How to make – a horn bow.

Ten horses for one bow?  This at a time when one horse would be the dowry for a wife.  This at a time when capturing just one horse proved your mettle as a warrior.  Ten horses for one bow seems outrageous. Yet this was the price of Sheep horn bows in the Rocky Mountains.  Although they were rarely for sale, a trapper in the early 1800’s, George Belden said that after considerable pleading he was able to buy one for the huge sum of  thirty-two dollars in gold.

The highest quality bows in the American West were made by the Sheepeater Indians, a group related to the Shoshone.

Mummy Cave excavations

Indians had been eating Bighorn sheep in the west for Millenia.  Excavations from Mummy Cave on the Shoshone River in East Yellowstone go back 9000 years.  Excavations in this dry cave go down 33 feet (approximately ten metres) with the deposits at that depth being dated at 9000 years Before Present.  The excavations indicate continual usage of this cave from then until the present.  Bighorn sheep bones were by far the most represented in the layers, which held very few elk bones and absolutely no moose or bison bones. Bighorn sheep bones outnumber deer ones ten to one.

Bighorn Sheep in the American Rockies

So back to the bows – these were made from Bighorn sheep horn.  A pair of horns was softened in hot water – typically in a hot spring, of which there a many through the slopes of the Rocky and other mountain ranges.  Yellowstone, of course, is famous for its hot springs, and for Darwin Award candidates falling in and dying a scalding death.  At least 22 white people have died in springs since the Yellowstone’s designation as a National Park. (More information in this short article)  Dipping horns in these hot springs is no safe thing. And it was not just dipping, the horns had to be soaked in very hot water for up to three days.

Once softened the horns were shaped and straightened, then the pair spliced and glued together.  The glue was made from boiling down hide, animal skin.  To strengthen the spliced joint and to give the bow the elasticity it need animal sinew – usually from the whole length of the backstrap (muscle that runs the length of the spine).

A description from a fur trader, Nathaniel from 1834 supports this: they are about two feet ten inches (800mm) long . . . are of two parts, spliced in the centre by sturgeon glue, and deer sinews . . . brought into shape by wetting and heating and worked smooth by scraping with sharp stones . . . the sinews, nearly entire, are strongly glued . . . these sinews cover the whole width of the back of the bow.  As a matter of ornamentation the skin of a snake, commonly . . .  rattlesnake, is glued to the back of the bow.

These sheep horn bows had potentially very high draw weights, up to 100 pounds (45kg.). Although it is thought they were usually set at around sixty pounds.  This was because they were hard to hold steady at high draw weights.  Being short bows they were ideal for shooting from horses.  Reputedly they could and did shoot right through bison.

For information on making these bows see the links below.  The first is from Tom Lucas, a lifetime cowboy from Lander, Wyoming.

Poetry Sunday 29 October 2017

More from Carolyn Forché,

Taking Off My Clothes – Poem by Carolyn Forché

I take off my shirt, I show you.
I shaved the hair out under my arms.
I roll up my pants, I scraped off the hair
on my legs with a knife, getting white.

My hair is the color of chopped maples.
My eyes dark as beans cooked in the south.
(Coal fields in the moon on torn-up hills)

Skin polished as a Ming bowl
showing its blood cracks, its age, I have hundreds
of names for the snow, for this, all of them quiet.

In the night I come to you and it seems a shame
to waste my deepest shudders on a wall of a man.

You recognize strangers,
think you lived through destruction.
You can’t explain this night, my face, your memory.

You want to know what I know?
Your own hands are lying.

MDFF 28 October 2017

This dispatch arrived earlier this week.  It is titled Touché


From my dad’s anecdotes:

SEP.’07- Not all that long ago dad was having one of his sessions and kept coming up with his now habitual rather negative opinions. This caused his daughter in law (of whom he is rather fond) to remark that: “Well, you know Mark: every silver lining has its dark cloud”. Touché!

During the early days of the Intervention (2010) the “Yuendumu Local Implementation Plan” was launched. Acronym ‘LIP’- in hindsight most appropriate as ‘lip-service’ best describes the plan’s subsequent implementation.

Japangardi from Alice Springs (who partly grew up in Yuendumu), had been hired as a “facilitator” by FaCSIAH and gave us all a pep talk. At one time during his presentation he asserted that the Warlpiri language had held us back. “You could never have sent a man to the moon using the Warlpiri language”. My immediate thought was that this is absolute claptrap and when discussing this with a visiting linguist, she thought she had seen some paper (possibly written by the late Ken Hale) in which the splitting of the atom or some such is explained in Warlpiri.

Years before I’d heard a tape (‘tape from America”) in which Ken Hale gave a detailed description to his Warlpiri audience of how he and his family had gone skiing, all in perfect Warlpiri. Not quite the same as sending a man to the moon or splitting the atom but demonstrating what I’m on about none the less.

Yuendumu Japangardi’s immediate reaction was much more to the point: “Why would we want to send a man to the moon?” Touché!

Whenever news readers call Colombia ‘Columbia’ my pedantic alter-ego awakens and I shout “Colombia you dick-head!” at the TV screen. I find this particularly aggravating, and my reaction is tinged by not a small measure of envy, when the mispronouncing journalist has had an airfare to Bogotá paid for.

Some while ago when our child care facility was entirely locally run, when one called it on the phone, and no one answered, the recorded message said : “you have called the kerdoo kerdoo kerlangoo …..” a seriously mispronounced version of the Warlpiri ‘kurdu-kurdu kurlangu’ (‘belonging’ to children). I voiced my objections to the kardiya (non-Aboriginal) manager of the centre “Why don’t you get a Warlpiri person to speak on the answering machine?” After several such admonitions and after a few months had passed I said “why haven’t you changed the recorded message?” She replied: “I’m leaving it on, especially for you, to piss you off!” Touché!

If I ever put something on an answering machine (which I won’t) it’ll be ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ Not the Rolling Stones version, but Aretha Franklin’s

Senator Brandis (Australia’s Attorney General) famously and self-righteously declared in the Senate that “Australians have a right to be bigots”. In all fairness to him, I don’t know the context he said it in. More recently he had a question for Senator Dinatale. On a point of order Richard Dinatale interjected George Brandis’ question “My name is Dinatale, not Dinatalay” to which George Brandis (graciousness is not his forté) responded with “that is my English pronunciation”

A while later another Senator had a question for Senator Brandarse, “oops Brandis, that is my English pronunciation “ Touché!

Let’s call the whole thing off….

Often I’m asked what do Warlpiri people want. It is not for me to say. Although I wouldn’t be the first to have the chutzpah, the arrogance, to think I had the right to decide what it is they want, and a firm belief that I knew what was best for them.

If I’m asked what in my opinion do Warlpiri people need, do I think a better house, better services, a job?

Nah! They need to be allowed to be themselves without ethnocentric value judgements.

They need Respect! Their Weltanschauung needs to be accepted and respected. I’m not holding my breath.

Keep in mind, this is only my opinion.

I don’t know much…



Clergy and Commerce

After ridding the continent of the Dutch and the Swedes the French and English fought for dominance of the North American fur trade.  This lucrative trade financed in large part the colonisation of the continent, from the time of the pilgrims until the late 19th century.  The English and French worked hard to get the native Americans on side and to fight for them against the other.  Eventually and predictably after numerous skirmishes war broke out in 1754 around Forks of Ohio (on the Ohio River, an eastern tributary of the Mississippi.)  Shots fired on 24 May that year sparked the “French and Indian War in America (1754 – 63), which morphed into the Seven Year War in Europe (1756 – 63).  These wars lead to the expulsion of France from North America.

The French were equivocal – King Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour commented, on the fall of Quebec, “It makes little difference; Canada is useful only to provide me with furs.”  Voltaire said at the time “I like peace better than I like Canada”.

Interestingly two small fishing islands in Canada remained in French hands – Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, both off the Gulf of St Lawrence.  These islands are still French possessions today.  The French also retained the right to fish on the Grand Banks southeast of Newfoundland, which had long been the worlds most productive cod fishing grounds.

A sense of joy and expectation that the British felt in conquering New France comes though the writings of Jonathan Mayhew, a pastor at the West Church in Boston.  In a speech he delivered on  October 25, 1759, a month or so after the fall of Quebec, Mayhew expounded upon what he and many other Britains believed would ensue now that Britain had beaten back the French. “An extensive trade will of course be opened with all the savage nations back of us: particularly the fur trade, of late years almost engrossed by the French who have had those savages in their interest.  They must now hunt for us in our turn, in order to pay us for the necessaries which they must come to us for.  Which is also in some measure applicable to the Canadians themselves, that country being reduced, if any of them shall remain therein.  They must all be supplied by us, and pay us for it in some way or other.   So that in short, all the commerce of this part of the world, from the northward of Hudson’s Bay to Florida, and back to the Mississippi, or near it, will of course be in the hands of British subjects: A commerce, which will greatly increase the demand for British manufactures, and both well employ and maintain many thousand more people in Great-Britain, than do or can get a livelihood here at present in any honest way.  It will also much increase her navigation and that of her colonies.

(From Fur Fortune and Empire, E J Dolin 2010)

Hating Hillary

Hating Hilary by Cecil Poole
(Note that a terrific article with this title was written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr in The New Yorker in 1996, the hating is not new)

I’ve recently undertaken an extensive research trip into the far reaches of the United States of America. The trip commenced at the Canada/US border just west of Glacier National Park in Montana.  Being unable to rent a car in Canada and take it across the international border into the United States I assumed I’d have to cross the border on foot, negotiate no-man’s land leaving armed Canadian Mounties from Border Services behind me and approach heavily armed Border Guards from the US Department of Homeland Security.  I expected barbed wire, burly guards and Aviator Sunglasses.  Instead we were courteously welcomed to the US in the Canadian registered car of our Canadian friends by a guard who despite obvious hours of TAFE type training had not been trained on the border transfer we were attempting. We wanted at that Border Crossing to transfer from the car of our Canadian friends to the car of our American friends.  After the third explanation his eyes lit up and he said – Oh, your US friends are parked just through here, drive through and you’ll be fine.

The United States of America is another country in more ways than one.  Yet it bares remarkable and disturbing similarities to the country of my birth, as I hope to make clear.

I stayed with friends throughout my trip down the Rockies from Glacier NP, through Yellowstone, Teton NP and on to Salt Lake City Utah.  From thence I flew to New York City and drove up to rural Connecticut, staying again with friends.

Being somewhat interested in United States politics, economics, commerce and social mores, given that we in Australia seem to copy what goes on there about 18 months later and usually quite badly* I did from time to time ask about these things.  A couple of things stood out.

Firstly it was assumed that I would think their President, Donald Trump less than “Presidential”.  That assumption was and is correct.  This did not surprise me.  What did surprise me was that many of these friends expressed support for his populist ideas.  It seems that he offers ‘hope’ to those white people whose pursuit of the American Dream has foundered, and that he has clearly identified those responsible for the foundering.  He also offers hope to the wealthy that their realisation of their dream can be enhanced through policies that increase the rate at which common wealth is transferred to their private realm.

The second thing that surprised me was the expression, unprompted, of almost universal vitriolic hatred of Hilary Clinton.  This hatred seems to be white hot, filled with venom.  The reasons given for this hatred seem to be that she stood by that husband of hers, that she must have been so sexually cold that she drove her husband to predate other women, that she is an inveterate liar, that she is self serving, that she used her private email for national business, that she was a woman, that she is closer to Wall Street than she is to the average citizen.  It seemed to me that the hatred was visceral, based on deep emotional feelings rather that on reasoned thought.

It seems the misogyny in the United States is not far from that in Australia.  I was relating the “Hilary Hatred” story to a golfing companion the other day, and wondering aloud how this could be so.  My companion turned and said “It seems just like the hate I have for Julia Gillard”.  The comment reminded me of a discussion I had with tennis partners a decade ago when one of them, again unprompted referred to Julia Gillard as “That slut”.

Nice friends I keep.

* Note, for example,  the privatisation of Prisons – in the US approximately 10% of prisons are private, the rate in Australia is 45%.

Poetry Sunday 22 October 2017

The Colonel by Carolyn Fouché

From Modern American Poetry –  “Carolyn Forché is known as a political poet, calling herself a “poet of witness” Growing up in Detroit in the 1950’s, poet Carolyn Forché recalls discovering photographs from a Nazi concentration camp in Look Magazine. After her mother confiscated the journal and hid it, young Forche re-confiscated it, marking perhaps the beginning of a poetic vocation devoted to exposing tyranny, injustice, and bearing witness to the atrocities of the 20th century.

Born one of seven children to a Czech-American housewife and a tool and die maker, Forché describes herself as a “junkheap Catholic” perennially drawn to issues of social justice. The winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her volume Gathering the Tribes (1976), Forché’s work sustained a remarkable shift following a year spent on a Guggenheim fellowship in El Salvador. Working closely with Archbishop Oscar Humberto Romero, human rights activist later killed by right-wing assassins, Forché assisted in finding people who had disappeared and in reporting their whereabouts to Amnesty International.   The shock of witnessing countless atrocities in Central America generated the volume The Country Between Us (1981), which stirred immediate controversy because of its overt politics: “My new works seemed controversial to my American contemporaries who argued against the right of a North American to contemplate such issues in her work, or against any mixing of what they saw as the mutually exclusive realms of the personal and the political.” Forché ’s “orchid-like” reputation was tarnished forever. One publisher agreed to publish the collection only if the poet would agree to balance images of war-torn  El Salvador with lighter poems on more traditional subjects. Forché refused. After much encouragement from fellow writer Margaret Atwood, Forché sent the manuscript to Harper and Row and obtained a contract just three days later. Perhaps the most disturbing and memorable poem in the volume is “The Colonel”– a prose poem in which the speaker conveys with chilling flatness a horrific story:

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
May 1978

Musical Dispatch from the Front

This MDFF was first dispatched on 7th Novemeber 2012.  The first half is reproduced here

Buenas amigos y compañeros,

 Not sure if a previous Dispatch bore the label ‘Spin’. No matter, ‘spin’ is such a recurring occurrence in Aboriginal Affairs, that it deserves a re-run.

 My late mother spent eight decades on earth being an avid reader of anything. She passed this affliction on to me. I don’t read Mills & Boons (as she did) but am an avid reader of food labels.

When in Canada, this habit afforded me much pleasure in that the labels were bi-lingual. I learned that the enjoyment of a certain breakfast cereal would be much enhanced if slices of a certain rodent were added to it- a pampel mouse.  

I also learned that it took twice as many letters to expound the virtues of a certain brand of peanut butter in French as it did to do so in English. This in turn reinforced my developing belief that every language is valuable and none better than another.

If you want to quickly and without fuss describe a brand of peanut butter, best do it in English; if on the other hand you want to wax lyrical about the peanut butter, French is better!

And who in their right mind hasn’t sometime felt an intense urge to wax lyrical about peanut butter?

Thus I came across the following: “Crusta’s great tasting apple juice is lovingly crafted in the lush riverland of South Australia from quality imported ingredients”

Thank goodness they chose a lush location to lovingly practise their craft, otherwise it would have tasted like crap.

When Sir Walter Scott wrote “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” in 1808, he could hardly have imagined the imaginative, varied and complex webs of deception that would be spun around the world the next couple of centuries.

A book I’ve read lately is José Hernández’ ‘Martín Fierro’ a 19th Century Argentine classic. It is written in an anachronistic rural Spanish, rather difficult to read, but mercifully my copy has a vocabulary in the back. A bit like Australian Government reports dealing with ‘matters Aboriginal’ that are difficult to read but mercifully have a list of acronyms in the back. Unlike the Australian Indigenous reports however, ‘Martín Fierro’ is full of wisdom. A sample:

 La ley es tela de araña
en mi inorancia lo explico
no la tema el hombre rico
nunca la tema el que mande
pues la rompe el bicho grande
y solo enrieda  a los chicos

The law is like a spider’s web,
In all humility I explain:
the rich man fears it not
neither he that is in command.
The large beetles break free
and only the small insects are ensnared

 A spider is said to ‘spin’ its web. The Dutch word for spider is ‘spin’. I’ve heard people referred to as ‘een spin’, sort of meaning deceitful or conniving. The Warlpiri word for spider is Yinarrki.

 ITEC employment entered Yuendumu on the coat-tails of the Intervention. They’re still here. Legislation makes it compulsory for recipients of unemployment benefits to attend interviews with ITEC to “discuss pathways to employment”

From ITEC’s website I repeat an example of classic spin:

 “ITEC Employment provide support to the lives of people in over 70 locations across Australia through the delivery of high-quality employment and related services to those most disadvantaged by their remoteness, their labour market or their personal circumstances.

Much of our current work is conducted working alongside of Indigenous communities across Northern and Central Australia assisting to provide pathways towards employment through community capacity building, greater access to opportunities for education and program development specific to the needs of local people…”

A colloquial Australian word for spin is ‘bullshit’.

Lest some of you respond with “give it a rest”, I shall refrain from quoting Australia’s Queen of Spin Jenny Macklin in this dispatch. She is bound to come out with some doozies, so watch this space.

Meanwhile listen to the Spin Doctors , surely you agree that it’s much more pleasant to do so.

Leading the solar challenge.

Team Netherlands celebrate in Adelaide.

In startling news the first of the solar challenge renewable vehicles crossed the finish line in Adeaide in record time. The first two place-getters from Germany and the Netherlands were followed across the line by an Australian vehicle. Designed and built wholly by local students. Amid popping of corks and much laughter, the third place getters strode to the rostrum to receive their garland of flowers. A fitting tribute to a job well done.

And what a triumph of engineering and “can- do-ism”. In spite of the Holden plant closing down, signalling the end of an era in Australian manufacturing, from economic power house to the wiping of bums, (aged care facilities have seen a dramatic increase in highly skilled automotive and mechanical engineers applying for services in this department) the future seems bright under the antipodean sun. There may yet be a place for manufacturing in this country? Though universities have been converted into vertically integrated visa factories and the idea of ideas, is decidedly out of favour, there are bold new technologies afoot, and they threaten to change the very fabric of life itself.

But to their surprise, upon the rostrum, to receive the award was King Coal. King (or ‘Kingsley’ as he is known to his friends) received the applause form the adoring crowd and had this much to say: ‘You might think these kiddies from the uni deserve something for their efforts? You’d be wong. It’s my desire to ensure that no credit be given to this team during the current term of the Turnbull Government.

Apart from keeping you lot in the dark, (much laughter) the whole idea of energy from the sun just wont work. And it’s unsafe. According to Saint Tone of Sanatamaria, climate change if it exists at all is a boon. It’ll stop people from dying in cold snaps, and will create outstanding benefits to humanity. Such as warming the oceans, which’ll make it much easier to swim in them all year round. And ripening coconuts. And by putting cities under water. Once under water the major coastal centres will be more ike Venice and it’ll be a boon for tourism.

Clutching the award for the most efficient solar vehicle, King Coal, was on hand to acept a large piece of superbly crafted coal handed to him by the treasurer Scott Morrison. “This is the future, behold a new era for australian industry. We call upon leaders in Australian industry to accept coal as the future source of all our power needs. Though hideousy expensive, filthy and yearerday, it’s a symbol of what we can all achieve if we just close our minds to innovation.

And that can only mean one thing.

Someone somewhere along the line gets the benefit of a new energy source. Not coal itself, not solar, nor hydro, wind, nuclear, or fission, not even the power of the tide nor gravitational waves, but what keeps Australian industry, (what’s left of it) going.
Ladies and Genteleman, the new force of Australian manufacturing, the “kick back”, and the vehicle to drive it, courtesy of Serco, “ Rent-Seeker One“.

A new future, a new destiny”.



Poetry Sunday 15 October 2017


Jesus I learned you lived and lived
Jesus we heard you died and die
Jesus I see them painting of you so white
Jesus I hear them sing, you lackey of God they sang
Jesus I know people today use you wrong
they came with guns in hand
shot our minds with
untrue words
Black ——- the meaning of sin
Black ——- the heathen savages
Black ——- the false, the lies,
Black ——- the inhuman without a home and culture
These pink skinned people say “You light of God”
and make us wash black sins to be close to white.
O, Jesus if so you were true
You were black
fighting against a white regime
O, Jesus, they tear away our hearts
that yell for nature
They still do things of tension, fear, control,
death, brutality and murder to our Aboriginal peoples
Why they must do this O, Jesus, this once Jesus
All in the name of you
Jesus Christ

“Offering, offering hear the pennies fall
Everyone for Jesus, the Church shall have them all.”

Lionel Fogarty, from his anthology Kargun, published in 1979.
The “blurb” for this out of print book says
“Lionel Fogarty is 22 years of age and began writing poetry in 1976.  ….. Some of you who may read this book will experience all of the emotions of guilt, despair, hopelessness and sadness – but more than that you will feel the same spirit as the author, to organise and fight for a society based on equality and respect”

MDFF 14 October 2017

(First published 3 March 2013)

Γεια σας φίλοι μου
Προσοχή Έλληνες δώρα που φέρουν (Beware Greeks bearing gifts…..)

“ I will look at any additional evidence to confirm the opinion to which I have already come”
Is this a quote from Minister Macklin before her Department embarked on the so called ‘consultation process’ prior to the launch of the Stolen Futures legislation?

No, it isn’t, but it encapsulates the farcical events that took place.

I refer you to ‘NT Consultation Report 2011 By Quotations’ (from Concerned Australians):

I need not elaborate further, suffice it to say that the Government (in cahoots with the Opposition) hardly looked at ‘any additional evidence’ (including the numerous submissions to the Parliamentary Enquiry) and if so only ‘to confirm the opinion to which they had already come’.

The quote is of a British politician- Lord Molson (1903-1991) found in a book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson: ‘Mistakes were Made (but not by me)’

Another quote from this book:

“If in hindsight, we also discover that mistakes may have been made… I am deeply sorry”

Was this Kevin Rudd ?

No, this was Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, referring to the bishops who failed to deal with child molesters among the Catholic clergy.

Within living memory the most powerful nation on earth launched a savage attack on Iraq on the basis of alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction which proved as based on facts as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Over half a decade ago a savage attack on Aboriginal rights and self-determination was launched on the basis of alleged widespread dysfunction and the sexual abuse of children by organized paedophile rings on Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

These allegations proved as based on fact as the politically opportunistic ‘Children Overboard’ and the Gulf of Tonkin incidents.

Currently in Australia the front pages of newspapers report on two major ‘scandals’: doping and match fixing in sport, and the sexual abuse of children (this time not confined to Aboriginal children in the NT).

These allegations are nonspecific and claimed to be widespread. As for Aboriginal men in 2007, the vast majority of honest, honourable and moral sports men and women, clerics, youth workers and social workers have all been tarred with the same brush. A cloud of suspicion and stigmatisation hangs over them. The ‘presumption of innocence’, one of the main pillars of the Western Justice System, is out the window and is being held to ransom by the Fourth Estate, their actions justified by a self serving interpretation of ‘Freedom of Speech’.

‘Freedom of Speech’ is also invoked by the supporters of Geert Wilders.  The only thing Geert and myself have in common is our country of birth. So I asked a (1957) school friend (we found each other on the internet) what he thought of his countryman Geert, and thus I learnt a few more words in my mother tongue  “een walgelijke provocatieve fluim” which Googletranslate tells me is “ a disgusting provocativephlegm “ in English. My friend is also glad to hear that Mr. Wilders isn’t all that welcome in Australia, and this gives me reason to feel proud as an Australian.

No such cause for pride in Australia’s treatment of its First Peoples.

29. Level Playing Field‘Freedom of Speech’ is subject to interpretation, as is ‘Level Playing Field’, one’s ‘level’ is another’s ‘steep slope’. My friends Cockburn and Poole have started a blog that I can recommend. A picture is worth 1,000 words, this is their ‘Level Playing Field’:

Do you recall my mention of a book ‘Bendable Learnings’? Recently Yuendumu School closed for two days (they call them ‘pupil free days’) for all teaching staff to go to Alice Springs to attend a workshop on ‘Visible Learnings’. Make of that what you will.

So what has all this to do with the Trojan Horse? It has occurred to me that the Intervention was a classic Trojan Horse (more like a pack of horses). Inside the ‘protect the women and children’ horse there was a vanguard of soldiers and others that then opened the gates for an army of civil servants, outside contractors and others to subjugate the Trojans inside the community (Wikipedia: “The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.”)

Someone sent me a copy of a ‘Ministerial Statement’ by Alison Anderson (the NT’s newly appointed Minister for Aboriginal Advancement in the NT).  Her Trojan Horse are the Homelands and Outstations. As an Aboriginal person herself she speaks with passion about the importance of land to Aborigines: “Our spiritual connection to the land is unique, and today I seek to explain and celebrate it…”

Three pages of this that left me emotionally touched and impressed with her wisdom… What a wonderful horse!

Wish I could sit and dream a while and spend some time in my Homeland…

However then, with the best of intentions and the advancement of her people at heart, Alison goes on to push the assimilationist agenda hidden inside the horse. From the sublime to the ridiculous:

“Private ownership of housing is good because it encourages people to take out mortgages. Warren Mundine has spoken of this, of the great benefit of a mortgage once you start to think about it. Having a mortgage means you can build a better house for yourself and your children . It means you have to get up in the morning and have a shower and go to work, to earn the money to pay the mortgage. That means you set a good example for your children, who get up to go to school.”

Livin’ and a workin’ on the land….

The possibility of taking out a mortgage on a house on an outstation is far removed from reality.

It is the impossible dream…

Alison’s mention of the shower, reminded me that:

almost four decades ago several Warlpiri school teachers used to get up in the morning and front at our Education Department house to have a shower before going to work. This was at a time when half the school staff was Warlpiri.

Today I think there are only two qualified Warlpiri teachers left at Yuendumu School. The Education Department doesn’t make housing available to locally recruited staff. How different things might be today if only they’d taken out mortgages!

Have been to three funerals in the last fortnight. People I cared for.

One of the services was almost entirely in the Luritja language.

This is one of the songs they sang (I can’t find a Luritja version)

Hundreds of people travelled hundreds of Kilometres to attend. Many in unregistrable vehicles with more passengers than seatbelts, risking large fines they would not be able to pay.

At the Alice Springs cemetery they sang this (again in Luritja)

It was once again driven home to me that remote Aborigines’ most precious ‘possessions’ are Land, Language, Law and Family.

To give all that up for a mortgage, for someone else’s impossible dream, is too high a price to pay.