“After the Creation, brothers, sisters and others of the closest kin, intermarried promiscuously – the evil effects of these alliances becoming manifest – a council of chiefs (elders) was assembled to consider in what way they might be averted, the result of their deliberations being a petition to the Muramura (Good Spirit), in answer to which he ordered that the tribe should be divided into branches and distinguished one from the other by different names, after objects animate and inanimate, such as dogs, mice, emu, rain, iguana, and so forth; the members of any such branch not to intermarry, but with permission for one branch to mingle with another.” (Mr Gason’s Dieyeri Tribe: 1874).
The above is taken from testimony from an Aboriginal informant known as “”Mr Gason” 140 years ago around Adelaide, South Australia. He was discussing how Ancestral Beings, or Maran dhinabarra in my own Kamilaroi language, referred to as “After the Creation, brothers, sisters and others of the closest kin” were unable to control sexual urges and/or intimacy.
It is a very important recording because it shows how our mob, prior to colonisation, were not only aware but developed organisational behaviour via kinship and marriage systems to identify and manage what is undeniably a human condition.
The testimony concludes with the following: “This custom is still observed and the first question asked of a stranger is, ‘what Murdoo?’ – i.e. Of what family are you?” (Gason’s Dieyeri Tribe: 1874).
Now this is not family as in blood and flesh but family as in Ancestral Being and consciousness as in origins – we know this because “Murdoo” is a well known Maran dhinabarra responsible for many urges and bad behaviours originated from within our Burruguu or Dreamtime.
In our own Kamilaroi binangarrangah or law system we have a number of buurra or ceremonies such as the Rock Spirit Dance that warn our people of Murdoo and the need to fight, manage and control these urges.
These take the form of dances and stories along with ritual carvings that identify appropriate behaviour from early childhood and then throughout initiation. This becomes established codes of intellectual property and behaviour throughout Australia.
Now outsiders may consider this a primitive, romantic tribal nonsense but consider this – if we were to apply a system of “Murdoo” within Western society there is no way you would ever have had middle aged men within the church who, after making an impossible oath of abstinence, were left with the responsibility of looking after vulnerable children.
Now unlike the above Aboriginal example that showed in our society before colonisation there existed a total intolerance for sexual promiscuous relationships, the origins of Western culture actually encouraged a practice known as Pederasty, a sexual relationship between adult males and pubescent or adolescent males beginning when the child was between 10 to 12 years of age. The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) which translates as a “love of boys”, which is a compound word derived from (pais) “child, boy” and (erastes) meaning “lover”.
Within ancient Greece these sexual relationships with young boys were celebrated and accepted. The pederastic relationship had to be approved by the boy’s father. I’m not kidding … this is real where the boys entered into such relationships between 10 and 12 years age around the same age that Greek girls were given in marriage.
Yes, girls as young as 10 were offered into marriage to middle aged men and this is the culture where these Whitefella’s originated and it is the culture the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne are so keen to see installed as the catalyst of our value systems in Australian schools.
In ancient Rome, the other civilisation these Whitefella’s are so proud of, sexual relationships and a man’s desire for young boys was also seen as natural. Many statesmen had young boys as sexual partners who were slaves or former slaves known as “freedmen” and there was no protection under the law for them because the rape of these young boys was legal.
Western history is littered throughout with many well-known pederastic relationships including Pope Julius III and a young boy named Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte, who was a young beggar found in the streets of Parma who was hired by the Pope’s family.
Now there are many other stories well-known within our own Aboriginal pre-colonial history prior to contact with Whitefella’s that again, like the story of Murdoo, show absolute disdain for such relationships.
I have lost count with just how many stories within our Aboriginal pre-history to colonisation where there were lovers who, having had relationships outside of the marriage kinship, were hunted down and even killed. Another is the story of the Seven Sisters or Miyaymiyay and Gilaay, an Ancestral Being and direct descendent of Murdoo, who was banished to the moon because of his lusting after the young girls.
It is clear then that prior to contact pre-colonisation that one culture (European) had a celebrated history of accepted child abuse and paedophilia and our own Aboriginal First Nation Cultures were deathly opposed to such behaviour with perpetrators stabbed, clubbed and killed.
So, just like alcohol, syphilis and other forms of decay, this abuse of young boys and girls is yet another introduction of European culture which was introduced and forced upon our people with devastating effect.
I would love to say my childhood was perfect and there was never a sense of fear or abuse, but that isn’t true. My childhood, like many Blackfella’s, was immersed in substance abuse and violence and, yes, sexual abuse but this is not Aboriginal Culture. This is learned behaviour from a dominant, oppressive Whitefella’s culture perpetrated upon First Nations Peoples with trauma and abuse.
When you are powerless with no sense of connection, void of hope and reason and put in desperate situations, history shows us you will do desperate things. And this is the situation here. People who have been systematically abused over generations with no future direction, act out this trauma against loved ones. Again this is not Aboriginal Culture. This is a “perfect storm” created by our oppressor to generate self-loathing and abuse as an effective way of implementing cultural genocide against us.
People will say what I have written is rhetoric repeating the same old argument of colonisation where it is easy to criticise but what are the solutions? The solutions are in the Whitefella’s listening, yes finally listening, to what our people have been saying for years and acting on the real problem.
Generations of systematic and institutional abuse has ravaged the common decency and values of some of our community members, destroying the fabric of family and kinship within our people. There is a real trauma and shadow that lays over some of our people and they need to be identified, treated and healed.
Being labelled as child rapists and woman killers as Andrew Bolt did in his column last week titled “Our fear of seeming racist hurts Aboriginal children” is obviously not the answer.
I have to confess I found his article particularly difficult to read. Why? Because the very mindset that caused the problem to begin with is now wanting to extract absolute wrath against the very people who have been damaged in the first place. Just read some of the comments that followed after Bolt wrote his article:
“Andrew was taken to court for (please correct me if I’m wrong) suggesting that people with scarcely any Aboriginal blood are jumping on to the Aboriginal bandwagon. Most people agreed with him (certainly many of those calling themselves Aboriginal appear “whiter” than I am).”
“What you have in many of these communities that make it different is that the sex abuse extends well beyond the family. It could be that a family’s only fault is that it can’t protect their children unless they move away from relatives and friends”.
“Why do we have, on the one hand, articles on Australians going overseas to adopt children because they cannot adopt locally and on the other hand, articles on thousands of reports to government departments, concerning Australian children who are considered to be at risk and should be removed from their dysfunctional families?”
OK, enough! Decades of education and deconstructing denial within Australian history is now complemented by another article written by this man who appears to have an absolute hate for Blackfella’s and his adoring admirers, people who are let off the hook about what the Whitefella has committed against First Nations Peoples by the Bolt rhetoric which attempts to deny any connection to the privileged lives they live on our once proud Aboriginal lands and the crimes committed against the original inhabitants.
I come from a generation, and it wasn’t all that long ago, where we were made to feel like scum, yes scum – as if we were the most useless, primitive, ugly, good for nothing, stone age, backward people on the planet.
Every sense of racism, ignorance and hatred I suffered from my childhood resurfaced time and time again when I read Bolt’s article. It actually made me physically ill.
Why? Because Bolt opens a wound where I had to survive in that world he has no understanding of – like being careful not to fall asleep when certain Uncles, who were in reality distant cousins by association and not even married into the family, had been drinking at your house or walking through Inala 11pm at night as a 14-year-old with my 11-year-old sista and 10-year-old brotha looking for somewhere to sleep because our mother had fallen asleep with those predators in the house.
What Bolt is omitting from his article, as do all the others, is the perfect storm created by the White People, who took our people by force from their families to live in dormitories, of the young boys who were fiddled with at night and young girls raped by missionaries who were meant to protect them and then returned to their families – Bolt doesn’t bother writing about that.
What Bolt wrote is obviously full of lies and while it is a rewrite of the true history, it is also so much more than that. It is the underlying message Bolt is delivering – a message of hate for a Culture he appears to believe must be destroyed forever by assimilation. Personally, I think there is something seriously wrong with Bolt and he should seriously consider seeking medical advice.
I think his writings and his logic are so unhinged he must be seriously psychologically unwell.
Bolt’s writing denies the Whitefella oppressor, that of a culture where generations of children were molested and raped and introduced to the lust of sexuality that lingers deep within the hidden consciousness of the Western world. When I was in Africa and again in the Caribbean I stood on country where you could feel the unspoken pain of horrific crimes slaves committed against each other to survive.
There was a moment I shared with African American historian and independent and mixed media artist, Dr Anne Bouieb where our shared pain as oppressed people brought us together in a moment that will last a lifetime. There was that one common denominator in that shared pain between an African Sista dispossessed from her own land and an Australian Aboriginal Brotha still living on his?
Both our Dreaming Paths had been interrupted with the nightmare of colonisation at the hands of the Whiteman and the everlasting effects over multiple generations is as close to a living hell that these Whitefella’s could only ever imagine.
Articles like the one written by Andrew Bolt last week have nothing to do with reconciliation or saving children – it reads as hate wanting to rip open a scab of hurt, ensuring it will never heal.
This piece courtesy of The National Indigenous Times.
Dr Woolombi Waters is a Kamilaroi language speaker and writer and is a lecturer at Griffith University. He writes a weekly column for the National Indigenous Times.