and mouths to remember and to pass on to each of us who came after them? They’ve taken me to the sites of the massacres. They’ve shown me the bullet marks. They’ve pointed out the areas. My family was massacred. Why? For what? You didn’t understand the ours-ness. This could have been ours together. You started to go mine. Mine-ness.”
Part III will focus on the Stolen Generation and Christianity.
SOURCE: Kanyini DVD -- Kanyini is the copyright and intellectual property of Melanie Hogan, Bob Randall and Hopscotch Films (2006).