MDFF 9 February 2018



A lovely holiday down South. Barricades and brickwalls- Kasey Chambers (live)

Today is Australia Day or Invasion Day, whatever. The politics of distraction. While Australia has this great debate, children continue to be taken from their families. Fathers continue to be locked up, taken from their families, true land rights continue to be usurped by bureaucrats, Aboriginal languages continue to be slowly killed by ethnocentric policies. Must stop, can see the glazing over of eyes.

Macy Gray – There is beauty in the world

In ‘Innumeracy’ by John Paulos, the author points out that innumeracy has as great deleterious consequences on society as does illiteracy.

Chapters are sub-titled with such gems as “hair doesn’t grow in miles per hour”. My favourite (on Statistics) has “two out of three doctors prefer paracetamol to aspirin. They couldn’t convince Fred otherwise”.

Those with a reasonable grip on statistics would not consider a 52% electoral win to be a ‘landslide’, nor a “mandate” to carry out unpopular policies.

When our then illustrious Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (Jenny Macklin) declared after the introduction of Income Management that “More money is being spent on food. Aboriginal children are putting on weight”, as far as I’m aware, no one in our rather feeble Australian Fourth Estate posed the question “has the price of food remained the same?”

“How much is ten by ten?” “One hundred!” “How do you know?” “I just know, because it is”

When asked “How many are twelve twelves?” most of us, without hesitation answer “one hundred and forty four”. No need to envisage twelve rows of twelve and mentally count them.

K= Kardiya (white fellow or non Aboriginal person)
Y= Yapa (an Aborigine- in this case a Warlpiri person)

K:  “Where is Juka-Juka?”

Y:  “Karlarra”

K:  “What’s Karlarra?”

Y1: “Karlarra is (hesitates) East”

Y2: “Lawa (No) it is West”

K:  “Where is West?”

Y1&Y2 (in unison): “Karlarra”

K: “Where is that?”

Y: “You know! Where it always is”

Y2 (trying to be helpful): “Yuwayi (yes) it is West”

K: “I only know West when the sun goes down”

Y: “Yuwayi, karlarra, it doesn’t move.

Should the sun suddenly set yatijarra (North), it would be as world shattering an event as if one or both of those dangerously crazy men with weird hairdos press the button they boast about (“My button is bigger than yours”)

To a Warlpiri person, karlarra is karlarra. No need to ask where does the sun rise? what time is it? and where do the shadows fall? No need to wait for the clouds to move.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows… Subterranean Homesick Blues –Bob Dylan….

Many Warlpiri people have difficulty in accepting that kardiya often don’t know which way the wind blows, which way karlarra is. This usually doesn’t bother them a great deal. It puzzles and amuses them.

Kardiya on the other hand are often greatly bothered by Yapa- “Why don’t they grow veggies?”, “Why don’t they get a job?” “Why don’t they send their kids to school” “why don’t they….?” ad infinitum. They are not amused.

The answer my friend may well be blowing in the wind and may well be found in Maggie’s Farm…

Well, I try my best to be just like I am,

But everybody wants you to be just like them

Here again… “In Australia, our ways have mostly produced disaster for the Aboriginal people. I suspect that only when their right to be distinctive is accepted, will policy become creative”… Kim Beazley Sr.

Some decades ago, there were three blind old ladies in Yuendumu. Early in the morning they’d set off pakuru-junpurrpa-piya (like processionary caterpillars), lead by a sighted old lady. In single file linked by kalangu (digging sticks) they’d head karlarra-kurra (due west) Baby Elephant Walk (piano solo) Hatari soundtrack – Henry Mancini

At some distance from the settlement they would gather firewood. That afternoon, again kalangu linked they’d head back balancing large bundles of firewood on their heads.

Their day’s work having been done, they’d amuse themselves by playing blind man’s bluff, without the need for blindfolds. Go karlarra the sighted lady would sing out to one of the blind ladies who would promptly stumble over a recently placed pile of firewood. This would be cause for much shrieking and giggling. They all joined in.

When Sandy Blight (Trachoma) had extinguished their eyes, it had not snuffed out their sense of direction, nor their joie de vivre.

For the Warlpiri Nation’s joie de vivre to remain unextinguished, requires their right to be distinctive to be recognised. It requires the authorities to have a better sense of direction when formulating and implementing policies affecting Warlpiri lives. Bob Seger, West of the Moon



PS- Have just read Alexis Wright’s ‘Tracker’. Couldn’t put it down. All those who think they know better, read ‘Tracker’ and think again.