Bess Price speaks
BESS PRICE: [...] Blackfella affairs is so complicated and you have to be one to understand it completely, and in the Aboriginal way, each group can only talk for itself. I would not be seen talking here about somebody else’s issues, somebody else’s problems, I can only speak for my people, who are the Warlpiri.
I want to talk to you a bit about how it’s never a dull moment for me where I live. You can never tell what’s around the corner. A few weeks ago I was sitting in a court room listening to a murder case being heard. I was related to both sides of the family, the alleged perpetrators and the victim, they were both related to me. So I’ve been invited by both families to go along and be there as a support for these young men who did not know about what’s happened to them. And this is once again my people killing each other. I’ve been trying in my own way to help both sides get some kind of justice out of all of this.
And while I was there I heard about a stabbing of a distant relative in one of the town camps. The one who was accused of stabbing him is also related to me by marriage. The next day I heard my cousin’s 14-year-old niece decided to take her life. She hung herself at a remote community. Then I was told that my sister-in-law, my brother’s widow, died of stab wounds to her head that she had received in a town camp, and she had to be taken to Adelaide and that’s where she died. My teenage nephew now has no mother and no father. The woman accused of stabbing her was a cousin to me.
[...] Over the weekend my brother ended up in police custody… The same night my brother was in custody, his stepson decided to put his hand through a kitchen window and he bled to death that night. An old man, a traditional owner of Yuendumu also passed away on that weekend.
[...] There are those who know nothing of our culture who will tell you that we should keep it unchanged; any attempt to change it, they call it ‘cultural genocide’. They want us to live in poverty, ignorance and despair. There are those who tell you that we should keep our culture but also work regularly like whitefellas and pay off mortgages. They are asking us the impossible.
My father was born in the desert. He was probably about 10 or 11 when he first saw his white man. My mother was also a child when she first laid eyes on white faces. They worked all their lives and they called themselves Christians as well. They went to church regularly. My father was very keen to learn everything about whitefellas; he did not understand everything about white law, but he respected it. They wanted us, their children, to be educated the white way as well as their way. They wanted us to speak and read and write English and to respect whitefellas.
I was promised in marriage to my sister’s husband and was supposed to go to his camp as his wife when I was thirteen. I rebelled, and didn’t want to go. My father and my promised husband let me get away with it. They didn’t beat me up like other girls at my age who were beaten for refusing to go to their promised. I had a violent marriage to a young man instead.
[...] They were proud and happy when our daughter who doesn’t speak our language well, did well at school. She spoke English well. They did not insist that she go to a promised husband, they wanted her to be free, so she can be educated and she can help her people.
If our people are to find answers to the problems that are killing us they need to change their way of life. We should give up our violent ways. Our laws allow capital punishment, it allows violent payback. It tells us to fear sorcery. It was all much more controlled before, than it is now. Now we have grog, ganja that sends our people mad, men and women, young and old.
We didn’t have money. Now we gamble and give our money away to kinsmen who spend it on grog, ganja and gambling. Our old law tells us that we can’t say ‘no’ to family. There is nothing in our old law that gives us tools to deal with all these problems that come from the new things that whitefellas have brought with them. But my people want the things that whitefellas have brought, they just don’t want the law that comes with these things.
Our young men are taught that they are superior to women, simply because they are men. They are taught that they have the duty to defend their families and their own honour with violence. When they follow our law, they break the white law. When they follow the white law, they break ours. They don’t know it’s wrong, basically for one simple reason and that is, nobody is teaching them what the whitefella law is. That’s why the jails are full of our young people, young men especially. They are safer in there than they are in the streets in the communities, so their families feel – they’re happy when they find out that their son or grandson or nephew, brother’s locked up, because they’re safer in jail than out.
[...] We need to change. We don’t need English-speaking, urban, indigenous people and white academics telling the government what it needs to do for us. Governments should talk directly to us, not only to the organisations that have let us down as much as governments have. But my people need to be challenged. There is much that is good about our old laws, there is much that is wonderful about my heritage, but there is also much that simply doesn’t work any more, and that is keeping us ignorant and in poverty. There is much that is killing us.
Why wasn’t Bess Price awarded Australian of the Year? Oh that’s right, becuase she’s against the Aboriginal victimhood industry run by the urban “aborigines” and white academia.
Extracts and comment by Gab at Catallaxy Files