Standing strong

The hard task that must be done

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Sitting here on Djapwurrung country protecting sacred trees. There are a handful of us still standing after many months of daily racial taunts of drivers by, rain, storms, strong winds and the luxuries of every day living like turning on a light switch unavailable. It’s no easy task but we know it must be done. The small examples must be won or the big examples will continue to get bigger and this nation and all of its People will be lost forever.

The Women warriors that are left are from all walks of life, and the fact that they descend from other nationalities has no effect on which order we stand. They are now my Sisters. They get it. Better than most.

They understand the importance of keeping Culture alive, it is the reason why they are my fellow warriors. A plan by Vic Roads to widen the Highway just outside of Ararat is why we are sitting on Country. In this 12km or so stretch(if all goes to their plan) hundreds of trees will be gone.

Beautiful trees including an 800 year old tree that has seen over 50 generations been born inside her and a 350 year old directions tree that is shaped and resembles a Woman. Literally. Vic Roads will also succeed in ripping up the land in which we are still finding artefacts on today.

To our People, the land is our means of survival. It is our food, spirit, identity and culture. Our lands have a spiritual value and not an economic one. If the land is destroyed so is our dreaming. Our dreaming is our story. It is what connects us to the beginning of time, back to our spirit ancestors, our creators.

Today, roads are built on our song lines and our song lines are what connects our stories up all around our nation from one tribe to the next, you could even say like chapters in a book. Our stories are passed down to teach us to respect Mother Earth, our sacred places and all living creatures.

They teach us morals and more importantly the law, what is accepted and what is not! We must be given our rights to be the true custodians and caretakers of this nation. If we do not take a stand now, our Culture along with our People will be merely a distant memory. It was never ok for our lands to be taken away. Sovereignty never ceded.

This article appeared in the autonomous Indigenous edition, Indigenous Honi 2018.