[-0-] CELEBRATING BLAK HISTORY MONTH

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised this article may contain images and references to the deceased. 

#2 July 2011

Freda Glynn

Freda Glynn spent her early childhood in and around Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. She was one of forty children to be evacuated from Alice Springs during World War Two following Japanese advances into the Pacific, particularly the bombing of Darwin and Katharine. With her mother and sister, she travelled via Melbourne to a Church Missionary Society evacuee camp in the Blue Mountains. 

In 1980, with John Macumba and Philip Batty, Freda Glynn co-founded the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association Group of Companies (CAAMA). CAAMA incorporates Imparja, the first Aboriginal commercial television station, which commenced broadcasting in 1988 in Alice Springs and was chaired by Glynn for a time. Imparja was responsible for broadcasting Urrpeye, an Aboriginal current affairs program. Freda Glynn also established the first licensed Aboriginal radio station, Radio 8KIN FM, broadcasting in regional languages. 

In 2002, she played Grandma Nina in the short film Shit Skin, a drama about a young man who takes his grandmother back to the place of her childhood so that she can reconnect with her surviving family. In May 2002, Glynn received the Award for Contribution to Indigenous Media at the Third Tudawali Indigenous Film and Video Awards held at the Sydney Opera House.

Would you like to read more about this Great Moment in Blakistory …
· http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/cal/glynn.html
· http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/mediarpt/stories/s898147.htm
· http://homepage.mac.com/will_owen/iblog/C570458628/E20060217214941/index.html
Source: Sam Cook

Aboriginal Spirituality: Interview with an Australian Aboriginal senior man

BY LYNDAFLOWER – MAY 30, 2011
POSTED IN: FREE MAGAZINE, SIDE BAR

Michael Williams gives an insight into the depth and richness of Aboriginal spirituality, estimated by some researchers to span 125,000 years. Aboriginal spirituality is based on an ancient cultural belief that life is a vast web of inter-connected relationships. Everything has meaning and purpose and everything is connected – the land, the people, the ancestors and the animals. The past is viewed as being inextricably linked to the present and throughout time the over riding spiritual value has been respect for Aboriginal cultural law.

What do you consider to be the most important aspects of Aboriginal spirituality?
Following your Law.  Don’t break Law.  Respecting all things, animate and inanimate in the entire natural world.

How do Aboriginal perceptions of spirituality differ from western interpretations?
A profound connectedness to land.  Living on your land is essential to maintaining the strongest possible links with land and ensuring proper practice of Aboriginal spiritual life.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Aboriginal spirituality?
People try to make sense of it from their own perspective [spiritual] and do not often open themselves up to knowing it from the inside.  This is not unusual or surprising.  This is an ancient spirituality embedded in a culture that is acknowledged as being the longest continuously surviving culture in the entire world.  By the time the British and others arrived on Australian shores they had long-established behaviours relating to Indigenous cultures. With this entrenched behaviour, coupled with Christianity and Missionary zealousness, there was little chance of Aboriginal spirituality being assessed from a standpoint of respect and a desire to understand it on its own terms.

Is Aboriginal spirituality today different from what it was in the past, how has it changed (or not)?
The spirit has not changed. The Law lies in the land and the spirits of our ancestors have continued to inhabit the landscape during ancient times, during periods of colonisation and after our peoples have been removed from their lands.  Human engagement with Aboriginal spirituality is now challenged by the intervention of other spiritual and religious beliefs and doctrines, as well as the demands of a world filled with technology that infiltrates every corner of human existence.  It is now increasingly hard, except for the committed individual, to stay true to the old ways.  Moving in and out of vastly different domains requires discipline of a high order, but many do so by staying on Land.

What lessons can us ‘white folk’ learn from Aboriginal spirituality?
Simply be. Respectful attention to a commitment to a spiritual path will bring what is meant to be.  Don’t have expectations.  If it is meant to come your way – it will.  Stay on task.  The spiritual domain and practices of the longest continuously surviving culture in the world must have something to offer humanity.  Limit the overlay of other spiritual traditions and try to let Aboriginal ways stand for themselves.

What have been the most important spiritual lessons you have learnt as an Aboriginal man?
Never doubt the presence of spirit and the ability of old ones who have passed to be there for you.  Ask and they will come and ‘show’ themselves in some way.  The land is alive with the spirits and presence of our ancestors and creation heroes.

What works best for you/what do you do when you need some spiritual upliftment?
Go to my Homeland – visit my traditional lands. I engage with my old ones every day and ask for their guidance.

In your 30 years of university teaching, were there any spiritual (or other) changes you noticed in students undertaking Aboriginal studies?
Students have always been interested in Aboriginal spirituality. There are two issues to consider here.  Most students who choose to take a course in Aboriginal studies are already interested in all matters regarding Aboriginal culture and are thirsting for knowledge.  Then there are students who are required to take courses in Aboriginal culture as part of their degree and sometimes these students are resistant to the content raised in these courses. In my experience, the vast majority of students who showed some resistance at first end up thoroughly enjoying the course and go on to take other Aboriginal studies  courses as electives.

From all your years of experience, what spiritual advice would you pass on to others?
Never doubt the existence of spirit and of a Creator – however you may wish to term it.  Spend time regularly [daily] pondering the importance of a spiritual approach to life and take time to care for others and all things.  Respect Planet Earth and the Universe.

Where do you see (or hope to see) Aboriginal spirituality heading in the future?
It is here, always has been here and remains.  The spirit never leaves the land.  People leave the land.  In my experience the spirit presence in my traditional homeland has become more overt since my mother died and there has not been anyone living there permanently.  I notice them when I visit.  It demands that I establish a more active presence there.

Michael Williams:  Australian Aboriginal senior man

Michael Williams was born into the Goorang Goorang peoples of the South East Queensland area.  He has had a long career in public life, mainly in the tertiary education sector, and has recently retired as Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at the University of Queensland after almost 20 years.  He is currently working independently as a consultant and holds an honorary position as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland where he continues his research interests.  He is also a long serving member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra.

Michael has maintained a strong interest in the cultural and spiritual life of his people throughout his life, from spending hours listening to stories as a child through to his continuing interest as an adult in researching family history with his nuclear and extended families. This research has led him (at the age of 50) to being accepted into Aboriginal Law/Lore in the Central Desert region of Australia where he follows ceremonial and cultural life through several annual visits.

Source: http://spiritualspace.com.au/aboriginal-spirituality/

Spiritual space magazine is new from Brisbane.

How it is…

My family hav bn fighting the struggle here 4 40 yrs n i am really trying to look outside the square as i try saving me n my family. We live in bushland without most modern cons and are interested in starting a model 4 thriving here as resources r around jus need to keeo my head above water n unify. Struggling a lil as my family has reduced dramatically leaving a couple of elders n young ones. I feel n pray 4 all our family dominated today n hope to share all about housing, justice, culture, stats, resistance n a better way. Really love to see some mastery in actions of leeders, wats the best way to get a global effort started, any ideas?

I wandered if we’l c see some effort to get big money backers to help found something like exit oppression, providing an equal playing field 4 those in need to help themselves, espcially the leaders of communities. But these people will fight tooth n nail that there is no oppression, i suppose is tha problem. Almost like hoping 4 a miracle hey? It’s just that like you all probably have, since early teens at least. I bn trying to think of a streamlined exit to oppression for all 2 million of our people. Like a 5 star outback resort that could run on our terms by us, potentially employing 500 people, imagine a chain of these?

That was wen i was 14, stil got my 10 pages of ideas lol. Now i think more about a string if festivals could really start the ball rolling globally n here we could save our island from greedy miners if we could bring in money from a high scale festival held annually etc. In my opinion, the only way forward in oz is backwards, to where 200 yrs ago they disregarded our existence, as the problem remains largely to blame for this countries atrocious treatment of their first people. But to do this we will need to be the leaders, unfortunately with enuff money to reschool the whole country before they turn this country to desert with no culture at all. I know this wil resonate wid alot of peeps, especially on this page. 

I have also got inventions and app ideas n have started recording music to path the way 4 young people and showing them a place exist for lyrical revolutionist. I am proud that after all of the women in my line that have suffered, i have bowed out of the system as much as possible, but i am battling my own demons like these women did, n have a long way to go. I am alone because of poverty and dedicate my whole life to changing this reality 4 the next generation. We can’t let oppression continue i’s nasty cycles, it has taken enuf lives already. I feel the but should REALLY stop here, with us. Problem is until now, i hav dubbed myself a personal activist. We have been reduced so low here, our ability to resist is very limited. 

I am largely turning in, to spirit 4 faith n miracles worldwide and learning my culture as quickly as i can as our elders are dying very young. Hope we can grow, keep sharing n make huge ground together. I will spend time reading old posts now. Majikal blessing all on a safe n happy journey too.