Generations have used the sand to share stories by drawing lines in the sand, scarring the pindan with designs of animal tracks and liyan circles. This practice has been taught throughout time and still practiced today by teaching the next generation the importance of sharing stories.
One day my grandfather was on his just going for a walk just outside of Broome when he came across this patch of bush with hidden targets nails to trees, these targets were made to look like aboriginal people. This act shows how aboriginal people have had targets on their back for over 200 years and modern life isn’t much different, each notch is a value that has been placed on our misery.
Today the young warriors use ink to express their culture and using machines to scar the skin this is there initiation their way of becoming proud and strong using designs passed down form the shield design to now the body being a weapon of strength.
Listen to our voice, our words are measured, we have been silenced but you can see the pain in our eyes, the scars in our voice, our history is never forgotten, these wounds have never healed. We have found a new voice and new way to express our pain but also our resilience and pride in our living culture, we don’t want your guilt we just want you to listen to our pain.
These beautiful creatures with dark skin and life within explored the ocean floor searching for the shiny beautiful shell, these shells held value differently to her and the shell were shipped across the sea and never to be seen again. These shells were used for ceremonies and trade but also had shiny balls that kids played with. The dark side of this tale is where the pearling masters forced these women to dive even while pregnant by threatening to kill their men at gun point on the boat.
Our designs are scarred on our skin with ochre, this ochre is of the land and the designs us of our people. These designs were used in ceremony while we danced with each design telling a story of who we are.
Carving the pearl shell is used in ceremonies by men and performed dance with these designs telling a story, these shells were also trading for other objects that could not be found on this country. These designs are of the people of the sea.
Our designs are of country, the designs are of many song lines and people, each design is passed down and changes other time with our living culture, these designs become more than just artwork they are a reminder of our design language that works hand in hand with songs.
The beauty in scarification, the beauty in dark pigment, these designs on the skin are a powerful and honoured custom that is not practiced as much these days but the beauty in the process and healing is a powerful statement of body image and status in your community.
Mother earth is our culture and mother looks after us so we must look after her, she provides for us and we mark her to share what she provides. Her red skin is home for myself and my people, her beauty is known across the sea and her shape carved along the water’s edge where sea turtles continue their life cycle. This is my home and this is where I belong.
We are the land, we scar our skin to show where our land is and our culture is alive on the ground below your feet, our design language survives through our song lines, artwork and ceremonies. Our culture is the warm colours of land that you feel and not just see, when you visit with open eyes you create a connection to the land and this is a part of our culture to share and welcome anyone to visit and let the land heal your Lain (spirit).
I wanted to learn my culture in my time, my language but it was not allowed in my time, I wanted to see my old people and go hunting, but it was forbidden in my time. The old ways are gone you must learn the white man’s way to survive, learn to write and read like a good little boy then you will be not like the rest, you can then get a real job and have shiny things like us but don’t be too loud and always know your place. Those days are over, we won’t be silenced, we will make our culture strong again and we do know our right place, youth of today are the new warriors and it is their time.
This land is our culture, this land is our people, this land belongs to us and us to it. Our culture is everywhere but is strong inside us, our culture lives before and after me. My culture is my skin, my words, my song and goes beyond us to the ancestors above us in the dark sky. Our culture is for everyone, come listen to my song lines, learn of this country and look after this land as it will look after you, what is mine is yours in my culture.
Strange voices and beautiful words have transfixed us to leave our beliefs and follow a different song line of a man across the ocean, these words spoken by strange men who say they listen to the spirits too, these men seem more powerful than our healing men as they can heal us from these strange new illnesses and they are a pale as our spirits, they must have strong medicine but they don’t value our culture or land.
Blinded by a foreign faith our people had traded our ancient vivid beliefs for a monochromic system of power and wealth under the hidden guise of unity. Our culture is still within us we are of this land and the land is us, wealth is country and we own this land we can be strong as one if not blinding by shiny little objects.