Wednesday, 16 January 2008
Stories from the indigenous people....
When I was in Australia, I often visited the people in Hopevale and especially my daughter's in-laws. Little by little I learned about their traditional sense of responsibility of their relatives.Children were brought up by parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. If one member of the family suffered or caused suffering, close relations took responsibility or were treated as responsible for this.They either sought revenge for the hurt family member or were punished for a member's misdeeds, if the guilty one was not there to receive punishment.This emphasised the need to treat each other and the environment, lovingly and respectfully.
The following story, which happened at Springhill Mission in 1941, was told by Eric Deeral.
A mother wanted revenge for her daughter, who was repeatedly ill-treated by her husband. She went to her nephews and said :"You lot will have to do something, your cousin-sister is still getting hurt."The young men refused, saying:"We can't do anything. The white police will catch us if we do, and they'll punish us. They might send us to Palm Island, or throw us in jail."
One night, a while after this, the men were having a feed around the campfire after a hard day's work. While they were eating and chatting, their Auntie appeared to them naked.This was very bad for the young men; to see their Auntie naked was Thabul ( forbidden). They had no option but to do as she had asked, so they collected their spears and left without saying a word.
The husband was not there, but they found his younger brother, who used to look after the milking cows. The young man came back to the mission from his work the next afternoon, with his clothes torn and several bruises. When we asked him what had happened, he said:"A wild boar gored me, it through me over." The nursing sister checked him over and couldn't find anything seriously wrong. He died a few days later.
This young man could have been saved under the careful instructions of a bama doctor, who would have identified the young man's predicament as wunhthurr (doomed by witch craft). His suffering spirit ( gaga-thirr wawu) was left to roam. A suffering spirit is called manu galga thirr.