When the ground is hard, Yindjibarndi dance
For a year now, we Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara have been suffering a split in our community engineered with terrible outcomes by the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) who intend to mine Yindjibarndi country. Despite having Native Title to our homelands, and despite showing Australian courts and the Native Title Tribunal that the Yindjibarndi people – our culture, Law, language and wellbeing – are dependent upon our connection with our ancestral land and water, the never-ending pressure of Fortescue Metals Group continues to devastate our community and our children’s futures.
This is the hard ground.
One bright light illuminates our struggle. Our wonderful Yindjibarndi Elder, Ned Mayinbungu Cheedy, who has for so long been a beacon of strength and a sharer of knowledge among us. His contribution was recognised nationally by the award of the most prestigious NAIDOC 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award. And for Ned, and all of our children, on Tuesday the 6 of September, Yindjibarndi painted up and danced.
ALSO – YINDJIBARNDI STATEMENT:
Yindjibarndi people can not live by mining alone
In his push to mine our country, FMG’s founder, Chairman, and largest shareholder, Twiggy Forrest, tells us that our future lies in getting a job with his company and giving over our country to his mines, but Twiggy’s teaching about how we should be and how we should live does not compare to the teaching of our elders. We know that we cannot live by mining alone. We are finished if we cease to honour the heritage and Ngurra (country) passed on by our ancestors, which speaks to our inner needs and our very being as Yindjibarndi people.
Mining will not dominate our country forever. The huge ore deposits will be exhausted within a few generations and when the minerals are all shipped overseas, mining will be worth nothing and all the money will amount to less than nothing for our future generations.
Our fight against Twiggy Forrest and FMG is not just about our rights as the first people of this Ngurra, it is about doing right by our country and our descendants. We believe that if we keep body and soul together with our country and its unique Yindjibarndi Law and heritage, our Jalurra and language and teaching will be alive long after Mr Forrest and his FMG are gone and forgotten.
The Jalurra we danced for Mr Ned Cheedy in his 105th year, were about remembering and celebrating who we are and where we come from; honouring the knowledge and values of our old people; respecting the country that was and is before mining and money, and which runs deeper than mining, and gives us self respect and true identity.