Australia Day 2018 found me at the Nimbin Bush Theatre for the Indigenous Survival Day Festival. It was a day of listening, connection, reflection and inspiration. Music, stories and friends gave the day significance and provided me with much to ponder. I was also randomly gifted some Bunya nuts.
It’s easy to become enveloped in the typical ‘Aussie’ day paradigm and I have spent many years doing that. This year, however I found it impossible to ignore an alternate perspective of what January 26th represents. I am grateful to live in an inclusive Community where conversation between Indigenous and white Australian’s is encouraged and there exists a healthy respect for Indigenous wisdom. In recent years, I have been able to observe healthy interaction and listen to stories of connection, community and compassion, but also that of pain, deception, and survival.
Privilege is not a word I have previously associated with my upbringing but I realised whilst sitting by the creek listening to stories, ceremony and song, that actually I am and always have existed in a World of privilege. Never have I experienced prejudice, never have I been overlooked, dismissed or ignored because of the colour of my skin, my gender, sexual orientation or any other reason. I have always held the belief that if i wanted to do something I just have to decide to do it and put in the effort, and the society I live in has generally supported that belief through both action and word. Hearing stories of Indigenous families being separated and confined to Missions, not permitted to roam their traditional hunting and gathering grounds or engage in Spiritual ritual, forced to eat unfamiliar foods and separated from their family, I found it easy to become emotional about events that didn’t even happen to me. I understand the anger and resentment felt by many. I also understand the tendency to decline into reliance on alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. Clearly that’s not the answer but telling the victims to get over it is not a viable solution either (we’ve tried that, it didn’t work).
I spent some time considering what type of person I would be if I were actively prevented from practicing Yoga, Meditating and nourishing my body with whole foods. Not to mention being separated from my baby – that would break me! If I saw no way to fight, it’s likely I would actually go crazy and I have no doubt that the temptation of alcohol and other drugs as an escape mechanism would be difficult to resist. I certainly would not feel capable of embracing the community responsible for imposing such conditions and simply get over it. The type of abuse that the Indigenous community were subjected to by my Ancestors permeates through future generations (but that was the point, right – the genocidal goal).
I don’t know the answer to reconciliation but I do feel that gatherings such as this one are helpful. Healing takes time and requires compassion and patience. Understanding is enhanced through conversation and compassionate observation and listening is an important component. On Australia Day 2018 I was entertained by the lovely voice of talented young Indigenous artist, Emily Wurrumarra. Whilst her baby snuggled in the arms of a friend, Emily sang beautifully and shared stories of the struggles and triumphs of her maternal family. It was heartening to see the young family creating a new story. You can follow her here; https://www.emilywurramara.com.au/
Before I sign off, I’m must address the Bunya nuts. I’m used to the Nimbin randomness and the gift of bunya nuts fits perfectly. They represent an opportunity for me to learn a little more about Indigenous culture. Upon enquiring I was issued with the basic instructions to roast or boil for 30mins. I chose the boiling option, hacked through the tough shell & found they taste like potato – not unpleasant, but I wasn’t instantly inspired. I’m looking forward to exploring ways to incorporate such gifts of nature into my dietary routine. I would love it if you have any good (plant based) bunya nut recipes that you’re willing to share.