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In this month’s edition we decided to focus on the interconnections between Sport, Land and Culture for our mob.
It’s ironic that during the preparation of this newsletter, where we pay tribute to the passing of 2 Land Rights Statesmen former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Maurie Keane who fought so hard for Land Rights, the NSW Minister for Natural Resources and Western NSW Kevin Humphries tabled surprise legislation to amend the Crown Lands Act late last month.
The Bill, if passed, would have eliminated Aboriginal Land Claims on coastal lands throughout NSW, some of them 20 years old. It’s since been withdrawn thanks to ‘People Power’ at the Cultural Gathering opposing it and the support of our friends in NSW Government. It’s not over yet though; Minister Humphries still intends to reintroduce the Bill in the future so subscribe at www.ourmob.org.au to be informed of any campaigns or information on this issue.
The Koori Knockout is arguably the most anticipated sporting event on the Koori calendar each year. It’s a chance for mob, from communities across New South Wales, to catch up with old friends and family. It’s also a chance for players to showcase their skills on the field while spectators go mad for their home teams, cheering them on, in a massive and passionate show of support. For many of our mob, sport is in our blood, and the 4 days of Rugby League has become ingrained in our culture, it’s why many have labeled the Koori Knockout the modern day corroboree, and it’s why we’ve decided to devote this edition to Sport, Land and Culture.
Sport goes a long way to building self esteem, pride, focus and discipline and so does working on country. “The land gives me my strength,” said Neil Elwood, Discovery Trainee Ranger at Mutawintji National Park. Mutawintji Local Aboriginal Land Council has a strong vision to grow its economy through tourism by revitalizing the Mutawintji Tour Guide Program. Mutawintji is a land steeped in rich cultural history and heritage. It houses rock art, hand and animal stencils in the overhangs, rock waterholes, beautiful gorges and plenty of bush tucker and medicine.
In this edition we shine a spotlight on Councillor Des Jones’ area, the Western Region of NSW, where land was hard fought for and won. There were many “firsts” out West; Mutawintji became the first National Park to be handed back to its traditional owners in NSW in 1998, while Weinteriga Station was the first land purchased by a Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) in NSW in 1985. Back then, like today, Local Land Councils ran on limited funds but through the Western Regional Land Council, the LALCs pooled all their money and took turns at buying land. You can read more about these stories in our newsletter or watch the videos online.
It has been exiting to be involved in putting together this latest edition of Our Land Council, Our Mob, Our Future. I grew up immersed in Land Rights and was a kid when my family blockaded Mutawintji and my Dad, with other leaders, set up the Land Councils out West. Today, I’m the Deputy Chair of Mutawintji LALC and you can read more about my Land Rights journey online.