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Wiru! Progress report!

Nyaningu, Ngunanti and Anawari left home in Victoria on September 4th to return Cooky Nyaningu to APY Lands and continue filming. Collected Rev Dr John Smith from Ocean Grove. John has come on board Beyond The Dreaming as a friend, as a longtime fellow activist and as an historian and cultural anthropologist. We four lent support to respected Gunditjmara elder Sandra Onus at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Portland on our way to Pukatja in the north-western corner of South Australia. Portland’s local newspaper photographed and interviewed us with Sandra, and printed a great article to help correct certain local misunderstandings.

Read John’s comments in “Smithy’s Perspective”.

We’ve filmed several short segments but are still at the beginning of this project. As we have begun to find our way, inspiration continues to come. Plenty more we can do to communicate the perspective senior elders have both on old ways and the modern world.

Leaving Pukatja Cooky Nyaningu, Gordon Ingkatji and Brouss Ngunanti travelled out bush – and to a number of remote communities – to commence filming the story and songline message series plus some Anangu perspective on the British nuclear tests at Maralinga – which is on Pitjantjatjara Land – and also gathering material towards writing Cooky Nyaningu’s biography.

Here are two examples of what is also emerging..
1. While staying with senior elder and custodian Reggie Uluru at Mutitjulu he expressed his desire for us to record on film the true story of what happened to his uncle who was shot by police (and died) in a cave at Uluru many, many years ago. This story has been referred to in a couple of books but certain names were omitted to protect certain government and white law enforcement people. Now in his eighties Reggie wants to set the record straight.

2. Ngangkari Healer and senior elder Andy Tjilari expressed concern that people living in Australia today might take for granted the pristine condition this whole land was in when white people arrived. He suggests we make a short ‘awareness’ film to help people appreciate the intricate and complex land management protocols contained in Tjukurpa stories in Aboriginal Lore. He hopes this may help people’s views on and attitudes to exploitation of the Land and the need to support conservation efforts.

A number of sessions discussing ideas with other elders have been held. Kawaki (Pantju) Thompson spoke on film about the Pitilu (petrol sniffing) Song he’d written during the late 1980s, and about the problem of communicating advice and teaching certain values to young people. When the current senior elders were young they had learned these from their parents and elders because that was the cultural way. Tragically this way has been broken up now, a casualty of elders’ authority being undermined.

Nyaningu alerted us that Attila (commonly referred to as Mt Connor, and held under lease by by the Severin family) is actually Pantju’s ngura (homeland; where he was born) but he was not ever allowed to build a house and live there to raise his own family. We are partway through recording this one..

When still at home in early June the pneumonia Brouss Ngunanti had been suffering made (especially outdoor) preparations difficult and tiring. This seemed to dissipate in the drier Central Australian humidity – until about July 17 when he became lethargic and ill. Pukatja Clinic treated Broussy with multiple antibiotics and introduced a saline drip. This meant he avoided attending Alice Springs hospital but he contracted giardia and became sick and weak when his immune system went down (see Wiki site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giardia_lamblia). Somehow he kept filming, and cutting firewood so Cooky and he could stay warm at night, as temperatures fall well below zero.

Brouss returned home to Sunday Creek in Victoria bringing Cooky Nyaningu with him for a few weeks to continue working. Compiling and editing began, with voluntary and extremely valuable input from film-makers Jennifer Zalme and Giulia Bastoni. And further ideas keep coming!

Project photos and updates are placed on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/APY.Lands

Fuel and on-the-track expenses are reliant on donations of ANY size via this website from interested folk just like you. By operating this way we preserve complete editorial and publishing control, thus honouring the confidence placed in us by the elders being filmed. Too often in the past they’ve given their best only to find frustration that their messages (which are both verbal and dependent on subtle body language) have been truncated and convoluted into commercially and politically acceptable consumer packages that look good on TV at the expense of raw punch. Neither do we travel with a film crew whose mere presence can, unfortunately, destroy spontaneity and/or intimacy!

The ‘HOW YOU CAN HELP’ page:
Beyond The Dreaming’s BSB & Account numbers and PayPal facility can be found on the ‘How You Can Help’ page of this website. Thankyou for your interest and all your valuable encouragement and support so far.
:) :)

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